If you and a partner want to catch 100 largemouth bass in a day, or take home a limit of bluegills 8 to 11 inches long, then head out to Lake LaSuAn State Wildlife Area in Williams County and try your luck.
This is a premier area for high-quality fishing, developed and maintained as such by virtue of a series of flexible catch restrictions and seasons developed in a way as a legacy to the late Ed Brodbeck.
Brodbeck, who died in 1986, built the LaSuAn lakes over a 15-year period, calling it Dreamland Acres and intending to open the lakes to private pay-fishing. Health and related problems cut short his dream. The unusual name, LaSuAn, is a combination of the middle names of Brodbeck's daughters.
His plan to provide high-quality fishing lived on through the Ohio Division of Wildlife.
In recent years anglers have been harvesting about 20,000 bluegills annually from the LaSuAn lakes, and 40 to 50 per cent of them are eight inches or longer. Ten per cent of the bluegills are in the 10 to-11-inch trophy class. Moreover, most of the rest of the bluegills in the lakes are respectable seven to eight inches.
The division began purchasing the area in 1981, but by agreement kept the lakes closed for a year while fish surveys were taken and a management plan was set in motion. Public fishing opened in 1983.
The lakes are scattered across a 2,280-acre wildlife area, located in the northwest corner of Williams County, west of Pioneer. It includes 14 lakes and ponds ranging from a quarter acre to 82 acres in size. Public fishing at the LaSuAn chain is not a free-for-all, and there are catch and length limits, and limited entry in some of the lakes.
Six of the lakes are open to fishing only by reservation, and all anglers must register at the LaSuAn check-station, on Williams County Road R, just west of County Road 7. Reservations for the week can be made Mondays from 8 a.m. to noon by calling the check-station, 419-636-6189. When holidays fall on Mondays, reservations must be made Friday mornings for the following week. Other details and an information packet are available from Ohio Wildlife District 2 in Findlay, 419-424-5000.
The lakes are closed to fishing Tuesdays and Wednesday, and on Memorial Day, Independence Day and Labor Day. The area is closed to fishing Oct. 13 through Dec. 31, but reopens for ice fishing when conditions permit.
The outstanding bluegill fishery stems from maintaining a high density of largemouth bass, kept so by strictly controlled minimum-length or “keeper” limits. Bass must be 17 inches or longer to be kept when fishing in 10 of the lakes, and 15 inches or longer in two of the lakes. Bass densities range to 90 fish per acre, compared with 25 to 30 bass an acre in other lakes considered to have high bass densities.
The high bass numbers keep bluegill numbers in check and reduce bluegill “stunting,” but the largemouth usually grow more slowly and generally are smaller, averaging 8 to 14 inches. However, two or three fish of 20 inches or longer are taken each year, according to Larry Goedde, fish management supervisor for Ohio Wildlife District 2.
“The objective is to manage for big bluegills. The side-benefit is high catch-rates for largemouth bass.” While the bass may not be large, they are plentiful enough to make possible those 100-fish days of catch-and-release angling. The daily bluegill limit on 10 of the lakes is 10.
LaSuAn has developed and maintained such an enviable reputation, especially for a public fishing area, that it has attracted attention from fisheries managers throughout the Midwest. Such strict management regimes are impractical for public fisheries everywhere and every time, but it works well in such selected sites as LaSuAn.
Fishing elsewhere: The reef areas of western Lake Erie again have started producing good catches of walleyes, with the lake settling down after last week's stormy weather.
Light-to-moderate east-northeast winds have pushed clearer water inshore, and anglers are taking fish atop the reefs and in deeper water just outside, said Rick Ferguson at Al Szuch Live Bait in Jerusalem Township.
Fishing techniques are beginning to shift from vertical jig-and-minnow work to casting weight-forward spinner and mayfly rigs with nightcrawlers, or drifting bottom-bouncers and nightcrawler harnesses. Both jigging and casting are working, however, Ferguson said.
Maumee Bay remains a “mud bowl” because of continued easterly winds, and fishing there is poor. The Maumee River, though dropping about a foot a day from recent flood stage, remains unfishable for most white bass and late-season walleye anglers, and may remain so until perhaps Sunday, said Andy Ankenbrandt at Maumee Valley Bait and Tackle.
Catfish anglers, however, are cleaning up during the high, muddy water, and are taking cats by bank-fishing, anywhere from Maumee-Perrysburg to the Grand Rapids Dam.
The Sandusky River at Fremont is clearing and dropping more quickly than the Maumee, and anglers have been making excellent catches of white bass, said Bernie Whitt at Anglers Supply there. Fishermen may be able to wade and cast jigs and plastic tails by the weekend, Whitt said, but for now tight-lining on the bottom has been very effective. Use a one-ounce flat-sinker with tandem floating jigheads on leaders, tipped with minnows.