Opposite outcomes on different lakes

Two days, two different lakes and two very different outcomes. Not an uncommon scenario for those who fish the lakes of northeastern Ohio and western Pennsylvania.

It happened again last week. After a Sunday outing that resulted in just a pair of bass despite seven hours of hard labor, I changed lakes and experienced one of the best days of my fishing life.

From Sunday to Tuesday, my score went from two to 41. The lakes are relatively close to each other, but the gap between the low and high couldn’t have been much wider.

One of the pluses of living in the Youngstown area is the diversity of lakes and rivers. We can pick and chose from more than a dozen waterways within an hour of home, each capable of delivering fun fishing when the conditions are right.

The waning days of summer are prime time to sample the local lakes. If one is a disappointment, we have plenty of good options for our next fishing trip.

Tuesday’s big haul got a big boost from a persistent southwesterly breeze that stirred up the food chain on the windward side of the lake. The morning started with exciting topwater action, as the feeding largemouths blasted my big noisy buzzbait.

I boated six bass before the buzzin’ bite slowed. Their bellies bulged, a clear sign that the fish were having little difficulty running down their breakfast.

That particular lake has a nice population of yellow perch, which I guessed were the target of the bass I was catching. So as the surface action slowed, I rigged up a Chatterbait with a soft plastic swimbait that looked to me like a pretty good imitation of a perch.

The bass apparently agreed. It didn’t take long for the first bite on the new bait. Then, for the next several hours, I rarely made more than a dozen fishless casts between bites.

My day was not just about quantity. The quality also was superb. Most of the fish ranged from 2.5 to 3.5 pounds, with several pulling the scale toward the 4-pound mark.

It was nice to rally after Sunday’s dismal tally. And it’s good to know we have so many good choices as autumn advances.

The walleye action that slowed in July and August will pick up quickly as the water cools at Mosquito, Berlin, Milton and Pymatuning. Lake Erie always is a good bet when the weather is favorable.

Crappies that dropped into deeper water during the dog days of summer will be making the move to shallow cover to pick off young-of-the-year shad and freshwater shrimp.

Smallmouth bass will be getting amped up again at Shenango, Pymatuning, Berlin, Milton and the Ohio River, while the fall largemouth bite already is on the upswing at Mosquito, Shenango, Conneaut Lake, West Branch and Milton.

The muskie bite will continue to gain traction at West Branch, Milton and Pymatuning.

The capstone on the diversity of game species is the spectacular steelhead that have begun their autumn migration from the depths of Lake Erie to the rivers where they were stocked. From the west side of Cleveland to Erie, Pa., and east to Buffalo, N.Y., steelhead will provide thousands of anglers the fight of their life.

Options abound as autumn comes on strong. If you aren’t having fun at the lake you regularly fish, don’t hesitate to pull the plug and head for new water.

Jack Wollitz’s new book, The Common Angler: A Celebration of Fishing, shares his lifetime of fishing adventures. He enjoys emails from readers. Send a note to jackbbaass@gmail.com.


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