ODNR recommends Berlin, Milton, and Pymatuning for anglers
Northeast Ohio’s public lakes and reservoirs teem with fish such as bass, crappie, and saugeye according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division 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 the Ohio River.
ODNR suggests few areas close to the Valley that anglers may want to visit:
Berlin Lake (Mahoning, Portage, and Stark counties) – This lake has consistently seen an increase in largemouth bass and smallmouth bass in abundance over the past five years. While the abundances have increased, the overall size structure of the populations hasn’t suffered. The Division of Wildlife’s most recent electrofishing survey showed a high-quality size distribution of bass longer than 15 inches.
Lake Milton (Mahoning County) – Crappie fishing at Lake Milton often yields large fish. The Division of Wildlife conducted black crappie and white crappie population assessments at Lake Milton in 2022. Growth rates were high, with many crappie reaching 8 inches in length by two years of age. This is an established benchmark for quality crappie growth. Nearly a quarter of the sampled crappie population was longer than 10 inches. Plentiful and large crappie make Lake Milton a sure bet for spring action.
Atwood Lake (Carroll and Tuscarawas counties) – Arguably the most consistent producer of quality saugeye, this lake should be on any saugeye angler’s destination list for 2023. Recent Division of Wildlife surveys point to a saugeye population that is more abundant than regional and statewide averages. A large proportion of the population sits in the desired 15- to 18-inch size range. Atwood Lake shows strong survival of its annually stocked saugeye.
Leesville Lake (Carroll County) – Tucked in beautiful rolling landscapes, this reservoir has become a gem. Most notable are the large redear sunfish that have developed here. Presently, Leesville Lake has an abundant population of redear sunfish with many exceeding 9 inches in length. These chunky and tasty panfish are sure to add some excitement to a scenic and relaxing fishing trip.
East Reservoir (Summit County) – Part of the Portage Lakes chain, East Reservoir is connected to West Reservoir and Turkeyfoot Lake, where the primary public boat launch is located. The Division of Wildlife sampled East Reservoir in 2022 for channel catfish and the results didn’t disappoint, with some channel catfish reaching 32 inches in length. Further, East Reservoir channel catfish are exhibiting exceptional growth rates and a large proportion of the sampled fish were longer than 20 inches.
Pymatuning Lake (Ashtabula County) – This mainstay of Ohio’s and Pennsylvania’s muskellunge fishery is currently firing on all cylinders. The Division of Wildlife and the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission work in partnership to manage Pymatuning Lake’s fisheries. Spring muskellunge trap netting surveys have occurred annually on Pymatuning for the past 40 years. Twice in the last five years, the spring surveys logged a new record for the number of muskellunge longer than 30 inches that were sampled. The surveys affirm that the lake’s muskellunge fishery is characterized by a high abundance of fish with plenty reaching trophy sizes. The Division of Wildlife encourages muskie anglers to report their catch in the Muskie Angler Log.
For $25 Ohio residents can obtain a one-year license. Youth under the age of 16 can fish for free, and all Ohio residents can fish without purchasing a license during Free Fishing Days on June 17-18. All size and daily limits apply during these two days.