Hotspots for Columbus-Area Bass

Now's the time for some of the best bass fishing of the season, and anglers in central Ohio are privy to some of the finest largemouth and smallmouth waters in the state.

By Greg Keefer

With so many great bass waters in the Columbus area, Ohio anglers need look no further for good largemouth bass angling this month.

"We have many good areas to fish," said Tim Parrett, fisheries biologist with Wildlife District 4 in Athens, which includes the area of the state southeast of Columbus.

"For largemouth bass, one of the best lakes in the district is Tycoon Lake in Gallia County. Tycoon Lake is one of only two lakes in Ohio that has an 18-inch minimum length limit in place," Parrett said.

"We commonly see fish over 5 pounds during our electroshocking surveys. The bass are very healthy; growth rates are good, and the population is comprised of many larger fish.

"Spring and fall are the best times to fish for bass, but fishing is good throughout the year," Parrett continued. "Spinnerbaits, jig-and-pigs and rubber worms work well here."

Photo by Tom Evans

Parrett is excited not only about Tycoon Lake but also about other area lakes within easy driving distance of Columbus.

Every year, Ohio Division of Wildlife biologists conduct electroshocking surveys, water quality studies and creel censuses on selected lakes and rivers. Accumulated data is used to determine slots limits, minimum size regulations and bag limits, all with the goal of improving Ohio's bass fishing.

Here's a look at some of the Columbus area's finest June bass waters.

TYCOON LAKE
Tycoon Lake is part of the larger 684-acre Tycoon Lake Wildlife Area between state Route 325 and state Route 554 in Gallia County. The 204- acre lake is approximately five miles northeast of Rio Grande.

Biologists rate Tycoon Lake as excellent for largemouth bass. The lake is clear and fertile with an abundance of cover that allows fish to grow fast.

Formed by the impounding of Racoon Creek in 1960, Tycoon Lake is a relatively new reservoir with plenty of bass-holding structure.

Some hotspots to try are the shoreline trees along the north and central part of the west banks that were felled and left submerged for fish habitat.

Bass are also attracted by the concrete block structure that is in 9 or 10 feet of water, 20 feet from the floating fishing pier on the east side of the lake.

Local anglers recommend plastic worms or spinnerbaits along the old fencerows and among the subsurface stumps.

Tycoon Lake consistently produces top quality largemouth bass angling, and according to biologist Parrett, Tycoon Lake has the biggest bass in the area. Catch rates are excellent for bass in the 10- to 15-inch range, with larger fish available.

A boat launch ramp, parking area and restroom are off county Road 17 (Tycoon Road).

For more information on the great June bass fishing at Tycoon Lake, contact the Cooper Hollow Wildlife Area manager's office at (614) 682-7524.

BURR OAK LAKE
Another excellent District Four bass lake that comes highly recommended by Parrett is 664-acre Burr Oak Lake.

Burr Oak in Athens and Morgan counties is a part of sprawling Burr Oak State Park.

Burr Oak Lake is long and thin and was formed by impounding the east branch of Sunday Creek, a tributary of the Hocking River. The dam is about three miles north of Glouster on state Route 13.

Early spring fishing for bass is popular on this lake, with excellent catches of largemouth bass reported in June.

A slow-moving artificial worm is recommended for Burr Oak's hefty bass. A favorite local tactic is to cast a plastic worm onto the bank and then slowly work it into deeper water.

Surface lures, worked through stumps and fallen trees near shore, can produce some trophy-size fish at night when many Burr Oak lunkers are taken.

The best largemouth bass fishing is in the southeastern part of the lake - east of the state park campground. There is plenty of cover in this area.

Other hotspots include the boat launch and concession area in the western section off the main lake. The south shoreline adjacent to this area is also good.

Shoreline cover in the northern half of Burr Oak holds bass, as does the marina area at county Road 63.

The most recent electroshocking surveys indicate numerous year classes of bass with individuals in the 5- and 6-pound range. The population has a high concentration of fish greater than 12 inches. A 12- to 15-inch protected slot limit is in effect.

The lake's outlook for largemouth bass fishing is considered to be excellent by the Ohio Division of Wildlife.

Lake depths extend to 30 feet near the dam but generally go to 20 feet in the central section of the lake and down to 10 feet in the northern part.

