Ohio’s Top Five Bass Hotspots


There’s little question that largemouth bass fishing is a major sport in Ohio. Thousands of anglers seek these green and white fighters and spend plenty of money and time on everything from boats and fish locators. And why not? These fish grow to good sizes, leap high and require some skill to take. The only question is whether you live within reasonable driving distance of a blue ribbon piece of water. Here are some of the top hot spots around the state.

District One coverers central Ohio and Division of Wildlife fishery biologists consider little Knox Lake to be the best. It’s pretty, is 469 acres and is located 1 1/2 miles northeast of Fredericktown. Once upon a time, Knox was only a mediocre bass hole, but the Division of Wildlife instituted a 15-inch size limit and later 18 inches on this lake, and the population exploded. Fish had time to spawn at least twice. Add catch and release bass fishermen practice, and Knox now has an excellent population of 10- to 18-inch fish with some reaching 21 inches or more. Knox is fairly shallow and studded with lots of laydowns where bass love to hang around in as well as the weed beds nearby.

There is good parking and a launch ramp close too so they’re easy to reach. Farther down the lake, the water deepens and the shoreline has a good selection of downed timber, stumps and rocks with deep water, which means fish can stay deep most of the day and move up later at dusk to feed in prime ambush country around timber.

District Two covers northwestern Ohio too where it’s rich in quality bass lakes like Pleasant Hill Lake. But the top spot in this area is a little known reservoir, Upper Sandusky Reservoir #1, located on Reservoir Road near Upper Sandusky. Some experts consider it the best bass spot in the entire state with its modest 125 acres of surface water hiding plenty of lunker bass. The fish here average 12 inches with many at 15 inches and longer. It’s a typical reservoir with riprap shorelines and some standing trees, submerged brush piles and weed beds. There’s a concrete launch ramp too, which makes this reservoir easily accessible to boats with electric motors. Fishing tactics here won’t surprise anglers familiar with reservoirs, as the bass typically can be found in nearshore areas at dawn, nosing around stones and wood while seeking crayfish and forage fish.

District Three covers northeastern Ohio with the top spot of Portage Lakes just south of Akron. These interconnected lakes are basically a series of “potholes” with smaller side lakes stretching in all directions. There are five main fishing holes: Turkeyfoot Lake (483 acres), West Reservoir (105 acres), East Reservoir (208 acres), North Reservoir (165 acres) and Long Lake (231 acres). The lakes are fairly shallow, weedy in spots with shorelines well developed with plenty of houses, cottages, boat docks and both public and private launches at marinas. These waters receive fairly heavy fishing pressure, but still produce big bass, and lots of them. The weed beds can be fished as above, but don’t pass up the docks, as the largemouths love to lie under these in a shadowy ambush.

District Four is in southeastern Ohio, but anglers might be surprised to hear little 183-acre Tycoon Lake is likely the best. Tycoon lies five miles northeast of the little town of Rio Grande, a lake that some call an “oversized farm pond,” with trees running down to the water in some areas and a few houses along the eastern shore. It’s unusual in that it has two dams to go with plenty of deep-water bays with spadderdock and American lilies, an old road bed, drowned fence row and lots of dead standing timber. It’s a trophy-bass lake, and while most of the fish caught will run to normal sizes, it’s not unusual to bag a 5-pounder or larger fish. The lake also has a three-fish split daily limit.

Finally, District Five in southwestern Ohio has the top bass honey hole. Acton Lake in Hueston Woods State Park is a fairly murky lake located seven miles north of Oxford. The water is 590 acres made by impounding Four Mile Creek in 1956. Acton has parking lots, boat ramps, rental docks, concessions and picnic areas. There’s a 10-hp limit, and those who launch and seek bass here will find plenty of casting targets along shore in half-drowned brush, rocky shorelines and fallen trees.

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There are fishing piers here for shore anglers and for those who use their own craft or rented ones. Anglers will use standard tactics that work anywhere, casting wood and weeds with plastic worms, jigs and spinnerbaits. Watch the weather at Acton, as rains muddy this lake quickly and make fish difficult to catch.

For detailed maps of any lake listed, and most others, search online and print the map. Then, plan a trip that might see you making a catch that’s outstanding.