COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Fish Ohio program recognizes noteworthy catches of 25 different species at inland lakes and reservoirs, Lake Erie, the Ohio River, and other public waterways, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Wildlife. Fish Ohio records show that three popular species, largemouth bass, saugeye, and crappie, are abundant across the Buckeye State.
The Fish Ohio program has highlighted amazing catches since 1976. A saugeye longer than 21 inches, a largemouth bass longer than 20 inches, and a crappie longer than 13 inches qualify for Fish Ohio status. Those who catch a qualifying fish receive a Fish Ohio pin for their first entry, and a Master Angler pin for catching four different qualifying species in the same year. Applications for a Fish Ohio pin are accepted at fishohio.gov.
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 three destinations for Fish Ohio largemouth bass are Portage Lakes (Summit County), Appalachian Hills Wildlife Area (Muskingum, Morgan, Guernsey, and Noble counties), and Alum Creek Lake (Delaware County).
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 Indian Lake (Logan County), Buckeye Lake (Fairfield, Perry, and Licking counties), 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.
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 Alum Creek Lake (Delaware County).
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.