Updated: Dec 29, 2022
I always get a kick out of the boat owners who, come late August and mid-September, always brag how they've already got their rig out of the water and in storage . It seems that to them the race to get their watercraft into storage and put away for the year is more important to them than catching fish.
Fact is, autumn and early winter regularly features the year's best fishing for almost all species, especially those of trophy size. Thank goodness for those early quitters that every year leave our waters that much less competitive for the hard core and more competitive anglers. Here are some ideas for some outstanding late-year options to consider.
EASTERN OHIO LAKE ERIE
Northern tributaries like Arcola Creek, the rejuvenated Ashtabula River, and Fairport Harbor feature prime autumn opportunities. Still, the best of all continues to be Conneaut Creek , annually the state's most outstanding steelhead fishery. The sheer numbers of Pennsylvania license plates in the nearby parking lots tells a story. A smaller boat can stay in the creek when the lake itself seems a bit too rough, and opt for a trip out to the break walls on less inclement days. Trolling spoons is a popular method for the trout, though those steelies will smack a tube too when you try for the local smallies.
WESTERN OHIO LAKE ERIE
Word is now out that the year's very best walleye angling is reliably from October to ice-up within 1/4 mile from shore from Vermilion west to the Huron River. Night is particularly productive for slow-trolling the shoreline with spoons and minnow baits. The two other cults of anglers are the shore anglers casting large, lipless crankbaits and larger-sized minnow profile plugs from the Huron River breakwalls .The other angling fraternity is the most fun when things turn on- it is the boaters who cast from their boats towards shallow water with the same kind of baits. Those that decry walleye angling as a boring excursion for a lame-fighting fish, have never tried this.
OHIO RIVER CUMBERLAND POOL
From upstream towards fabled Beaver Creek downstream amidst the warm -water discharges just past East Liverpool in Ohio and the Kennedy Ramp on the West Virginia shore , the Cumberland Pool of the Ohio River offers increasingly good opportunities in fall for smallmouth bass, sauger, wipers, stripers, and white bass, among others. I like to put in at the East Liverpool downtown ramp and seek out the warm water discharges on both sides.
UPPER CUYAHOGA RIVER
Come late September , the Buckeye State offers no location I know of that more effectively combines fishing and scenic opportunities better than this river's stretch from Hiram Rapids down to Kent. We always have two vehicles, with one waiting for us downstream where we choose an appropriate spot to depart. Consider Mantua. Ideal for canoeists and kayakers alike. Take along some spinners for northern pike and small crankbaits and tubes for the smallmouth -and don't forget the camera.
LOWER CUYAHOGA RIVER
Too many so understandably discouraged by the sad decline of the post-dams removal stretch through the once so revered Cuyahoga Falls stretch , have given up on the river entirely, overlooking the Cascade Valley course through Liberty Commons. Wadable , with good shore access, and fishable from shore or smaller watercraft as with the Upper Cuyahoga. Well populated with smallmouth, occasional steelhead and walleye are always a possible bonus.
Arguably the state's most underrated fishery, the deep water bluegill are numerous and of very decent average size. For me that's attraction enough , However, I always try to take advantage of the numerous species of state-stocked trout in these cool, deep waters in southern Geauga County.
Jack Kiser is the host of " Buckeye Angler " and long-time Outdoors Columnist for the Record-Courier and " Midwest Outdoors " magazine , as well as TV and radio host for PBS and FOX Sports. You may contact him at the Buckeye Angler Facebook site or the new buckeyeangler.com.