Top Ten Largemouth Bass Hot Spots in Ohio

Ohio’s District #3 is much revered statewide as one of the very premier fisheries for both the diversity of sport fish species as well as for numbers and trophy size. While the area’s walleye, panfish, smallmouth and muskie opportunities regularly pace the entire state, the largemouths are outstanding and the area boasts a long tradition of bass fishing industry inventors and bucketmouth legends like Pflueger, Moonshiner, Arbogast, Creme and Flambeau.

Bigmouth angling looks just about as promising this year as it has ever been, and the bite has already been in evidence throughout the region.

Here are our picks in descending order for the area’s prime bass fishing destinations for largemouths in 2016:

 

  1. Walborn Reservoir

This relatively small entry near the Portage/Stark County border is known locally more for large numbers of smallish panfish than the bass fishing. What is notable is the number of “true” trophies that swim here. Wood cover plumbed with jigs is a predominant method for savvy locals.

 

  1. West Branch Reservoir

Large, sprawling impoundment near Portage County’s capital of Ravenna is best known for its walleyes and crappies. This has left the bass fishing to a comparatively small cult of anglers who do a whole lot better than many are aware of. Summer morning buzzbait fishing along weedlines and shoreline cover is a highlight.

 

  1. Wingfoot Reservoir

Long a private playground for the revered Goodyear Hunting & Fishing Club, the state now has plans to make this relatively small lake near Suffield a prime panfish destination. Stocking attempts have of late reflected that priority. Still, a very viable population of green bass remains, much to the delight of many. This water is not very deep, with fields of lily pads dominating the productive west end off Copeland’s Landing.

 

  1. Lake Hodgson

The bite-sized private reservoir just south of Ravenna near Kent State’s Dix Stadium has suffered declining numbers. The residual effect has been a distinct boom in bass fishing with the subsequent decline in angling pressure. South side islands are a particular hot spot.

 

  1. Mosquito Reservoir

This shallow, eastern Ohio lake near Cortland is known for its small walleyes and large crappies. Bass angling takes a distinct back seat here in popularity, which sits just fine with bucketmouth-oriented locals. Area across the lake from the state ramp and the causeway riprap are particularly productive for tournament anglers. Crankbaits stand out as favorite lures here.

 

  1. Lake Erie

Largemouths continue to ascend in popularity in comparison with the big pond’s predominant smallmouth fishery, and understandably so. Still, the increased popularity and overwhelming evidence of 2- to 4-pound largemouths throughout Erie’s shorelines over the past decade is stunning—perhaps helped along by the too-seldom mentioned, undeniable decline here in smallie fishing, particularly in the west end. North shore anglers find the same tube and drop-shot presentations that have worked so well for the smallmouths similarly effective for green bass. “Largemouth Only” bass tournaments are increasingly popular here, from Cleveland to Huron.

 

  1. LaDue Reservoir

Sizable, electric-only fishery near the convergence of Geauga and Portage Counties regularly produces nice stringers for tournament anglers and many others. Middle-section weedline edges are particularly popular for spinnerbait fishing. Be forewarned: You’ll want an extra battery or two.

 

  1. Lake Milton

Underfished Trumbull County gem also boasts a sizable smallmouth presence. Largemouths are found reliably most evenings under and just off the boat docks. Tubes and other soft plastics are reliably productive.

 

  1. Portage Lakes

The sizable chain just south of Akron continues its legacy as arguably the state’s most renowned largemouth fishery, despite the relentless angling pressures. The last decade has not been as productive, but 15- to 20-pound, five-fish tourney bags are still commonplace. Turkeyfoot remains the most popular of the interconnected lakes for bass. Weedline edges and deeper dock areas are regularly susceptible to a well-placed plastic worm, spinnerbait or lipless crankbait.

 

  1. Mogadore Reservoir
    Once nationally revered as a panfish location to beat all panfish locations, this Portage County electric-only gem still holds impressive numbers of nice panfish, but the catfishing and bass angling are increasingly the story for both numbers and size. A summer morning’s topwater fishing along the shoreline cover can reliably be counted on to provide a couple of 4-pounders with regularity. The extreme west end is a particularly favored area for me.

 

      

       Jack Kiser is the host of TV’s “Buckeye Angler” and co-host of Fox Sports’ “Destination: Outdoors,” heard locally on WARF-1350 every Monday evening from 5-7 p.m. and Saturday morning from 6-8 a.m. You may reach him at the Facebook site for either program.