Buckeye Lake (Fairfield, Licking, Perry counties) – Anglers are catching largemouth bass in places on Buckeye that are accessible. Crappies are being caught in the Fairfield channel. One shore fishermen who won’t give up his location recently caught a bucketful of crappies and bluegills on straight minnows. The smallest bluegill was eight inches and the crappies were all 11 to 13 inches. Saugeye anglers are fishing the northwest point of Lieb’s Island with some success.
Alum Creek Lake (3,269 acres; Delaware County) – Anglers are reportedly catching crappies in 10-15 feet of water in various spots on this central Ohio lake. The popular presentation has been chartreuse jigs in 1⁄4 to 1⁄8 ounce. Crappies are staging in deep water close to spawning sites. Crappie must be nine inches or longer to harvest. For saugeyes, try minnow imitating crankbaits fished off of points. Some anglers are fishing below the spillway this early spring and catching some fish, including muskies.
Hoover Reservoir (Franklin, Delaware counties) – With spring temperatures on the rise, a fair number of anglers are fishing the reservoir for crappies, bass, and catfish. For crappies, you can’t go wrong with a jig and minnow combination or just a minnow under a bobber. Some large catfish have been caught on Hoover already this spring by anglers otherwise fishing for crappies. Try the same tactics – jig and minnow combos or jigs and plastics.
Delaware Lake (1,017 acres; Delaware County) – For crappies, fish the old river channel and deep water with woody cover using a jig tipped with a minnow. Use slip bobbers to place the bait over the fish. As water warms this spring, crappies will move to shallower water to spawn. Nine inch minimum length limit on crappies. For channel catfish, target the north end of the lake using cut bait or chicken livers. In late April to mid-May white bass will begin moving up streams to spawn; use spinners and jigs.
Antrim Lake (42 acres; Franklin County) – Antrim Lake, on the north side of Columbus, was stocked with 10- to 13-inch rainbow trout recently. There will be an area for youth fishing only (15 years old and younger). A variety of baits prove successful for these hatchery-raised fish. Try corn, cheese, marshmallows, or prepared baits such as Power Bait. The bag limit is five trout and anglers 16 and older must have a fishing license. No boats are permitted at Antrim Lake.
As the spring days grow warmer, more and more Ohioans will be venturing out to go fishing. Ohio offers many fantastic opportunities for the public to fish, including 124,000 acres of inland water, 7,000 miles of streams, 2.25 million acres of Lake Erie water, and 481 miles of the Ohio River, according to the Ohio DNR. Here are a few areas in central Ohio anglers may want to check out.
The DNR Division of Wildlife has numerous resources available to assist anglers, including lake maps, fishing tips by species, and fishing forecasts based on survey data. New this year, is an interactive fishing map that allows anglers to select features to customize their own fishing maps for Ohio’s inland lakes. The interactive map is even mobile friendly so anglers can access information right on the water. For more information, click the fishing tab at wildohio.gov.
Rush Creek Lake (Fairfield, Perry counties) – This reservoir is one of the best in central Ohio when it comes to numbers and sizes of largemouth bass. Recent surveys by fisheries biologists have shown the numbers of bass over 15 inches on the rise. This is also one of the only lakes in the area to produce bass over 7 pounds. Steeper shorelines along the south shoreline and near the dam are great places to catch bass year-round. Shallower areas on the east and west ends of the lake are filled with submerged logs and tree stumps that bass will use during the spring spawning season. Rush Creek has one recently upgraded boat ramp and parking lot (10 horsepower limit lake). There are extensive areas of submerged trees that can be hazardous to boaters, so be sure to proceed cautiously if it’s your first time there.
Delaware Lake (Delaware County) – According to Division of Wildlife surveys, Delaware Lake ranks in the top 5 statewide for numbers of crappie over 10 inches. Delaware has numerous large coves with fallen trees and other cover that will hold large numbers of black and white crappies during the spring months. Summer and fall crappies will move to deeper habitats often associated with the original creek channel. This reservoir is surrounded by wildlife area on the east and state park area on the west allowing for extensive access to the shoreline. There are three boat ramps, including the State Park marina on the west shore in the middle of the lake. Delaware Lake is an unlimited horsepower lake that can experience substantial water level fluctuations after rain events. Be sure to check the Army Corps of Engineers website for current lake levels before your fishing trip.
