Ohio’s Best Late Winter Fishing Opportunities
Mention winter fishing in Ohio and the first thought that pops into most angler’s head is ice fishing. Ohio, as a Midwest state, boasts some of the most brutal and long winters in the region. Couple that with many small ponds, lakes and a border on Lake Erie and it makes for some phenomenal ice fishing action. What many anglers discount, however, is that some of the best winter fishing opportunities in Ohio don’t necessarily involve ice fishing.
As winter slowing morphs into spring, fish become increasingly primed for feeding. Countless schools of perch and bluegills as well as largemouth bass, trout, and muskies start to seek out forage. This puts you as the angler at an advantage. It also means late winter fishing in Ohio can be some of the best of the year.
Before we get into the best winter fishing opportunities in the state, it is worth mentioning that one of the most important winter fishing tips is to review the regulations. Waterways during the winter months can have different regulations during this timeframe. Regulations such as creel limits and limits on fishing methods may change this time of year, and it is important to know what changes may affect where and how you are fishing. Be sure to refer to the current Ohio fishing regulations so you are prepared to take advantage of these opportunities.
5 Species That Offer the Best Winter Fishing Opportunities
There are a number of species worth pursuing in Ohio during the late winter months. Each requires different winter fishing tactics, but all provide some epic late winter fishing opportunities in the state.
- Yellow Perch – Anglers can find yellow perch in lakes across Ohio. Probably the most famous and one of the best winter fishing trips for perch is to Lake Erie. Many anglers load up on ice fishing tips and target perch under the ice once lakes safely freeze over. However, as ice retreats, perch can be caught in transition zones like soft to hard bottoms or near drop-offs as they begin to move from deep to more shallow habitats.
- Trout – Trout fishing opportunities are not as numerous as other species, but the excitement of landing a few giants is why it makes it on the list. Ohio has some of the top streams in the country for trout, which many anglers do not realize. There are winter fishing opportunities to catch steelhead, rainbow trout, and brown trout on either spin or fly fishing gear across the state.
- Walleye – Walleye are one of the more common species in the state. In late winter, walleye are preparing for their annual spring spawning migration runs upstream. Anglers fishing for walleye in winter can target the mouths of rivers and have incredible days catching one after another when you hit it right.
- Largemouth Bass – Similar to walleye, largemouth bass are just starting to think about their annual spawning cycle. Fishing for spawning bass is much different than the tactics for winter fishing for bass. It will be several weeks until bass make a more concerted effort into pre-spawn mode, however, late winter bass fishing has its advantages. Bass are feeding more and moving from winter habitats, all equating to get more bites.
- Muskie – Muskie are a unique species. Not a whole lot of anglers just target muskie in Ohio, but their popularity is growing. Late winter and early spring is the best time to fish for muskie. They will move into shallow flats near deeper water to feed on transition baitfish and panfish. Minnow and perch imitations work well in these areas especially right after the ice is gone and the water temperature is still below 40-degrees.
Top Places to Fish in Winter in the Buckeye State
Lake Erie may be the most well-known fishing destination in Ohio, yet there are plenty of other awesome places to fish in winter. Here are three places that offer great winter fishing opportunities in Ohio.
East Harbor State Park
East Harbor is a harbor off of Lake Erie between Port Clinton and Sandusky. Even though winds from Lake Erie can be cold and brutal, East Harbor is mostly protected. It offers excellent panfish opportunities such as yellow perch, bluegill, and crappie. The main draw to East Harbor State Park in the winter is for walleye. The harbor will be crowded when there is good ice with anglers fishing for walleye. In late winter, however, when the ice starts to melt off crowds diminish and tons of fish can be caught all around the harbor.
Seneca Lake is located east of Columbus and is one of the largest lakes in Ohio. This is the place to fish if you are looking for late winter bass fishing opportunities. It is not uncommon to catch 3, 4, and even 5-pound plus largemouth bass in Seneca Lake. The lake also has good numbers of panfish, catfish, and walleye.
Indian Lake sits near the western edge of Ohio. The reservoir began originally as a water supply impoundment and has grown over the years as an exceptional fishery. It is near the top for winter bass fishing in Ohio and perhaps the best saugeye fishery in the state. Indian Lake consistently produces monster saugeye and better than average largemouth bass each year. The lake also holds good numbers of yellow perch and other panfish making it one of the best winter fishing trips you can take in Ohio.
A Premier Winter Fishing in Ohio Destination
If you are looking for more of an all in one and exclusive place to fish in winter, then Briarwood Sporting Club is your place. You can fish for different species in both lakes and streams all within a premier facility. Membership not only gets you all access to the club but it gives you the opportunity to fish one of the top places to fish in winter in Ohio.
There are some great late winter fishing opportunities in Ohio. From yellow perch under the remaining ice to big largemouth bass and muskies, anglers have plenty of choices when it comes to winter fishing in Ohio. Expand your tactics and plan some trips to these top places to fish in the state to take advantage of the late winter bite.