After a particularly dreary off-season, it is time to hit Buckeye State waters once again. This year we have arranged to list our top five locations for each of the top ten most popular Ohio species , including angler tips for each and a listing and phone number of the most respected bait and tackle outlets and phone number for each .Many thanks to the ODNR, our reporting stations, and ongoing reports into both the Buckeye Angler Facebook site and buckeyeangler.com from so many of you.
5. Deer Creek Reservoir - easily overlooked fishery along the Portage and Stark County line is a personal favorite. Standout Bait-buzzbaits. Park office : 330-477-3552.
4. LaDue Reservoir - northern Portage County electric-only standout will require multiple trolling batteries for many , as big as it is. Bait- spinnerbaits. One Stop Fishing Shop : 440-834-2248.
3. Lake Erie- near shore bite continues to impress over time. Bait- tubes. Real Sport Charters : 419-265-2736.
2. Portage Lakes - revered Ohio bass fishery continues to produce despite ongoing tournament activity. Bait- lipless crankbaits. Fisherman's Central : 330-644-5346.
1. MOGADORE RESERVOIR - consistent productivity -for both numbers and size- continues to impress. Bait- spinnerbait. Mogadore Bait & Tackle : 330-628-9872.
5. West Branch Reservoir- increasingly positive average sizes. Bait- tubes. Mark's Bait, Tackle & Ammo : 330-296-3474.
4. Cuyahoga River - reliable numbers from Hiram Rapids on down to Munroe Falls, and again from Gorge Dam through Cascade valley. Bait- in-line spinners.
3. Lake Milton- smallies have taken precedence over largemouth, with the possible exception of early spring. Bait : tube baits. Northcoast B&T: 330-654-2516.
2. LaDue- dam area population largely a productive secret for locals. Bait: tubes. One Stop Fishin' Shop: 440-834-2248.
1. LAKE ERIE- ongoing automatic leader in category , with best bite headed eastward. Bait-tubes. Real Sport Charters: 419-265-2736.
BLUEGILL (includes sunfish, pumpkinseed, redear, warmouth )
5. Portage Lakes - outstanding population throughout. East Reservoir a standout. Bait- redworms. Fisherman's Central : 330-644-5346.
4. Mosquito- underrated population best in and around state ramp. Bait - maggots. Causeway B & T : 330-637-7076.
3. Punderson Lake - largely overlooked gem of southern Geauga County has a solid population in its deep,cool waters. Bait- ants and maggots. Park Office : 440-564-2279.
2. Mogadore Reservoir- not the national redear legend it once was, but a healthy and varied population still exists. Bait- Pinmins & maggots. Mogadore B & T : 330-628-9872.
1. LADUE RESERVOIR - not a unanimous choice. Backbays and weedy edges near Rt. 44 outstanding. Bait- waxworms. One Stop Fishin' Shop : 440-834-2248.
5. Lake Erie- not a primary choice for piscatorial desires, but deeper shoreline dropoffs provide steady action. Bait- cutbait. Real Sport Charters: 419-265-2736.
4. Nimisila Reservoir - disconnected Portage Lake a primary area cattin' destination , particularly from shore. Bait- minnows. Eddie's Bait & Tackle : 330-896-1770.
3.Piedmont Lake - mid-state legend renowned for huge flatheads. Bait-bluegills. Last Stop Tackle Shop: 330-401-3333.
2. Clendenning Reservoir- former home base of legendary catfish guide Roy Hoppes deserves its reputation. Bait-cut bait.Marina : 866-633-7961.
1.MOSQUITO - amazing performer for such a shallow water fishery. Bait-cut shiners. Causeway B &T: 330-637-7076.
5. Berlin Reservoir- challenge hereabouts is to narrow down your options on this vast impoundment. Bait- jigs & minnows.
Les' Bait : 330-584-6741.
4. Portage Lakes- decent population throughout, with the " Boneyard " area too often overlooked. Bait-minnows. Fisherman's Central : 330-644-5346.
