Fishing report: Channel catfish hitting on Portage Lakes; Perch fishing improving on Lake Erie

Fishing success depends on species and location

CLEVELAND - The summer doldrums have set in, but there are still fish to be had depending on the species you're targeting and where you're fishing.  Let's take a look at what's being caught around the Buckeye State.

Lake Erie

Starting out west, the Port Clinton head boat fleet is primarily targeting yellow perch.  Shore-Nuf charters has been make good catches in the area around the cans near the firing range.  The boats from Fisherman's Wharf have been catching plenty of perch near Rattlesnake Island.  Walleye fishing has been spotty in the Western Basin, though trollers have been taking some fish near the Canadian border.

Moving east, Craig Lewis at Erie Outfitters in Sheffield Lake report good walleye fishing inside the bar off of Avon Point in 28 feet of water, and inside and outside off of Lorain in 30 to 40 feet of water.  Purples and pinks are the preferred colors. Yellow perch fishing has been spotty.  Steelhead are being caught on the thermocline off of Avon in 45 feet of water. 

Our friends at Shine's in Cleveland tell us yellow perch fishing has been slow.  The recent winds have scattered the fish, but some are being taken at 49 to 51 feet off of Cleveland.  Not a lot of walleye are being caught, right now.  White bass are being caught off the Cleveland breakwalls, on minnows, nightcrawlers, and spinners, but they're small.

Wildwood Marina is the home of the head boat Linda Mae.  The past few days have been fair for anglers fishing out of Wildwood.  Perch are being caught in 32 to 40 feet off of Euclid, but the waves have been hard to deal with .  The lake should lay down nicely for the weekend.  A few white bass and white perch are being caught from the Wildwood breakwall.

Don at Harbor Bait and Tackle in Fairport Harbor says yellow perch fishing has been good for anyone willing to brave the waves.  Good catches are coming from 42 feet of water just northwest of Fairport.  Some walleye are being taken by trollers pulling spoons or harnesses early in the day in 28 to 35 feet of water. 

Yellow Perch can be found in 60 feet of water off of Perry.  The fish are scattered, but once you find them loosely schooled, they're catchable.

Snug Harbor Bait and Tackle in Conneaut is reporting very good yellow perch fishing.  Fish are being caught on emerald shiners fished in 50 to 60 feet of water.  A large school of walleye is holding steady off of Ashtabula and Conneaut in the 70 to 72 foot range.

Portage Lakes

If channel cats are your thing, you can find them on the Portage Lakes.  The channel catfish bite is exceptional at this chain of lakes south of Akron.  Ron Slater at Portage Lakes Bait and Tackle tells us nightcrawlers, chicken livers, and hot dog are the baits of choice.  Rex Lake (Check the photo section for a picture of a huge channel cat caught in Rex over the weekend), East Reservoir, and Long Lake are the top producers.  Ron says the early morning largemouth bite contines to be good on East Reservoir, Turkeyfoot Lake, and Rex Lake.  Soft plastics, especially plastic worms in the four to five inch range are catching fish.  Sunrise and sunset are the best times to target bass.  Fish weed edges, drop offs and submerged structure. Bigger bluegills have moved deeper, but they can be caught on waxworms and maggots fished on Pinmans under a bobber.

Nimisila  Reservoir

We checked with an avid Nimisila fisherman who goes by the name  buckzye11.  He fishes this popular reservoir in Green in southern Summit County all the time.  Here's what he had to say:

"The Bass have been tough goin' for me, so I broke out the ultra light... been catching some OK Redear, but had a couple off days too. Best day we took home 16 reds over 8".

Thanks for the update Buckzye11.  You can send us your reports, too.  Just email me at, or you can find me on where my handle is TopCat.

West Branch

Mark's Bait and Tackle in Ravenna reports good catches of walleye are being made by trollers near the dam.  The tactic is pretty basic, anglers are slow trolling jigs tipped with crawlers or leeches in deep water.  Musky fishing has also been good with a number of large fish being taken by trollers using Boss Shad in firetiger patterns.  Target the dam area and the islands for musky.  Channel cats are hitting everywhere on West Branch.  Chicken livers, cut bait, nightcrawlers, and minnows will take fish.  Bass fishing is fair.  Soft plastics and crank baits fished around weed beds and submerged structure will work, especially around sunrise and sunset.


Les's Bait and Tackle tells us fishing has been slow at this popular lake west of Youngstown.  Some walleye are being caught deep, but action has been spotty.  Some white bass are also in the mix.  Channel catfish have saved the day for many anglers.  Good catches are being reported on chicken livers and nightcrawlers.  Largemouth and smallmouth fishing has been fair to slow.


The walleye bite at this Mahoning County reservoir has fallen off.  Some are being caught deep by lead core trollers pulling Flicker Shads in the river channel.  Channel catfish are hitting well, and will take nightcrawlers, chicken livers, cut bait, and dough baits. The smallmouth bass bite has slowed, though largemouth are hitting a little better.  Fish soft plastics and spinner baits near submerged structure and on the deep side of weed beds for the largemouth.

