Catfish popularity booming in summer: NE Ohio fishing report

CLEVELAND, Ohio – No matter the time of year, there’s almost always fish to catch in northern Ohio, from plentiful schools of walleye to cold-water rainbow trout and to summer catfish. At this time of year all three game species are readily available and in recent years channel catfish have made a comeback.

“Interest in catching channel catfish has been the big surprise of the past two years,” said Louie Petersen of Bay’s Edge Fish Cleaning in Port Clinton. “There were always diehard catfish anglers on Lake Erie, or fishing the rivers and Sandusky Bay, but these days we even have a couple of catfish guides working on pontoon boats on Sandusky Bay.”

The guides are busy, Petersen said, despite the fact that a half-day catfish fishing adventure can cost up to $400 for six anglers, although it’s still less expensive than the average trip for walleye on Lake Erie.

The old Sandusky Bay Bridge is a hot spot for catfish crowds during the day and after dark. While night owls, chicken livers, and cut bait are popular for catching catfish, uncooked shrimp top the list.

A FishOhio channel catfish is at least 26 inches in length, and there are plenty of trophy catfish on the program these days. There are also many of these big cats that are caught around the shallow reefs of Lake Erie. Petersen said a catfish fan even developed a catfish mustard sauce that turns fillets into a gourmet meal, sometimes with the hush puppies that southern catfish fans also enjoy.

Many of the area’s inland lakes attract catfish anglers, especially Clendening, LaDue, Mosquito, and Pymatuning Reservoirs. Gus Gronowsky of Parma set the 30-year-old channel catfish record on August 15, 1992 while fishing for walleye at LaDue Reservoir.

The record for a flathead or scoophead catfish was a 76.5 pound lunker weighed in at Clendening Reservoir in 1979. Some secret anglers have reported flathead catfish swimming in seldom fished parts of Sandusky Bay.

Blue catfish are making a comeback to southern Ohio lakes, thanks to stocking programs, with the record breaking 96 pounds caught in 2009 in the Ohio River. More than 150,000 blue catfish were released in 2021, with Hoover Reservoir making the most of it. Other blue cat lakes include Clendening, Caesar Creek, Hoover, and Seneca.

During the summer, the best success for catfish is generally considered to occur after sunset, when deep-sea catfish head to the shallows to feed. Scented baits are considered very good after dark due to a catfish’s ability to identify live bait.

Fishing for walleye in motion on Lake Erie: The mayfly hatch that has hiccupped walleye catches around western Lake Erie is winding down. The large charter boat fleet has changed tack in recent times, with many anglers fishing in Canadian waters now that anglers can head north more freely.

Fishing licenses for non-residents of Ontario are available online, and a typical driver’s license can be used to access larger walleye schools in Ontario waters. Walleyes there have generally been larger in size, with many in the 3 to 4 pound category.

Good walleye catches have been reported from Huron to Cleveland in the central basin, and catches off Fairport Harbor and Conneaut have been very good when wind and weather cooperate.

About Patricia Kilgore

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