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 Department of Natural Resources (ODNR). Here are a few areas in southwest Ohio anglers may want to check out.
The ODNR 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 which allows anglers to select features to customize their own fishing maps for Ohio’s inland lakes. The new interactive fishing maps are even mobile friendly so anglers can access information right on the water. For more information, click the fishing tab at wildohio.gov.
Acton Lake (Butler and Preble counties)- Large numbers of 12-17 inch fish, up to 21 inches. Catch rates of 15-18 inch largemouth bass were excellent during a 2015 electrofishing survey. In spring, pursue bass near fallen shoreline trees and in summer, fish the steeper rocky shoreline between the lodge and the dam or fish edges of the numerous shoreline weed beds.
Grand Lake St. Marys (Auglaize and Mercer counties)-GLSM ranks 4th in the state for numbers of crappie and 8th in numbers of crappie over 9 inches. Black crappies are more common than white crappies, with good numbers 7-11 inches and some up to 13 inches. Best fishing is March through May around docks and brushy shoreline using minnows, small twister tail jigs or tube jigs. This unlimited horsepower lake has large size in combination with shallow depth and can become very rough in bad weather…always let someone know your itinerary before embarking on a fishing trip and ensure your watercraft is up to code.
Grand Lake St. Marys (Auglaize and Mercer counties)-Good numbers of 5-8 inch or larger fish. Concentrate fishing in areas with boat docks, sea walls, rip-rap and brushy structure using jigs, red worms or wax worms.
Rocky Fork Lake (Highland county)- Very strong population of channel catfish, most 1-3 pounds with fish over 10 pounds. A 2014 netting survey ranked Rocky Fork 8th in the state for numbers of channel catfish. Fish in a 2013 netting survey averaged 19 inches and largest being 27 inches.
C.J. Brown Reservoir (Clark county)-Stocked annually since 1975 with fingerling walleye, C.J. has become a destination walleye fishery. Netting in spring 2016 yielded excellent numbers of 8 pounds and larger fish, with some over 12 pounds. May, June and July are great times to seek walleye, try casting jigs along the dam in the spring months and transition to casting or trolling crankbaits and worm harnesses in the summer. Check out other fishing tips by species at our webpage at wildohio.gov.
Rocky Fork Lake (Highland county)-Nearly 2.5 million fingerlings stocked since 2010. Good numbers of 15-19 inch fish, up to 21 inches. Best fishing time is May through July. Trolling or casting crankbaits and drifting nightcrawlers along flats and drop-offs are effective methods in Rocky Fork.
Caesar Creek Lake (Warren and Clinton counties)- Stocked with advanced fingerling muskies since 1998. Caesar Creek ranks 6th in the state for number of muskies reported to the Muskie Angler Log and 3rd in the state for fish longer than 42 inches. Muskies may be found throughout the lake depending on the season. Cast large spinners and crankbaits near standing or fallen shoreline timber; or troll points, and drop-off edges. Please remember to report your muskie catch to the Muskie Angler Log (MAL). The MAL helps the Division of Wildlife monitor the success of Ohio’s muskie stockings; you can also use it to access information such as fishing locations, management and stocking history.
Hybrid Striped Bass
East Fork Lake (Clermont county)-Nearly 17 million fry and 700,000 fingerlings have been stocked since 2000. A 2010 survey showed good angler catch rates with harvested fish averaging 18.6 inches and some up to 25 inches. Drift fish with shad in open water or fish softcraws in 10-20 foot depths. Cast jigs and surface plugs when hybrid striped bass are chasing schools of shad near the surface. For more fishing forecasts and a list of other top inland lakes by species, visit wildohio.gov