Best Places to Fish in Ohio

A Fisherman's Guide

With over 124,000 acres of inland water, 7,000 miles of streams and 50,000 small ponds to large lakes, in one single state, Ohio is brimming with fishing opportunities.

You can be expected to catch species ranging from Northern Pike, Catfish, and Crappie, to the prized Walleye and Perch of Lake Erie.

With so many options, it is possible to suffer from choice blindness. Throughout this article, I aim to help ease the decision-making process by providing you with a rundown of the best places to fish in Ohio.

A lot depends on what you’re looking for, be it the specific species of fish, the type of fishing you’re looking for or even what else is offered in the local surrounding areas. Are you looking to show off your latest catch with a perfect snap for social media? Or would you rather disconnect from the world for a bit and enjoy a moment of serenity in breathtakingly beautiful surroundings?

Always be sure to check for any updates from The Ohio Department of Natural Resources before you set off on any fishing trip. As they provide the most up to date information on fishing forecasts, so you can be sure your chosen location will be well-stocked.

Let’s take a look at the top 11 best places to fish in Ohio and why you should pick them!

Best Places to Fish in Ohio
Chapter 1

Lake Erie

Catch of the day here:

  • Walleye
  • Yellow Perch
  • Smallmouth Bass
  • White Bass
  • Steelhead Trout
Lake Erie

Best Places to Fish in Ohio: Location 1

Lake Erie is one of the most popular fishing lakes in Ohio and as such is a good jumping-off point for our list.

Erie is best known for its Walleye and Perch fishing, but it is also great for anglers looking to catch Bass and Steelhead too.

Not far from the coast, just by Port Clinton, it is well worth the trip if you are looking to reel in larger catches.

Some consider fishing on Lake Erie to be quite a challenging endeavor, which is a large part of the appeal for anglers looking to test their abilities.

Being part of the “Great Lakes System,” Lake Erie can experience shifts in the local climate throughout the day, ranging from quite calm to some very adverse conditions. Anglers will need to ensure they are prepared for sudden shifts in the weather during their trip, traveling with spare clothing and checking forecasts beforehand is advised.

One of the things we loved at this location is that many local restaurants will actually cook your catches for you too. Nothing tastes better than your own fresh catch of the day.

Chapter 2

Ohio River

Catch of the day:

  • Saugeye
  • Walleye
  • Hybrid striped Bass
  • Smallmouth Bass
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Channel, Flathead and Blue Catfish.
Ohio River

Location 2

Beginning in Pittsburgh, PA and extending the full 981 miles to Cairo, IL, the Ohio River has a plentiful amount of varying fishing hot spots and provides full year-round fishing fun.

In terms of species, listed above are only the most popular, whereas due to the volume of fishing spots available you can also hook yourself Longnose Gar, Bowfin, Channel Catfish and a range of others.

If you’re looking for Smallmouth Bass, Largemouth, Spotted, Northern Pike, Panfish, and Walleye then head to the upper portion of the river. Once you head downstream the river becomes much deeper and broader, with Catfish, Flathead and Blue, all taking up residence in these waters.

A few hot spots not to miss (if you’re nearby): Byrd Dam, Lock and Dam 21 and Cluster islands.

Chapter 3

Alum Creek

Catch of the day:

  • Crappie
  • Musky
  • Largemouth Bass and Smallmouth Bass
  • Catfish
  • Saugeye
Alum Creek

Location 3

If you’re out to hook yourself a Musky, then this is the lake for you. In fact, Alum Creek is the only lake in central Ohio that has them.

Prior preparation is crucial, as your typical Bass fishing rig may not suffice for this type of challenge. Make sure you bring a stout reel and rod and baits that can withstand their size and strength, as they commonly reach up to 50 inches.

Access is convenient all the way around this large lake (3,269 acres), and so it makes for a popular destination, without the need for an arduous trek to find the ideal spot to cast your line. There are also plenty of deep coves and high shale bluffs, providing an ideal habitat for the local fish, sure to keep your rods twitching.

