By JIM ABRAMS
It finally looks like spring has arrived, with fishing reels relined and boats readied in anticipation of some relaxing time on the water and a few evening fish fries. Ohio has a lot to offer with 124,000 acres of inland water, 7,000 miles of streams, 2.25 million acres of Lake Erie water, and 481 miles of the Ohio River.
The Division of Wildlife has a lot of resources available to assist anglers, including lake maps, fishing tips by species, and fishing forecasts based on survey data. Also available is an online interactive fishing map which allows you to select features to customize your own inland lakes maps. This map and the selective features are even mobile-friendly, so you can access information right on the water. For information, click the “fishing tab” at wildohio.gov.
Here are the forecasts that the Division of Wildlife has for northwest Ohio. These should have you ready to buy that license and hit the water.
Black bass, Clearfork Reservoir (Richland and Ashland counties): Ranks in the top 10 statewide for both the number and size of largemouth bass. Explore the western shallow end for bass hiding among fallen trees and stumps.
The reservoir features a multilane concrete ramp and docks, as well as a full-service marina. This is an unlimited horsepower lake with an 8 mph speed limit. Clearfork Reservoir is also one of the state’s premier muskellunge lakes.
Channel catfish, Beaver Creek Reservoir (Seneca County): This upground reservoir offers good bank access for anglers of all ages. Look for channel catfish in deeper water during the day using cut baits or nightcrawlers. For nighttime anglers fishing from shore, the southern end of the reservoir produces good numbers of fish.
For anglers fishing from boats, try fishing the middle of the reservoir where the lake drops from 18 to 33 feet. The reservoir is limited to electric motors only. Boats with larger motors can keep them tipped up and out of the water. Be aware of strong winds, which can affect launching and landing boats.
Crappie, Pleasant Hill Reservoir (Richland and Ashland counties): Contains a large number of crappie with good numbers of fish over nine inches. Popular spots are along the rocky ledge on the southern shore and small coves along the southern neck of the reservoir. Focus on trees or logs lying in the water. The northern end becomes more popular in the summer as fish seek more cover.
This lake is an unlimited horsepower lake that attracts a lot of water skiers and personal watercraft. Try fishing in the upper end of the reservoir when the recreational boating makes fishing difficult in the lower part.
Saugeye, Pleasant Hill Reservoir (Richland and Ashland counties): When possible, fish the flat just outside the marina area, which holds fish; as well as the area where the reservoir bends south to the dam. Saugeye fishing can also be good just off the beach area in 10 to 15 feet of water. Try fishing that area at night with a jig tipped with a live minnow near the bottom.
Yellow perch, Findlay Reservoir No. 2 (Hancock County): This reservoir offers some of the best Buckeye State inland yellow perch fishing. Good numbers of large perch over 10 inches are caught every year. Shoreline fishing in the spring and fall can be productive over the fish attraction structures.
If fishing from a boat, start along the dike opposite of the boat ramp and move east. In summer, the deep water in the eastern part of the reservoir usually holds perch. When the reservoir is being filled, the area near the inflow on the northwest dike is usually good for a variety of species. The reservoir has a 10-horsepower limit for gas motors. Wind is usually more intense on this reservoir due to its height. Be careful of the wind direction and speed before venturing out.
• April 23 opened Ohio’s statewide turkey season and hunters in the south zone bagged 3,315 of the big birds during that single day. Not a bad start! Local harvests and the comparative number from last year are: Allen: 6 (8); Hancock: 4 (6); Hardin: 11 (14); Putnam: 5 (9); Seneca: 26 (27); Wood: 3 (2); Wyandot: 6 (18).
• Today and tomorrow: Tri-State Gun Collectors show, Allen County Fairgrounds. Last one until October.
• Today and tomorrow: Free fishing weekend, open to all Ohio residents and extends to all public waters, including Lake Erie and the Ohio River. This is the only weekend all year that doesn’t require a fishing license. Give fishing a try, you might get hooked!
• Tomorrow: Trap shoot, 1 p.m., Mount Blanchard Gun Club, 21655 Delaware Township 186.
• Tuesday: “Pollinators and How to Attract Them,” 6 p.m., Division of Wildlife District Two office, 952 Lima Ave., Findlay. Event is free, with preregistration required by Monday. For information or to register, contact Meredith Gilbert at 419-429-8359 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
• Thursday and Friday: Trap and skeet, open to the public, 5 p.m., UCOA, 6943 Marion Township 243, Findlay.
• May 13 and 17: Ladies day, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. each day, Mount Blanchard Gun Club, 21655 Delaware Township 186. Get a safe introduction to firearms or hone the skills you have. Shotguns, rifles and handguns will be covered. For information, call Jackie Schnapp at 419-957-0459 or Sherri Ziessler at 419-788-4849.
• May 19: Youth fun day, 9 a.m. until everyone is tired out, Mount Blanchard Gun Club, 21655 Delaware Township 186, open to kids 18 years of age and younger. There will be shotgun and .22-caliber rifle shoots that stress proper gun handling and safety combined with a healthy amount of outdoor fun. Targets, ammunition, door prizes and lunch will be provided. Donations will be accepted. For information, call Bob Yoder at 419-273-5057.
• May 20: Ladies’ concealed carry class, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Mount Blanchard Gun Club, 21655 Delaware Township 186. Contact Jackie Schnapp at 419-957-0459 or Sherri Ziessler at 419-788-4849.
Abrams is a retired wildlife officer supervisor for the state Division of Wildlife in Findlay. He can be reached at P.O. Box 413, Mount Blanchard 45867-0413 or via email at email@example.com.