COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Wildlife has tabulated the 2021 Fish Ohio submissions, and the results show that 8,943 anglers reeled in at least one qualifying fish last year. Submissions were high for Lake Erie walleye, as well as saugeye, crappie, and largemouth bass at Ohio’s inland lakes.
“Fishing is a fun activity that can be shared with family and friends. Ohio’s lakes, rivers, and streams hold an abundance of trophy fish, and the Fish Ohio program celebrates the great catches made by Ohio’s anglers,” said Ohio Governor Mike DeWine. “Whether you are fishing for walleye, bass, catfish, or panfish, the Buckeye State has many good fishing holes from Lake Erie to the Ohio River.”
Caption: A Lake Erie walleye that is 28 inches or longer qualifies for a Fish Ohio pin.
The Fish Ohio program highlights amazing catches at inland lakes and reservoirs, Lake Erie, the Ohio River, and other waterways for 25 of Ohio’s most popular sport fish. Those who catch a qualifying fish receive a Fish Ohio pin for their first entry and a master angler pin for catching four separate qualifying species in the same year. Each year’s pin features a different species, and in 2022, the headliner is a black crappie. Applications for a Fish Ohio pin are accepted at fishohio.gov.
Lake Erie is renowned as The Walleye Capital of the World, and it is the best place to catch a Fish Ohio walleye. To qualify for Fish Ohio, a walleye needs to measure 28 inches or longer. In 2021, anglers caught 1,392 Fish Ohio walleyes in Lake Erie, the largest of which measured 34 inches long.
According to the Division of Wildlife, some of the more popular species at inland lakes are largemouth bass, saugeye, and crappie. A saugeye longer than 21 inches, a largemouth bass longer than 20 inches, and a crappie longer than 13 inches qualifies for Fish Ohio status. Find your next favorite fishing hole at one of the most reported Fish Ohio locations below.
One of the most popular sport fish pursued at inland Ohio lakes and reservoirs is the largemouth bass, an aggressive predator that can grow to large sizes. The top destinations for Fish Ohio largemouth bass are Appalachian Hills Wildlife Area (Muskingum, Morgan, Noble, and Guernsey counties), Portage Lakes, (Summit County), Nimisila Reservoir (Summit County), and Mosquito Creek Lake (Trumbull County).
Four anglers all reported catching a largemouth bass of 26 inches, the largest for inland lakes in 2021, at Appalachian Hills Wildlife Area. This area has more than 300 ponds and lakes, accessible for shoreline or small craft fishing.
This species has a dark stripe that extends down the side of its body, and the mouth extends beyond the rear edge of the eye. It has an appetite for frogs, crayfish, large insects, and other fish. Artificial lure presentations that mimic these prey items are excellent choices when fishing. Also try minnows or worms fished under a bobber near submerged vegetation.
A hybrid cross between a walleye and a sauger, saugeye are stocked in more than 60 Ohio lakes and reservoirs by the Division of Wildlife. These fish grow fast and are caught throughout the year, making them a favorite of many Buckeye State anglers. The top three destinations for Fish Ohio saugeye are Buckeye Lake (Fairfield, Perry, and Licking counties), Indian Lake (Logan County), and Alum Creek Lake (Delaware County).
The best way to identify a saugeye is to look for dark bars or vertical spots between the spines of the first dorsal fin. Saugeye also have dark, oblong blotches on their sides. Food items include gizzard shad and other small fish. Artificial lures such as twister tails, jigs, and crankbaits often entice a bite. Minnows and night crawlers are good choices for live bait. Saugeye are active around dawn and dusk, and night fishing is also a good time to fish.
Three anglers shared the largest reported saugeye catch in 2021, all measuring 30 inches. They were reeled in on Griggs Reservoir (Franklin County) and the Ohio River.
Both black crappie and white crappie are native to Ohio, and are common in lakes, reservoirs, streams, and rivers. A black crappie has irregular blotches or spots along its sides, while a white crappie has more uniform dark stripes. The top three destination for Fish Ohio crappie are Mosquito Creek Lake (Trumbull County), Indian Lake (Logan County), and Hoover Reservoir (Delaware and Franklin counties).
Crappies are usually situated around structure, such as points, drop-offs, creek beds, brush piles, fallen trees, and stumps. Light tackle (fishing rod, reel, line, and bait) are the best choices to catch a crappie. Use minnows, small jigs, or rubber worms to catch the most fish. Crappie fishing is a good way to start someone new to this activity because the action is fast when fish are biting.
The largest crappie caught in public waters in 2021 was 18¾ inches long and was found at Leesville Lake in Carroll County. This lake was constructed in 1938 and has 27 miles of shoreline.
DataOhio Portal Fish Stocking Information
The DataOhio Portal is a first-of-its-kind state technology, enabling data collaboration and sharing while also featuring enhanced security and privacy. Ohio’s lakes, rivers, and streams have been stocked with more than 1.5 billion fish since 1970. A fish stocking dataset compiling this information was launched in June 2021.
The Division of Wildlife’s fish stocking dataset is available to the public at data.ohio.gov. The information is viewable in an interactive Ohio map and data table, which allows users to customize their search by:
Location (Ohio public waterways)
Stocking year (1970-present)
Lifestage (fry, fingerling, etc.)
Total stocked (total number of fish stocked)
Connect with the Division of Wildlife
The Division of Wildlife is responsible for conserving and improving fish and wildlife resources in the Buckeye State. While planning your fishing trip, 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. Remember to purchase an Ohio license before fishing at all public waters. An Ohio resident license is $25. It is valid for one year from its purchase and is required of all anglers age 16 and older.