Winter doesn’t shut down the fishing in Ohio, at least not for anglers who are after the popular saugeye. A saugeye is the offspring of a female walleye and a male sauger. They are fast growing, excellent eating and offer fishermen a good fight.
Thanks to the efforts of the Ohio Division of Wildlife, fishermen can expect to catch saugeyes year ’round. Here’s where to find some great saugeye fishing in open water and on the ice near you this month:
According to Nick Radabaugh, an ODOW biologist, Indian Lake, Buckeye Lake and Deer Creek are good bets for winter saugeyes in District One.
The Ohio Division of Wildlife stocks over 500,000 saugeˆye fingerlings into Indian Lake each year, and it is currently one of the state’s most popular saugeye fisheries. In freezing weather, ice-fishermen get plenty of action with jig-and-minnow rigs. As winter turns to early spring, anglers target the Moundwood and Lakeview areas.
Indian Lake State Park has a boat ramp and docks provided for campers. More lodging is available about 10 miles southeast in Bellefontaine.
The lake is in Logan County. It may be reached from state routes 33, 708, 117, 366 and 235.
For more information, contact the Indian Lake State Park office at (937) 843-2717 or the ODOW’s Wildlife District One office at (614) 644-3925.
For maps and other information, call toll-free (800) WILDLIFE.
Less than 25 miles east of downtown Columbus lies Buckeye Lake, one of the oldest impoundments in the state. This shallow lake is about 6 feet deep in most parts, with a maximum depth of about 14 feet in the channels. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources stocks the lake with fingerling saugeyes and hybrid striped bass annually. Ice-fishing is popular with local fishermen, and frigid days bring out the saugeye anglers, who fish jigs tipped with minnows or bright plastic trailers on or near the bottom. As spring approaches, trolling with baitfish imitators or casting shallow crankbaits will produce some strikes.
Buckeye Lake is accessible from state routes 79, 204 and 13. A variety of lodging is available in Columbus and Reynoldsburg. Although there are no camping areas in the park, a KOA is available nearby.
For additional information, contact the Buckeye Lake State Park office at (740) 467-2690, or call the ODOW’s District One office at (614) 644-3925 for fishing reports and maps.
Deer Creek Lake
Deer Creek Lake is not to be confused with Deer Creek Reservoir, which lies in the northeastern part of the state. Deer Creek Lake is four miles south of Mt. Sterling along state Route 207. In 1978, it was the first of Ohio’s lakes to be stocked with saugeyes. The experiment was successful, leading the way to the current abundance of saugeye fishing opportunities in Ohio.
Fingerling saugeyes are stocked annually, and the tailwaters provide great winter fishing. When engineers reduce the water level in fall, good numbers of fish become trapped below the dam. Best results come with slow presentations of jigs with bright trailers or with live minnows fished on the bottom.
In early spring, the riprap areas along the dam face are good producers when fished with imitation minnow lures.
The Ohio Division of Parks and Wildlife operates a lodge, marina, boat ramps and campground at Deer Creek State Park. Additional information may be obtained by calling the park office at (740) 869-3124, or by contacting the ODOW’s District One office at (614) 644-3925.
Lake LeCompte is in the northeast corner of Hancock County and has excellent prospects for saugeyes, with many fish from the 2007 year-class now in the 25-inch range.
Lodging is available in Fostoria, and there are a number of campgrounds in the Tiffin-Fostoria area.
For more information, contact the ODNR’s Wildlife District Two office at (419) 424-5000, or the Fostoria Parks and Recreation Department at (419) 435-8982, ext. 278.
Pleasant Hill Lake
The forecast for saugeyes at Pleasant Hill Lake is excellent. Located near Perrysville, the 850-acre lake permits unlimited horsepower motors, and there is a public boat launch near the marina.
Winter angling for saugeyes will be good near the spillway. Pleasant Hill Lake Park and Campgrounds offers 380 campsites with full hookups and electricity, cabins and a marina with boat rentals, fuel and limited supplies. There is also a restaurant and camp store.
Pleasant Hill Lake is northeast of Butler near the intersection of state routes 39 and 95.
Additional information is available from Pleasant Hill Lake Park at (419) 938-7884, Pleasant Hill Lake Marina at (419) 938-6488, or the ODOW’s Wildlife District Two office at (419) 424-5000.
Charles Mill Reservoir
Charles Mill Reservoir is owned by the Muskingum Conservancy District. It and provides abundant opportunities for saugeye anglers. The Black Fork of the Mohican River flows into the reservoir from the north and out over the dam at the south end. The north and east basins are shallow, but the north basin water is the most turbid. The eastern basin has the deepest and clearest water.
The tailwaters below the dam provide an excellent location to fish for saugeyes in winter. In early spring, jig the sandy bottom areas in the shallow eastern basin when fish move into the warmer waters.
The 1,350-acre reservoir has two boat ramps, a campground and a full-service marina with a gas dock. The MWCD park offers cabins and picnic grounds, and there is additional lodging available in Mansfield.
Charles Mill Reservoir is about one mile west of Mifflin on state Route 603 off U.S. Route 30.
For more information, contact the Muskingum Water Conservancy District office at (419) 424-5000, or the ODOW’s Wildlife District Two office at (419) 424-5000.
Atwood Lake is another of the Muskingum Water Conservancy impoundments. The 1,540-acre lake has the reputation of being one of the best saugeye fisheri
es in the state. It is stocked with fingerlings, and some saugeyes measuring 26 inches have been reported.
