Look for walnut, musky at public Ohio hunting grounds

Fishery biologist Chris Aman holds a 48-inch musky that was caught during netting operations in Lake Leesville, Carroll County. The ODNR Department of Wildlife Personnel harvests eggs and sperm from Musky Leesville for use in the state’s stockpiling program. Nine lakes in Ohio are stocked annually, often producing cup-sized mussellings like the one pictured. (Photo by Barbara Modrac)

Akron, Ohio – Lakes and public fishing reservoirs in northeastern Ohio are teeming with fish such as musklung, walleye and smallmouth bass. Now is the perfect time to grab a plume of fish and try to catch it, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ Department of Wildlife.

Ohio has 124,000 acres of inland water, 7,000 miles of streams, 2.25 million acres of Lake Erie water and 481 miles of Ohio River. For a one-year residence permit, the cost is $25. Youths under 16 can fish for free, and all Ohioans can fish without purchasing a license during the free fishing days June 18-19. All daily sizes and limits apply during these two days.

The Wildlife section has many resources available to help anglers, including lake maps, fishing tips by species, hunting forecasts, and introductory information for new anglers. Hunting regulations and an interactive fishing map can be found using the HuntFish OH mobile app.

For more information on hunting tips and forecasts, go to wildohio.gov. There are a few areas in northwest Ohio that anglers might want to visit.

light gray

For walleye, try Lake Pymatuning in Ashtabula County. The light gray fisheries will be well supported over the next few years by the impressive seasons of 2019 and 2020. Fall 2021 surveys show that nearly 50% of the population is 15 inches or larger, with many fish in the 18 to 18 range 22 inches. The 2022 fishing season should produce plenty of fisheye.

Boat access and the shoreline are plentiful from Ohio and Pennsylvania state parks. There is a 20 horsepower engine limit in the Pymatuning. The Department of Wildlife and the Pennsylvania Boat Commission work collaboratively each summer on fish attraction projects. View an interactive lake map to find the locations of these structures.

muscular lung

West Branch Lake, in Portage County, should be a good place for Muskling. The Division of Wildlife’s Muskie Angler Log reports that this lake produced the largest number of muskellins reported in northeastern Ohio in 2021. The number of large fish reported by anglers was high. Roughly 20% of the muskie Angler Log’s reported muskellins were 42 inches or more.

Three enhanced firings and one unimproved firing process are available. These aren’t boat capacity limitations, but the waters west of Rock Springs Trail are a no-go area.

smallmouth bass

Lake Melton, in Mahoning County, is home to a plentiful population of Smallmouth Pass. While the population consists of generally smaller individuals measuring less than 12 inches in length, recent surveys show a large group of fish in the 12 to 15 inch range with a few fish over 18 inches in length.

Anglers should focus on rocky shores, bridges and solid stilts. Plenty of boating port can be found at the many Lake Milton State Park boat ramps.


Mosquito Creek Lake, in Trumbull County, has always been a producer of large, abundant crappie, and led the way in 2021 for Ohio crappie catch. Mosquito Lake State Park maintains large slopes for public boats, and inshore fishing can be found on State Route 88 bridges as well as in the southwest portion of the lake along the state park property.

striped hybrid

The hybrid striped bass is a cross between the white bass and the striped bass, which are bred in the Wildlife Department hatcheries. These stored sport fish create a unique fishing opportunity in select reservoirs in Ohio. Guilford Lake, in Columbiana County, was first stocked with a hybrid striped bass in 2014 and receives an annual stock of approximately 18,000 fingerlings.

Network surveys in 2020 showed an abundance of fish in the 18 to 22 inch range, with about 15% of catches being more than 22 inches long. The population density of the striped hybrid bass in Guilford Lake is twice the population of Northeast Ohio and statewide averages. Guilford Lake State Park maintains several public launch ramps that provide plenty of access.


One of the state’s most rural and undeveloped reservoirs, Lake Clendening, in Harrison County, is the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District, home to three species of Ohio catfish: blue catfish, channel catfish and flathead catfish.

While channel catfish and flathead catfish are maintained through natural breeding, blue catfish are produced in the state wildlife hatchery division and annual stockings began in 2016. The blue catfish population is slowly developing and individuals over 24 inches long are handled by by biologists. Flathead catfish can be found weighing over 50 pounds.

Access to the shoreline is limited throughout the lake, but fortunately the upstream area of ​​the reservoir is where most of the large catfish are and this is also where the access to the shoreline is located.

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