Hoover Reservoir (Franklin, Delaware Counties) – This City of Columbus water supply reservoir has emerged as one of the best catfish fisheries in the state. Not only does it rank as one of the best lakes to fish for the more common channel catfish, but it also produces good numbers and sizes of the much larger flathead catfish. In 2011 Hoover became one of the first inland reservoirs in the state to be stocked with blue catfish. Recent surveys and fishing reports from Hoover have already produced blue cats over 20 pounds. Drifting cut shad in the northern basin of the lake is one of the best overall techniques to catch both large blue and channel catfish. Live bait, such as chubs, sucker, and bluegill, is often more effective for catching flathead catfish, which tend to associate more with cover like rocks or submerged wood. Sunbury Road runs along the west side of the lake and has numerous pull offs and parking areas for anglers to access, while the town of Galena on the north end has more access areas including a large boardwalk. Hoover is a 10 horsepower limit lake and has five boat ramps, including Big Walnut in the lower basin, Red Bank in the middle basin, and Oxbow in the northern basin.
Indian Lake (Logan County) – Indian lake is consistently ranked as the top lake in the state for both numbers and sizes of saugeyes. From fall through spring, shore fishing from the south bank and the Moundwood channel can produce good numbers of fish. During the summer, trolling crankbaits throughout the large western basin of the lake is a popular technique with anglers. Channels, bridges, and pinch points between islands can be good as well, especially if there is wind blowing through these areas. At just over 5,000 acres, Indian Lake is one of the largest reservoirs in the state and has a large amount of public access with several boat ramps, the most popular of which are the Moundwood, Lakeview, and Blackhawk ramps. Indian Lake is an unlimited horsepower lake and has many private residences along the shoreline, which can result in days with large numbers of recreational boaters.
Alum Creek Lake (Delaware County) – One of nine program lakes that gets stocked by the Division of Wildlife with muskies, Alum Creek provides a great opportunity to catch a trophy sized fish. From late March through May, and again in the fall, top spots will be coves with steep shorelines and fallen trees that extend into deep water. As summer approaches, muskies will move out to the main lake and can be caught trolling large crankbaits along the many underwater points and drop-offs that can be found in the lower basin south of Cheshire Road. Throughout the year, trolling or casting any of the riprap areas, including the dam and causeways, can also be effective. State park land surrounds the lake, offering excellent access for shore anglers. The lake is an unlimited horsepower lake with Howard Road ramp offering boat access to the northern basin, Cheshire ramp in the middle basin, and New Galena and the State Park Marina in the southern basin.
Indian Lake (5040 acres; Logan County) – Water clarity is not the best on this Logan County lake, but anglers are still catching fish. The popular areas to try right now are Longview and Paradise Island. Anglers are catching both saugeyes and crappies on a variety of baits, including jigs and blade baits. Fish the pads for crappies in areas where they are accessible. Crappies will be hanging out near downed timber right now, so focus your efforts on those spots. Crappies are running large, according to reports, with most of the fish in the 9-11-inch range.
Nettle Lake (Williams County) – Nettle Lake is 115 acres in size with 3.8 miles of shoreline. Most of the shoreline is privately owned, which limits public access, according to the DNR Division of Wildlife. A public boat ramp is located off County Road 4.75 at the southwest corner of the lake. Anglers should have good luck this time of year fishing for crappies. Try fishing under the privately owned boat docks from a boat. Anglers should also try for crappies using minnows along the edges in the emerging lily pads. Nettle Lake has some unique boating regulations that anglers need to be aware of. There is no horsepower limit; however, between 6 p.m. and 10 a.m., boats must operate at an idle speed. Between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. there are no speed restrictions.
Upper Sandusky Reservoir #2 (118 acres; Wyandot County) – For crappies, as water temperatures increase, try fishing around standing timber and brush. Live minnows fished under a bobber usually produce the best; however, some anglers cast 1⁄8-ounce jigs with a twister tail tipped with a waxworm. Boat ramp and dock available, but boats are restricted to electric motors only. Reservoir closes at 10 p.m.
Delta Reservoir #2 (50 acres; Fulton County) – The reservoir was recently stocked with rainbow trout by the Division of Wildlife. Anglers have been having good success using PowerBait and small spinners.
Mosquito Lake (Trumbull County) – Anglers are catching walleyes this spring on this large Trumbull County lake, according to Vienna-area angler Mike Mainhart. A few walleyes have topped 16 inches and are being caught on soft plastics in orange. A few crappies are also being caught on Gulp minnows in chartreuse patterns.
Pymatuning Lake (Ashtabula County) – Anglers are catching a good number of yellow perch and crappies on this lake that spans the eastern border between Ohio and Pennsylvania. Crappies are coming in anywhere from 15 to 25 feet of water by anglers using minnows under a bobber or waxworms. Yellow perch are biting on the same baits, though they’re tending to be in shallower water.
Charles Mill Lake (Richland, Ashland counties) – Anglers fishing in 10 to 15 feet of water on this lake have been picking up the occasional saugeye. According to angler reports, the ’eyes are suspended about halfway up the water column. Try jigging blade baits for the best bite. Crappies too are being caught on small minnows and waxworms fished in the wood.
