The state of Ohio offers anglers a wide variety of quality fishing opportunities. The Ohio Division of Wildlife manages 124,000 acres inland water, 7,000 miles of streams, and 2 1/4 million acres of Lake Erie.
Laws & Regulations
Educate yourself on Ohio’s fishing laws and regulations to ensure you stay legal and avoid costly fines.
Where to Fish in Ohio
Best Fishing Lakes in Ohio
- Lake Erie – Lake Erie is known as one of the best Walleye and Smallmouth Bass fishing locations in the world. Lake Erie holds the state record for Brown Trout, Burbot, Chinook Salmon, Lake Trout, Rainbow Trout, Smallmouth Bass, Walleye, White Perch, and Yellow Perch.
- Piedmont Lake – Known for it’s quality Smallmouth and Crappie fishing, currently holds the state record for Muskellunge. Piedmont has an outboard motors limit of 10 horsepower, this makes it a great option for kayak anglers.
- Hoover Reservoir – Offers high quality catfish fishing conveniently close to Columbus. The state record Buffalo Sucker was caught on the Hoover Reservoir.
Best River Fishing in Ohio
- Ohio River – The Ohio River holds the state record Blue Catfish and Longnose Gar.
- Mad River – The Mad River is 60 miles long and is stocked by the Division of Wildlife with six- to eight-inch brown trout. It also contains native brook trout.
- Clear Fork River – Another great river for those seeking to fish for trout. It also holds bass, carp, and various panfish.
Fish Species in Ohio
Ohio has over 160 species of fish, most of which are not seen by anglers. Below you will find the common game fish that anglers typically see when fishing in Michigan.
Ohio has 6 types of bass including: Largemouth, Smallmouth, Spotted, White, Striped, and Hybrid Striped Bass.
Largemouth bass are the most targeted species for freshwater anglers. They can be found in every state other than Alaska. They are the largest species of bass.
Learn more about largemouth bass
Smallmouth bass are the most aggressive bass which makes fishing for them a ton fun. They have a ton of fight which makes up for their smaller sizes. Even though they are smaller than largemouth they still can get pretty big.
Learn more about smallmouth bass
Spots are similar to largemouths except they have horizontal rows of small black spots on the lower side. The notch between their spiny and soft dorsal fins is shallower than largemouths.
Spotted bass also have smaller mouths and a circular patch of teeth on the tongue.
Learn more about spotted bass
- Silver-white to pale green color
- Dark back, with white sides and belly
- narrow dark stripes through the length of their sides
- White bass look like shorter versions of striped bass.
Learn more about white bass
Striped bass started out as saltwater fish but were added to freshwater where they survived and adapted. They are a schooling fish, so if you catch one it is very likely there are more around.
Hybrid Striped Bass
- Hybrid mix of striped and white bass
- Broken horizontal strips on body
- Two separate tooth patches on back of tongue
Learn more about hybrid striped bass
Ohio has 3 types of catfish including: Channel, Flathead, and Brown Bullhead Catfish.
Channel catfish have a slender scaleless body with a forked tail. They have an olive green to light grey color body with small black spots along their body.
Channel catfish can grow up to 52 inches long and 60lbs. The average size you will see is 1-3ft long and 1-15lbs.
Learn more about channel catfish
Flathead catfish have a flathead and a smooth scaleless body. They have a pale yellow to light brown colored body with a cream belly.
Flathead catfish can grow up to 3-ft long and weight 123lb. The average size you will see is 10-15lbs.
Learn more about flathead catfish
Brown Bullhead Catfish
- Olive to yellowish brown body
- Dark brown spots throughout body
- Four pairs of dark barbels
- Squared tail
- Sharp spines on dorsal and pectoral fins
- Dark greenish or yellowish brown
- belly is yellowish or white
- Black chin barbels
- Upper jaw projects beyond the lower jaw
- Anal fin usually has 17–21 rays
Ohio has both black and white crappie.
Black crappie have white bodies with a dark green and black back. Throughout their bodies they have black and brown spots.
World Record: 5 lb 7 oz – 19.25 inches long
White crappie have a white to silver body with a dark green back. They have blotches that make vertical bars across their sides.
World Record: 5 lb 3 oz – 21 inches long
Ohio has 6 types of panfish including: Bluegill, Longear Sunfish, Green sunfish, Redear Sunfish, Rock Bass, and Pumpkinseed.
- Large, deep bodied sunfish with a small mouth
- Sides are dark bluish-green in color with vertical bars throughout their body
- They have a large dark spot at the rear of the soft dorsal fin
- Their belly is deep orange to rust color
- Adults can grow to 16 in. but usually reach 6-11 in.
Learn more about bluegill
- Small sunfish with a deep body and small mouth
- Bright red-orange color with iridescent blue spots on their back and sides
- Their belly is mostly red-orange in color
- Has a long gill or “ear” flap, and wavy blue lines on cheek and gill cover
- Adults can grow to 9 in. but are usually less than 6 in.
Learn more about longear sunfish
- Large, robust sunfish with a large mouth
- Blue irregular stripes of color on the sides of their head
- Large black spot at the rear of their soft dorsal fin
- Adults can grow to 12 in. but usually reach 8-10 in.
