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Winter walleye and saugeye tactics

By DICK MARTIN • Jan 26, 2019 at 8:03 AM

It's been a strange winter for ice fishing.

Skim ice on the ponds at least, then open water again, then more thin ice and open water.

Area anglers who like to fish for winter walleye and saugeye can feel frustrated by weather vagaries, but there's really no need. If the ice is good, go looking for fish. If not, and the inland lakes open up, use the same tactics as you would on frozen water and do your fishing from a boat. You'll still catch fish, because anything swimming below could care less if there's ice up there. It just doesn't matter to them.

If there's a problem on any lake that holds walleye and/or saugeye, it's finding the fish. You might get good advice from a nearby bait shop or local anglers, or maybe just walk out (or row) and join anglers already fishing there. But you'll do best with a good fish finder, one that will show you what's below. These fish like structure, and they'll usually be holding close to it. Sudden dips, drowned stump fields, river beds, and long submerged creek channels are often good, as are weed lines even if the weeds are dead.

If you're willing to fish at night, a good time for these fish, try going shallow and drilling holes even in five or six feet of water with good weeds or structure below. Drill several since the fish there will flee, but they'll return eventually, and you can be there waiting. As the night passes, many will gradually move deeper, and that's where you should fish them, then.

There are plenty of offerings for these cold and sluggish but usually hungry species. You might try a fairly large minnow fished just above the bottom, always a good choice, or maybe a Rapala jig with minnows on each hook. But I like smaller sized jigging spoons best, always with a minnow or three on the treble hook. Swedish Pimples are a favorite, a lure made by the Bay De Noc Lure Company. They come in several sizes and colors, so be willing to switch until you find what works that day. You might try a glow jig or fluorescent spoon too, with minnows, good in daylight and even better at night. Or any of a host of other ice fishing options available in catalogs from Cabelas to Bass Pro Shops.

Where to go is even easier. According to Division of Wildlife fishery biologists the top lakes in District One are Indian, Buckeye and Alum Creek, this for saugeye. The first might be the best lake in the state for ice fishing or summer action alike, with excellent populations of other species, too. In District Two, there are nice walleye waiting in the Ferguson and Bresler upgrounds near Lima. Findlay Reservoir holds plenty of walleye and yellow perch, and Pleasant Hill Lake is a prime saugeye water.

In District 3, Pymatuning is tops with lots of good walleye, then Berlin and Mosquito with a high catch rate and goodly populations. District 4? Seneca is a choice spot as is Piedmont Lake, and the Ohio River dam tailwaters, especially the Greenup, Hannibal and Bellville pools. Lots of choices for ice fishing or open water, and either way is good


Dick Martin is a free-lance writer from Shelby. Reach him at richmart@neo.rr.com. You also can visit his blog at outdoorswithmartin.com.




• Local anglers who would like to learn more about ice fishing are invited to a free ice fishing clinic that will be held from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 16 The class will take place at the Hebron State Fish Hatchery, 10517 Canal Road, Hebron. Experts from the Ohio Division of Wildlife will discuss such topics as planning and preparation, equipment usage and safety with demonstrations in the field if conditions permit. Some equipment is available for use, but feel free to bring your own gear. A fishing license is required for visitors over 15 and pre-registration is required. Call 614-644-3925 to do so.

• The upcoming weeks can be a busy time for outdoor folk who like to visit expos. Mark your calender for the Columbus Fishing Expo on Feb. 8 through 10 and the Akron Boat & Watersports Show at the John S. Knight Center on March 1 through 3. Then there's the All American Outdoor Expo at the Dayton Convention Center on March 15 through 17, The Outdoor Life/Field & Stream Expo (formerly the Ohio Deer & Turkey Expo) in the Bricker Building at the Columbus Ohio Expo Center on March 15 through 17, and the Akron/Canton Hunting, Fishing & Outdoor Show at the Maps Air Museum at the Akron/Canton Airport on March 23 and 24. To learn details on any Show, just Google that event.

• It's skunk season, a time when male skunks are out and about looking for girlfriends. That means your dog might encounter a skunk at any time, and for that matter, so might you. If either happens and the skunk gives you or it a goodly squirt of pungent scent, you might try a product called Nature's Miracle Skunk Odor Remover available at most pet stores, or make your own using a quarter cup of baking soda, one quart of hydrogen peroxide, and two teaspoons of liquid dish washing soap. Either should solve your problem.

• A special drawing will be held Saturday, March 23, 2019 at the Lake La Su An Wildlife Area headquarters for youths interested in turkey hunting. Youths age 17 and younger may participate. Lake La Su An Wildlife Area headquarters is located at 9455 County Road R, Pioneer, Ohio. Registration begins at 9:30 a.m. and will continue until the drawing at 10 a.m. Youth hunters must possess a valid 2019-2020 hunting license to register. Youth hunters are not required to be present to register. Adults may register a youth by presenting the youth’s hunting license. Successful applicants will select an available section of their choice for a three, four, or five day permit for the youth and spring wild turkey seasons. There are 56 spots (date/ section combinations) available. For more information, call 419-485-9092 or 419-424-5000.

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