Anticipating Some Favorite Ohio Fall Fishing Trips

As any of you that are regular readers well know, autumn is traditionally my favorite time of the year for most species in most places. I’m well aware that all species, come fall, put on the feedbag and increase their activity levels in preparation for winter’s comparative dormancy. There is simply something personally invigorating about those frosty autumn mornings that serves to motivate the most jaded outdoorsman.

Over the years, my late-year passions have accounted for many fall excursions throughout the Buckeye State. Repeated and varied adventures of differing success levels have enabled me to assemble some personal favorites that have, time and again, provided gratification both in terms of consistent angling action and the ambiance and pleasure of the natural surroundings.

Here, then, is a list of some of my very favorites for your personal consideration:

This tourist-based town in the state’s extreme northeast corner combines the fishing potential of the Ohio’s very premier steelhead stream-Conneaut Creek-with offshore walleye opportunities, outstanding yellow perch opportunities, and smallmouth potential of the highest order. Come fall, it is not particularly unusual, along the harbor’s east breakwall, to catch a big smallie on one cast and feisty steelhead trout on the very next. More than a few times, this has afforded me the pleasure of comparing the relative fighting ability of the two species—a true angling pleasure. Steelhead anglers have the option of the creek itself or the lake proper. Out in the shipping lanes and along the breakwalls, the trout are best located slow-trolling spoons like Little Cleos or K.O. Wobblers. Fall smallmouths are regularly nearby, and most susceptible to crankbaits and tubes, which also entice the occasional steelie. Conneaut features some excellent bed-and-breakfast establishments and Pennsylvania’s fabled Presque Isle is only two exits east.

Cuyahoga River Cascade Valley
From below the Gorge Dam on the Cuyahoga/Akron border, downstream to Akron’s Liberty Commons, exists one of the very premier smallmouth bass stretches anywhere in the state. Whether covering the stretch walking upstream for a productive and healthy daylong hike, or casually floating downstream in a kayak, canoe, or raft, this is a curiously remote adventure amidst nearby metropolitan areas. I would recommend a light-action rod, loaded with 4 or perhaps 6-pound mono on your spinning reel. Be sure to take along a supply of in-line spinners like Mepps or Panther Martins, some smallish crankbaits like Shad Raps and Rebel Crawdads, and some tubes with 1/16- or 1/8-ounce heads. The occasional walleye or steelhead is a regular occurrence. Always walk a stream or creek upstream so as not to spook your prey.

Ohio River Cumberland Pool
What has become a true fall tradition for my friends and me begins with following Rt. 11 down to the Lou Holtz Freeway and launching at the downtown East Liverpool ramp. Head upstream a mile or so from there to peruse the trout and smallmouth-laden waters of beautiful Beaver Creek on the Ohio side. Either direction from launch affords the opportunity for me to break out my ultralight outfit to plumb the shorelines on either side for saugeye, sauger, bass, panfish, and other species. Consistent action is to be counted on. As fall deepens, I increasingly opt for fishing the warm water discharges on either the West Virginia or Ohio shorelines. A stop in Lisbon to one of their legendary eateries on my way back north afterwards regularly tops off a great day out.

Lake Punderson
This all-too-often-overlooked gem in southern Geauga County is regularly cited by state game officials as one of Ohio’s most underfished and underappreciated destinations. Deep and cool, this smallish fishery improves as autumn goes along. It is regularly stocked by the state with a variety of trout species to go along with one of the state’s premier bluegill populations, for both numbers and average size. Nearby Middlefield is a welcome tourist stop where Amish restaurants and shops abound, as well as the national headquarters for Flambeau, where tours are easily arranged.

Cranberry Creek
A fine marina and launch site lie on the banks of this otherwise nondescript little stream that lies almost equidistant from the near-shore fall walleye hotspots of Vermillion and Huron. What was once a fall secret for locals is now the stuff of legend. From shore and boat, this area is the utter epicenter of autumn’s exciting and wonderfully productive near-shore late fall walleye transition. Night is the preference for savvy locals, who either hoist large Husky Jerks or Rat-L-Traps from shore with the long fiberglass rods that best facilitate the long casts often necessary to reach the school. Nearby Ruggles Reef, once legendary as a smallmouth hotspot, still gives up some nice fall smallies in 30 feet, or so, of water off the “Castle.”

For more information…
Call Cranberry Creek Marina at 419-433-3932 for reliable and up-to-date information.