Saugeyes tend to congregate near points and dropoffs, although it may take some exploration to find the right spot. Saugeyes tend to hold tight on the bottom, so they are easily missed with electronic gear. Jig and minnow or jig and night crawler combinations are favorites with Atwood Lake regulars, but plastic trailers bounced slowly on the bottom are also productive.
Atwood Lake has two full-service marinas with a restaurant at Atwood Lake West. There is a 25-horsepower limit. The park offers over 500 campsites along with cabins, a laundry and a camp store. Atwood Lake Resort has 104 rooms and cabins.
The lake is on state Route 542 in western Carroll County. The dam is off state Route 212 in Tuscarawas County.
For more information, contact the MWCD at (877) 363-8500 or the ODOW’s District Three office at (330) 644-2293. Boating information may be obtained from the Atwood Lake Boats West marina at (330) 364-4703 or the Atwood Lake East marina at (330) 735-2323.
For resort information or reservations, call (800) 362-6406 or visit the Atwood Lake Resort Web site at www.atwoodlakeresort.com.
Clendening Lake is Ohio’s largest undeveloped lake. The long, narrow impoundment with its dam at Tippecanoe off state Route 800 covers 1,800 acres. A wooded shoreline and 10-mile-per-hour speed limit help maintain the lake’s wilderness ambience. Maximum depths are about 20 feet.
Saugeyes are stocked yearly, and some fish over 25 inches have been reported. Small jigs tipped with minnows or night crawlers are favorites with Clendening fishermen.
There is a full-service marina and a campground that includes 45 full hookup RV sites. Public boat launch ramps are available at county Road 6 on the west end, township Road 92 near the middle of the lake, and at state Route 799 on the east end. The centrally located ramp area includes a marina, restaurant, restrooms and nearby camping and picnic grounds.
Additional information is available from the MWCD at (877) 363-8500 and from the ODOW’s District Three office at (330) 644-2293. The Clendening Marina may be reached at (740) 658-3691.
Another Muskingum Watershed Conservancy lake that offers great saugeye fishing is Leesville Lake. The maximum depth of the 1,011-acre lake is 40 feet, and there is a 10-horsepower motor limit.
Jigs with night crawlers or minnows are recommended for catching Leesville’s plentiful saugeyes, but anglers also report good results using crankbaits.
Campgrounds are available near Clow’s Marina and Petersburg Marina. The campground near Clow’s Marina is operated by the Atwood Park office. Several hotels are available a couple of miles away in Sherrodsville.
The lake is southeast of Sherrodsville on county Road 22 and state Route 332 south of Carrollton.
For more information, call the MWCD at (877) 363-8500, the ODOW’s District Three office at (330) 644-2293 or Clow’s Marina at (330) 343-6780.
With 47 miles of shoreline, Tappan Lake offers the most accessible bank-fishing of all the Muskingum Water Conservancy District lakes. The lake covers 2,131 acres and, according to Matt Wolfe of the ODOW’a District Three office, it is gaining in popularity as a saugeye fishery.
During winter drawdowns, Wolfe said that saugeyes gather around the bridge openings. In early spring, they move into warmer, shallower areas.
A jig tipped with a minnow or night crawler is the fisherman’s best bet for luring early-season saugeyes. Successful cold-weather anglers fish their rigs deep with a slow retrieve.
This big lake has a 299-horsepower motor limit, and has three boat launch ramps. There is a full-service marina with a restaurant that overlooks the lake. Tappan Lake Park and Campgrounds offers 500 campsites, cabins, laundry and a store.
U.S. Route 250 runs for seven miles along the north side of the reservoir and state Route 646 intersects it from the north. Long bays on the north are bordered by township roads 213, 220 and 228.
For more information, contact the MWCD at (877) 363-8500, the ODOW’s District Three office at (330) 644-2293, or call Tappan Lake Park at (740) 922-3649.
Piedmont Lake is a long, narrow impoundment in Belmont County with a small portion in Harrison County. The 2,270-acre lake meanders through rough, heavily wooded, unglaciated hills, and is considered to be the most scenic of all the MWCD lakes. Piedmont Lake is an excellent, well-stocked saugeye fishery. Old roadbeds and dropoffs on the lake’s lower end provide opportunities for ice-fishing.
There are two public launch ramps and a full-service marina on this 10-horsepower motor limit lake. The marina maintains over 80 campsites and operates a motel.
The lake is on state Route 22 about 10 miles north of Interstate Route 70 off state Route 800 near Cambridge. Salt Fork State Park, the largest in Ohio, is just a few miles away from the lake.
To find out more about Piedmont Lake, contact the MCWD at (877) 363-8500, the ODOW’s District Four office at (740) 589-9930, or call the Piedmont Marina at (740) 658-3735.
The east end of Paint Creek is deep, with steep limestone bluffs. The west end is shallower, with more sloping banks. The best saugeye fishing is in the tailwaters below the dam, where anglers take fish on jigs tipped with minnows or night crawlers. Casting silver spinnerbaits also brings good results.
Three boat ramps, a marina and a Class A campground are maintained by the ODNR Division of Parks and Recreation. Paint Creek is one mile north of U.S. Route 50 on Rapid Forge Road.
For more information, contact the ODOW’s District Five office at (937) 372-9261. To find out more about the park’s facilities, call Paint Creek State Park at (937) 365-1401.
For a map of Paint Creek Wildlife Area, call (800) WILDLIFE.
FOR YOUR INFORMATION
To learn more saugeye angling in the Buckeye State, contact the Ohio Division of Travel and Tourism at (800) 282-5393, or visit the agency’s Web site at www.discoverohio. com.