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Fish in transition, Father’s Day signs of summer

Two sure signs of summer’s arrival are Father’s Day and the transition away from springtime behavior of the popular gamefish species here in northeastern Ohio and western Pennsylvania.

While we still are a week away from Father’s Day, the weather already has asserted its summery self here in our region. The sultry days and balmy nights are hints of the months of enjoyable fishing that await those who love to hit the lakes and rivers in shorts and flip-flops.

Long associated with the first weekend of bass season in Pennsylvania, Father’s Day also is significant for Ohioans as we adapt to the movements of largemouth and smallmouth bass, walleyes and crappies.

While spring is the season when anglers stalk their favorite fish in shallow nesting areas, mid-June is post-spawn time for most species near Youngstown, Warren and Sharon, Pa.

Walleye fishing has slowed a bit on the nearby lakes as the fish move out to their summertime feeding locations. Lake Erie walleye fishing also is in transition, as anglers are finding fewer big females around the rocks and breakwaters of Ashtabula, Conneaut and Fairport Harbor.

The fish are heading out to shadow the schools of baitfish out on the open waters of the main lake.

Smallmouth bass are still easy pickings for anglers visiting Erie’s harbors from Port Clinton to Buffalo. Smallies in the three- to five-pound class have been milling around the rock and sand-bottom areas for weeks as they nest and then stay to pick off gobies, crawfish and other easy meals.

Largemouth bass fishing has been excellent in recent weeks. Evidence includes recent bass tournaments that yielded big catches.

Nathan DiGiacobbe and teammate Frank Reno reeled in a five-fish limit weighing more than 18 pounds in an evening tournament earlier this week at Mosquito Lake. Harry Emmerling of East Liverpool weighed in a bass just an ounce shy of six pounds.

The results of Muransky Companies Bass Classic on June 5 provide further proof of the swing to summertime productivity. The tournament, a fundraiser for the United Way of Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley, is contested on Aqua Ohio’s Evans and Pine Lakes, which are closed to public access except for special events like the Bass Classic.

The winning tactics on both lakes nevertheless demonstrate the shift to more summertime behavior and locations.

Tom Rolland and Tony Carr of Austintown captured the Bass Classic championship on Evans with a five-bass limit weighing more than 23 pounds. Clevelanders Ray Halter and Al Hustosky nabbed the Pine championship with five bass topping 22 pounds.

All four anglers reported catching their bass on plastic worms worked through offshore grass lines. Halter had the biggest bass of the tournament at 6.25 pounds.

The second-place teams fared well, too. Dave Williams and Jack Scott sacked 21 pounds at Pine, while John White and daughter Madison put 19 pounds on the scales. The Whites are formerly of Youngstown, but now reside in Alabama.

Summer is getting an early start, judging by the recent fishing action, and it would seem that Father’s Day weekend will be perfect for a celebratory fishing trip to one of our local lakes and rivers.

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