Head north for Channel Catfish (near the boat ramp and dam) and south for Smallmouth Bass.

Chapter 4

Senecaville Lake

Catch of the day:

  • Largemouth bass
  • Crappie, Bluegill
  • Bullhead
  • Channel Catfish
  • Saugeye
  • Hybrid striped Bass
Senecaville Lake

Location 4

Located in eastern Ohio and one of the largest MWCD lakes (The Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District) Seneca has 45 miles of shoreline and 3,509 acres of water to fish.

If you’re specifically looking for Blue Catfish, then, fortunately, the ODNR (Ohio Department of Natural Resources) has just started to stock these too. Which makes Seneca Lake one of the premier places in Ohio to fish Catfish.

It is worth noting that Bullheads and Channel Catfish are found at the designated trotline area, towards the top end of the lake.

If you are making the trip to fish the lake by boat, then the ramps are found just north of the dam at the main marina. Please be aware there is a 399hp limit for boats on the lake.

Chapter 5

Clear Fork Reservoir

Catch Of The Day:

  • Muskellunge
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Black Crappie
  • White Crappie
  • Bluegill
  • White Bass
  • Channel Catfish
  • Gizzard shad is the main forage species.
Clear Fork Reservoir

Location 5

Covering 971 acres and with 14miles of shoreline, Clear Fork Reservoir is smaller than previously listed locations to go fishing. However, that doesn’t mean it is lacking in quality, in fact, it was voted one of the top 50 spots in the USA.

It is also one of the top lakes for Bass fishing that can be found in Ohio. Home to a large population of musky, Clear Fork offers many many species for anglers looking for something new.

If on the other hand, you’re looking to land Bluegill, try baiting your line with red and wax worms close to the drop-offs and fallen trees. I find that small spinners and jigs seem to work best.

It is however more suited to boat fishing here, especially around the shallow tree stumps or the lower end. The western banks provide a perfect spot for shoreline fishing, where three separate public access points can be found.

Chapter 6

Piedmont Lake

Catch of the day:

  • Muskellunge
  • Saugeye
  • Shovelhead Catfish
  • Channel Catfish
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Smallmouth Bass
  • Bluegill
Piedmont Lake

Location 6

Most well known for its Smallmouth Bass and Crappie fishing, Piedmont Lake has over 40 miles of shoreline reaching depths of up to 38ft over 2,270 acres.

Almost 50% of the fish in the lake are in fact Smallmouth Bass, which means Piedmont has the rare ability for anglers to find great fishing no matter where they decide to pitch up. Crappie, on the other hand, can be slightly harder to reel in given their size.

Piedmont is a very beginner-friendly lake, with multiple boat and shoreline access points. There is, however, a 10hp motor limit, put in place to ensure the lake provides anglers with twitching rods for years to come.

Chapter7

Hoover Reservoir

Catch of the day:

  • Largemouth Bass
  • Bluegill
  • White Crappie
  • Black crappie
  • Channel Catfish
  • White Bass
  • Smallmouth Bass
  • Carp
  • Buffalo Sucker
  • Longnose Gar
  • Saugeye (restocked annually)
Hoover Reservoir

Location 7

Mostly known for its catfish and popularity due to its proximity to the Hoover Dam. This reservoir is home to 2,818 acres and 45 miles of shoreline, providing fantastic fishing coupled with a serene and scenic location.

Some of the most popular areas to fish are close to the dam itself, or around the southern basin if you are looking to bag some Bass.

If you’re looking for some real rod bending, Buffalo Suckers are noted to be very large in this reservoir. I would suggest trying twister tails coupled with a slow approach towards the bottom of the reservoir.

Since 2011, ODNR has also been stocking Blue Catfish. Although initially experimental, their populations have seen quite a large expansion

Boat limits here are 10 horsepower, perfect for a gentle chug along the water while enjoying the surroundings.

