The ''Top 5'' Places to Fish in Northern Ohio

Being a lifelong native of Northern Ohio, I have spent countless hours exploring and fishing this area. I feel blessed that our north coast borders Lake Erie and the lake itself and subsequent tributaries offer amazing fishing opportunities. I will cover five of my favorite locations to fish including Lake Erie itself and four great tributaries going from west to east.


  • Lake Erie- From Toledo to Cleveland and beyond, Ohio has great access to Lake Erie. Numerous marinas line the coast and a good number of public launches are available for use as well. Non boaters have access with an astonishing number of charters and even a few options with head-boats (the latter being highly economical). The coast is also lined with many parks and piers that afford shore fishing opportunities on the lake. The fishing in Lake Erie is world class for several species, this would include what we consider the "Big 3". No this is not LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh... it is Walleye, Smallmouth Bass and Yellow Perch. More recently this past decade, you can add a big 4th main sport fish, and that is the Steelhead. These species represent the majority of what is targeted but many other species are available including Channel Catfish, Bullhead, Freshwater Drum, White Perch and Common Carp.

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  • Maumee River- The Maumee River is especially popular in the Spring when there is a run of Walleye that enter the river to spawn, and it is followed by a run of White Bass. While this makes the river a very popular fishing hotspot, it get's only marginal attention after spring. What many people don't realize is that it fishes well year round. The main species targeted are Smallmouth Bass and Channel Catfish. One other unique species you can target is Flathead Catfish. This Maumee is large and one of only a few places that supports Flathead Catfish in the region. Plenty of access to the river in downtown Toledo (shore fishing) through to the first dam at Mary Jane Thurston Park (wading)... beyond the dam and all the way to the Indiana border it fishes well.

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  • Portage River- As you travel towards the middle of Ohio's north coast, you will find Port Clinton, Ohio. This popular tourist town has a great fishing river in it, that is largely overlooked. This is likely due to the fact that the tourists are focused on the Lake Erie Islands and the charter fishing. The river has exceptional Channel Catfish, Largemouth Bass, Crappie, and Bluegill, and many other species are well represented.

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  • Sandusky River- There is probably no river in Ohio that I have fished more than the Sandusky River. While popular in the spring like the Maumee River for Walleye and White Bass, it too, is worthy of fishing nearly year round. Fantastic Channel Catfish and Common Carp, as well as plenty of bass and panfish. Access is great in Downtown Fremont, south of Fremont off of State Route 53, and in Tiffin.

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  • Vermilion River- The Vermilion River is on the western edge of 'Steelhead Alley'. There are two unique draws for me to this river, the available trophy Steelhead that enter the river in the fall that are present into Spring and the geographical beauty of the river itself. For those of you familiar with NW Ohio, you know how welcoming it is to find a river that simply isn't laying on a flat landscape. This river is very scenic as it winds through many areas of gorges that are quite picturesque. Along with the Steelhead, there is great Smallmouth Bass fishing and plenty of various suckers and carp.

Some helpful resources:

ODNR Lake Erie Public Access
Ohio Fishing Forum, divided by region and even species forums
ODNR Wildlife, main page

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