The 5 Best Fish to Catch in Ohio This Summer

Written by Kyle Glatz
Updated: October 14, 2022
© Ryno Botha/Shutterstock.com
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Ohio has amazing bodies of water within its borders. The state is home to a large portion of the Ohio River and has Lake Erie on its northern border. Moreover, you’ll find many large lakes, ponds, and streams throughout the state. All this adds up to an incredible fishing experience waiting to be had. So, what should you catch when you come here? We’ll show you five of the best fish to catch in Ohio this summer.

By the time you’re done reading this list, you’ll know about five great species to pursue the next time you’re in the “Buckeye State.”

What Are the Best Fish to Catch in Ohio?

Our list of the best fish to catch in Ohio is based on a variety of factors. We wanted to provide a list of fish that the greatest number of people could enjoy. That means we have added fish that swim in different types of waters, ones that measure large and small, and those that are either simple or difficult to catch.

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That way, every reader can see at least one fish that is appealing to them. So, let’s start examining some fish from Ohio!

1. Steelhead Trout

The first fish on our list of the best fish to catch in Ohio this summer is the steelhead trout. This fish is a great catch in the late spring and early summer, but it does go through a lull until mid-September. However, late summer is when they really shine.

You will want to try catching them using jigs, spinners, spoons, and crankbaits around the piers of Lake Erie during the early months. Yet, if you plan on catching these fish during the hot summer months, you’ll have to go deeper into the water around the thermocline where they live.

People love to catch these fish because they average about 2 feet in length and between 5 and 7 pounds in weight. They’re sizable fish that can be caught close to shore without spending a lot of money on fancy tackle and bait.  

Steelhead trout swimming
Steelhead trout are the anadromous variety of Rainbow Trout, which means they return to freshwater to spawn.

©David A Litman/Shutterstock.com

2. Northern Pike

Another great fish for people that like to pursue large catches is the northern pike. These fish are long and thin with a duckbill mouth filled with sharp teeth. So, these are not fish that you want to grab by the lip and hold up for the camera.

Northern pike average about 20 to 30 inches in length, and they can weigh anywhere from 2 pounds to 10 pounds. However, exceptionally large members of this species can measure 4 feet long and weigh over 20 pounds!

Although they were once widespread, these fish can be hard to find in large numbers. You can still find them in McKarns Lake, Mosquito Lake, and Lake Erie. Your best bet is to find them in the early morning near shore, but deeper during the middle of the day.

Northern Pike is one of the best catches in Ohio. Pay special attention to those super-sharp teeth!

©bekirevren/Shutterstock.com

3. Yellow Perch

Sure, the yellow perch isn’t the largest fish in the state, but it’s one of the most fun to catch. These fish put up a good fight for their size, and they’re among the tastiest fish a person can reel in. On average, you’ll find perch that measure between 6 and 10 inches long, and they only weigh about 1 pound.

Yet, some of the largest ones measure close to 16 inches, and those are ones that dedicated anglers like to pursue. It’s not hard to find these fish. They’re found in many rivers, lakes, ponds, and reservoirs. They’re common in Lake Erie, Williams Reservoir, Findlay Reservoir, and the Vermillion River.

You don’t have to buy very expensive bait, either. They will eat live bait like minnows or mealworms, but you can use small jigs to get them to bite, too. All in all, the perch is a nice fish to catch for anglers of all experience levels, especially hungry ones.  

Yellow Perch
Yellow perch on average measure 6-10 inches in length.

©RLS Photo/Shutterstock.com

4. Bluegill

The bluegill is similar to the yellow perch in that it doesn’t require much in the way of special bait, it’s not a large fish, and it can still put up a bit of a fight despite its lacking size. The bluegill is a very common fish in Ohio, and some of the larger ones are caught in early summer.

These fish are usually anywhere between 6 and 10 inches long and weigh just a pound or two. However, the largest one caught in Ohio measured 3.28 pounds and 12.75 inches.

Some of the best places to catch bluegill include the Mogadore Reservoir, Salt Fork Reservoir, Alum Creek Lake, Lake Milton, and even the Ohio River.

They tend to stay together in small groups in the shallow portions of water. They make nests that are easy to spot in clear water. You can fish them from shore or catch them in a boat using simple bait. Try using small bits of crickets, mealworms, and nightcrawlers along with small lures. These fish love to bite!

A distinctive feature of bluegills is the dark spot at the end of their dorsal fin.
A distinctive feature of bluegills is the dark spot at the end of their dorsal fin.

©Clint H/Shutterstock.com

5. Largemouth Bass

Last but not least, we have the largemouth bass. These are usually considered to be the best fish to catch in Ohio by anglers. They are large, eager to bite the bait, and found in a wide variety of waters throughout the state.

For the most part, you’ll catch largemouth bass that measure from 12 to 18 inches and weigh up to 5 pounds. Of course, they can get much larger. The largest one caught in the state measured 25 inches long and weighed 12 pounds and 2 ounces.

Largemouth bass can be found in relatively shallow water in Lake Erie, along with Walborn Reservoir, Lake Milton, Mosquito Reservoir, and the Ohio River. They like to lurk in cover near the shorelines or amid weeds. Your best bet for bait is to use shiners, minnows, and crawfish, but you can use artificial lures that reflect light, too.

Now that we have uncovered the best fish to catch in Ohio, it’s time for you to start reeling them in. Of course, you need to make certain that you abide by all fishing laws in Ohio while on the water. You do not want a game warden to happen upon you without a license or while using bait that you’re not supposed to, right? With all that in mind, you have a ton of fish to catch in Ohio’s waters, so have fun and stay safe!

largemouth bass
It’s easy to see why it’s called “largemouth bass,” and a favorite of Ohio fishermen.

©iStock.com/stammphoto

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smallmouth vs largemouth bass
© Ryno Botha/Shutterstock.com

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About the Author

I'm a freelance writer with 8 years of experience. I've written in a variety of niches such as video games, animals, and managed service providers. I graduated from Rowan University in 2014 with degrees in English and Education. When I'm not working, I enjoy playing video games, reading, and writing for fun.

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Sources
  1. Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Available here: https://ohiodnr.gov/discover-and-learn/animals/fish/northern-pike
  2. Ohio Division of Wildlife, Available here: https://ohiodnr.gov/home/additional-resources/division-of-wildlife/steelhead-fishing-promo#:~:text=The%20Ohio%20Division%20of%20Wildlife's,Grand%20River%20and%20Conneaut%20Creek.
  3. US Fish and Wildlife Service, Available here: https://www.fws.gov/species/yellow-perch-perca-flavescens#:~:text=Yellow%20perch%20are%20typically%20yellow,green%20stripes%20along%20their%20sides.&text=Size%20%26%20Shape-,The%20common%20length%20for%20yellow%20perch%20is%207.5%20inches%20with,yellow%20perch%20being%2019.7%20inches.
  4. Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Available here: https://ohiodnr.gov/discover-and-learn/animals/fish/yellow-perch
  5. Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Available here: https://ohiodnr.gov/discover-and-learn/animals/fish/largemouth-bass#:~:text=They%20are%20found%20in%20nearly,large%20insects%2C%20and%20other%20fish.
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