Skip to main content

Ohio Fishing Calendar

Ohio Fishing Calendar
From January through December, let's take a look at what Ohio has to offer this year.

There’s always a hot bite taking place somewhere in the Buckeye State. This is the time of year you may need to be ready to break out the ice fishing gear while summer anglers know they can beat the Dog Days heat by wading or trying their luck at night. Here are some options to consider the next time ­— anytime — you get the urge to wet a line this season.

Images by Vic Dunaway



Saugers: Ohio River

The Ohio River waters off the Buckeye State are one of the best places in the world the catch sauger. The action peaks for them when water temperatures are at their lowest this time of year, as the sauger are prompted to go into pre-spawn mode and start feeding heavily.

Nine lock and dam structures that concentrate the sauger and provide access to the fishery from the shore are located on Ohio’s river “coast.” Greenup Dam, in Scioto County, is one of the most popular and productive. Find good access at the site located east of Portsmouth along US route 52.

OTHER OPTIONS Ice fishing for walleye in the Western Basin of Lake Erie can be exceptional as the fish stage off the river mouths and around the islands and reefs from Toledo east to the Bass Islands prior to the spawn. Ice action for panfish at farm ponds can be fast when frigid enough. Several state wildlife areas offer small ponds that are stocked with bass and panfish and perfect for ice fishing; check for such wildlife areas near you.




Reservoirs that are stocked with saugeyes provide fishing opportunities in the spillway for fish that have found their way over the dams and stage in the flow below. The walleye/sauger hybrids are drawn to current and move upstream until they reach a dam or similar barrier, where they remain and feed. Jigs, live baits and combinations of the two cast into the below-dam flow can net saugeyes even when the impoundments above are unfishable.

OTHER OPTIONS Yellow perch are found in practically all the upground reservoirs in Wildlife District 2 and the popular panfish remain active through the winter months. They can be caught through the ice or casting from shore. Findlay Reservoir #2 is a good choice for perch and all the upgrounds contain panfish and several offer walleyes. Contact the Wildlife District Two Headquarters at (419) 424-5000 or visit for lake maps and more information on fishing area upground reservoirs through the ice or in open water. If you want to catch walleyes but don’t want to have to travel to Lake Erie, several inland lakes such as Berlin, Mosquito and CJ Brown reservoirs are stocked with walleye and can offer good ice fishing action.




The famous spring spawning runs begin in the Maumee and Sandusky rivers in Northwest Ohio anytime from early to mid-March and peak in early April. A sizeable portion of the walleye population in the Western Basin uses the Maumee River and Sandusky rivers as spawning destinations, and the fish stack up in the lower portions of the rivers where they are popular targets of anglers who use jig and twister tails or Carolina-rigged floating jig heads to catch the migrating walleyes from boats and while wading.

Special fishing regulations are in effect during the popular spawning period, details of which can be found at A popular fishing access to the Maumee River is found at Toledo’s Side Cut Metro Park in the town of Maumee and a good map of the access areas can be found at

OTHER OPTIONS White bass begin making spawning runs up tributaries that feed most inland impoundments that hold populations of the early spawning fish. Crappies can be found gathering along the first drop-off adjacent to the brushy shallows where they will be spawning next month.




The white bass runs peak early each April in the Sandusky River, hot on the heels of the waning walleye migrations. Vast numbers of the fish concentrate in the lower reaches of the river and are caught by shore anglers casting small lures and jigs. Good fishing access areas are found between the State Street Bridge in Fremont upstream to the site of the recently removed Ballville Dam, an effort which is hoped to open additional miles river upstream for spawning bass and walleyes.

OTHER OPTIONS Lakes and reservoirs that contain crappie will provide shoreline fishing opportunities this month as the fish gather in brushy or woody cover in the shallows. Brown trout in Clear Creek south of Columbus and the Mad River near West Liberty, where trout are stocked annually, offer early spring action.



Walleyes: Western Basin Lake Erie

Walleyes feed heavily after the spawn and many begin an annual migration east from the shallow reefs and islands of the Western Basin, seeking baitfish and lower water temperatures in the Central Basin. Slow-trolled crankbaits and crawler harnesses intercept them in waters from six to 40 feet deep anywhere from Toledo to Huron – and points east.

OTHER OPTIONS Channel catfish head for the shallows feeding on eggs deposited by carp and crappies that spawn in the brush. Sunfish are spawning in shallow waters statewide, and will attack any small live bait or fake. Clear Fork Reservoir’s muskie action can be top-shelf, as can any inland lake where ‘lunge thrive.