The state park provides boat launch ramps near the marina on county Road 15, south of the lodge off state Route 78, and at the marina on county Road 63. Bank fishing is possible anywhere there's a level place to stand.

A 10 mile-per-hour speed limit is in effect on the lake.

Burr Oak can be accessed off state routes 13 and 78 northeast of Glouster.

For more information, contact the Burr Oak State Park office at (740) 767-3570.

SALT FORK RESERVOIR
Salt Fork Reservoir is another excellent June bass lake recommended by biologist Parrett. With 2,952 acres of water and 74 miles of shoreline in rugged Guernsey County, Salt Fork is as beautiful as it is impressive.

The lake is part of the nearly 2,000-acre Salt Fork State Park, where amenities include a luxury lodge, cabins, camping, a swimming beach, marinas and boat launches - all just a little over an hour's drive from Columbus. The lake is six miles east of Interstate 77 off U.S. Route 22.

The Ohio Division of Wildlife lists largemouth bass prospects at Salt Fork as excellent. Anglers target largemouths and smallmouths in this lake along shoreline structure and dropoffs. Action peaks in late April, May and June when the fish move to shallower cover.

An intensive electroshocking survey in 1991 was conduced to assess the need for regulation modifications. The study resulted in the implementation of a 15-inch minimum length limit that began in 1992. Another survey in 1998 confirmed the presence of trophy-size largemouths, and anglers have enjoyed the bounty ever since then.

Fishermen should concentrate their efforts along shoreline structure in June, including the hundreds of scattered Christmas trees submerged to provide additional fish habitat. Bass can be found anywhere along the shoreline in shallow water, in the shallow embayments throughout the lake, and especially in the weed beds and rocks in the lower end of the lake.

Boat launches are on county Road 831 (State Park Road R-11), Park Road R-3 below the park cabins, at the end of Park Road R-5, and at the Sugartree Fork Marina off Park Road R-3. Shoreline access for bank fishermen is abundant, with several parking areas provided around the lake.

Boats can be rented at the marina that is operated by the state park office.

The state park and the lake are in some rough country, so it's a good idea to ask for a free map by contacting the park office at (740) 439-3521.

GRIGGS RESERVOIR
Griggs Reservoir is only a stone's throw away from Columbus-area anglers.

This impoundment on the Scioto River was created in the early 1900s to supply water to the city of Columbus. It is off U.S. Route 33 about 7 miles south of Dublin near the Columbus city limits.

This 365-acre reservoir was rated a top B.A.S.S. tournament lake in 2001.

According to Steve Graham, Wildlife District One fisheries supervisor, Griggs Reservoir has a very good population of largemouth bass and is the most popular fishery in Franklin County.

The largemouth bass fishing is excellent, Graham noted, with some nice smallmouths thrown in as a bonus.

Anglers should expect to find largemouths in the upper end of the reservoir north of the island. Hot baits for June bass include 6-inch plastic worms fished along the steep banks, tube baits, small spinners and live bait.

The Scioto River south of the Griggs Reservoir dam provides excellent stream fishing for June bass all the way down through the metropolitan area.

Depths range to 25 feet, with an average of 12 feet. The 15 miles of shoreline provide bank-fishing access along most of the eastern and lower western banks of the lake.

Two boat ramps serve the public on the east side of the reservoir near the dam, which can be accessed by Fishinger Road from U.S. Route 33 or from Dublin Road.

The city of Columbus operates day-use areas, docks and ramps, and it manages the lake's bass fishery in cooperation with the Ohio Division of Wildlife.

For more information on June bass fishing at Griggs Reservoir, contact the city of Columbus at (614) 645-4949.

LAKE SNOWDEN
Located 80 miles southeast of Columbus in Athens County, Lake Snowden is one-half mile northeast of Albany off U.S. Route 50.

Created in 1970 when a branch of Margaret Creek was dammed for flood control, Lake Snowden contains 131 acres of water bordered by seven miles of shoreline. The lake may be relatively small, but it's worth visiting for its June bass fishing.

"Lake Snowden has an excellent largemouth bass population," said Keith Kittle, manager of the Lake Snowden Education and Recreation Park. "Thanks to a slot limit imposed by the ODNR, our bass have matured to a healthy size."

The park was developed for Hocking College and now offers camping, swimming and boating along with some great bass fishing.

A slot limit protecting bass 12- to 15-inches is in effect.

