April 19, 2016
If you plan to go fishing with your family this season, there are 72 good reasons to do so right here in the Buckeye State. That's how many of Ohio's 74 state parks offer fishing!
What's more, Ohio is one of only seven states that don't charge an entry fee to visit their state parks, so the angling opportunities are free — as are the many other activities that comprise a fun day or weekend of fishing with the family.
If you want to make the angling outing an overnighter, most of the state parks offer campgrounds and other accommodations to choose from, including waterfront cabins, woodland cottages, full-service RV pads, primitive camp sites and rustic lodge rooms. Even yurts — and Rent-A-Camps, complete with camping equipment — are available for overnighting fishing families at some parks.
And chances are there's a park nearby. Ohio's 74 state parks are spread across 59 counties and offer more than 174,000 acres of land and water resources. Facilities include nine resort lodges, two dining lodges, six golf courses, more than 9,000 campsites in 56 family campgrounds, more than 500 cottages, 36 visitor/nature centers, 80 swimming beaches and 18 swimming pools, almost 200 boat ramps and more than 7,500 boat docks, some 460 picnic areas and at least a thousand miles of hiking trails.
Whether your finned target is bass or bluegill, walleye or trout, the angling action found right here in Ohio is among the most diverse in the nation and most popular gamefish species can be found in state park waters or in lakes and rivers nearby.
Here is a district-by-district guide to some of the more popular family friendly state park fishing destinations that can be enjoyed at state parks across Ohio this summer.
CENTRAL OHIO'S ALUM CREEK STATE PARK
Located a half hour drive north of Columbus, Alum Creek State Park is in southern Delaware County between Interstate 71 to the east and US Route 23 to the west. In addition to its popular namesake reservoir, there is a pond here that is managed for family fishing opportunities.
Alum Creek State Park is a great option to consider for a weekend of camping and fishing, whether you want to sleep in a tent, a camper, an RV, cabin or even a houseboat. For families without their own gear, the campground offers a variety of camper cabins to choose from.
Situated on the western shore of the 3,387-acre reservoir, the park and its fishing can be enjoyed right from more than a dozen waterfront campsites in the 296-site campground. There is a boat launch ramp reserved for campers, which comes in handy on the busy boating destination, which draws more than its share of boaters and anglers from nearby Columbus each weekend.
While the public launch ramps around the lake are crammed with lines of trailered boats waiting to be launched, the campground's ramp is rarely busy, even on holiday weekends.
Alum Creek Lake offers plenty of water to boat and fish with no horsepower restrictions. The lake is regarded as one of the top muskellunge-fishing destinations in the state.
As is often the case with lakes that supports one excellent fishery, Alum Creek supports multiple species: crappies, smallmouth and largemouth bass, saugeyes, white bass and, during the summer months, catfish. In the summer particularly, anglers target catfish after dark from either boat or shore.
A handicapped-accessible fishing pier is located just north of the Cheshire Road causeway on the lake's eastern shore, at the Cheshire Road launch ramp, and there's plenty of shoreline access for fishing in the campground and at sites located around the lake, which is surrounded by 4,630 acres of public property owned by the state park.
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A large public swimming beach is located just north of the dam on the same side as the campground, which has a large grassy area for picnicking, as well as grills for outdoor cooking. Rest rooms and a concession stand are also on the waterfront, which is staffed by lifeguards.
Thirty-eight miles of horseback trails and a separate horsemen's camp, 14 miles of mountain bike trails, and nearly nine miles of hiking trails and nature tails can be enjoyed by non-anglers at Alum Creek State Park.
Boating enthusiasts can even rent a houseboat for overnight "camping" on Alum Creek Lake, courtesy of the state park, which operates a full-service marina on the lake's west shore between the public swimming beach and the campground. Fishing boats, pontoon boats, paddleboats and personal watercraft can also be rented at the state park marina.
For campground reservations and information, or to reserve a camper cabin, visit parks.ohiodnr.gov/alumcreek.
MAUMEE BAY STATE PARK
Maumee Bay State Park in Oregon offers plenty of shore fishing options to day visitors and overnight guests alike. With nearly two miles of access to the Lake Erie waterfront, shore angling opportunities abound for families visiting the popular Lucas County park, which is one of Ohio's newest.
Campers may stay at one of the 252 campsites, all of which offer electricity and nearby flush toilets and shower house, and have the option of staying in a traditional tent or a yurt, both of which are available for rent at the park â€“ as are two dozen cottages.
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Maumee State Park Lodge offers fishing families accommodations in 120 guest rooms, and amenities that include an outdoor swimming pool, a par 72, 18-hole golf course and a small beach. The lodge also offers an indoor pool, racquetball, tennis, basketball, shuffleboard, a playground, game room, exercise room, whirlpool, sauna, snack bar lounge and a dining room.
