Fish Ohio celebrates ‘amazing’ catches

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Despite their name, crappie are among Ohio anglers' favorite fish to catch. While there are no limits on crappie in Lake Erie, the division of wildlife has been studying them in inland lakes and reservoirs to ensure regulations there don't result in "small crappie syndrome," giving anglers better chances to catch big ones. (Tim Daniels, Ohio Division of Wildlife, photo)

COLUMBUS — In 2022, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife awarded 9,723 Fish Ohio pins to successful anglers with qualifying catches. These trophy fish join the more than 400,000 catches recognized since 1976 in the Fish Ohio program. 

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. 

Applications for a pin and minimum length requirements are found at fishohio.gov. The pin for 2022 depicts a crappie, and the pin for next year will feature a walleye. 

In 2022, anglers caught 1,348 Fish Ohio walleye on Lake Erie, which measured at least 28 inches long. Lake Erie’s largest Fish Ohio walleye from 2022 was 34 inches. 

Fish Ohio records show that largemouth bass, saugeye and crappie are three of the most popular species at inland lakes across the Buckeye State. A largemouth bass longer than 20 inches, a saugeye longer than 21 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 2022 were Portage Lakes (Summit County), Nimisila Lake (Summit County) 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 may elicit a strike. A few anglers on Acton Lake and Oakthorpe Lake caught trophy largemouth bass longer than 25 inches in 2022. 

Saugeye

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 Buckeye Lake (Fairfield, Licking, and Perry counties), Indian Lake (Logan County), and Tappan Lake (Harrison 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 bait. Artificial lures like twister tails, jigs and crankbaits are also excellent choices. The largest reported saugeye catch in 2022 was 29 inches, a milestone that two anglers reached on Seneca Lake and Tappan Lake.

Crappie

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 crappie from Ohio’s public waters last year was a 19-inch trophy reeled in from Lake Hodgson in Ravenna. 

The 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 16 and older.

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