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Considering a variety of specie and weather related factors , I'd like to present some early -year cold but open water options to help cure the cabin fever so many of us are currently suffering from.

Mogadore's East End - long acknowledged as a premier ice fishing panfish destination , largely due to its shallowness, the same lack of depth that freezes early is also renowned for being a notoriously early locale for an early thaw and early spring pre-spawn largemouth bass hotspot. Focusing primarily around the Congress Lake Road areas , early spring anglers will opt for jerkbaits , lipless crankbaits, and jigs for varying degrees of success.

Bass catch
A dandy catch for these lucky anglers early in the year

Conneaut Harbor - smallmouth bass of outstanding average size reliably congregate along and just off this storied Lake Erie harbor town's east and west breakwalls every year, with the best bite initiating in late March /early April and concluding for the most part in early May. Tube baits are the top choice in the 1/4 oz. jighead size to best plumb the 15-25' waters you'll be fishing. I recommend spinning gear and 8 lb. line.

Upper Cuyahoga River - fewer experiences will better awaken the early year anglers than hooking a couple nice northern pike from Ohio's most renowned pike waters.

Too many long-time northern hunters, understandably disgusted by the dam removals disaster that has rendered the river's once most productive stretch from Rt.91 down to Front Street in Cuyahoga Falls into essentially a fishless ditch, have overreacted by giving up on the river entirely.Fact is, from Hiram Rapids to Munroe Falls the river still is home to a very decent population of northerns , that while not attaining the average sizes of those that once made the river downstream famous as easily the state's best, still can match the catches that so many pay so much to pursue annually in various Canadian waters.

Jack Kiser takes advantage of the open water every year that he is able

Lake Erie Western Basin Jig & Minnow Bite - Starting most years in later February, the jig & minnow reef bite from the Detroit River down to Put-In-Bay produces impressive catches of some of the big pond's biggest 'eyes of the year. Try a medium -action rod of good sensitivity and spool on some 8-10 lb. green ultra-clear mono . A very effective lure option that helps cover more water is Bill Edworthy's revererd " Vib-E " blade bait , attached always with a snap.

Tappan Dam - One of the state's largely unknown spring secrets is the crappie fishing at Tappan Dam Reservoir in Harrison County. Try your favorite crappie baits and jigs vertically down either side of St.Rt. 250 , concentrating primarily just off the cement bridgeworks that tend to warm up early on.Try 4lb. mono on your light-action gear, vertically jigged off the side of your boat.

Ron Slater
Ron Slater with a decent early season Bass

Lake Punderson - This regularly overlooked gem on Geauga County's southern border harbors an outstanding population of stocky bluegills in its cool, deep waters. Be prepared to fish your ultra-light spinning gear considerably deeper that you might normally. A nice bonus is the ample numbers of varied trout species the state keeps stocked there.


Jack Kiser is the veteran Outdoors Columnist for the Record-Courier, and Ohio Valley Outdoors, Ohio Angler, and "Midwest Outdoors" magazines, as well as radio and TV host at Buckeye Angler, Destination: Outdoors , and Fox Sports. You may reach him at the Buckeye Angler Facebook site or

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