Ohio has over 50,000 lakes and more than 120,000 acres of inland waterways, including thousands of miles of shoreline, making the state one of the best fishing opportunities in the US.
Anglers are guaranteed to catch various fish species, from the famous walleye to catfish and Northern pike.
There are so many lakes to choose from that the choices often overwhelm fishers.
While fishing in Ohio is fun, most lakes have rules and regulations that sports anglers must abide by. Some lakes have horsepower limitations, while others require a fishing license.
In addition to fishing opportunities, many Ohio lakes are close to state parks and places of interest that provide other avenues for anglers to have fun.
These activities include hiking, Birdwatching, camping, and visiting resorts, among many others.
The state has so many lakes that it will need multiple lifetimes to explore all of them. This list has been curated to showcase the best fishing lakes in Ohio.
Top 14 Ohio Fishing Lakes
- Hoover Reservoir
- Lake Erie
- Ohio River
- Pymatuning Lake
- Seneca Lake
- Alum Creek
- Piedmont Lake
- Caesar Creek Lake
- Clear Fork Reservoir
- Findlay Reservoir
- Grand Lake St. Marys
- Indian Lake
- Leesville Lake
- Mosquito Lake
Hoover Lake has a surface area of 2800 acres and 45 miles of shoreline located just outside Columbus, Ohio.
It is a popular attraction for locals and tourists looking to enjoy water sports activities.
With multiple access points for bank fishing, there’s a lot of space for other outdoor activities like picnics, sightseeing, Birdwatching, and many more.
There are six boat ramps to take to the water, and visitors can use many boat types like kayaks, pleasure boats, canoes, and pontoons. However, the engine limit is 10HP limiting the capacity of the vessels on the lake.
On the plus side, the horsepower limit prevents overfishing, allowing the fish species to grow to large sizes.
Some of this lake’s fishes include smallmouth and largemouth bass, white crappie, longnose gar, bluegill, white bass, and sauger. In addition to fishing, the lake also offered lodging and camping activities.
Lake Erie is one of the best places to fish in the whole country, actually. It is the second smallest amongst the five North American Great Lakes, with 870 miles of shoreline. However, the entire surface area is 6,350,000 acres, with lots of room for fish to grow to insane sizes.
Additionally, the mild temperature makes it ideal for plankton, making for plentiful food for healthy fish. It isn’t a surprise for anglers to go trophy hunting with extremely large walleyes present in the lake.
Other fish species include steelhead, yellow perch, smallmouth bass, Northern pike, Lake whitefish, and round gobies that compete for food with native species.
The lake’s weather can be unpredictable, and it’s a good idea to go on a guided fishing trip.
Lake Erie offers so much more than fishing, and places of interest like the Marblehead Lighthouse and the Liberty Aviation Museum are worth stopping by.
Despite being one of the best places to fish in Ohio, the Ohio River isn’t a lake. The river is 981 miles long, with an average depth of 24 feet. It’s the water source for 25 million people and flows through six states, including Ohio.
Fall, Winter, and Early Spring are the best times to go fishing. The river has many access points, with creek mouths being the most productive spots for catching prey fish.
However, boat traffic is often on the river with ski boats, barges, and pleasure boats that scare fish away.
An excellent tip is to fish near a launch ramp because the fish are used to the noise. Some fishes inhabiting the Ohio River include bluegill, trout, catfish, and bass.
Pymatuning Lake is situated between Ashtabula County in Ohio and Crawford County in Pennsylvania.
The lake has a surface area of 14,000 acres and an average depth of 15ft. The average Lake temperature is 49 degrees which is suitable for plankton growth.
Although it’s a manufactured lake, it holds large volumes of freshwater that attract a wide variety of fish, including carp, yellow perch, muskie, and walleye.
The lake’s hot summer temperatures and searing heat cause the fish to bask close to the water surface. Anglers use this opportunity to make great catches on the reservoir.