Mixed Bag:AEP ReCreation Area Ponds

The AEP ReCreation Lands in southeastern Ohio offer hundreds of ponds that are full of bass, panfish and catfish and June can be the best month of all to catch them. The trio of species were stocked when the flooded strip pits were reclaimed decades ago. The “Ohio Power Area” as it is still popularly known, is open to those who carry a free permit available at

OTHER OPTIONS Smallmouth bass are active in most Ohio rivers and streams. Try the Great Miami, Hocking, Kokosing, Scioto and Maumee and expect good catches of rock bass as well. Channel cats move onto the shallow gravel bars and beach areas at night in the reservoirs and are suckers for cut bait.


Walleyes: Central Basin Lake Erie

Walleyes that moved east from the Western Basin hole-up and put on the feedbag in the deeper, cooler water east of Vermillion all the way to Geneva. Trolled spoons often get the nod over crankbaits, and most anglers use downriggers, snap-weights and diving planers to get baits deep.

OTHER OPTIONS Stream anglers keep cool by wading and catching smallmouth and rock bass on surface lures, crankbaits, small jigs and popping bugs. Frog season is open, offering a fun after-dark activity for those who own a gig and a headlamp and don’t mind getting wet and muddy.


Catfish: Muskingum River

Night fishing for catfish is prime along the Muskingum River in eastern Ohio. Anglers catch big channel cats and flatheads near the locks and dams found along Ohio’s longest state parkway that flanks the river south of Zanesville all the way to Marietta.

OTHER OPTIONS Farm pond largemouth bass feed on the surface after dark. Dark colored topwater lures that produce a good deal of wake and noise like a Jitterbug work well when cast parallel to banks and worked on a straight, steady retrieve. The dark color helps the bass see the bait in the darkness highlighted by the sky above. White bass in larger inland reservoirs begin to school-up and feed on the surface chasing shad during low-light periods early and late in the day.



Yellow Perch: LAKE ERIE

The jerking can be decent throughout the summer, but most avid Lake Erie perch anglers wait until late August or September when the popular food fish start to school up and are easy to locate and catch. Emerald or golden shiners fished on spreaders or multi-hook dropper rigs result in multi-fish catches, including perch that top the ten inch mark and are referred to as “jumbos.” Consider joining a party boat out of ports from Sandusky to Cleveland that offer perch trips that can be very productive.

OTHER OPTIONS Ohio River catfish are active in all the pools along the Ohio shoreline. The confluences of the Scioto and Muskingum rivers are popular places for boat and shoreline anglers using cut baits, prepared baits, and live baits to catch their limits of late summer flatheads and channel cats. Maps of each major pool and angling access points can be found at by following the catfishing or Ohio River prompts. Lake Erie perch continue to offer action in the Western and Central basins.



Six Lake Erie tributaries in northeast Ohio are stocked with steelhead annually and the trout return to their ‘home’ rivers each season about this time and can offer fantastic opportunities for catching the big lake-run rainbows.

The fish will move back and forth from Lake Erie at the river-mouths to upstream areas; wading anglers drift spawn sacs, jig-and-maggot combos, and live minnows under bobbers, beads, nymphs and streamers to fool steelhead in rivers including the Chagrin, Grand and Rocky rivers and Conneaut Creek. offers a helpful steelhead fishing link showing all the state’s top steelhead streams including public access points and additional links for learning water flow levels.

OTHER OPTIONS Trout get active in the Mad River, the Clear Fork of the Mohican River and Clear Creek, the three Ohio streams stocked with brown trout annually. Visit and follow the trout fishing links for maps and more information. Crappies return to near-shore areas and feed around the first drop-offs adjacent to the shallows where they spawned last spring.


Walleyes: Huron Pier

Lake Erie’s Huron Pier is famous as the fall go-to place to hook up on after-dark walleyes this time of year, but any rocky shoreline can be productive. Shore anglers cast minnow-imitating crankbaits to fool the fish migrating back west as they feed on baitfish concentrated tight along the shoreline. Inland lakes like Alum Creek, Mosquito, Buckeye, Paint Creek and CJ Brown that hold walleyes and saugeyes offer similar late-autumn, after-dark action.

OTHER OPTIONS Steelhead are active in the tributaries in Northeast Ohio that are stocked with the lake-run rainbows. So are trout in inland streams like the Mad, Clear Fork and Clear Creek.