Chapter8

Grand Lake St. Marys

Catch of the day:

  • Largemouth bass
  • White Crappie
  • Black Crappie
  • Bluegill
  • Walleye
  • Channel Catfish
  • Flathead Catfish
  • Yellow Perch
  • Bullhead
  • Carp
  • Suckers
Grand Lake St. Marys

Location 8

Grand Lake certainly lives up to its name, being the largest inland lake that lies entirely within Ohio state borders, an impressive 12,680 acres of fishing opportunity.

It is most well known for its Crappie fishing, due to the rocky edges, brushy shorelines, and many channels, all providing them with the perfect ecosystem. Fishing here from March to May will see you bagging catches between 9 and 13 inches regularly.

Despite its size, most of the lake is actually less than 7 foot deep, homing a wide range of species, and requiring less effort to reel in your catch before it breaks water.

Plenty of access points are provided across the shoreline coupled with seven different boat ramps, give fantastic ease of access.

Chapter9

Pymatuning Lake

Catch of the day:

  • Muskellunge (restocked annually)
  • Pumpkinseed Sunfish
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Bluegill
  • Yellow Perch
  • Black Crappie
  • Smallmouth Bass
  • Channel Catfish
  • Walleye (restocked annually)
  • Flathead Catfish
  • White Crappie
  • Brown Bullhead
  • White Bass, Carp
Pymatuning Lake

Location 9

Although not entirely in Ohio, I thought it prudent to include. Pymatuning Lake, in northeast Ohio, extends the full 14,000 acres across Pennsylvania.

With it being right on the border, you must be sure to know which state you are currently fishing from and that you have the correct fishing license for that state.

There is plenty of boat access, as well as shoreline fishing across the full 14,000 acres (in both states). Muskellunge and Walleye are both stocked annually so if that’s your fish of choice you will be sure to find success at Pymatuning.

Most of the fish here are of a photo-worthy size, no matter the season. Walleye, as found in a recent fish survey, ranged from 7 to 28 inches, with 92% of catches ranging between 15 and 22 inches. With Muskies ranging between 29 and 44 inches long.

Chapter 10

Indian Lake

Catch of the day:

  • Saugeye (restocked annually)
  • Largemouth Bass
  • White Crappie
  • Black Crappie
  • Bluegill
  • Channel Catfish
  • White Bass
  • Yellow Perch
  • Carp
  • Bullheads
Indian Lake

Location 3

Indian Lake is most well known for its Large Saugeye fishing.

The best spots can be found at Lakeview and Moundwood in late fall/early spring. In the summer months, I would suggest Old Indian Lake.

Across the 5,8000-acre lake, there are multiple easy access points for fishing both by boat or on the shore. Vast amounts of shallow channels and brush covers can be found, making for ideal fishing spots.

Bald Eagles have also been known to make an appearance from time to time, while not a threat they are a rare sighting in Ohio. Worth noting for any anglers who are also keen nature photographers, or bird-watching hobbyists.

 

Chapter 11

Findlay Reservoir

Catch Of The Day:

  • Walleye
  • Yellow Perch
  • White Bass
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Smallmouth Bass
  • Bluegill
  • Crappie
  • Channel Catfish
  • Bullhead
Findlay Reservoir

Location 11

Located in Northwest Ohio, Findlay Reservoir is well regarded as having some of the best Yellow Perch fishing in the state, with some larger examples reaching up to 14 inches in length.

Spring is an opportune time to fish Findlay Reservoir, if you are visiting in winter, then ice fishing is also possible. Featuring a unique floating fishing pier, you can reach the deeper water (and larger fish) without the need to bring your boat across the state.

If you’re more into bow fishing or would like to give it a try, then it is allowed at this reservoir too.

Summary

No matter where you are heading in Ohio, you will be sure to find good fishing.

Hopefully, you have enjoyed our article on the best places to fish in Ohio, and if you are planning a fishing trip to Ohio in the future you may also like to read some of our product comparison reviews listed below.

Don’t forget to let us know if we have missed any of your favorite spots, or if you have any insider knowledge and secret hot spots you would like to share, please comment below.

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