Nimisila Lake (Summit County) – Anglers are using plastic swimbaits to entice the panfish bite from bluegills and crappies at this Portage Lake. Fish anywhere from five to 10 feet of water for the best bite. Minnows are taking fish, too, anglers report. Waxworms under a bobber would also be a good bet. There are enough bluegills in this lake to keep a kid (or an adult!) busy for hours.
West Branch Reservoir (2,300-acres; Portage County) – This lake is just east of Ravenna and offers more than 40 miles of shoreline fishing, as well as two boat ramps, which are both accessible from Cable Line Road. Anglers are reporting that the walleye bite is tough right now, but you might try a blade bait to entice the bite. Muskie anglers are having some success, primarily using big inline bucktail spinnerbaits in the wood.
Atwood Lake (1,529 acres; Carroll, Tuscarawas counties) – Atwood Lake is at the western edge of Dellroy in western Carroll County along State Route 542. The dam is in Tuscarawas County on State Route 212. Shore and boat fishing are allowed. Three boat-launch ramps are situated around this lake. Atwood Lake is restricted to boats with motors of 25 horsepower or less. For crappies, use minnows on #6 or smaller hooks or small jigs with or without minnows, fished around structure. For saugeyes, use jig and minnow or jig and nightcrawler combinations, fished around mid-lake points and drop-offs. For largemouth bass, try spinnerbaits, surface lures, and plastic worms. For sunfish, use waxworms, maggots, or small worms, small hook (#10 or smaller).
Kiser Lake (Champaign County) – The catch is a mixed bag of fish right now on this Champaign County lake. Anglers are catching bluegills, crappies, largemouth bass, and hybrid striped bass. Crappies are reportedly of some good size – fish up to 13 inches are being caught. Use minnows under a slip bobber for the best bite.
C.J. Brown Reservoir (1,970 acres, 14 miles of shoreline; Clark County) – Try early morning boat fishing for walleyes using jigs tipped with a nightcrawler over the mid-lake humps and in the north end of the lake. Remember there is a 15-inch minimum size limit and daily bag of six on walleyes. Bluegills can be caught around the rocky shorelines of the dam and the marina. Also, try fishing the wooden piling structures near the boat ramp and campground. Use waxworms or redworms fished under a bobber for bluegill.
Caesar Creek Lake (Warren, Clinton, Greene counties) – Anglers fishing this large impoundment in early spring are targeting spotted bass and largemouth bass with some success. Try using a jerkbait fished slowly for the best bite. Fish have ranged in size from 15 to 20 inches.
East Fork Lake (Clermont County) – For crappies, try using live minnows, or jigs with plastic bodies. Anglers should concentrate on fishing in the shallow areas near stickups and brush piles. Anglers can also try following the wood lines back into the tributary creeks. Spotted and largemouth bass: Try using spinnerbaits and plastic jigs colored black and blue. Hybrid striped bass are being caught off the beach parking lot by fishing chicken liver just off of the bottom. Channel catfish: Try using nightcrawlers as bait.
Grant Lake (Brown County) – Crappies should be turning on as water temperatures rise. Anglers should try fishing the boat ramp south to the dam and along brushy shoreline areas. Try minnows with floats at about two to three feet down. Jigheads with small tubes or curly tails are also recommended.
Grand Lake St. Marys (12,680 acres, 56 miles of shoreline; Auglaize, Mercer counties) – Crappies are biting well along docks and brush. Try using chartreuse, pink, or white colored jigs approximately 1.5 to 2 feet deep.
Dillon Lake (Muskingum County) – Fluctuating water levels below the spillway are making this Muskingum County reservoir tough to fish. Not many folks are even attempting to fish the reservoir. Still, some are catching bluegills, crappies, and saugeyes on blade baits and jig and minnow combinations.
Salt Fork Lake (Guernsey County) – Anglers who are hitting the back bays on this southeast Ohio lake near Cambridge are catching some largemouth bass. Try inline spinnerbaits or crankbaits in perch patterns for the best bite. Anglers are also catching the occasional catfish and white bass in some of these same spots on the same offerings.
Lake Hope (120 acres; Vinton County) – Try using a variety of artificial baits, including shallow running crankbaits for largemouth bass. For crappies and bluegills, fish live bait, including waxworms and nightcrawlers under a bobber. A decent rainfall event will create some great conditions for channel cats. Try fishing the bottom using cut bait in the evenings or early mornings, especially as temperatures begin to climb.
Burr Oak Lake (632 acres; Athens, Morgan counties) – For crappies, try fishing over structure locations using minnows or twisters tipped with a minnow with very light tackle. Fishing the shoreline, where fallen trees have been secured, should produce results. For largemouth bass, try throwing jig-n-pig combos, spinnerbaits, or crankbaits. Fish management staff has regularly placed structure throughout the lake; contact the Division of Wildlife’s District Four office to obtain a structure map.