Learn more about green sunfish
- Large, deep bodied sunfish with a small mouth with long, pointed snout and small mouth
- Adult males have a red margin on the gill cover flap while females have a light orange flap
- Adults can grow to 15 in. but usually reach 8-11 in.
Learn more about redear sunfish
- Dark green or brown color with brassy yellow flecks
- 4-5 wide dark saddles over the back and down the sides
- Often called “redeye” or “goggleye” due to its large, deep red eyes
- Has 5 or 6 spines in their anal fin
- Adults can grow to 17 inches but fish exceeding 12 inches are rare
Learn more about rock bass
- Molted blue, orange, yellow, and olive green coloring
- Wavy blue lines on cheeks
- Orange belly
- Black earflaps with red or orange boarder
- 10 spines on the front of dorsal fin with a rounded back
Learn more about pumpkinseed
Ohio has 5 types of perch including: Walleye, Yellow, White, Sauger, and Saugeye.
Walleye (Sander canadensis)
- Olive back that gradients down to gold side
- 5 dark bars along sides
- White tip on tail
Learn more about walleye
- Yellow to gold coloring
- White belly
- Green to yellow eyes
- 6-8 dark bands along their sides
- Dorsal fin with 12-14 spines and a second dorsal fin with 12-13 soft rays plus 2-3 spines
- Silver to greenish body
- White Belly
- Faint lines down their sides
- Lower jaw protrudes beyond upper
- 3 spines on anal fin
- 7 – 10 inches long
Sauger (Sander canadensis)
- Bronze to olive color
- Dark blotches on side with white belly
- No white on tail
Learn more about sauger
- Hybrid between walleye and sauger
- Mix between gray to silver color of a walleye and the bronze or brown color of a sauger
- Dark vertical bars between the spines of the first dorsal fin
- White tips on the lower part of the tail and anal fins
Ohio has 2 types of Pike including: Muskellunge and Northern Pike.
- Greenish to golden brown coloring on their backs and upper sides
- Long thin body with a flat head and mouth filled with sharp teeth
- 6 to 9 pores on the lower jaw
Learn more about muskie
- Long torpedo shaped body
- Grey to green body with light-colored spots
- Yellowish-white belly
- Scales cover their entire cheek and the upper half of their gill covers
Ohio has 3 types of trout including: Brook, Brown, and Rainbow.
Brook Trout (Salmo trutta)
- Worm like markings along back & head
- White edges along fins
- Found in eastern North America, Europe, Argentina, New Zealand, and Australia
Learn more about brook trout
Brown Trout (Salmo trutta)
- Silver & golden brown
- Orange to red spots with silver rings around them
- Found throughout the United States, Europe, Africa, and Western Asia
Learn more about brown trout
Rainbow Trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss)
- Distinct red pink stripe down their side
- Black spots throughout body
- Square, broad tail
Learn more about rainbow trout
Ohio has 3 types of salmon including: Chinook, Coho, and Pink Salmon.
- Blue-green on head and back
- Silver on sides
- Irregular black spots on tail, back, and upper fin
- Black markings around gums
- Male Chinook salmon have a distinctive hooked nose at the top of the mouth and a ridged back
- During the mating season, both male and female salmon develop a reddish tint around their back fins and tail
- Bright silver body
- Small black spots on the back
- White gums
- Spawning adults of both sexes have dark backs and heads with reddish sides
- Smallest of the Pacific salmon found in North America
- Young pink salmon are completely silver without any dark vertical bars or spots
- In the ocean, adults are bright greenish-blue on top and silvery on its sides
- Develop large black spots on their back and all over their tail when they return to freshwater
- Males develop a large hump, and hooked jaws when entering spawning grounds
Ohio has 4 other types of game fish including: Longnose Gar, Common Carp, Freshwater Drum, and Paddlefish.
- Brown to dark olive coloring
- Dark spots on back, sides, and fins
- Elongated jaws that form a needle-like snout nearly three times the length of its head
- Upper jaw has a row of cone-shaped teeth
- Diamond-shaped interlocking scales
- Babels in each corner of their mouth
- Olive-brown to reddish-brown with a yellow belly
- Large and thick scales
Learn more about common carp
- Humped back with sloping forehead
- Gray body with bronze reflection and white lips
- Rounded triangular tail
- Gray or green in color
- Wide mouths with large, paddle-like snouts
- Smooth skin lacking scales
- Small eyes
- Elongated opercle flap over their gills
Ohio Fishing Records
Find Ohio’s fishing records for over 40 species and how to qualify & submit your catch for the record fish program.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the most common fish in Ohio?
The most common fish in Ohio are bass, catfish, crappie, and various panfish.
Are there wild trout in Ohio?
Ohio has 3 types of wild trout including: Brook, Brown, and Rainbow trout.
Is there snakehead in Ohio?
Snakeheads aren’t known to be in Ohio. In Ohio anglers are required to report and kill any snakeheads caught.
What is the biggest fish caught in Ohio?
The largest fish ever caught in Ohio was a Flathead Catfish weighing 76.5 lbs on Clendening Lake in 1979.