White tides are rising in the Maumee, Sandusky, and Portage rivers of northwest Ohio, but they are rolling in slowly because of the cold, wet spring.
The tides are the annual white bass runs from Lake Erie, and while fish are starting to move into the rivers few catches have been reported so far. That is because substantial rain in the region's watersheds this week has raised streams and muddied them, making fishing tough.
The Maumee yesterday was five to six feet high and very muddy, a condition that will clear only gradually. As the water clears and drops, expect action to improve.
The Portage and Sandusky, being smaller, should clear more quickly, perhaps in time for anglers to take a shot at white bass this weekend.
The fish usually begin to migrate toward the end of the walleye spawning run and continue into early June. The peak of the run usually occurs in mid-May when water temperatures reach around 55 degrees. The Maumee and Sandusky usually have the best fishing for white bass, but some years the Portage and even the Huron River further east also have good runs.
The 2011 run is expected to be good, if river conditions are good, that is decent flows and water clarity, according to the Ohio Division of Wildlife. The majority of fish will range from 8 to 13 inches in size, most of them from the strong 2007 year-class, with the 2006 and 2005 year-classes also contributing. Some larger white bass, up to 16 inches from the 2003 year-class, also will be in the mix.
The best fishing area for the Maumee River is from the Maumee-Perrysburg Bridge, upstream to the end of Jerome Road, which lies above Side Cut Metropark on the Lucas County side. Fishing action on the Wood County side is good from the bridge up through the Buttonwood Public Access.
Upstream anglers also are kept busy on white bass below the Grand Rapids- Providence Dam.
On the Sandusky, the best fishing area is from the State Street Bridge in Fremont upstream to the Ballville Dam. Note that the river above Walsh and Rodger Young parks to the dam is closed to fishing till May 1 as part of special walleye restrictions.
In the Portage, the best area is generally from just above Oak Harbor to the entrance of Sugar Creek. In the Huron, try fishing from Mason Road to the Ohio Turnpike.
Most anglers fish the rivers by wading, or fishing from the banks. Small boats are sometimes used in both the Sandusky and Maumee. Boat ramps are available on the Sandusky just north of the State Street Bridge in Fremont, and on the Maumee at the foot of Maple Street in Perrysburg and at Orleans Park also in Perrysburg.
Baits of choice for white bass are floating jigs tipped with a minnow or 1/8- and 1/4-ounce lead-head jigs tipped with white, yellow, or fluorescent colored twister tails. Jig size is dependent on river flow; in lower flow use less lead.
Small white or silver-colored spinners and spoons may also catch white bass.
Small minnows also are effective, especially when white bass are biting slowly. They can be fished under bobbers or on the bottom. There is no daily creel or size limit on white bass, but wildlife lawmen caution that white bass taken by angling may not be sold.
On the walleye fishing front, action on the rivers has been slowed all week by rain, wind, and cold. Jig-and-minnow fishing along near-shore areas of western Lake Erie has been all but nonexistent this week because of high winds and very muddy conditions, with more of same forecast for the weekend. As the weather settles over the weekend, expect some boat-anglers to give it a try.
In related news, Greg Alexander of Mystic River Outdoors, is holding a contest for the biggest walleye. A spinning outfit is top prize. Contestants can e-mail a photo with weight and size to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Upcoming -- Saturday, Strai ghtened Arrows, Inc. public monthly 30-target 3-D archery-shoot, register 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., 6872 State Rt. 15 at the Defiance County Fish and Game Club across from Oxbow Wildlife area, about 5 miles between Ney and Defiance. For details visit online at www.straightenedarrows.org or call Allan Hansford at 419-439-3155.
Contact Steve Pollick at email@example.com or 419-724-6068