May is beautiful. Spring is in full bloom and the weather is finally agreeable. If getting on the water isn’t on your mind, it should be. Bassin’ in the Buckeye state is coming of age.
Here’s a sneak peek at where you can get in on some of the state’s best bass action this spring.
PLEASANT HILL RESERVOIR
When it comes to a double bass bite for anglers looking to find both largemouth and smallmouth in one place, fisheries biologist Mike Wilkerson gives this overlooked lake a definite thumbs-up.
“Pleasant Hill consistently rates near the top of the list for both size and numbers of largemouth bass,” said Wilkerson.
The upper end of the lake is the top pick for the largemouth bass and the lower section has a fishable population of smallmouth bass. The bucketmouths sometimes hit the 20-inch mark and the smallies occasionally go 15 inches or so.
The largemouth bass are frequently caught on soft plastic baits and spinnerbaits in the shallow western end of the lake. The smallmouth bass will hit jigs and small crankbaits up along the rocks near the dam, where the water reaches 35 feet deep.
The boat ramp on the northern shore is off State Route 95 on Covert Road. There are no horsepower restrictions. Anglers find a lot of recreational traffic from Memorial Day through Labor Day so it’s easiest to handle a small boat in the early mornings and evenings.
Pleasant Hill is 2 miles southwest of Perrysville and 12 miles southeast of Mansfield.
Call District Three at (330)644-2293 or the MCWD at (419)938-7884 for additional information.
Fish Management Supervisor Doug Maloney goes on record recommending this 642-acre jewel. The lake is set in the hills of Hueston Woods State Park in Butler and Preble counties.
“Our electrofishing surveys show excellent numbers of bass 15 inches and larger,” said Maloney. “Acton is the top bass lake in the Cincinnati area and the number of bass we see per hour during the electrofishing surveys is one of the highest anywhere in Ohio.”
Anglers will find plenty of action from 2- to 4-pound bucketmouths, with the opportunity for a 5-pound lunker now and then. Most of the fish are from 12 to 17 inches. The 15-inch minimum length limit, which has been in effect for over a decade, has done its job well.
The shoreline emerging vegetation, docks, and any lay-down timber are places to start. Casting traditional baits for early-season bass means fast action when conditions are right.
The marina is operated by the state park and boats can be rented off County Road 47 near the nature center. A 10-horsepower restriction is in effect.
Acton is located 5 miles northwest of Oxford.
For additional information contact District 5 at (937)372-9261 or the Hueston Woods State Park at (513)523-6347.
Portage Lakes harbors more big bass than anglers know. The last ODOW fisheries survey was in 2009 and of the fish measuring at least 12 inches, 19 percent were at least 15 inches. The largest was over 20 inches.
East Reservoir covers 379 acres and is known to host some whopper-sized bucketmouths. This is where ODNR fisheries biologist Chris Aman likes to toss a crankbait on occasion; he’s past needing to be convinced that this reservoir and the other Portage lakes are worth fishing.
The Portage Lake system consists of five interconnected major lakes and several smaller lakes totaling 1,681 acres of water. The largest is Turkeyfoot at 664 acres. Structure that Turkeyfoot anglers should check includes the Christmas tree reef submerged about 120 feet from the main-lake shoreline of the island in the lake.
Tournament organizer Rory Franks is another fan and believes the fishing here is just about as good as it gets. He recommends anglers hit the grass flats in Mud and Turkeyfoot lakes with suspending jerkbaits.
Long Lake covers 225 acres and North Reservoir 219. North Reservoir is a good choice for newcomers since there are probably more bass in this lake than in any of the others.
Portage Lakes gets pounded pretty hard as spring progresses. Bring some finesse baits to fool these educated bass.
The 10-mph speed limit is enforced. There is a 400-horsepower restriction. The entire system is no-wake with the exception of parts of East Reservoir and Turkeyfoot.
Portage Lakes is reached via State Routes 93, 224, and 619 near Akron in Summit County.
Contact District 3 at (330)644-2293, the Portage Lakes State Park at (330)644-2220 or Frank’s Bass Fishing Promotions at www.dobass.com.