Mosquito Creek

Joe at Mosquito Lake Marina tells us unless you're fishing for channel cats, it's been slow.  Some bass are being taken at sunrise and at dusk, but it's a finesse game with small soft plastics the way to go.  Very few walleye are being caught, right now.

Further up the lake, the folks at Causeway Sporting Goods report yellow perch and crappie are hitting in the area just to the west of the cemetery.  Go deep with minnows or nightcrawlers early in the day.   A few walleye are being picked up, as well.


Yellow perch and channel catfish have been keeping anglers busy at this popular Ashtabula County reservoir.  Duck and Drake tells us perch are being caught on nightcrawlers fished in eight to 15 feet of water on the south side.  Channel cats are being caught all around the lake on nightcrawlers, chicken livers, or cut bait.  Some walleye are being caught, but the bite has been really slow.

Charles Mill & Pleasant Hill

The wipers (white bass/striped bass hybrids) have turned on at this lake between Ashland and Mansfield.  Dusty at Mifflin Lakes Trading Post  says to cast Twister Tails and Rooster Tails to catch them.  Chicken livers will work for the wipers, too.  Look for them chasing schools of baitfish near the surface.  Channel cats and flathead cats are also hitting well. A 36 pound flathead was caught in the past week. Shrimp, chicken livers, and nightcrawlers are the preferred baits for the channels, live shiners, shad, or bluegills for the flatheads.  The saugeye fishing has picked up below the dam when the flow is up.  Minnows fished on the bottom or under bobbers will take saugeye.

Just to the south, some saugeye are being caught off the beach at Pleasant Hill Reservoir.  Crankbaits or nightcrawler harnesses trolled in deeper water will take fish.  White bass are also cooperating.  Some smallmouth and largemouth bass are being reported off of points and around submerged structure, but the fishing for them has been generally slow.

Chippewa Lake

Bob Nemeth at Chippewa Lake Bait and Tackle says panfish are hitting.  Catfish have been taking nightcrawlers and chicken livers, and are being caught in good numbers.  One note: This lake gets a lot of pleasure boating traffic, so your best bet is to fish it early.

Cleveland Metro Parks

The Rocky River is running close to normal.  Tube jigs and crayfish imitation will take smallmouth bass. Most of the Metro Parks lakes are providing good Panfish catches. Wallace Lake has been a consistent producer.

Ohio River

Red's Columbiana reports slow fishing for sauger on the Ohio River below the New Cumberland Dam.  However, good numbers of channel catfish, as well as a few shovelheads are being caught.  Cut bait, shrimp, and live bluegills are the baits of choice. 


The bass bite is on at this Portage County impoundment, though early morning and dusk are better than other times of the day. Soft plastics, spinner baits, and  crankbaits are taking fish.  Bluegills and redears are hitting. Look for them in the five to 10 foot range. They will hit wax worms and maggots. The north end of the lake, and the Lansinger Road area have been best for the panfish.   Channel catfish are hitting all over the lake. Nightcrawlers, shrimp, and chicken livers will catch fish.


Good catches of panfish are being reported from this reservoir in Geauga County.  Waxworms, maggots, and red worms are the preferred baits.  Bass fishing is fair.  Drop offs and deep weed edges have been productive.  The walleye bite is slow.


Channel cats are cooperating.  Nightcrawlers, cut bait, and  chicken livers are the baits of choice.  Some saugeyer are being taken by trollers.  Largemouth bass have been hitting soft plastics and crankbaits fished near submerged structure and timber.  Smallmouth fishing is slow. 

Atwood Lake

Atwood Lake Boats, Marina East tells us some saugeye are being taken on nightcrawler harnesses if you can locate fish.  They'll be holding tight to the bottom in 12 to 20 feet of water.  Bass are being caught around submerged structure. Soft plastics, cranks, and spinner baits will work.  The channel catfish bite is hot. They are taking chicken liver or cut bait everywhere in the lake.

Piedmont Reservoir

Musky are being taken by trollers pulling large cranks near the dam.  The saugeye bite has cooled off, though some are being taken on nightcrawler harnesses fished along drop offs in the dam area.  Good numbers of channel cats are being made all around the lake on nightcrawlers and cut bait.  Shovelheads are hitting, too, with some huge fish being taken in the past week.  Live shad or bluegills are the bait of choice for the shovelheads.  Good catches of largemouth bass are being made along deep weed edges. Smallmouth Bass are hitting crayfish, tube jigs, and crankbaits on rocky points.

Tuscarawas  River

The upper stretch that runs through Firestone Metro Park above Long Lake has been producing good numbers of yellow perch.  Fish the deeper pools with minnows or nightcrawlers.  Large panfish are also being taken in those pools.  From Canal Fulton to Dover, good catches of northern pike are being made.    Catfishing has been slower from Clinton

to Massillon. Cut bait and nightcrawlers art the go-to baits.  Recently, large numbers of bowfin have been made in that stretch by people fishing for catfish.  You may not want to eat them, but you'll definitely remember the fight.  Better channel catfish catches are being reported closer to Dover.

