COLUMBUS, Ohio – The muskellunge, or muskie, is a popular game fish that can grow to immense sizes in Ohio’s inland lakes, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Wildlife. Muskies are native to Ohio and top aquatic predators and the fisheries are maintained through fish hatchery efforts.
Caption: Cast or troll large plugs, spoons, and spinner baits around submerged structure for the best results when fishing for a muskie in Ohio.
Nine Ohio reservoirs are stocked with muskie by the Division of Wildlife and one (Pymatuning Lake, on the Pennsylvania state line) is stocked by the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission. Staff from Ohio’s London and Kincaid state fish hatcheries stock approximately 20,000 muskies measuring 8-12 inches every fall.
Caption: The Division of Wildlife annually stocks muskies in nine Ohio lakes and reservoirs. They are about 8-12 inches long when they are stocked.
“Historically, muskies were abundant in the bays and tributaries of Lake Erie and in many streams in the Ohio River drainage,” said Rich Zweifel, the Division of Wildlife’s Inland Fisheries Program Administrator. “Today, natural reproduction is rare because of habitat constraints in Ohio reservoirs. Stocking muskies in the fall contributes to higher survival because they can be stocked at larger sizes and in cooler water.”
Adult muskies are long and slender with a large, duck-bill shaped mouth and needle-sharp teeth. They can reach up to 50 inches long and weigh as much as 40 pounds. The Ohio state record muskie weighed 55.13 pounds and measured 50¼ inches when it was caught at Piedmont Lake in 1972.
Ohio lakes where muskies are stocked include:
• Alum Creek Lake (Delaware County)
• Caesar Creek Lake (Clinton, Greene, and Warren counties)
• Clear Fork Reservoir (Morrow and Richland counties)
• C.J Brown Reservoir (Clark County)
• Lake Milton (Mahoning County)
• Leesville Lake (Carroll County)
• Piedmont Lake (Belmont and Harrison counties)
• Pymatuning Lake (Ashtabula County and Pennsylvania)
• Salt Fork Reservoir (Guernsey County)
• West Branch Reservoir (Portage County)
Sometimes confused with northern pike, muskies have dark spots or wavy lines on their sides on a light background. Northern pike are the opposite with lighter colored spots on a dark background.
Successful anglers are encouraged to report their catches through the Division of Wildlife Muskie Angler Log, found at wildohio.gov. This effort supports muskie management efforts in Ohio by providing valuable muskie catch information to the Division of Wildlife. Ohio anglers have a long tradition of catching trophy muskies, and the fish even have their own fan club. The Ohio Huskie Muskie Club, Inc., was established in 1961. The club hosts fishing events and promotes good stewardship of Ohio’s muskie population.
The Division of Wildlife has partnered with InnovateOhio and the Ohio Department of Administrative Services’ Office of Information Technology to provide public access to fish stocking records dating back to 1970. This includes fish released in public waters from Division of Wildlife state fish hatcheries. The data visualization product allows the user to set parameters and query the database to retrieve results. You can also browse an interactive map of lake and pond locations stocked throughout Ohio. Access stocking records at data.ohio.gov.
All anglers aged 16 and older are required to have a 2021-22 Ohio fishing license to fish public waters. Funds generated from the sale of fishing licenses go toward conserving and restoring habitat, enforcement of fishing regulations, hatchery operations, fish stocking in public fishing areas, and enhancement of research and educational outreach. Purchase a fishing license at wildohio.gov or via the HuntFish OH mobile app.
Want to stay current on everything wildlife? Connect with the Division of Wildlife by downloading the HuntFish OH mobile app, or check us out on Twitter and Facebook for instant news stories, outdoor recreation ideas, local wildlife information, and so much more. The Your Wild Ohio Angler Page provides fishing tips and useful information as you plan to get outside this season. Share your next fishing adventure with #fishohio. For more information on fishing in Ohio, call 800-WILDLIFE (945-3543) or visit wildohio.gov.
The mission of the Division of Wildlife is to conserve and improve fish and wildlife resources and their habitats for sustainable use and appreciation by all. Visit wildohio.gov to find out more.
ODNR ensures a balance between wise use and protection of our natural resources for the benefit of all. Visit the ODNR website at ohiodnr.gov.
Editor’s note: Highlights from Ohio’s muskellunge stocking program are available here.