Skip to main content

Our Hotspots For Early Season Walleyes

Our Hotspots For Early Season Walleyes

This early spring, these proven lakes and reservoirs are where you want to be for cold-weather walleyes. Gear up because the action starts now! (February 2009)

Spring is the best time for chasing walleyes. More and bigger 'eyes are caught during this time of warming water and the feeding frenzies that precede the annual spawn.

For the best fish of this spring season, try these five inland spots.

Most fisheries biologist and anglers consider this to be Ohio's No. 1 inland fishery for walleyes. For anglers hoping to tie into a big spring lunker, Mosquito Lake in Trumbull County is a must-visit location.

The lake is a component of Mosquito Lake State Park and is also a wildlife management area. All the amenities associated with a park are here, including boat launches, camping and a marina.

Though there are no motor restrictions on the lake, a no-wake restriction extends 300 feet from all shorelines, as well as a speed zone.

Although only 24 feet deep, Mosquito Lake has more than 7,200 acres of water and a variety of structure and conditions conducive to any fishing style. Anglers familiar with the lake use jigs, harnesses, spoons and plugs with good success.


The key is to adapt to the available structure. In deeper water, slow-trolling a deep-running plug may be best, but casting a jig near a section of riprap shoreline may be just as productive.

Mosquito Creek Lake lies 45 miles west of Cleveland and 15 miles north of Warren. Walleye anglers may reach the lake from state Route 87 along its northern border, state Route 88 on the south, state Route 45 on the west and state Route 46 on the east.

The wildlife area headquarters is off state Route 87 on county Road 263.

Additional information on Mosquito Creek Lake may be obtained from the Ohio Division of Wildlife's District Three office at (330) 644-2293. For maps and more information online, try

In Clark County, C.J. Brown Reservoir covers 2,000 acres. The lake is part of Buck Creek State Park and has all the associated amenities.

There are no motor restrictions on the lake. Though the summer crowds can make the lake pretty frothy, spring walleye anglers should be able to avoid the worst of it.

Spring walleye fishing at the reservoir is a little different than many of Ohio's inland lakes. C.J. Brown is relatively featureless, with very few major humps or structures to concentrate fish. Spring walleye anglers should concentrate their efforts on the dam's riprap wall and bridge abutments. Jigs often work best in these areas, but trolling them can also be productive. (Continued)

C.J. Brown Reservoir lies in Buck Creek State Park, two miles northeast of Springfield and approximately one mile east of state Route 4 on Croft Road. Or try going three miles north of U.S. Route 40 on Bird Road and Buck Creek Lane. For more information, call the ODOW's District Five Office at (937) 372-9261. For online information, try

Straddling the junction of Stark, Portage, and Mahoning counties is Berlin Lake with more than 3,300 acres of water. Berlin Lake has all of the amenities and draws a very active summer crowd, but this shouldn't be much of a problem for the spring walleye angler.

Berlin Lake has a variety of structure along the shoreline, as well as beneath the water, that holds plenty of fish. There are long sloping points, creek channels and flats where anglers may cast or troll. There are also willow-strewn shorelines and steep dropoffs for anglers fishing jigs.

Berlin Lake lies a couple of miles southeast of Deerfield via U. S. Route 224 and state routes 14 and 225.

For more information on Berlin Lake, call the ODOW's District Three office at (330) 644-2293. Or go online at

Lake Milton lies in Mahoning County in northeastern Ohio. The dam is approximately one-half mile from the Mahoning-Trumbull county line. Interstate Route 76 bisects the reservoir. State Route 534 runs parallel to the lake on the east side.

Youngstown lies approximately 10 miles east of the lake, and Akron 25 miles to the west. Part of Lake Milton State Park, Lake Milton has all of the usual amenities except camping. There are multiple launch sites, as well as a marina with dockage, and no motor restrictions.

Lake Milton has nearly 1,800 acres of water, but it varies in depth, from an average depth of eight feet at its most southern end to 27 feet in the northern end. There is an abundance of natural underwater structure.

The most common method of fishing for spring walleyes on Lake Milton is trolling with weight-forward spinners tipped with night crawlers. But jigs fished on the structured humps or along the shoreline with deep dropoffs can also be productive.