Largemouths begin moving shallow when the water temperature reaches the low 70s, seeking out overhanging brush, submerged trees and weed beds near shore. Bass are taken on spinnerbaits, buzz baits and other surface lures at this time of year.

Lake Snowden's water is clear and relatively deep for such a small lake. It's 40 feet deep near the spillway, which is a good spot, and anglers should try the arms extending out from this area for more top action.

The entire lake is a no-wake zone with a 6-horsepower motor limit.

A boat launch is provided near the beach off of U.S. Route 50 on the south side of the lake.

For more information, contact the park at (740) 698-6373.

DILLON LAKE
"Large numbers of 10- to 14-inch largemouths were recorded during our electroshocking survey," said Dave Bright, Wildlife District Four fisheries supervisor.

Dillon Lake is within Dillon Lake State Park in Muskingum County and has 1,590 acres of water. The lake is an impoundment on the Licking River. Depths go to 33 feet at the dam and average 13 feet throughout the rest of the lake, which is six miles northwest of Zanesville off state Route 146.

Park officer Doug Lindsley said that the lake is very productive for largemouths in June.

"To say that one spot on the lake is better than another is difficult because there are so many good spots," said Lindsley.

"The lake has a large supply of 1- to 2-pound bass," Lindsely added. "It also has some fish up to the 5-pound range." A bonus for anglers is the lake's smallmouth bass, which range from 4 to 5 pounds.

The old river channel holds lots of bass and can be charted with a good sonar unit. Tournament anglers fish along the rugged shoreline with good success, especially in the Big Run and Poverty Run embayments.

Best bets for June bass in Dillon Lake are spinnerbaits and plastic worms.

Unlimited horsepower is allowed at Dillon Lake, and there are four boat-launch ramps available around the lake.

Additional advice and information can be obtained from the park office at (740) 453-4377.

ROSS LAKE
"This lake is heavily populated with largemouth bass. Several individuals were recorded that weigh

ted in the 7- to 9-pound range," said biologist Bright. "This lake is a consistent producer of trophy class largemouth bass."

Ross Lake is a topnotch June bass- fishing destination in Ross County. The lake is 3 1/2 miles east of Chillicothe on Hydell Road. The 143-acre lake is part of the Ross Lake Wildlife Area and is less than 50 miles south of Columbus.

Bass action peaks in the spring. Most bass are caught in the upper half of the lake in and around the stumpy area. As the water warms, these big bass begin shifting toward the middle and lower portions of the take adjacent to the deeper areas.

Depths go to 30 feet at the dam in this shallow lake.

Anglers will find a ramp on the west side of Ross Lake. Three fishing piers cater to shore fishermen including one on the east side of the lake that is handicapped accessible.

The Ohio Division of Wildlife has worked hard at improving the lake's big bass habitat. Nearly 400 Christmas trees were sunk in 1998, and over 50 shoreline trees were cut and allowed to fall into the water in 2000. Vegetarian grass carp were introduced to cut back on underwater vegetation, allowing bass to more efficiently round up their prey.

Ross Lake's lunker bass are taken by surface baits in the upper end of the lake, especially at night.

For more information, contact the Wildlife District Four office at (740) 594-2211.

SENECA LAKE
Another lake with exceptional June bass prospects is Seneca Lake in Noble County. This is a Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District lake that covers 3,550 acres.

An electroshocking survey in 1995 indicated numerous quality bass were available, according to biologist Bright. Several of the fish were greater than 20 inches and weighed over 6 pounds.

An electroshocking survey completed in 1999 showed similar results.

"The lake's largemouth bass population is a notch above phenomenal," says Bright.

A 15-inch minimum size limit is in effect on Seneca Lake to ensure that big bass keep being caught here.

Seneca Lake is one mile east of Senecaville off state Route 313. A boat ramp and marina are available for public use.

June anglers should target the bays with small spinners and 6-inch plastic worms. The lake's upper portions are productive where aquatic vegetation is present. Along the deeper shoreline areas are fallen trees, stumps and brush - more good spots to try.

Seneca Lake has a 299-horsepower motor restriction in place.

Lake maps and brush pile maps can be obtained by contacting the Wildlife District Four office at (740) 594-2211 or the MWCD at (330) 143-6647.

For maps and additional information on the best bass lakes in and around the Columbus area, contact the Wildlife District One at (614) 644-3925 or the District Four office at (740) 594-2211.



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