Tuesday, January 31st, 2023
Tuesday, January 31st, 2023

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Ohio Lake Profile – Bresler Reservoir, Allen County

Smallmouth, stocked walleyes greet anglers at Bresler


By Mike Moore


Lima, Ohio — Bresler Reservoir is one of the handful of manmade lakes in northwest Ohio that has walleyes stocked on an annual basis.


But, there’s much more to this fishery than just walleyes.


Bresler, in Allen County near Lima, is a place where an angler might catch walleyes, yellow perch, smallmouth bass, and channel catfish all in the same trip, said Mike Wilkerson, fish management supervisor for the Division of Wildlife in Findlay.


The fishery at the 581-acre, square-shaped upground four miles west of Lima is diverse with a range of species stocked by the Division of Wildlife.


“It’s a big upground, close to 600 acres,” Wilkerson said. “It’s got a boat ramp on it and it’s electric motor only.”


The state stocks walleyes and yellow perch at Bresler. Walleyes have been stocked every year since before 1996 while perch have also been stocked annually. Since 1997, walleye fry and fingerlings have been stocked at a rate of more than 200,000 annually.


Channel catfish were previously stocked here, but natural reproduction is good enough for that species to sustain itself, Wilkerson said.


“It has a good population of channel catfish,” he said. “… The last time we stocked them was in 2009. When we started out, we didn’t think (catfish) would reproduce that well (at Bresler). But, they reproduce just fine on their own. They use those big cavities and the riprap (shoreline).” 


In the past, Bresler first and foremost had been a catfish lake with channels running up to 20 pounds or better. 


Bresler would be among the reservoirs of less than 700 acres that would benefit from a recent proposal to relax catfish bag limits that was presented to the Ohio Wildlife Council this month. That regulation, if passed, would go into effect on Jan. 1, 2021.


Traditionally, the riprap-rimmed reservoir has been a place to catch big bluegills, those larger than pan-size fish in the 8- to 10-inch range. Ice fishermen catch a good number of bluegills here, concentrating their efforts around the reservoir’s pump houses.


The walleye population is still rated as fair with fish averaging 16 inches with some up to 20 inches. To catch them, try deep running crankbaits or weighted worm harnesses, much like you would on the larger water of Lake Erie. Keep in mind that because of the flat, relatively featureless bottom, fish suspend and relate to the shoreline.


“It gets a decent amount of (fishing) pressure for walleye,” Wilkerson said. “We catch them in our surveys. The numbers aren’t huge, but it’s pretty good for upground levels. There are decent sizes out there. We’ve seen them up to 25 inches.”


Also, both largemouth and smallmouth bass are rated fair by the Division of Wildlife with fish in the 12- to 20-inch range. There are lunker smallmouths here, according to state surveys, that can tip the scales at 5 pounds or better.


“I’ve seen smallmouths come out of there that are better than 20 inches,” Wilkerson said. “They’re nice size and there’s some weight on them. The big ones can look like a Lake Erie smallmouth … Those upgrounds like this one are kind of hidden gems for smallmouth.”


White bass are also available with fish generally in the 10-inch range.


Yellow perch, a rarity in most Ohio inland reservoirs, have been stocked in good numbers as was previously noted. 


“Yellow perch tend to grow nicely in there,” Wilkerson said. “Anglers catch bigger ones, 10 inches or sometimes bigger.


“It’s hard to find (perch) in reservoirs like this,” he said. “But, if you find them, there’s usually good numbers of them.”


Crappies, both the black and white variety, are a good option here, Wilkerson said.


“The past couple of years, the crappie population has been real good there,” he said. “People catch a ton of them out there in the springtime.”


The source of Bresler Reservoir is the Auglaize River, which is three miles away. It was originally built in 1971 as a source of drinking water for the city of Lima. It is the second largest inland reservoir in northwest Ohio behind Findlay.


For boating anglers, Bresler Reservoir allows electric motors only. One boat ramp with ample parking is available on the east side of the lake off Kemp Road. There’s no campground nearby, but there should be plenty of places to stay in nearby Lima.

Bresler Reservoir

Nearest town Lima

Surface area 581 acres

Maximum depth 44 feet

Shore length 3.7 miles


Fish species present:

Channel catfish, brown bullhead, black crappies, white crappies, largemouth bass, bluegill, smallmouth bass, walleye, yellow perch, white bass.


For information:

Division of Wildlife District 2: 419-424-5000.

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