ANGLR Expert, Tanner Ward has spent his whole life bass fishing in Ohio. Growing up in Coshocton, he’s been fishing for as long as he can remember. Both his father and grandfather were avid fishermen, so he just sort of fell into it. He started tournament bass fishing with his dad back when he was a young grade schooler and is currently very involved with college fishing along with being the president of the Kent State University Fishing Team in his junior year of college.
If anyone knows the bass of the Buckeye state, it’s Ward.
During the cold months of winter, the lakes in Ohio will get over six inches of ice on them at certain points. “That can really take a toll on the fish here in Ohio,” he begins. “They’re not able to grow well during the winter months, so we wind up with fish that are smaller than their southern counterparts.”
You really don’t see many bass that get over six to seven pounds.
In the south, the bass see year round growth. Hence why the Florida strain bass grow larger than their northern counterparts. With more opportunities to feed throughout the year, they don’t have to experience the winter lull that the northern bass undergo.
Where to Head for the Best Bass Fishing in Ohio
Ward believes that the fishing in Ohio gets better as you head farther north, towards Lake Erie. “Lake Erie is great for smallmouth, and there’s so many in there and they’ve had the opportunity to grow larger with the introduction of Goby.
Around Kent, Ohio, home of Kent State University (KSU), there are a number of great locations for largemouth. “I believe they have a better quantity and quality than lakes in southeastern Ohio,” he shares.
His favorite places to frequent include Mosquito Lake and some of the electric only lakes around Kent.
The lakes in northeastern Ohio are grass lakes, which can really positively affect the bass fishing. The more cover the fish have, the more places they have to follow baitfish. Having that mat also helps with the spawn, so there’ll be a good wave of new fish coming along.
It helps to scope the area out ahead of time, and here’s where technology can really come in handy. “I really like the Lakemaster Chips by Humminbird for locating bass. I think they give really clear mapping.” Along the way, Ward drops waypoints through the ANGLR App so he can easily find where he wants to return to.
Bass Fishing in Ohio: Dealing with Peculiar Ohio Weather
The wind in Ohio can be terrible sometimes due to very flat land with little to no geographical changes in elevation to act as a windbreak. “On Mosquito and especially the electric only lakes, the wind actually forcefully concentrates anglers to certain areas,” Ward explains. “You can’t even fish some areas because the wind won’t allow you to control your boat.” The lakes are shaped like a big bowl.
“On Mosquito in the springtime you’ll see all of the boats concentrated on one side of the lake because you can’t really control the boat otherwise.”
Bass Fishing in Ohio: Dealing with Seasonal Bass
During the different seasons, bass will migrate within a lake. “During the spring, the fish will usually be moved up closer to the bank.” But a lake like Mosquito makes it tough. It’s a really flat lake, so the fish could conceivably be out 100 feet off of the bank, yet still be in three feet of water. “I’ll look for the differences in the contours, because the fish usually relate to that.”
In the summertime they’re found along the edge of the grass or the harder structure out off the bank, whereas in the fall, the fish are out in the main creek channel drops where there are a lot of stumps and rock and larger structures.
Gearing Up For Bass Fishing in Ohio
Most of Ward’s rods and reels are Abu Garcia. In the spring, he grabs a chatterbait because they work great on the grass lakes. “I’m usually using moving baits like a swimbait or spinnerbait in the spring.” He says he also spends time flipping.
“In the summer, I’m using either topwater in the mornings or dragging a Carolina rig or some sort of jig out deeper.” Attached to his Carolina rig is usually a Zoom Bait Brush Hog. In the fall, he’s still using topwater, and some sort of swimbait.
Ward advises that a lot of knowing what baits to grab is a lot of trial and error. One of his favorite brands is Keitech, though he doesn’t necessarily have a specific model he’s attached to. He also frequently grabs his Z-Man Chatterbait.
All About the Technique
Learning to master the Carolina rig may take a little bit of time, but it’s worth it in the end. Ward offers a few tips on how it’s done.
“You want to drag it really slowly, then when you get around the cover, slow down even more and pick it apart.”
“The chatterbait is a cool one to use in the springtime,” he continues. “You can reel it in and tick the tops of the grass coming off the bottom, or you could yo-yo it by holding the rod and lifting quickly before letting the jig fall back to the bottom.”
In the fall, he uses similar techniques with the swimbaits, ticking the tops of the grass.
Best Advice for Bass Fishing in Ohio
The biggest advice Ward has for anyone, whether they’re just getting started or have been at it for a while is to spend time on the water. “That’s the biggest thing with fishing. Get out there as much as you can. It really doesn’t have to be tournaments, just get out there for fun because you really will learn so much,” he says.
This article was contributed by an ANGLR Expert
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