A generally fine fishing spring, recent wet and windy weather aside, has allowed veteran angler Bob Miller of Fremont to do his thing - fly-cast for largemouth bass in favorite farm ponds.
"In that first warm spell a month, six weeks ago, I was averaging 8 to 12 bass a trip, though they all were in the one-pound range," said Miller. He was casting a large attractor-type streamer of four-inch length on a No. 2 hook.
Miller ties them himself, using a gold cone-head for weight and chartreuse, black, and orange sparkly "Super Hair" for dressing. Formally, it is called the Popovics Jiggy fly.
The angler expects that it will not be long before larger bass move into the shallows to start spawning, at which point he will be on station with his flyrod and attractor flies. Yesterday he tried a favorite pond and landed four bass, two of them 14-inchers, and three large bluegill before rain and hail ended his day.
Matt Amedeo hoists his record Ohio tiger muskie of 31.64 pounds, taken last month at Turkeyfoot Lakes near Akron.
State fish biologist Mike Wilkerson, at Wildlife District 2 in Findlay, agrees with Miller's thoughts that the next week or so, with warmer and more settled weather in the forecast, should see bigger bass moving inshore and becoming active.
Some anglers already have been taking smaller bass, using fathead minnows for bait, in ponds No. 30 and 33 at Killdeer Plains State Wildlife Area in Wyandot County, Wilkerson said.
East Harbor of Lake Erie, on the Catawba Island-Marblehead peninsula east of Port Clinton, also has shown good numbers of bass during wildlife division sampling surveys, Wilkerson said. It has excellent early bass potential, prior to filling in with heavy vegetation.
The launch ramp at East Harbor State Park, however, is open only to campers as of April 1. For camping details call the park, 419-734-4424. It is possible, however, to launch at the state's Mazurik Public Access on North Shore Boulevard off State Rt. 163, and motor along the lake a short distance into East Harbor channel.
Farm ponds, of course, will warm more quickly and are less affected by winds so they should be prime soon, said Wilkerson. "Things should start popping in the next week or so."
Active bass will pursue a variety of lures, including crankbaits, and worms fished under slip bobbers can be very effective, the biologist noted. "As the bass move inshore, anything [among lures] that is active, they'll be striking at it."
Fishing report - High-water sites are the best places to try, if white bass in the Maumee and Sandusky rivers is your angling bag for the weekend.
A heavy run of white bass is in the Sandusky River, which is murky but up only a foot or two, said Bernie Whitt at Angler Supply in downtown Fremont. Anglers there are tightlining minnows on the bottom at the Sand Docks below downtown, among high-water sites.
The run of fish extends all the way to the foot of the Ballville Dam, however, said Whitt. Before the high water 14 to 16-inch egg-laden female white bass were being taken and the run remains thick with fish, the shopkeeper noted. As water clears and drops he expects that smaller jigs and tails, spinners such as Rooster Tails, and minnows all will be good for at least a couple of weeks.
High-water sites such as below the launch ramp at Orleans Park at Perrysburg and the White Street Access in Maumee remain reliable places to try for white bass on the Maumee River. However, Mike Swartz at Maumee Tackle said that anglers on the river had seen good results fishing minnows under bobbers in calm, flat waters at the above sites.
As of yesterday the river, which had risen up to six feet above recent flows, had crested and was fast and muddy and still five feet above normal.
On western Lake Erie, drifting worm harnesses with bottom-bouncers were working well on walleyes for some anglers around Niagara Reef, according to Rick Catley at Rickard's Bait on Catawba Island. Gold or purple blades were most effective, Catley said.
Much weekend lake fishing will turn on the strength and direction of the wind. Further west, walleye anglers had fair success with jigs and minnows or jigs and nightcrawlers, said Rick Ferguson at Al Szuch Live Bait on Corduroy Road. He said the lake should be fishable and the water clarity was improving for the weekend, if the winds do not kick up again.
Among locales to try he cited D-Can, south of Niagara Reef, the area marked Gravel Pit on charts east of the Toledo Ship Channel and west of West Sister Island, and off Little Cedar Point if the water is not too muddied.
Bank fishermen on the lower Ottawa River near Maumee Bay were having a field day at mid-week, fishing with minnows or nightcrawlers, according to Dave Ray at Edgewater Bait and Tackle on 131st Street in Point Place. The bank anglers were taking large yellow perch, bluegill, crappie, and channel catfish, Ray said. He added that walleye also were being taken between Toledo Harbor Light and Turtle Island, using jigs and minnows or drifting worm harnesses with bottom-bouncers.
A record Ohio tiger muskie weighing 31.64 pounds was certified this week by the Outdoor Writers of Ohio, the state's official fish record-keepers.
The 47-inch fish was taken by angler Matt Amedeo, of Akron, from Turkeyfoot Lake, part of the Portage Lakes chain near Akron on April 28. Amedeo actually was bass fishing at the time, casting a Berkley Power Crawl.
The Amedeo fish eclipses a record 31.5-pounder taken from the same lake in 1999 by Ron Kotch.
Phil Hillman, fisheries supervisor for Ohio Wildlife District 3, said that the lake has not been stocked with tiger muskies since 1985, making the Amedeo fish at least 21 years old. He confirmed the fish's identity.
For details on Ohio's record fish program contact Tom Cross, chairman OWO state record fish committee, 1497 Cross Rd., Winchester, Ohio 45697, call 937-386-2752, or visit www.outdoorwritersofohio.com.