Ohio's 2006 Fishing Calendar

Ohio's 2006 Fishing Calendar

Here's a sampling of 36 fabulous trips for Buckeye State anglers to consider as they finalize their 2006 fishing vacation plans. (February 2006)

Our annual fishing calendar is back, packed with 36 fishing trips that should keep any angling addict busy all year.

Angling in the Buckeye State is as good as it ever was. The 2006 calendar kicks off with Lake Erie, which is still one of the best sportfishing destinations in the nation. In December, we wrap up the year with another great fishery, one that often doesn't get much credit -- the Ohio River. Loaded with big cats and exciting hybrid bass the Ohio River is a fisherman's dream.

Between these two great defining waters are a slew of bass and crappie waters, catfish holes, trout streams, and world-class muskie lakes.

Here's a closer look at some great places to go fishing in Ohio every month throughout the year.

JANUARY

Walleyes

Lake Erie

It's no secret that Lake Erie is a walleye factory. Recent spawning success has produced strong year classes in 1999, 2001 and 2003. The 1999 fish will measure 20 to 24 inches in length. The 2001 fish will range between 17 and 20 inches, with the 2003 class accounting for plenty of 12- to 16-inch fish. There are even some larger fish from the mid-1990s hatches that could push the 28-inch mark.

The best ice-fishing is almost always in the western basin near the Bass Island complex.

Yellow Perch

Findlay Reservoir No. 2

Constructed in 1968, Findlay Reservoir No. 2 covers 640 acres and hold approximately 5 billion gallons of water for nearby Findlay. The upground reservoir still supplies water to the city, but it's also one of the best fishing destinations in the Ohio Division of Wildlife's District Two.

It's loaded with perch ranging from 7 to 10 inches, so ice-anglers can expect plenty of action this month.

FEBRUARY

Bluegills

Lake La Su An

Located within the Lake La Su An Wildlife Area, Lake La Su An combines with several other area waters to account for 12,000 harvested bluegill each year. Some 30 to 40 percent of the harvested bluegills are in the 8- to 11- inch range, with 98 of the fish being at least 6 inches!

The best lakes are Lake La Su An, Jerry, Clem, and Lou lakes, where pumpkinseeds and redears measuring 8-plus inches are common. Reservations are required, so anglers should call (419) 636-6189 to get in on the action this season.

Saugeyes

Deer Creek Tailwaters

If ice-fishing isn't your thing and you don't want to wait until spring to wet a line, try saugeyes at one of Ohio's many tailwater fisheries. Located in central Ohio, the Deer Creek tailwaters have always been a top destination. Yielding the former state- record saugeye, which weighed 9 pounds and measured 27 inches, the Deer Creek tailwaters are worth a trip in cold weather.

The state has bolstered Deer Creek's saugeye population by stocking more than 300,000 fingerlings each year since 2001. Small jigs tipped with minnows should tempt these coldwater fighters.

MARCH

Steelhead

Lake Erie Tributaries

Every year the Ohio Division of Wildlife releases 400,000 steelhead fingerlings into Conneaut Creek and the Vermilion, Rocky, Chagrin, and Grand rivers. Fish have been averaging 25 inches. The outlook this spring is excellent for fish in the 25-inch class.

Some steelhead enter the central basin streams during the fall or winter while others follow in the spring. Check with local fishing shops for up-to-date reports. Water conditions are also crucial to a successful outing. Flooded or muddy rivers are much harder to fish.

Trout

Mad River

Flowing through southwestern Ohio, the spring-fed Mad River is home to some nice brown trout that can be formidable opponents on a lightweight fly rod.

Five different public access sites provide access to the prime trout water between Zanesfield and Urbana. A map of these sites is available on the ODOW's Web site, www.dnr.state. oh.us.

APRIL

Walleyes

Maumee River

In northwestern Ohio, the Maumee River walleye run is legendary. Every year, anglers pour onto the river to catch their share of the Lake Erie-based fish. The walleyes are easy targets as they travel upstream to spawn, so special regulations are usually in effect: a three-fish limit, a 15-inch minimum length and single-hook-only waters. Check the latest fishing regulations for each water you plan to fish.

