COLUMBUS – North central Ohio’s public lakes and reservoirs offer some of the best fishing in the Buckeye State for yellow perch, saugeye, and more, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Wildlife.
Ohio has 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. At $25 for a resident one-year fishing license, fishing is a cost-effective and accessible outdoor reactional activity.
The Division of Wildlife has numerous resources available to assist anglers, including lake maps, fishing tips by species, and fishing forecasts. Many of these resources are available right at your fingertips with the HuntFish OH mobile app.
Fishing regulations and an interactive fishing map can be located with ease from any mobile device. For more information on fishing tips and forecasts, go to wildohio.gov. Here are a few places in northwest Ohio anglers may want to visit.
Clear Fork Reservoir (Richland County) – Ranks in the top 10 statewide for largemouth bass. Explore the western, shallow end for bass hiding among fallen trees and stumps. During spring, try the eastern end near the dam for big fish. Division of Wildlife sampling consistently shows good numbers of fish longer than 20 inches. The reservoir features a multilane concrete launch, as well as a full-service marina. Clear Fork Reservoir is also one of Ohio’s premiere muskellunge lakes.
Pleasant Hill Reservoir (Richland and Ashland counties) – When possible, fish the flat just outside the marina, as well as where the reservoir bends south to the dam. Saugeye fishing is also good just off the beach in 10 to 15 feet of water. Try fishing near the beach at night with a jig tipped with a live minnow near the bottom. An improved boat launch has courtesy docks, as well as an accessible fishing dock. This lake is unlimited horsepower for boat motors and it is sometimes busy. Try fishing in the upper end of the reservoir when the reservoir gets crowded.
Pleasant Hill Reservoir (Richland and Ashland counties) – This reservoir continues to be the best crappie producer in northwest Ohio. It contains a large number of crappie longer than 9 inches (minimum size limit is 9 inches). Popular spots for fishing are along the rocky ledge on the southern shore and small coves along the southern neck of the reservoir. Focus on trees or logs submerged in the water. The northern end becomes more popular during the summer as fish seek more cover. Pleasant Hill has an improved boat launch with recently renovated courtesy docks, as well as an accessible fishing dock near the boat launch. This lake is an unlimited horsepower lake that attracts many boating enthusiasts. Try fishing in the upper end of the reservoir when the reservoir gets crowded.
Lake La Su An Wildlife Area (Williams County) – The lakes and ponds on Lake La Su An Wildlife Area are managed for large populations of big bluegill (larger than 8 inches). For the largest lake on the area, Lake La Su An, the east shoreline and the south shoreline directly across from the fishing dock are the best locations to start. Live bait, especially waxworms or redworms, entice panfish to bite. Be aware that live fish (including minnows) are not allowed to be used as bait on the wildlife area. The main lake features a concrete boat launch with a dock, plus an accessible fishing dock. The lake is unlimited horsepower for boats with a no-wake restriction. Other ponds on the area have primitive boat launches suitable for small boats. Fishing is available from early May through late summer on Monday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Please visit wildohio.gov for a full listing of the area rules.
Beaver Creek Reservoir (Sandusky County) – This upground reservoir offers good bank access for anglers of all ages. Look for channel catfish in deeper water during the day using cut baits or night crawlers. For early morning, early evening, or nighttime fishing try the shallow southern portion of the reservoir. Anglers can expect to find good numbers of fish in the 17- to 20-inch range, with some fish up to 27 inches long. The reservoir has an improved concrete boat launch with dock and is restricted to electric motors only. Boats with larger motors can keep them tipped up and out of the water. Be aware of strong west winds which can affect launching and landing boats.
Williams Reservoir (Allen County) – This reservoir was opened in 2012 and offers good numbers of large perch, some longer than 13 inches. If fishing from a boat, start along the north or south shore where the old haul roads are still in place. These features often attract fish of all species. Shoreline fishing in the spring and fall can be productive. Williams Reservoir has an improved concrete launch and dock. There is an electric motor only restriction. Wind is usually more intense on this reservoir because of its height. Be careful of the wind direction and speed before venturing out.
The Division of Wildlife is responsible for conserving and improving fish and wildlife resources in the Buckeye State. Follow the Division of Wildlife on Twitter and Facebook for instant news stories, outdoor recreation ideas, local wildlife information, and so much more. The Your Wild Ohio Explorer page provides wildlife success stories and ways to help wildlife throughout the seasons.
Visit wildohio.gov to find locations to hunt, fish, trap, and view wildlife. Follow us on Instagram to view the best of Ohio’s wildlife photography. And don’t forget about the HuntFish OH mobile app, available for Android and iOS users through the app store.
The mission of the Division of Wildlife is to conserve and improve fish and wildlife resources and their habitats for sustainable use and appreciation by all. Visit wildohio.gov to find out more.
ODNR ensures a balance between wise use and protection of our natural resources for the benefit of all. Visit the ODNR website at ohiodnr.gov.