3. Mogadore - shoreline cover is precious, vertical jigging between islands a productive option. Bait-minnows. Mogadore B & T: 330-628-9872.
2. West Branch - lots of productive shoreline cover to work. Bait-minnows. Mark's: 330-296-3474.
1. MOSQUITO - long-time category champ. Pikie Bay and cemetery region ongoing hot spots. Bait-minnows. Causeway: 330-637-7076.
5. Clear Fork- regular stop on the Muskie tourney circuit for a reason. Bait- large swimbaits. Robin's Nest: 419-884-3650.
4. Salt Fork- picturesque fishery outside Cambridge gives up some true monsters. Bait- spinnerbaits. Salt Fork Outdoors: 740-
3. Milton- river area a local favorite. Bait : sledge baits. Northcoast Bait : 330-654-2516.
2. Leesville Lake- premier Muskie destination through mid-state. Bait- spinnerbaits. Hoss Marine : 740-269-1335.
1. WEST BRANCH - perennial category winner maintains status. Bait- jerkbaits. Mark's : 330-296-3474.
5. LaDue- not as big on average as those in the adjacent Cuyahoga, but they're there. Bait- spinners.One Stop Shop: 440-834-2248.
4.West Branch- so-so population offers an occasional trophy. Bait- crankbaits. Mark's; 330-296-3474.
3. Cuyahoga River- with the once renowned best northern fishery in the state now reduced to a fishing wasteland by dam removals, many forget the numbers still available upriver clear to Hiram Rapids. Bait-spinnerbaits.
2. Milton- many muskie anglers fooled by many a pike. Bait- minnow baits. Northcoast B & T: 330-654-2516.
1.MOSQUITO - ascends largely by attrition, but some nice one are caught every year... Bait-in-line spinners.Causeway: 330-637-7076.
5. Ladue- significant population, though few true jumbos. Bait- minnows. One Stop Shop : 440-834-2248.
4. Pymatuning Reservoir- huge impoundment harbors many perch amidst those sunken forests. Bait- minnows. Pyma Tackle : 888-204-9227.
3. Milton- a late fall/early winter thing out here. Bait- blade baits. Northcoast B & T: 330-654-2516.
2. Lake Erie- nowadays a decidedly economic uncertainty. Bait-shiner minnows. Real Sport Charters : 419-265-2736.
1.MOGADORE- the most viable inland alternative to Erie, and many are finding out how much better they taste as well. Bait-minnows. Mogadore B & T: 330-628-9872.
5.Mad River- western Ohio stream features the only naturally reproducing population. Bait-in-line spinners. Mad River Outfitters : 614-451-0363.
4.Rocky River- steelhead fishery closest to population centers. Bait- dry flies.
3. Punderson- variety of trout species available. Bait- in-line spinners. State Park : 440-564-2279.
2. Conneaut Creek - easily the state's premier steelhead tributary. Bait-Hair jigs and egg sacs. Snug Harbor: 440-593-3755.
1.LAKE ERIE- has surpassed all tributaries combined in total steelhead catches annually. Bait-spoons. Real Sport Charters : 419-265-2736.
5. Mosquito - slow-troll those mid-lake humps. Bait- Rebel Crawdads. Causeway Marina: 330-637-7076.
4.Berlin- narrow -down your search to mid-lake humps and sadles. Bait- blade baits. Les' Baitshop: 330-584-6741.
3.Milton- troll those crawler harnesses down by the dam. Bait- nightcrawler harnesses.Northcoast B & T: 330-654-2516.
2. West Branch - spring jig & minnow bite an annual highlight.Bait : jigs and minnows. Mark's: 330-296-3474.
1. LAKE ERIE - these are the good old days. Walleye available to anglers even near shore year 'round. Bait- crankbaits . Real Sport Charters : 419-265-2736.
Jack Kiser is the long-time Outdoors Columnist for the Record-Courier and " Midwest Outdoors " magazine and host of " Buckeye Angler" and for PBS and Fox Sports.You may reach him at the Buckeye Angler Facebook site and buckeyeangler.com.