Some of the best fishing is found between the Conant Street bridge upriver to Jerome Road in Lucas County.

Crappies

Paint Creek

This 1,190-acre reservoir has always been a solid fishery with good bass fishing and excellent saugeye, catfish and crappie fishing. This month the crappie fishing heads the list. Flooded timber should yield plenty of 9- to 12-inch fish with an occasional 15-incher in the mix.

Traditional techniques including minnows and jigs tipped with minnows should produce good results.

MAY

Crappies

Alum Creek Lake

Covering 3,192 acres, Alum Creek is one of the best Columbus-area fisheries. This month, crappies will be the main attraction. The state is forecasting good numbers of fish in the 8- to 12-inch range. A 9-inch minimum size means you may have to throw back a few fish.

The best region of the lake is the northern basin. Target shallow-water wood in this region.

Smallmouths

Great Miami River

Our first bass destination of the year isn't a largemouth spot, and it's not a lake. While there are plenty of bigmouth lakes to tackle later this year, the place of the hour is a smallmouth river -- the Great Miami.

The best stretches for smallmouths are from Pique downstream to Tipp City and from Miamisburg downstream to Hamilton. Tailwaters below low-head dams such as those in west Carrolton and Hamilton are particularly popular with smallmouth anglers.

JUNE

Smallmouths

Lake Erie

Another top Buckeye State smallmouth fishery is Lake Erie. It'd be hard to plan a fishing calendar in Ohio without mentioning the bronzeback fishing found near and around the Bass Islands. This month the smallie action should be in full swing; however, new regulations enacted last year provide for a closed season between May 1 and June 25. No bass may be kept d

uring this time period, so anglers will have to throw back their catches until the end of the month.

Strong year-classes from 1993, 1994, 1998 and 1999 should dominate the fishery. Expect plenty of 14- to 19-inch fish from these classes. Of course, good numbers of larger fish are caught every year.

Channel Catfish

Ohio River

Most of the 10 Ohio River pools bordering the Buckeye State should have good flathead and channel cat fishing. However, recent ODOW reports indicate that the Pike Island and Greenup pools may be the best channel cat pools. Old lock and dam sites, warmwater discharges, steam confluences and the water below the main locks and dams are top spots. Channel cats up to 25 inches may be caught in these waters.

Try chicken livers or night crawlers fished on the bottom.

JULY

Largemouths

Tycoon Lake

Tycoon Lake is a small 204-acre lake nestled in the rolling hills of southeastern Ohio. The small size of the water and an electric motor-only regulation means no summertime pleasure-boat traffic. Coupled with the lake's big bass population, Tycoon is the perfect summertime escape.

A 15-inch minimum was initiated in 1995 to bolster the lake's big bass population. In 2001, an 18-inch limit was implemented. Since then an electroshocking survey (2004) indicated good numbers of fish over the 15- inch mark, which is good news for bass anglers.

The entire northwestern is an ODOW-recommended hotspot.


If ice-fishing isn't your thing and you don't want to wait until spring to wet a line, try saugeyes at one of Ohio's many tailwater fisheries.
 

Channel Catfish

Findlay Reservoir No. 2

Back to Findlay Reservoir No. 2, and this time the ice is gone and the target is channel cats. With good numbers of fish measuring 18 to 27 inches, it's not hard to see why Findlay Reservoir No. 2 is one of Ohio's best channel cat fisheries.

Cut baits and night crawlers fished near the bottom have always been effective. Local anglers also employ balloon fishing. If you haven't tried balloon fishing, you may want to give it try this summer. Channel cats are not the only fish taken by balloon anglers. Walleyes are also fooled by this unique tactic.

AUGUST

Yellow Perch

Lake Erie

Each August, the yellow perch fishing on Lake Erie heats up. The great fishing continues into September and October. A strong 2003 year-class will fuel the fishery with plenty of 7- to 8-inch fish. Additionally, there are plenty of fish from the 2001 year-class that will measure 9 to 12 inches this season.

