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The early season is, for most anxious anglers, a distinctive hit-or-miss time of year when arguably even the most revered of fishermen are more often than not doomed to failure.

Here then I would like offer up five diverse angler options that resonate as particularly reliable area options for early spring production


Although many river aficionados remain understandably disgusted with fishing the Cuyahoga after those tragically unwise dam removals in Cuyahoga Falls rendered what was once the state's premier northern pike fishery into an essential fishless ditch, this does not mean that the stretch upriver to Hiram was similarly ravaged.

Though the Upper Cuyahoga has rarely given up the trophy sized pike that inhabited the downriver stretch , numbers and decent sized pike are ready biters this particular time of year, as always. 

Float trips initiated closest to Hiram to prearranged points downriver. Larger in-line spinners are especially productive , with shallow -running large jerk baits also worthy of consideration. Less able pike hunters will still settle for live shiner fishing under a bobber , which limits the angler to the specific area where the rig sits, attracts mostly less aggressive and smaller pike, and fatally gut- hooks many. 


Savvy locals have long taken advantage of Portage County 's premier reservoir's shallow East end in early spring for big largemouth bass. The lily pad and weed-laden end along either side of Congress Lake Road is an area targeted by many. Jerkbaits like Husky Jerks, Rogues and other minnow imitators are favored by most, and most effective when hooked  up to longish, whippy fiberglass rods.


This quaint and under fished deep water fishery along the Geauga and Portage County borders remains one of the state's premier under fished secrets. The cool waters harbor a fine population of deeper water bluegills. Panfish anglers unfamiliar with the experience of vertical jigging could be a bit lost initially. The state annually stocks a varied number of trout species here for an exciting bonus.


This earliest panfish to spawn grows to impressive average sizes in this Eastern Ohio hotspot. Locals have led others to their preferred spots on either side of the reservoir near the dam and off shore in 10-20 feet of water. Jigs and minnows and blade baits like Vib-E's are big favorites, with more than a few walleye regularly caught as well. 


Come early April,  we smallmouth denizens always start readying for our annual excursions to Conneaut, in Ashtabula County's extreme Northeast corner. Time things right, and memorable days are as likely as sore arms, after repeatedly hauling aboard 3-5 lb. bronzebacks with stunning regularity. In and around the east break wall is a favorite area personally. Crankbaits and especially tubes are notably productive.


Jack Kiser is the long-time Outdoors Columnist for the Record -Courier and Midwest Outdoors magazine and radio and TV personality for WNIR , ONN and Fox Sports.

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