Fishing is a great excuse to spend the day outdoors with your family, and it’s a tradition that can be passed on for generations. As a general rule in Ohio, spring is the best time to wet a line just about anywhere. Fish have made it through winter months when they ate little and swam slowly trying to conserve energy. And now with water warming up they are ready to make baby fish, and they are mighty hungry!
There are literally tens of thousands of places to fish in Ohio, from small, private ponds and local parks and streams to larger lakes and impoundments. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources website offers anglers an amazing collection of maps, information and tips tailored to more than a hundred lakes and rivers.
1. Docks & Marinas: Perfect spots for sunfish of all varieties, crappie and bass. Giant, shiny and tasty crappie hit hard and fast after a few 60 or 70 degree days. The best part about these places is that flat surfaces are perfect for getting even the youngest anglers close to the water.
2. Maumee & Sandusky rivers: These two rivers, in the Perrysburg and Fremont areas, host large numbers of spring walleye anglers, and far, far larger numbers of walleye. Millions of Lake Erie fish will spend time in the rivers between now and the end of April as they spawn. As soon as they vacate the rivers, say hello to white bass. With these fish, the action is even hotter, with their numbers dwarfing the walleye. They are easy to catch and a great way to introduce kids to fishing.
3. County, township and city parks in the state featuring smaller ponds and lakes, with many open to anglers. These sites often offer easy access, an especially cool feature when fishing with little ones.
4. Rainbow trout everywhere! The ODNR stocks rainbow trout in more than 60 locations each spring with 100,000 fish up to 13 inches. Most of these locations are easily accessible and make for great family fishing trips. These sites offer young anglers a great chance to land a much-prized, and tasty, Ohio fish. To find out where trout are being stocked and when, go to ODNR’s website.
5. Dam tail waters: These sites offer excellent spring fishing and are most often angler-friendly in access. Walleye, sauger, stripers and other great sportfish are often found in these fast waters and in slower pools nearby. There are dozens of such sites in the state, with some of the most exciting being the locks and dams on the Ohio River. There, massive hybrid stripers are a very real possibility, some weighing in at 10-plus pounds.
6. Piers, docks and other major structures on Lake Erie: These sites often provide excellent access to deeper water to those anglers on foot, especially for yellow perch. And depending upon weather conditions, the sites can also provide good cover for both fish and anglers when the wind is blowing in the wrong direction. A good number of walleye are also landed from these places. When going for the big fish, don’t forget a net with a long handle to reach the fish.
7. Handicap access to more than two dozen popular fishing sites is available, courtesy of the ODNR. Grab your gear and roll on in for simple in-and-out. The Old Bay Bridge on the Sandusky Bay is the perfect place for wheelchair or disabled access, since you can drive right up and darned-near fish from your vehicle.
8. Streams and rivers from Vermilion to the Pennsylvania line offer excellent steelhead fishing every spring (and autumn).
Don’t forget an Ohio fishing license. Not everyone is required to buy one, so be sure you’re informed!
Click here to read The Ohio Department of Natural Resources’s 2017 Fish Ohio Report.