For additional information on Lake Milton, call the ODOW's District Three office at (330) 644-2293, or log on to

In southern Geauga County, 30 miles east of Cleveland, LaDue Reservoir is near the intersection of U.S. Route 422 and state Route 44.

LaDue has 1,475 acres of water with a mixture of structure and habitat not found on many larger lakes.

It doesn't boast the amenities of a nearby state park, but the city of Akron maintains a boat ramp and public restroom facilities on Valley Road, at the south end of the lake.

The city also maintains an unimproved boat ramp at the south end of the lake, off state Route 44. Several private bait and tackle shops can be found in the area.

Restrictions on LaDue Reservoir include electric motors only. No gasoline motors are permitted, and maximum length of any watercraft may not exceed 18 feet. Shoreline fishing is permitted only within the 60-foot right of way of bridges, and is prohibited along Valley Road.

LaDue Reservoir is only 15 feet deep on average, but there are deeper pockets and holes of 25 feet or so. This broken underwater topography is reflected in the surrounding landscape. Local anglers targeting early-spring walleyes usually concentrate their efforts along the lake's many underwater humps and dropoffs.

In deeper water, slow-trolling a deep-running plug may be best, but a jig cast near a section of riprap shoreline may be just as productive.

Jigs and harnesses are the favorite lures, but electric motor trolling does produce. For more information on LaDue Reservoir, call the ODOW's District Three office at (330) 644-2293, or log onto

Ohio's creel limit for all of the above lakes is six walleyes, saugeyes and/or saugers in combination, per day. There is no minimum-size limit.

Fishing regulations, horsepower limits and other boating regulations are subject to change.

Call the Ohio Division of Wildlife headquarters at (614) 265-6300. You can write them at 2045 Morse Road, Building G, Columbus, OH 43229-6693. Or visit them online at

To plan your next fishing trip, visit

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

Recent Videos

Sometimes you have to fish a bait that allows you to cover a lot of water efficiently. When you're on the search for bass that have moved into deeper water off the bank and away from obvious holding spots, a swimbait can locate them.

On the Search with Swimbaits

One of the best imitations of a wounded baitfish is the soft-plastic jerkbait, or fluke. A fluke darting just beneath the surface can be too much for a bass to resist. Rig it and fish it according to water conditions and cover to make this great bait even more effective.

Fun with Flukes

There are three models in SPRO's Outsider crankbait series: 55 (runs 3-4 feet), 60 (7-9) and 80 (19-21). Professional bass angler Jonathan Kelley goes over the specifics at ICAST 2022 in Orlando.

SPRO's New Outsider Crankbait Series: First Look

Professional bass angler Jonathan Kelley highlights the features of SPRO's new lures at ICAST 2022 in Orlando.

New Essential Series Spinnerbaits and Buzzbaits from SPRO

Syd Ribes with Sea Falcon highlights four new lures for saltwater fishing. At ICAST 2022 in Orlando.

New Lineup of Lures from Sea Falcon

Syd Ribes highlights two new saltwater lures from SPRO: Flutter Tail Shrimp and Cannon Ball Jig. At ICAST 2022 in Orlando.

New Saltwater Lures from SPRO

AFTCO's Matt Florentino highlights the features of the new Barricade cold-weather suit, a Best of Category winner at ICAST 2022 in Orlando. With Game & Fish's Adam Heggenstaller.

New from AFTCO: Barricade Cold Weather Tactical Gear

Three-time ICAST Best of Category winner Bubba covers it all with new knives set. With Bubba's Matt Kinamore and Game & Fish's  Adam Heggenstaller at ICAST 2022 in Orlando.

4-in-1 Bubba Multi Flex Cutlery Kit

The innovative landing net will weigh and measure your catch while it's still in the net. Best of Category winner at ICAST 2022. With Game & Fish's Adam Heggenstaller.

Award-Winning Frabill Witness Net 'Keeps You Honest'

Game & Fish Magazine Covers Print and Tablet Versions

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!


Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services


Buy Digital Single Issues

Magazine App Logo

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the Game & Fish App

Other Magazines

See All Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get the top Game & Fish stories delivered right to your inbox every week.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Game & Fish subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now

Enjoying What You're Reading?

Get a Full Year
of Guns & Ammo
& Digital Access.

Offer only for new subscribers.

Subscribe Now