Cuyahoga River

Gone Fishing Bait and Tackle in Cuyahoga Falls tells us it's a little slower, though some panfish, bass, and pike are being caught around Munroe Falls.  The dam removal in Cuyahoga Falls has disrupted the stream and it may be a while before fish in that area acclimate and begin hitting consistently.  Some smallmouth are being caught below the Gorge Dam.  Use tube jigs to take them.

Lake Hodgson

Good catches of yellow perch are coming from this Portage County Lake.  Minnows fished near the bottom in 12 to 15 feet of water will produce fish.  Panfish are also cooperating on waxworms, maggots, and red worms.  The largemouth bite has been fair in the morning. Spinner baits and soft plastics will produce. 

Lake Rockwell

Excellent catfish catches are being made at this Portage County reservoir.  They're taking nightcrawlers, minnow, chicken livers, and cut bait.  Good catches of largemouth bass are being taken on spinner baits and soft plastics. Big bluegills are cooperating near the causeway.

Alum Creek

Cheshire Market in Galena reports saugeye are being taken by drifting or trolling nightcrawler harnesses.  Crappie have improved and are hitting minnows deep.  Bass fishing has been good, with some being caught off of deep weed  edges using jigs, soft plastics, and spinner baits. Good catches of channel cats are being made on nightcrawlers and chicken livers.

Hoover Reservoir

Some saugeye are being taken by trollers at this lake near Columbus, though size has been an issue.  Nighcrawler harnesses trolled or drifted will take fish.  Good catches of white bass are being made on spinners and on minnows.  Channel cats are hitting cut bait, nightcrawlers, and shrimp.

Sippo Lake

There are fair catches for Panfish from this Stark County Lake, though they are running small. If you are looking for a great place to introduce a child to the great sport of fishing, Sippo is a good location. It offers a nice fishing pier, boat rentals, a bait shop, and a snack bar. Bass, catfish, crappies, and white perch can also be caught.

Wingfoot Lake

Outstanding is the way to describe the bass bite at this Portage County lake, especially early in the morning.  Largemouth are taking soft plastics near the weeds for them.   Big sunfish are being reported. They will take wax worms, maggots, and red worms. The fish can be found in six to 10 feet of water.

Findley Lake

The panfish action at this lake near Wellington is hot.. Good numbers of fair sized bluegills are being made in four to eight feet of water on red worms. Some largemouth bass are also in the mix on soft plastics.

Harvesting Largemouth

We received an email from a reader about harvesting largemouth bass.  Jeff from Rootstown writes: 

"I like to fish for bluegills and crappies but sometimes I catch largemouth bass.  I keep them if they are big enough, but another guy who fishes with me told me I should never keep them and that it is wrong to eat them.  Is there some reason or law against it?"

Jeff, there is some debate over whether to harvest largemouth bass.  A lot of anglers believe in "catch and release" when it comes to bass.  It's a way to ensure good numbers of fish for the future.  Plus, they argue there are fish like yellow perch or bluegills that are in great numbers and make better table fare. 

However, I decided to check with the folks at the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.  Joe Ferrara at District Three in the Portage Lakes tells us there are harvest regulations depending on the body of water you fish, and that there are bag limits on largemouth bass.  You'll want to familiarize yourself with them on the ODNR website:

But, the state manages largemouth with the expectation that some will be harvested, and it even encourages it in places where populations are strong.  Actually taking some fish, especially smaller ones, can help improve the size of the fish in the lake or stream, because it's a safeguard against stunting.  That happens when there are too many of a species and too little food.  The fish stay small.  However, all things in moderation, and that goes for harvesting largemouth bass, as well.

Prison Raised Trout

Did you hear, some Ohio prison inmates are being taught to hatchery raise rainbow trout.  But, they won't be fish for us to catch.  Instead, it's part of a special program to provide fresh fish for penguins at the Columbus Zoo.  In addition to providing a low cost food source for the penguins, it's also teaching inmates at the Southern Correctional Complex in Lancaster a marketable job skill they can use once they're released.  As if that wasn't good enough, no tax dollars are being used to fund the program.  Instead, it's being paid for by money raised through recycling trash at Ohio State football games.  There's a chance more animals at the Columbus Zoo will be fed fish raised through the program.

We Want To Hear From You

And, we want to remind you that you can submit photos of your fish catches. Go ahead, brag a little. We might post the photos or broadcast them on Good Morning Cleveland.

Send those photos to . We also welcome your fishing reports from you home waters, tips, suggestions, and even recipes that we can share. If any of you want to let us know how things are where you're fishing, feel free to email me at .

You can also find me on My handle there is TopCat, and you can send me a personal message. You can also follow me on Twitter @gnoleff.

If there's a body of water you fish, and we're not covering it, let us know and we'll keep you informed about the latest conditions there. Plus, feel free to send us your fishing questions. We'll try to get them answered.

This report will be updated through the week to reflect the most recent fishing conditions.

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