Brown Trout: MAD RIVER

Mad River offers action for anglers along its flow through Logan and Champaign counties. The spring-fed river usually doesn’t ice-over, providing fishermen some productive winter wading. Anglers use worms, minnows, small spinners, prepared baits or flies. The latter are required and catch plenty of fish in the fly-only section in the upper reaches of the river near West Liberty. A map showing those areas as well as all access points along the Mad River can be found at

OTHER OPTIONS Lake Erie’s shoreline walleye bite continues until ice-up and can be very good at Marblehead peninsula and Mazurik launch ramp as well as the Huron Pier. Saugeye fishing in spillways is also good in the below-dam areas of reservoirs with populations of the hybrids, including Deer Creek, Paint Creek, Alum Creek, Atwood and Pleasant Hill lakes.

Click Here: Find the best places to go fishing in America

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

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Hobie Pro Angler 14 With 360 drive

Hobie Pro Angler 14 With 360 drive

Human-powered serious fishing kayak; ICAST Fishing Gear Guide.

Bowfishing from the Bank (Video)

Bowfishing from the Bank (Video)

There aren't many better ways to spend a summer night than skewering fish in the shallows.

RIO Slickcast Fly Lines

RIO Slickcast Fly Lines

Chris Walker, with RIO Products, talks with Editor/Publisher Ross Purnell of Fly Fisherman magazine about the new SlickCast lineup of fly lines for 2020.

Costa Ferg Sunglasses

Costa Ferg Sunglasses

Costa's Todd Barker reveals the features of the new Costa Ferg sunglasses, a best-of-category winner at ICAST 2020.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

Who needs live bait when the big 'gills are so eager to strike these lures?5 Great Lures For Bluegills Other Freshwater

5 Great Lures For Bluegills

Stephen D. Carpenteri - March 10, 2011

Who needs live bait when the big 'gills are so eager to strike these lures?

Want to test the outer limits of your shooting skill? You'll need a cartridge that lives up to the expectations demanded at ranges up to and beyond 500, 600 or even 1,000 yards. Try these different loads until you find the one that thumps steel at long ranges consistently.10 Best Long-Range Rifle Cartridges Ever Made Ammo

10 Best Long-Range Rifle Cartridges Ever Made

David Hart - January 14, 2015

Want to test the outer limits of your shooting skill? You'll need a cartridge that lives up to...

Field Skills: Want to be a better shooter? The first step is perfecting your release.6 Steps to the Perfect Trigger Pull on Your Compound Bow Hunting How-To

6 Steps to the Perfect Trigger Pull on Your Compound Bow

Jace Bauserman - August 27, 2020

Field Skills: Want to be a better shooter? The first step is perfecting your release.

Starting opening day, there's a small window to tag out before pressure impacts buck movement. Make the most of it.Quick-Strike Tips for Early Archery Deer Success Whitetail

Quick-Strike Tips for Early Archery Deer Success

Tony Peterson - August 18, 2020

Starting opening day, there's a small window to tag out before pressure impacts buck movement....

See More Trending Articles

More Playbook

Few summer fishing experiences in the Midwest can match targeting predators herding baitfish. Use these techniques to get in on the action.Summer Schooling: Join the Feeding Frenzy Playbook

Summer Schooling: Join the Feeding Frenzy

Mike Pehanich - June 16, 2020

Few summer fishing experiences in the Midwest can match targeting predators herding baitfish....

Fishing can be on fire on waters throughout the Midwest in the summer months. Here are several top spots to try for some of the region's most popular species.Midwest's Hottest Summer Fishing Destinations Playbook

Midwest's Hottest Summer Fishing Destinations

Mike Pehanich

Fishing can be on fire on waters throughout the Midwest in the summer months. Here are several...

Summer Playbook: Action abounds both on and off the water in the Western New York region.Family Fishing Getaway: Niagara Falls, N.Y. Playbook

Family Fishing Getaway: Niagara Falls, N.Y.

Jeff Knapp - July 23, 2020

Summer Playbook: Action abounds both on and off the water in the Western New York region.

Time-tested popping cork rigs put reds, trout, tripletail and more in the boat when other tactics fail.A Popping Good Time in Southern Saltwater Playbook

A Popping Good Time in Southern Saltwater

John N. Felsher - August 14, 2020

Time-tested popping cork rigs put reds, trout, tripletail and more in the boat when other...

See More Playbook

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!


Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services


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

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