Top 23 Ohio Game Fish Species
This post will list the top 23 Ohio game fish species. Ohio offers anglers a wide variety of freshwater species that anglers can catch. State record fish will be included, along with some of the best Ohio waters. Many of the largest fish come from Lake Erie, but many rivers, lakes, and ponds offer excellent fishing as well.
The top 23 Ohio game fish species are;
Panfish and sunfish
This is not the complete list of species available to Ohio anglers, however it is our list of the top 23 Ohio game fish species.
Ohio largemouth bass
Largemouth bass are the most popular freshwater game fish in North America and Ohio offers good fishing for them. Farm ponds, reservoirs, rivers, and Lake Erie all have good populations of largemouth bass. The Ohio state record is 13.13 pounds. Anglers use all of the available fishing techniques to catch them.
Ohio offers anglers some terrific walleye fishing, particularly in Lake Erie. The state record is 16.19 pounds. Walleye are a very popular species in the state and are one of best eating fish that swims anywhere. They are found in large, deep lakes and river systems. Trolling is very effective, as is drifting with live baits such as nightcrawlers, minnows, and leeches. Anglers do well ice fishing for walleye as well.
Ohio smallmouth bass
Smallmouth bass fishing is very good in Ohio rivers and lakes. Lake Erie has some very nice fish in it! They prefer cool, clear water and are found in those areas. The state record is 9.5 pounds and was caught in Lake Erie. Anglers fish jigs around rock piles as well as minnows and other live baits. They are more numerous in streams and rivers than largemouth as they prefer more current.
Ohio northern pike
Ohio is not known for northern pike, but they are available in many lakes. Pike prefer shallow, weedy bays and most are caught by anglers casting lures. These appeal to the aggressive nature of pike. They are good to eat, however most anglers release them as they are quite bony. The Ohio record fish is 22.78 pounds.
Ohio striped bass
Striped bass are available in a few Ohio lakes, particularly Seneca, Kiser, and West Branch Reservoirs. However, hybrid striped bass are much more widely distributed throughout the state. Hybrid stripers grow fast and are aggressive and fun to catch. They are considered decent to eat. Both hybrid and striped bass can be found feeding on the surface, which is fun fishing! The state record striped bass is 37.10 pounds and the record hybrid is 18.32 pounds.
Musky are a very challenging freshwater game fish. They earned their nick name “the fish of 10,000 casts” for a reason. Ohio has stocked musky into a handful of lakes including Clear Fork, Salt Fork, Leesville, Milton, and Pymatuning. They are also in a few rivers including the Grand, Little Muskingum, and Mahoning. Most musky are caught by anglers using lures and just about all are released. The record musky in Ohio is 55.13 pounds.
Ohio channel catfish
Channel catfish are the most widely available catfish species in North America. They are the smallest of the big three species, but make up for it in numbers. Slow moving Ohio rivers are ideal habitat for channel catfish. They are very good to eat. Most are caught by anglers bottom fishing near structure with live, cut, or commercially prepared bait. The Ohio state record is 37.65 pounds.
Ohio blue catfish
Blue catfish are apex predators that grow quite large. The Ohio record blue cat is 96 pounds! They are mostly found in the Ohio River and it’s tributaries, but some larger lakes have them as well. Bottom fishing with chunks of fresh shad, suckers, and herring produce a lot of these hard-fighting catfish.
Ohio flathead catfish
Flathead catfish, also knows as yellow catfish and shovelhead, are the least common of the three major catfish species. They are found alone as opposed to in schools. Flathead catfish prefer sluggish, smaller rivers and streams. Most are caught ob live bait fish such as suckers and panfish. The record is 76.5 pounds.
Ohio rainbow trout
Rainbow trout are one of the most recognizable fish species. They are not native to Ohio but are stocked heavily stocked in cold, clear streams and lakes throughout the state. Regulations vary so anglers should check them before they go fishing. Anglers catch them fly fishing and spin fishing. The record rainbow trout is 21.3 pounds.
Ohio brown trout
Brown trout are also stocked in Ohio streams and lakes. Lake Erie is by far the most productive fishery for both size and numbers. The record fish of 14.67 pounds was caught there. Most anglers troll in Lake Erie while fly fishing and light spinning tackle works fine in streams.
Ohio lake trout
Lake trout are native to Lake Erie and the vast majority of lake trout in Ohio are caught there. They are not doing well for a variety of reasons, mainly due to the lamprey population. Most are caught by anglers trolling. The record is 26.63 pounds.
Bluegill are one of the most popular freshwater fish species. Of all the panfish species, they are the most aggressive, numerous, and widespread. Just about every warm body of water in Ohio has them. Anglers catch them in a variety of ways including live bait, small lures, and by fly fishing. They are small, but fantastic to eat. The record is 3.28 pounds.
Crappie are a very popular freshwater species in Ohio and everywhere else. There are two species, black crappie and white crappie, but both are similar enough to be covered together. Most are caught on live minnows or jigs in medium sized to larger lakes. Crappie are fantastic to eat! The black crappie record is 4.5 pounds and the white crappie is 3.90 pounds.
Read this article on how to clean and cook fish
Ohio redear sunfish
Readear sunfish, also known as “shellcrackers”, are the largest of the sunfish family. They are found in slightly deeper water and prefer shell and sand bottoms. They are fantastic to eat. The Ohio record is 3.58 pounds.
Ohio rock bass
Rock bass are an under rated panfish species. They are aggressive and will readily hit a larger lure meant for other bass species. Rock bass prefer a bit of current are are common in Ohio rivers.
There are a few other panfish species that are available to Ohio anglers. These include warmouth, green sunfish, longear sunfish, and pumkinseed. These all can be found in similar waters and all will take worms and other live baits. They are all good to eat as well.
Ohio white bass
White bass are an aggressive fish species that are found in Ohio lakes and rivers. They are part of the hybrid striper combination. White bass are usually found in large schools and are often seen feeding on the surface, especially in the warmer months. They will take live bait, but lures work well and are so much fun to fish. They are decent to eat and the record fish is 4 pounds.
Carp are gaining respect from anglers. While not good to eat, they put up a terrific fight and grow fairly large. The Ohio record fish is 50 pounds. Most carp are caught by anglers using worms, doughballs, corn, and other natural baits. Anglers are even targeting them on fly these days. Carp prefer lakes and slow moving rivers.
Ohio yellow perch
Yellow perch are a very popular panfish species. They are a beautiful fish that is a smaller cousin to the walleye, which means the are terrific to eat. Yellow perch are almost always found in larger schools and once located, a bunch can be caught. Live minnows and small lures produce most of the fish caught. Ice fishing is very productive as well.
Chinook (king) Coho (silver), and pink salmon are all available in Lake Erie and the tributaries. Salmon numbers are down of late, with Coho salmon being the most plentiful. Most are caught trolling in Lake Erie or fly and spin fishing once they move into the rivers to spawn. Salmon do not live very long and Ohio has a stocking program.
Sauger are smaller cousins to walleye. They were once plentiful in Lake Erie, however are not found primarily in the Ohio River and it’s major tributaries. Sauger prefer water that is less clear than walleye. They have a varied dies but feed mostly on minnows. Sauger are very good to eat. The state record sauger is 7.31 pounds.
Freshwater drum, also called sheephead, are gaining respect from Ohio anglers. They put up a determined battle and more and more anglers are finding them good to eat. Few anglers target them, instead catching them when pursuing other species. They feed mostly on insects and crustaceans. The record is 23.5 pounds.
In conclusion, this article on the top 23 Ohio game fish species will help anglers identify and catch more fish.