Muskingum River (Morgan, Muskingum, Washington counties) – Crappie: Both the pools and tailwaters offer good early crappie fishing. Try fishing heavy cover with small jigs or minnows. Spotted bass: As temperatures increase, try casting rubber worms, crankbaits, and spinners over submerged structure, docks, weed beds, and deep holes. Anglers have reported limited success in the past. Flathead catfish: These fish prefer live bait such as gizzard shad. Try using shad eight inches or larger. Success for these fish will continue to increase as temperatures warm throughout the spring and summer.
Lake Erie Region
• The daily bag limit for walleye in Ohio waters of Lake Erie is four fish per angler through April 30. The minimum size limit for walleye is 15 inches.
• The daily bag limit for yellow perch is 30 fish per angler in all Ohio waters of Lake Erie.
• The trout and salmon daily bag limit is two fish per angler. The minimum size limit is 12 inches.
• The black bass (largemouth and smallmouth bass) daily bag limit is five fish per angler with a 14-inch minimum size limit. From May 1 to June 23, possession of these fish is prohibited.
• 2016 Ohio fishing licenses are required as of March 1, 2016.
Where: Over the past week weather and lake conditions limited walleye fishing success. As the weather and lake conditions stabilize expect walleye fishing to improve. Walleyes have been caught on the reef complex north of Camp Perry, from Catawba to the Camp Perry firing range, and between South Bass Island and Kelleys Island.
How: Most fish were caught by trolling with crankbaits or by jigging.
In spring, highlight species targeted by anglers in Cleveland Metroparks include steelhead trout, stocked trout, panfish, and largemouth and smallmouth bass. The rivers have been elevated and muddy all week from rain but have finally dropped into nice shape just in time for the weekend. The Rocky and Chagrin rivers have been elevated and muddy most of the week. Anglers reported observing numerous steelhead jumping the dams during the high flows. Anglers can expect a mix of pre-spawn, spawning, and post-spawn steelhead to be available and well distributed throughout the Main and East branches of the Rocky River and Chagrin River up to South Chagrin Reservation. Spawning steelhead (and suckers) can be found in shallower riffle and tailout areas, while pre- and post-spawn fish can be found in holes and runs, especially just downstream of spawning fish. Fly fishers, bait anglers, and hardware chuckers have all been taking a share of the fish.
Complementing the steelhead are increasing numbers of lake-run smallmouth bass. These fish are present in deeper, rocky holes throughout the main branch of the river. Anglers fishing a jig, wooly bugger, live shiner, or other lures/flies that mimic a baitfish have a shot at hooking “the silver and bronze” (a smallmouth or steelhead) in the same day for the next few weeks.
Cleveland Metroparks stocked 600 pounds of rainbow trout – split 50/50 between Wallace Lake and the East Branch Rocky River. Recently DNR stocked trout at Hinckley Lake (2,500 fish) and Shadow Lake (500 fish), as well. These fish will range from 11 to 14 inches in length. Trout also remain at Ledge, Judge’s, and Ranger lakes. Trout hit well on PowerBait fished near the bottom, jigs tipped with a few maggots/waxworms suspended below a bobber, minnows, and smaller spoons and spinners.
Spring stocking of trout in the East Branch Rocky River began in mid-March and will continue through the end of April. These fish are stocked at about a half dozen locations in Millstream Run Reservation between Royalton Road (Route 82) and the river ford (low bridge crossing) just south of Wallace Lake.
Note the current seasonal trout regulations: Lake Erie and all streams, two/day minimum, size 12 inches (this includes steelhead); three/day no size limit at Wallace, Ledge, Judge’s and Ranger lakes, and five/day no size limit at Shadow Lake and Ohio & Erie Canal.
Cleveland Metroparks, www.clevelandmetroparks.com
OHIO RIVER REGION
Cincinnati area and Clermont County – Anglers are reporting some success in the tributaries on worms as well as twister tails tipped with minnows. Catches are mostly bluegills and white bass. For Ohio River conditions go to: http://newweb.erh.noaa.gov/ahps2/index.php?wfo=iln.
Meldahl Pool Area – Saugers can be caught in the early morning and later in the evening when the temperatures are a little cooler. A simple minnow should be sufficient.
R.C. Byrd tailwaters – Spring is a great time to start reeling in hybrid striped bass in the 10- to 20-inch range. Minnows, flukes, white jigs, and spoons can all be used. Try jigging off the bottom – best spots in previous years have been at the wall and at the end of the riprap. For the angler interested in catching saugers or walleyes, try using white jigs and minnows. Try jigging slowly off the bottom along the riprap.
Belleville Pool (Athens, Meigs, Washington counties) – Crappies are moving this time of year and provide a great opportunity for river anglers. Just like the inland lakes, target areas around brush tops and sunken logs using jigs or minnows.