Hikers have 11 miles of trails to walk on the state park's 1,336 acres along the lake as well, and with one of the nation's top amusement parks less than an hour's drive to the east, at Cedar Point, there is always an exciting alternative to angling available. Just southwest of the state park, Toledo offers urban activities for fishing families to enjoy when they need a break from roughing it.
For more information on camping at Maumee Bay State Park, call 419-836-7758 or visit parks.ohiodnr.gov/maumeebay.
PUNDERSON STATE PARK
Geauga County's Punderson State Park offers fishing families excellent opportunities on property in 150-acre Punderson Lake, which is an electric-motor-only waterway that is annually stocked with rainbow trout to complement a healthy native population of bass and panfish.
A boat ramp and boat rental facility is located at the state park marina, about 1/8 mile from the campground on the north side of the lake, for anglers who prefer to get out on the water. There is a fishing pier adjacent to the swimming beach on the lake's west side, and there is ample access for anglers at locations around most of the lake's perimeter.
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There are some 200 campsites, as well as recently renovated cabins and a full-service, 31-room state park lodge right on the lake, so fishing families have a lot of overnight accommodations from which to choose at Punderson State Park. When not fishing, family members can visit a sandy swimming beach on the west side of the lake, hike 14 miles of trails, or frustrate themselves at the park's 18-hole golf course.
Fishing families who rent cottages at Punderson can take advantage of the tennis, shuffleboard, horseshoes, as well as indoor and outdoor swimming pools.
For more information about fishing and camping at Punderson State Park, call 440-564-2279 or visit parks.ohiodnr.gov/Punderson.
EASTERN OHIO'S BEAVER
CREEK STATE PARK
Beaver Creek is a state park favorite among anglers and their kids who want to get away from it all for their fishing trip and do so in a beautiful, secluded location. Located in eastern Columbiana County, families find good fishing and a remote campground at Beaver Creek State Park, offering 109 sites, six with electricity, spread over the park's 3,038 scenic acres along the western shore of the Ohio River.
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Call 330-385-3091 or visit parks.ohiodnr.gov/Beavercreek for more information about visiting Beaver Creek State Park to fish this season.
SHAWNEE STATE PARK
Shawnee State Park in southwest Scioto County outside of Portsmouth offers is located near the Ohio River and offers fishing families two stocked lakes from which to choose: 13-acre Roosevelt Lake located right on the park's campground and, less than a mile away, 54-acre Turkey Creek Lake.
Each lake has a launch ramp and both are designated electric-motor-only. Both also benefit from annual April trout releases in Turkey Creek, fish that find their way downstream to Roosevelt Lake by late spring as well. Both lakes also have thriving populations of catfish, crappie and bass which can be caught from the shore or by small boat.
Overnighting families visiting Shawnee have everything from a deluxe lodge to primitive campsites, the latter tucked among 100 acres — including three popular sites designated 'primitive' that are set aside on a scenic ledge.
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The Shawnee State Park Lodge is two miles from the campground, and offers interpretive programs, dining room, snack bar, game room and a playground.
Tennis, golf, basketball, shuffleboard, badminton and indoor and outdoor pools are also activities lodge and cottage guests can take advantage of at the 50-room lodge. Camping at one of the park's 25 cabins is also an option for families who don't want to rough it. Eleven miles of hiking trails are available for trekking when the fish aren't biting, and the nearby city of Portsmouth offers urban activities and amenities for the family.
For more information about camping and fishing at Shawnee State Park this season, call 740/858-6652, 866-644-6727 or visit parks.ohiodnr.gov/Shawnee.
COWAN LAKE STATE PARK
Cowan Lake State Park is a popular family camp-and-fish destination located in central Clinton County near Wilmington. Once famous for its population of muskellunge, the 700-acre lake is now known for offering a variety of gamefish to shore anglers and boaters, who are restricted to using outboards no larger than 10 horsepower. Saugeye have recently been stocked in the lake, and catfish, crappie and bass remain popular targets of lake anglers.
Cowan Lake campers who bring along a boat have a launch ramp right at the grounds, and new courtesy boat docks are planned to be installed next to the ramp this season.
A full service marina with fuel and boat rentals is also located on the park's lakefront.
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The 237-site main campground offers guests flush toilets and hot showers, as well as electrical hook-ups at each site. An additional 17 primitive sites are located above the campground's 700-foot-wide sandy swimming beach. The park also offers 27 cottages, located next to the campground on the lake's north side, and all the accommodations offered by the 1,075-acre state park are within an easy walk of the waters of Cowan Lake.
For more information about fishing and camping at Cowan Lake State Park, call 937/382-1096 or visit parks.ohiodnr.gov/cowanlake.