Lake Pymatuning requires either a Pennsylvania fishing license or Ohio. Both are honored at any part of the lake when boat fishing. However, there’s a 20hp limit which limits the boat capacity and prevents overfishing.
Anglers will find Seneca Lake between Noble and Guernsey, Ohio. The lake’s total surface area is 3550 acres, and it is Ohio’s third-largest lake by surface area.
The US Army Corps of Engineers designed the lake to control floods, conserve water, and manage the fish and wildlife.
The public was allowed to fish the lake in 1940, but it wasn’t until 1942 that it reached full conservation. The lake is a major tourist attraction with many recreation activities like swimming, picnicking, camping, and boating.
Moreover, the lake has a boat launch ramp open to the public. The horsepower limit used to be 299 but was increased to 399 in 2008.
Sportfishing is one of the primary activities on this lake, with anglers enjoying various fish like channel catfish, largemouth bass, striped bass, bullheads, yellow perch, and walleye.
Alum Creek is an artificial lake in Delaware County, Ohio. The lake has a total surface area of 3387 acres. Since its creation in 1974, the lake has been a beehive of boating activities largely due to its unlimited horsepower access for boaters.
Anglers need an Ohio Fishing License to partake in the bountiful harvest of saugeye, walleye, crappie, and bluegill.
Alum Creek also has wooded areas that are a hunter’s paradise for those interested in deer, rabbits, and squirrels.
Other activities around the lake include a 40-mile trail for horse riders and hikers, including designated scenic areas for picnickers.
Piedmont lake is in Belmont County, Ohio, and is considered one of Ohio’s best places to fish.
The lake is renowned for its muskie fishing and holds the record for the largest muskie ever caught in Ohio. A record set more than three decades ago.
The lake’s total surface area is 2270 acres with a shoreline of 38 miles. The Muskingum Watershed Conservancy is responsible for this lake despite its construction by the Army Corps of Engineers.
Anglers can rent a boat, buy supplies, and get their Ohio Fishing License at the Piedmont Lake Marina. The lake’s surroundings are ideal for camping, and it’s not uncommon for visitors to rent an RV in the area.
Caesar Creek Lake
Caesar Creek Lake is at the southwestern tip of Ohio and offers anglers 2830 acres of space to fish.
The shoreline is 40-miles long, and the Army Corps of Engineers built this lake in 1970. The lake has four free boat ramps and no horsepower limits, making it a favorite for boaters.
Visitors who’d like to sleep on their boat can do so around Wellman Meadows Boat Ramp. The Young Angler’s Pond is suitable for newbie fishers and kids under 16.
However, anglers may require an Ohio Fishing License, or it’d be illegal to fish on the lake. Some fishes on offer include channel catfish, bluegill, white bass, crappie, and flathead catfish.
Clear Fork Reservoir
Clear Fork Reservoir was built in 1949. It’s not a huge lake at 997 acres with 14 miles of shoreline and 10 feet average depth.
Still, it’s an excellent lake for channel catfish, largemouth bass, black and white crappie, bluegill, and muskie.
The lake has plenty of fishing areas and is a perfect location for fishing with the family. However, the fishing conditions aren’t stable, and the catch quality and quantity are dependent on the weather conditions and time of the year.
While the speed limit is ten mph, there’s no restriction on the fishing and pleasure boat types allowed on the lake.
Findlay has two reservoirs in Hancock County, Ohio. The first Reservoir, Reservoir 1, consists of 187 acres with a 2-mile shoreline, while Reservoir 2 has 640 acres with a shoreline of 4.3 miles.
Fortunately, both reservoirs are open to the public, and sportsmen and women can take advantage of this lake’s fantastic fishing opportunities.
Some fish species on the lake include crappie, perch, sunfish, walleye, catfish, bluegill, and bass.
