Our Finest Late Summer Muskie Lakes

Muskies in the 50-inch class show up every season in Ohio. State fisheries biologists say the new state-record muskie is out there waiting for you!

Muskie fishing in the Buckeye State is coming of age. Big fish and good numbers of them have put Ohio in the forefront as one of the best muskie-fishing destinations in the Midwest.

During 2007, the Ohio Division of Wildlife stocked over 19,500 10-inch muskies into Ohio waters. In just a few years, these fish will join ranks with muskies already being caught in the 40- to 50-inch range and tipping the scales at 30 pounds or more.

All you have to do is know where to go to get in on the action. The following is a sampling of our best bets for this month:

CLEAR FORK RESERVOIR
Muskie prospects in Clear Fork are excellent. A few years ago, the ODOW estimated that in this 1,000-acre lake, there were three muskies per acre -- a population density that may be unrivaled anywhere. Fish caught averaged about 30 inches, and not much has changed.

These fish provide fast action while boasting one of the best angler catch rates in the nation.


A few years ago, biologists electro-shocked what would be the new state-record muskie if that fish had been caught on hook and line. But so far, that Clear Fork Lake monster hasn't shown up in the record book.
 

The ODOW uses Clear Fork as a broodstock lake for the state's hatchery program. Some of the big brood fish are released into the lake to keep the numbers running high.

A few years ago, biologists electro-shocked what would be the new state-record muskie if that fish had been caught on hook and line. But so far, that Clear Fork Lake monster hasn't shown up in the record book.

Hotspots during August are along the steep banks where the fish herd huge schools of shad. The submerged humps near the dam are likewise good. Trolling is effective in the deeper weedbeds throughout the lake.

Clear Fork lies in Richland and Morrow counties northwest of Lexington on state routes 97 and 314. An 8-miles-per-hour speed limit is enforced. For more information, contact the ODOW at (419) 429-8370, or the Clear Fork Lake manager's office at (419) 884-1408.

LEESVILLE LAKE
Leesville Lake is always among the top muskie lakes in the state, based on total numbers of muskellunge reported to the Ohio Huskie Muskie Club. (Continued)

Few anglers have topped the record of Don Weaver, past president of the Ohio Huskie Muskie Club. Weaver calls the lake his home water, and he's a common sight on the water throughout the season. In his lifetime, he's landed well over 600 muskies most of them on Leesville.

The lake covers 1,045 acres in Carroll County about five miles south of Carrollton. Access is from state routes 39 and 212.

For more information, contact the ODOW at (330) 644-2293, or the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District at 1-877-363-8500.

PYMATUNING LAKE
Pymatuning is a trophy muskie fishery. The minimum-length limit here is 30 inches, and anglers should expect to catch a higher percentage of big fish here than in other waters.

With 14,650 acres of water, the fish have plenty of room to grow. In 2006, according to OHMC catch statistics, a total of 59 Pymatuning muskies longer than 42 inches were landed by the end of November.

Start trolling the south end of the lake along the manmade structure in about 15 feet of water. Crankbaits and in-line spinners in natural colors are good bets. The stumpfields, rocks and weedbeds north of the state Route 85 causeway can be muskie magnets. Depths reach 25 feet in this area, and the fish have access to good cover, food and cooler water.

Pymatuning borders both Ohio and Pennsylvania, and a fishing license from either state will keep boaters legal. Shore-bound anglers in Ohio must possess an Ohio fishing license.

A 10-horsepower restriction is in effect.

For more information, call the ODOW at (330) 644-2293, or the Pymatuning State Park office at (440) 293-6030.

BERLIN LAKE
Muskies have room to roam on Berlin. During the hottest weather, they'll be on the deepest structure in the lake, but it's always worth checking the river system east of state Route 14.

The tapering points along the old channel concentrate prey species that in turn draw in hungry muskies.

Jigs tipped with large plastic shad, lizards and other creatures can be used to ply the rocky structure on the main lake basin, some of which dips down to 60 feet. The dam area has rocky points that will occasionally hold a muskie or two.

Anglers should start near the Mill Creek area. Troll big crankbaits for fish that easily range past the 42-inch mark.

Berlin covers 3,280 acres in Mahoning, Portage and Stark counties. It's the only lake in Ohio where natural reproduction plays a major role. There aren't a lot of muskies in Berlin Lake, but the fish that are here are worth working for.

Additional information is available from the ODOW by calling (330) 644-2293.

PIEDMONT LAKE
Piedmont Lake has produced muskies tipping the scales at 50 pounds. The numbers aren't great, but this is one of the best spots to try for a true Ohio trophy.

Over 30 tons of broken clay tiles have been added to supplement the lake's naturally rocky cover. Over 200 shoreline trees have been dropped into the water, along with hundreds of old Christmas trees, any of which can hold a hungry muskie. Weedy bays and the shallow stumps on the eastern end of the lake can be hotspots as well.

Improper landing is a leading cause of muskie mortality. Getting their gills tangled in a net, letting caught fish flop around in the boat or keeping them out of the water for more than a few seconds can leave your big catch belly-up and lost forever within minutes of being released.

Piedmont Lake lies in Belmont, Guernsey and Harrison counties and covers 2,273 acres. A 10-horsepower motor restriction is in place.

For more information, contact the ODOW at (740) 589-993

0, or the Muskingum Soil and Water and Conservation District at (330) 343-6647.

ALUM CREEK RESERVOIR
This is the preferred destination for many central-Ohio muskie hunters. One of them is Elmer Heyob Jr., a noted muskie expert who in years past was the ODOW's liaison to the Ohio Huskie Muskie Club.

By Heyob's estimate, the fishing doesn't get much better than it is at Alum Creek. The population density isn't as great as in Clear Fork and Leesville, but there's probably an average-sized muskie per acre. And those are the small ones!

Trolling is a good bet on Alum Creek. Since there's not much submerged vegetation to concentrate the muskies, they can be found just about anywhere.

Alum Creek Lake covers 3,192 acres in Delaware County north of Columbus. The lake is accessible off Interstate Route 71 on state routes 36, 37 and 521.

For more information, contact the ODOW at (614) 644-3925, or the Alum Creek State Park office at (740) 548-4631.

SALT FORK LAKE
Salt Fork isn't the place to go to catch a lot of muskies. But if you're looking for a real rod-bender, this is the place to be. Catching fish that approach the 50-inch mark is an experience worth writing home about.

The lake is long, thin and deep, following the wooded ridges that surround it. Shallow embayments hold old timber and sparse vegetation and drop off quickly into deeper water.

On the north branch of the lake, a manmade reef attracts both prey species and predators. The state park has a map showing the locations of over 2,000 submerged Christmas trees.

According to OHMC records, Ohio's muskie anglers release 97 percent of their catch, and Salt Fork is no exception. Some of these fish are old and experienced and enticing them to bite can be a challenge.

Salt Fork covers nearly 2,815 acres seven miles east of Cambridge on U.S. Route 22 in Guernsey County.

For more information, contact the ODOW at (740) 589-9930, or the Salt Fork State Park office at (740) 439-3521.

Anglers are encouraged to record information about their catches at http://web.tusco.net/ohiohuskiemuskieclub, the Ohio Huskie Muskie Club's Web site.

Visit the ODOW's Web site at www.dnr.state.oh.usfor downloadable lake maps.

For information on where to stay near your favorite Ohio muskie lake, call the Ohio Division of Travel and Tourism at 1-800-282-5393.

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