Home News Thousands of Anglers Receive Fish Ohio Recognition in 2023

Thousands of Anglers Receive Fish Ohio Recognition in 2023


COLUMBUS, Ohio – In 2023, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Wildlife awarded 10,166 Fish Ohio pins to successful anglers with qualifying catches. These trophy fish join more than 410,000 catches recognized since 1976 in the Fish Ohio program. In 2022, the program recognized 9,723 qualifying catches.
The Fish Ohio program celebrates amazing catches of 25 species of fish. Those who reel in a qualifying catch receive the commemorative Fish Ohio pin for their first entry and a Master Angler pin for catching qualifiers of four different species in the same year. Last year, 964 anglers were awarded a Master Angler pin.

 Fish Ohio 2023 pin

Applications for a Fish Ohio pin and minimum length requirements are found at fishohio.gov. The Fish Ohio pin for 2023 depicted a walleye. This year, the pin will feature a longear sunfish.

“It’s wonderful to see thousands of anglers participate in the Fish Ohio program,” ODNR Division of Wildlife Chief Kendra Wecker said. “We’re happy to add extra some excitement for people when they go fishing and spend time outdoors with friends and family. We’re looking forward to another amazing year of Fish Ohio in 2024.”
Lake Erie
Lake Erie had the most Fish Ohio submissions of all public waters in 2023. Lake Erie is a terrific spot to catch a Fish Ohio-qualifying walleye, as well as many other species. The “Walleye Capital of the World” has a strong population lake-wide. In 2023, anglers caught 1,488 Fish Ohio walleye that measured a minimum of at least 28 inches long. Lake Erie’s largest Fish Ohio walleye from 2023 was an impressive 34 inches.
In addition, participating anglers reeled in smallmouth bass (23¾ inches), steelhead trout (35 inches), and yellow perch (15½ inches) of impressive sizes from Lake Erie in 2023. Find Lake Erie fishing resources at wildohio.gov.

Fish Ohio records show that largemouth bass, channel catfish, crappie, and saugeye are four of the most popular sport fish at inland lakes across the Buckeye State. A largemouth bass longer than 20 inches, a saugeye longer than 21 inches, a channel catfish longer than 26 inches, or a crappie longer than 13 inches qualify for Fish Ohio status. Increase your odds of catching a Fish Ohio-qualifying fish at one of the top lakes listed below.

Largemouth bass 
Largemouth bass are aggressive predators that can grow to large sizes in Ohio’s lakes and reservoirs, making them a popular sport fish. The top three inland lake destinations for Fish Ohio largemouth bass in 2023 were Nimisila Reservoir (Summit County), Portage Lakes (Summit County), and Mosquito Creek Lake (Trumbull 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 may elicit a strike. A few anglers at Appalachian Hills Wildlife Area and Chippewa Lake reported catching trophy largemouth bass longer than 26 inches in 2023. 

A hybrid between a walleye and a sauger, saugeye are stocked in more than 60 lakes and reservoirs by the Division of Wildlife. These fast-growing fish thrive in Ohio’s inland waters and can be caught year-round. Inland lake anglers caught Fish Ohio saugeye most often in Indian Lake (Logan County), Buckeye Lake (Fairfield, Licking, and Perry counties), and Alum Creek Lake (Delaware County).

Saugeye can be identified by the dark bars or vertical spots between the spines of the first dorsal fin. They also have dark, oblong patches along their sides. They prey on gizzard shad and small fish, so minnows and live bait are favored. Artificial lures like twister tails, jigs, and crankbaits are also excellent choices. The largest reported saugeye catch in 2023 was 30 inches, a milestone reached on Seneca Lake.

Channel Catfish
Channel catfish are found throughout Ohio in rivers, streams, and lakes. These popular sport fish can reach large sizes and make great table fare. Inland lake anglers caught Fish Ohio channel catfish most often in Indian Lake (Logan County), Mosquito Creek Lake (Trumbull County), and Hoover Reservoir (Delaware and Franklin counties). 

Channel catfish can be identified by the barbs near the mouth and spotting along the sides. They range in color from blue, gray, or silver to black, and typically have a white or cream-colored belly. They consume almost anything, from crayfish and insect larvae to fish and mollusks, but feed mainly at night. Anglers have the most success fishing for catfish at dusk and dawn or after dark. The largest reported channel catfish catch in 2023 was 37 inches, a milestone that anglers reached on Rocky Fork Lake and West Branch Reservoir. 

Black crappie and white crappie are abundant in Ohio. A black crappie has irregular blotches or spots along its sides, while a white crappie is distinguished by more uniform dark stripes. Top crappie lakes are Mosquito Creek Lake (Trumbull County), Hoover Reservoir (Delaware and Franklin counties), and Alum Creek Lake (Delaware County). 

Crappies are often found near structures like drop-offs, points, creek beds, brush piles, and fallen trees. These feisty sport fish can be caught on light tackle. The largest reported crappies from Ohio’s public waters last year were 18¼-inch trophies reeled in from Acton Lake and Clear Fork Reservoir. 

The ODNR Division of Wildlife has many resources available to assist anglers, including lake maps, fishing tips by species, and fishing forecasts. Many of these resources are available 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. Get started fishing with the Wild Ohio Harvest Community, which provides online learning modules, in-person classes, recipes, and more. 

For more information on fishing tips and forecasts, go to wildohio.gov. Remember to purchase an Ohio license before fishing in public waters. An Ohio resident license is $25. It is valid for one year from its purchase date and is required of all anglers ages 16 and older.