However, an Ohio Fishing License is necessary to fish on this lake. Spring is an excellent fishing season at the Reservoirs because the fishes spawn closer to the shoreline.
Grand Lake St. Marys
Grand Lake St. Marys was built in 1845, becoming the largest artificial reservoir worldwide. While not the largest today, it’s still Ohio’s largest inland lake.
The lake has a 12,900 total surface area extending through Mercer and Auglaize Counties.
At an average depth of 6 feet, the lake’s 74-mile shoreline provides a temporary home for waterfowl and migratory birds like the cormorants, egrets, swans, and Canada geese.
The lake is known for its bountiful fish population with a high concentration of black and white crappie and largemouth bass.
Anglers from all over the country visit in winter for exceptional yellow perch fishing, with many tournaments held during the season.
The lake has sufficient public facilities, but individuals can rent boats for fishing, water skiing, and paddling. Grand St. Marys has a glorious history with an abundance of fish, making it one of the best places to fish in Ohio.
Indian Lake is a multipurpose 5,800-acre lake with a teeming population of sunfish and crappie.
The reservoir is located in Logan County, Ohio, and has a 29-mile shoreline and an average depth of 10 feet.
Apart from being one of the best places to fish in Ohio, visitors can jet-ski and enjoy camp activities in the lake park. Unlike other Ohio lakes, Indian lake has no horsepower limits with four boat ramps available for launch.
Visitors can rent boats at the docks for boat fishing or relax by the public beaches of Fox Island and Old Field.
The lake is excellent for largemouth bass, channel catfish, sauger, and yellow perch. The lake was built in 1851 to feed the Erie and Miami Canal.
Today, the lake offers unlimited outdoor opportunities due to its pristine wilderness and numerous islands.
Leesville Lake is one of the best fishing lakes in Ohio and is a Reservoir named for the Leesville Dam. The lake’s surface area is 1000 acres with 27 scenic miles of shoreline that anglers can enjoy by boat.
The lake is in the North-East of Ohio ad accessible by Route 39, 212, and 332. Leesville Lake has an amazing concentration of muskies, and it’s one of the best lakes in Ohio for fishing muskies.
Additionally, the lake has a variety of other fishes that include white and black crappie, bluegill, yellow perch, brown bullhead, Pumpkin Seed sunfish, and northern pike.
Anglers looking for striped bass, white bass, or walleye will look elsewhere. We recommend taking a fishing trip to these lakes in Georgia for those fish!
Interestingly, the Ohio Division of Wildlife stocks fingerling sauger and mussel lunge annually, including channel catfish, when a year is an odd number.
The lake also has a ten-horsepower limit making it an attractive destination for sailboats, rowboats, and canoes.
Also referred to as Mosquito Creek Reservoir, the lake has a total surface area of 7850 acres and is easily located 50 Miles from Cleveland. Mosquito Lake has scenic countryside, making it ideal for RV camping and picnics.
There are five recreational facilities along the 40-mile shoreline maintained by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and the Army Corps of Engineers.
More importantly, Mosquito Lake fishing is unlike any other. Whether shoreline or boat fishing, the fishes always bite on this lake with many Bass, Catfish, bluegill, crappie, and northern pike.
Anglers can also expect some exceptional ice fishing in winter with panfish and walleye teeming on the lake.
In addition to fishing, Mosquito Lake has no horsepower limits making it the best lake for fast boat enthusiasts.
Ohio may have gotten its name from a river, but the state is more popularly known for its lakes.
The best fishing lakes in Ohio are replete with many varieties of fish, including the famous walleye, Northern pike, crappie, and all the other freshwater fish you love to eat.
Each lake on this list provides anglers with unique opportunities for prize fishing, with many fishing tournaments occurring throughout the year.
Anglers can fish by the shoreline or rent a boat and explore the water.
Whether you’re interested in ice fishing or shoreline fishing, Ohio’s lakes offer some of the most diverse and amazing experiences that are almost impossible to find.