Ice fishing in Ohio is one of the most exciting ways to pass the cold winter months enjoying the outdoors. There are hundreds of lakes throughout the state, each offering a different kind of landscape and the opportunity to ice fish for species like perch, walleye, crappie, bluegill, saugeye and northern pike. Lake Erie ice fishing is one of the most popular but there are plenty of other places to explore, especially in northern Ohio where the ice forms first and remains more consistent than in the southern part of the state.
Safety and warmth on the ice are the most important factors to consider before choosing your Ohio ice fishing location. Be sure to monitor ice conditions frequently and go out with a guide if you are inexperienced. Pick up a valid Ohio fishing license, gear up and enjoy what some of Ohio’s most popular ice fishing lakes have to offer.
Lake Erie is one of the most popular ice fishing spots in Ohio, but it is also the most unpredictable when it comes to the ice. Targeting yellow perch and walleye during the winter months is exciting, especially from the inside of a shanty, but Lake Erie ice fishing requires special considerations because of the constantly changing weather conditions, the lake’s size, and safety factors. One of the best spots to fish when conditions are right is near South Bass Island which you can get to in the winter with a short charter flight from Port Clinton. You will want to hire a knowledgeable guide for ice fishing on Lake Erie who knows how to monitor the changing ice conditions, transport you to the shanty and get you to the best locations to target fish.
The network of lakes near Akron Ohio known as Portage Lakes is a popular and productive ice fishing location. The lakes and reservoirs here offer anglers five areas from which to target yellow perch, bluegill, and crappie. The areas of East Reservoir, Turkeyfoot Lake, Long Lake, North Reservoir and West Reservoir combined offer 1,600 acres of water to fish. One of the reasons Portage Lakes is popular is because of the variety of areas to fish and the many public access points. Since the lakes are all in proximity it is easy to try different spots or make a long weekend out of your visit to try a new one each day.
Piedmont Lake in eastern Ohio is a popular ice fishing lake in Ohio for saugeye and crappie. The 2,270-acre lake is long and narrow and considered one of the most scenic lakes in the state bordered by woodlands. This lake has drop-offs near the lower basin by the dam and submerged structures like roadbeds making this a hotspot for ice fishing.
The popularity of Indian Lake in west-central Ohio for ice fishing is because it is one of the first lakes to freeze due to its shallow water. The 5,800-acre lake gives anglers lots of spots to try for crappie and saugeye. Indian Lake is a nice location for ice fishing because the small cottage community surrounding it offers various access points like Indian Lake State Park and there are many nearby restaurants for warming up afterwards.
AEP Recreation Land
A unique area for ice fishing anglers in Ohio is the AEP Recreation Land that has more than 60,000 acres of outdoor recreation space located near Rutland, Ohio. The recreation area is built on top of closed strip mines. There are hundreds of ponds perfect for ice fishing on the land that covers Guernsey, Morgan, Noble and Muskingum Counties. Some of the ponds are easily accessed while others are more remote and require a hike. Anglers can target larger than average sunfish and bluegill but will an additional (free) fishing permit for access through the AEP McConnelsville office or through the Ohio Division of Wildlife.
One of the best ice fishing lakes for walleye is Mosquito Lake near Youngstown. Not only are the walleye plentiful but they can average 13-21 inches here in the winter. Anglers can also target bluegill and crappie. Mosquito Lake is Ohio’s second largest lake so there is plenty of space to enjoy and it is where several ice fishing tournaments take place each year when the conditions are right.