Ohio NOAO Recon
Portage Lakes: Cooling Waters Equal Shallow Tactics

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Photo: BassFan
Ohio green fish expert Charlie Hartley says clacking a spinnerbait down the side of a moored pontoon bait is a good way to sack big bites at Portage Lakes.

Fall is on the horizon across most of the nation, but in the northern climes, it’s already reared its head with nighttime lows approaching the freezing point and daytime highs only reaching the 70s.

Although this is a sure sign that winter is soon to be upon us, the cooling effect is what triggers the fall bite – arguably the best bite of the year.

These are the conditions that anglers will face this weekend at the final Northern Open Anglers Association tournament on Portage Lakes outside of Akron, Ohio. Cooling water is sure to have the fish in the shallows building up reserves for a long, cold icy winter.

In order to get an idea what anglers can expect this Saturday, BassFan talked with 2008 Elite Series angler, Berkley pro-staff member and Ohio stick Charlie Hartley to pick his brain about the upcoming event.

Here’s what he had to say.

Fall Cool Down

“We’ve had our first cool-down of the year the last couple weeks and the water temperature all over northern Ohio has dropped,” Hartley said.

“But this is a good thing – the fall temperature drop triggers the fish to feed and, unlike spring, the fish are still warm from the summer and fall."

Topwater Early

“Portage is a chain of lakes connected by canals,” Hartley noted. “They’re all shallow, natural lakes, and this time of year it can be really cold in the morning, but the fish eat topwater really good. In fact, this is the best time of year to throw topwater baits.

“I like a 1/4- or 1/8-ounce buzzbait thrown along the bank grass or even throw the bait up onto the bank and bring it into the water,” he added. “Sometimes you won’t get two winds on the reel and a fish will eat the bait.

“But another great pattern is to throw the buzzbait parallel with a moored pontoon boat and bring the bait out so the blades hit the pontoon. That has resulted in more 4-pound fish for me at Portage than anything. And a 4-pounder there will get you big fish in just about any tournament."

His tackle choice for the buzzbait is a 6’6” medium action Fenwick HMG Triggerstik rigged with a 6.3:1 Abu Garcia Revo STX reel loaded with 14-pound Stren Original Lo-Vis green mono. He also uses a size-1 trailer hook on the 1/8-ounce buzzbait and a 1/0 for the 1/4-ounce bait. He said white is the best color, but black is a close second.

“Another bait that works well there is a small Pop-R or Splash-It,” he said. “I like those baits if the water is really cold in the morning – the fish seem to want a slower bait in those instances.”

His tackle choice for the poppers is the same as with his buzzbaits, and he likes any shad-colored bait.

Docks and More Docks

“There are docks all over the lake so dock fishing is a pattern that can’t be overlooked,” Hartley said. “Fish the docks with a jig or another technique is to bounce a square-billed crankbait off the pilings.

“These patterns work better during the day as the water warms up.”

His tackle for the jig consists of a 7’-6” Fenwick HMG Flippin' Stik, a 6.3:1 Abu Garcia Revo STX reel and 15-pound Berkley Trilene 100% fluorocarbon line. His jig of preference is a 1/4- to 3/8-ounce Venom jig (black and blue or green-pumpkin) rigged with a Venom Sweet Dream trailer in green-pumpkin/copper flake.


> “The water temperatures should be in the high 50s to low 60s,” Hartley said.

> “Our Ohio lakes are very stingy. A 10-pound bag will be big but it might take 12 pounds to win. That's just fishing in Ohio."

> “One thing anglers should check are the launches where past tournaments have been weighing in. There will be release fish there that could be a factor in the tournament.”

Top of Page    Return to Menu
Previous Article    Next Article