Saturday, January 28th, 2023
Saturday, January 28th, 2023

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Alum Creek Reservoir, Delaware County

Alum Creek plenty busy, but worth the effort

By Mike Moore

Alum Creek Reservoir is one of the bigger – and better – public spots for fishing and boating in central Ohio.

And that’s no big secret as this 3,192-acre lake in Delaware County, gets plenty of pressure, angling or recreational.

The northern portion of this long, serpentine lake – north of the Cheshire Road bridge – is where anglers will want to focus their efforts. This area offers many bays and quiet spots that will give up largemouth and smallmouth bass, as well as crappies.

Electroshocking surveys show good numbers of largemouths, including fish larger than 6 pounds. Though somewhat fewer in number, smallmouths were also sampled, with fish going over the 4-pound mark.

Target smallmouths on the eastern shoreline just north of the Cheshire Road bridge. A series of humps here typically holds good numbers of bronzebacks. 

As the water warms with summer temperatures, look for largemouths in deeper water hanging on structure.

There is a 12-inch minimum keeper limit for largemouth and smallmouth bass.

“Obviously, it’s a big bass fishery because it has unlimited horsepower (allowance) and it’s a big lake,” said Ethan Simmons, a fishery biologist for the Division of Wildlife in Columbus. “It has smallmouths and largemouths, which is kind of unique for our inland reservoirs. It doesn’t have as many smallmouths as largemouths, but there are some real tanks (smallmouths) in there.”

Alum Creek is also known as a fairly good muskie water with plenty of wood along the shoreline to satisfy the big predators. The Division of Wildlife since 1990 has been stocking muskies at Alum Creek. The growth rate of these fish is good, with stocked muskies typically growing larger than 30 inches in three years, according to fisheries managers. It’s the only lake in the central Ohio district that contains muskies.

“The muskies recently haven’t been as good as they were in the 2010s,” said Simmons. “In that era, there were just muskies everywhere and everyone was catching them. It’s still good, but it’s not the best muskie fishery in the state. It does produce some fish and there are a core group of guys who target Alum.”

The lake is also stocked with saugeyes and there are some big saugeyes here. One fish as large as the existing state record (14.04 pounds) was collected in a Division of Wildlife trap net in the spring of 2001. The former state record saugeye of 12.84 pounds was caught here in January 2002. 

There is an interesting phenomena going on with saugeyes on Alum right now, according to Simmons.

“There’s a good population of (saugeyes) about 15 inches and over,” he said. “We had a huge year-class in 2019. But, since then we’ve had next to no survival. So, there are few young saugeyes right now. But, the 2019 year class was so big it seems to have slowed the growth of that year class. It seems there is some density-dependent growth, or lack of growth, going on right now. There are too many mouths to feed, so they don’t seem to be growing quite as fast.”

To combat the issue, Division of Wildlife fisheries managers have asked the state hatcheries for fingerlings and fry for stocking this year in hopes of producing another good year class of saugeyes.

Division of Wildlife surveys show there are reasonable numbers of 6- to 7-inch bluegills here; try maggots or small worms fished under a bobber.

There’s also an excellent population of channel catfish, with many fish over 20 inches and up to 20 pounds.

Hot off the press is the news that the Division of Wildlife will begin stocking Alum Creek Reservoir with blue catfish in 2023.

Good numbers of 8- to 12-inch crappies congregate in shallow water during spawning season (April and May). In spring, fish jigs and minnows around wood in the northern basin of the lake or on points and drop-offs with woody structure. There is a 9-inch minimum keeper requirement for crappies and a 30-fish daily bag limit.

A national level crappie tournament was held on Alum Creek last spring.

There’s an excellent population of white bass with most catches of the species recorded in April and May. White bass at Alum run from 9 to 14 inches. Try fishing north of the Howard Road launch while using minnows, small spinnerbaits, or jigs.

There’s no horsepower limit on Alum Creek Lake, which also boasts the largest inland beach in all of Ohio’s state park system. In other words, it gets plenty of recreation. Four public boat launches, including a marina and boat rental, are publicly available.

There’s also plenty of room for camping as the lake is completely surrounded by public land. The park offers nearly 300 campsites on the western shore of the lake off Lackey Old State Road.

Hunting is permitted in some parts of Alum Creek State Park. The northern half of the park is best for the squirrel and deer hunter, while the southern half offers better opportunities for rabbit and other upland game, according to the Division of Wildlife. It’s a must to get a hunting map before heading out, as many areas are restricted.

Scenic picnic areas with tables, grills, restrooms, and drinking water enhance the lakeshore. Additionally, two shelterhouses are maintained by the Army Corps of Engineers at the Alum Creek dam.

Alum Creek rests in the midst of the fertile agricultural till plains and river valleys of Delaware County. In contrast to the surrounding farmlands, the park offers a diverse array of natural features. 

Alum Creek Reservoir

Nearest town Sunbury

Surface area 3,192 acres

Shore length 46 miles

Fish species present:

Largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, bluegills, crappies, channel catfish, saugeyes, muskies, carp.

For information:

Division of Wildlife, District 1: 614-644-3925.

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