If you are looking for jumbo fish (perch over 13 inches) you may want to search out shallow rocky reefs with gobies or other forage fish.

Channel Catfish

Bressler Reservoir

Bressler Reservoir is an upground reservoir built to provide a water supply. It contains a good population of channel cats including plenty of 20- to 26-inch fish, with an occasional 20-pound-plus specimen being taken every year.

Cut baits, chicken livers or night crawlers fished on the bottom will produce fish. Balloon fishing is also popular at Bressler Reservoir.

SEPTEMBER

Muskies

Leesville Lake

Every year, Leesville Lake is at the top of the list, or close to it, when it comes to sheer numbers of muskies caught. Last year, anglers reported more than 400 muskies caught at the lake, 69 of which measured more than 42 inches in length. This year promises to be another top year for muskie fishermen.

Muskies will start to feed more actively again this month as the water temperatures start to cool.

Largemouths

Salt Fork Lake

Since 1992, there has been a 15- inch limit on smallmouths and largemouths at Salt Fork Lake. In 1998, an ODOW survey indicated that the limits seemed to be working well, with evidence of a high-quality largemouth bass population found during the survey. The state expects another excellent year in 2006.

OCTOBER

Rainbow Trout

Stocked Lakes

Lakes all around the state will be stocked this month and next with rainbow trout averaging 10 to 13 inches. Stocked trout are usually fairly easy to catch and provide a great change of pace for anglers.

Many of the lakes will receive between 500 and 2,000 trout. For a complete listing of stocked lakes and stocking quotas, call your local district office of the ODOW or call 1-800-WILDLIFE.

Largemouths

Knox Lake

Knox Lake is arguably the best bass lake in the state. With an 18- inch minimum that has been in effect since 1991, the 481-acre lake features plenty of 10- to 18-inch largemouths. However, fish up to 7 pounds may be caught at this central Ohio fishery.

This month, the bass should be very active feeding on forage before the cold months set in.


Like the Mad River, the Clear Fork Branch Mohican River is stocked with brown trout. There are several public access sites, but Mohican State Park is a good place to start.
 

A 10-horsepower motor limit is in effect.

NOVEMBER

Saugeyes

Buckeye Lake

Saugeyes were first introduced in 1993. The experiment was successful, and since then the ODOW has stocked the lake with more saugeye fingerlings each year. The goal is 100 fingerlings per acre, which works out to about 280,000 fish per year. In 2002, 370,000 saugeyes were stocked, and in 2004, an additional 330,000 fingerlings were released. More than 600,000 fingerlings were stocked in 2004.

The outlook for 2006 is promising. Crankbaits are a staple until the lake freezes over. Then try ice-fishing with jigs near Fairfield Beach.

Trout

Clear Fork River

Like the Mad River, the Clear Fork Branch Mohican River is stocked with brown trout. There are several public access sites, but Mohican State Park is a good place to start.

Clear Fork browns will range between 8 and 15 inches in length. There is a 12-inch minimum and a two-fish creel limit.

For a map of access sites along the Clear Fork check out the ODOW's Web site at

www.dnr.state.oh.us.

DECEMBER

Saugers

Ohio River

The sauger is native to the Ohio River system. Crossing saugers and walleyes produces the famed saugeye that the ODOW s

tocks in many lakes and tailwaters across the state. For pure-bred sauger action this month, try the Ohio River.

Most of the pools bordering Ohio should provide good sauger fishing this winter. However, the R. C. Byrd Pool is rated excellent by the ODOW. Plenty of 10- to 13-inch fish will fuel the fishery. Try fishing below Racine Dam or at stream confluences and warmwater discharges.

Hybrid Striped Bass

Ohio River

Also on the mighty Ohio this month, anglers can tap into the river's lesser-known hybrid white bass fishery. Hybrids are a cross between white bass and striped bass. On the Ohio River these fish usually range in size from 10 to 27 inches. Five-pounders are not uncommon.

If you have never tangled with a hybrid this is the month to do so. They fight hard and can be found in many of the same areas as saugers once the cold weather sets in. Warmwater discharges are particularly productive during the winter months.

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