These five lakes are where you need to be this month for trophy-class muskie fishing with minimal competition. (August 2007)
Photo by Matt Curatolo.
For Ohio's muskie anglers, August can often be a challenging month. The sun is still beating down, and the water temperature is as high as it gets all year. And recreational boat traffic is at an all-time high.
However, anglers just keep plugging away. Why? The answer is very simple: The fish are biting!
Many fishermen opt to fish after dark this month. Others target smaller bodies of water that have strict horsepower limits, and little or no annoying boat traffic.
Luckily for Ohioans, there's a wide variety of lakes to choose from that will certainly cater to any angler's wants and needs.
Last year, a reported 1,904 muskies were caught in Ohio waters. Eight of the reported fish were longer than 50 inches, and 213 of them qualified for the Ohio Huskie Muskie Club, at 42 inches or better.
The reports were provided by the Ohio Huskie Muskie Club and prepared by Ed Lewis, an Ohio Division of Wildlife fisheries biologist. Lewis cautioned that those numbers are not entirely accurate, since some anglers do not report their catches. However, they are a good example of what goes on within the diehard muskie community, as most serious anglers do participate and report their catches.
Based on anglers' reports, here's a look at the Buckeye State's top five muskie waters:
Leesville has captured the top spot yet again this summer. Of the 1,904 reported muskies taken in Ohio, 635 of them came from Leesville. Aside from just being a good numbers lake, Leesville Lake is known as a trophy muskie fishery as well. In 2006, it produced 113 Huskie Muskie Club qualifiers, including one fish over 50 inches. No other lake in the state even came close to stacking up.
Leesville Lake, in Carroll County, has a reputation for being heavily fished. The 10-horsepower motor limitation tends to eliminate most pleasure boaters and water-bikers, but the angling pressure can often grow overwhelming.
Matt Wolfe, an ODOW District Three fisheries biologist, once predicted that the 2006 season would be a banner year for Leesville Lake. He turned out to be right on the money, and all indicators point in the same direction for the 2007 season as well.
On many Ohio lakes, anglers are now targeting suspended fish, but most anglers target weedy flats. Casting seems to be popular on Leesville during daylight hours. But during the summer months, slow-trolling after dark is popular.
Two public launch ramps are available to accommodate anglers on Leesville. The lake may be accessed from state Route 212 about two miles southeast of Sherrodsville.
For more information on Leesville Lake or to request a map, contact the ODOW's Wildlife District Three headquarters at (330) 644-2293.
ALUM CREEK RESERVOIR
Alum Creek is in Delaware County near Columbus, one mile west of Interstate 71 on U.S. Route 36 and state Route 37. Alum Creek offers anglers 3,269 acres of fishable water.
Last year, a reported 1,904 muskies were caught in Ohio waters. Eight of the reported fish were longer than 50 inches, and 213 of them were qualified for the Ohio Huskie Muskie Club, at 42 inches or better.
The muskie bite on Alum Creek is one of the most dependable in the state. In August, anglers focus on suspended fish. In an effort to find oxygen-rich water, muskies often hold near the thermocline that develops on the lake every summer.
According to Elmer Heyob, an ODOW District One fisheries biologist, few fish will be feeding in shallow water because it's too warm and lacks sufficient oxygen in most cases.
Trolling is by far the most popular and effective way to catch muskies on this lake. The lake's main points, necked-down areas and tributary inlets are among the best areas to target.
Small streams entering the lake can create an area of decreased water temperature and increased oxygen levels. This will attract indigenous forage fish and as a result, draw feeding muskies into the shallows.
Alum Creek produced a total of 314 muskies in 2006. No 50-inch fish were reported. However, 13 Huskie Muskie Club fish were caught.
Currently, there are no horsepower restrictions posted for Alum Creek Lake. For more information, contact the ODOW's District One headquarters at (614) 644-3925.
For tourism information and accommodations, try the Alum Creek State Park office at (740) 548-4631.
For Ohio muskie anglers near Youngstown, Lake Milton is a good option. It provides healthy numbers of fish, and trophy-sized muskellunge are not uncommon, either.
In 2006, Milton placed third for the total number of muskies caught, with 239 reported catches. Ten of those were Huskie Muskies.
Lake Milton lies in Mahoning County and can be accessed off state Route 534 some 15 miles west of Youngstown. The lake has no horsepower restrictions.
According to Lewis, this 1,684-acre lake is not regularly stocked. It receives muskies only if fingerlings are left over after the scheduled stockings. But Lake Milton does have a natural population of muskies and is fast gaining a reputation as a great muskie fishery.
One of Lake Milton's greatest features is the relatively low angling pressure it receives. A muskie angler might go all day without seeing a fellow trophy hunter.
Milton has several cold streams feeding into it. Fishermen targeting the water near and into these tributaries could enjoy some great success.
Trolling near the dam on the north end of the lake has proved to be productive as well. The fish typically suspend in this area.
To obtain more information on Lake Milton and its muskie fishery, contact the ODOW's District Three office at (330) 644-2293.
Located off U.S. Route 22 in Belmont County, Piedmont Lake is home to some of the largest muskies ever caught in Ohio. From this muskie magnet in 1972 came the state-record fish -- a 50 1/2-i
nch 55-pound, 3-ounce monster.
In 2006, anglers pulled 199 muskies from the lake, five of them Huskie Muskie Club fish. Moreover, Piedmont produced two fish over 50 inches last year.
Successful anglers troll around the dam and deep-water bays. At this time of year, the muskies will be suspended. Anglers can easily determine their depth by locating schools of baitfish on a fish finder.
The baitfish will typically be shad, sometimes white bass. On the finder, a large dark marking in the mix of baitfish is probably a muskie.
Piedmont Lake covers approximately 2,273 acres of fishable water and 37 miles of shoreline. There is a 10-horsepower limit at Piedmont, which lies one mile northeast of Smyrna, directly off U.S. Route 22. Launch sites along Route 22 are marked with signs.
For more information on fishing Piedmont Lake or to request a lake map, call the ODOW's Wildlife District Four office at (740) 594-2211.
CLEAR FORK RESERVOIR
Clear Fork Reservoir, located in Richland and Morrow counties makes the Top Five list yet again this year. Clear Fork is where the ODOW gets their brood stock. According to biologists, the number of brood fish in Clear Fork had been showing a noticeable drop in recent years and still is.
In 2005, the ODOW began using leftover fingerlings to double-stock the lake to increase those numbers. The double-stocking procedure continued through 2006.
Muskie anglers may find success on the lake by targeting the area around the confluence of Clear Fork Creek. North Bay is always a great spot for muskies, too.
Clear Fork has no horsepower restrictions. However, the ODOW has implemented an 8 miles per hour restriction that is strictly enforced.
Clear Fork Reservoir may be reached by taking state Route 97 northwest of Lexington. For more information on the reservoir or to request a lake map, contact the ODOW's Wildlife District Two office at (419) 424-5000.