If you can't afford a trip to the big lake, and maybe a charter or headboat, it's likely there's some decent to excellent walleye action within a much shorter drive. One good example is Findlay Reservoir No. 1 and 2. Both are in northwestern Ohio, upground reservoirs that lie basically side by side around 2.5 miles southeast of Findlay. Findlay #1 is good, but No. 2 is better, a big lake that reaches 24 feet in some sections. There are walleye here to a whopping 10 pounds, and boats with electric motors take them on lead-head jigs, weight forward spinners, and live minnows. Look for them where dropoffs occur, and remember that shore anglers can do well casting at night, dawn, and dusk when fish move in close looking for small panfish and crayfish.
New London Reservoir is another nice 220-acre upground with steep, riprap shorelines and a maximum depth of 35 feet. It's stocked with walleye each year, about 100 fingerlings per acre, and is a state-of-the-art reservoir with plenty of underwater structure and spawning areas, and fish averaging 16 to 25 inches are common. The walleye are there, but for some reason it's tough to fish, and you'll work for what you catch. One thought is to use a Lindy Rig, just a one ounce slip sinker with a swivel to stop it, then about two feet of line and a No. 6 hook on lines end. Bait with a head hooked nightcrawler and let it bump bottom fishing with the bail open and your rod tip high. When you feel a bite, drop the rod tip, count 10, then tighten up and strike.
Willard Reservoir is 215 acres of fishing water just east of the little town of Willard and due south of Norwalk. It's a deep upground dropping to 35 feet in some spots, and has been stocked with walleye fingerlings since its beginning in 1971. It's possibly the best walleye lake in District Two, and a top way to catch them is to once again use a Lindy rig with best success at night or twilight when they move in close to shore. I've had good luck along the south side from near the launch ramp east to the pumping station.
Bresler Reservoir four miles west of Lima is another lake that receives yearly stockings, and is a decent to good walleye reservoir. Bresler is 610 acres of fishing water, and can be fished just like the others or by bottom bumping with a jig and minnow. A final good spot in northwestern Ohio is Beaver Creek Reservoir, 120 acres of fishing water in Williams County just southwest of Montpilier. Live minnows and lead head jigs are the favorite offerings at Beaver Creek, and while shore fishermen seem to favor the northern part of the reservoir, boat anglers often try jigging spoons with minnows fluttered just off the bottom in mid-lake.
In northeastern Ohio, there's little question that the top hot spot is Mosquito Reservoir. There are lots of walleye here, and some lunkers among them, though the average catch is about 15 inches. At 7,850 acres it's a big lake about 30 minutes from Youngstown, and tough to fish, thanks to dark water and little underwater structure. Pymatuning was once the best lake in northeastern Ohio, but it's second to Mosquito now, though still a very good place for walleyes.
Berlin Reservoir is another northeastern Ohio lake worth a close look. It just might be the second best lake in this area, not because of numbers, but because of larger fish. It has depths to 40 feet, and lots of fish attractors. Try around these with bottom bumping offerings. There's no question that Lake Erie is tops for walleye, but if you've only a small boat or like to shore fish, one of these lakes and reservoirs could be your answer.
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Hooks & bullets
• The boat ramps at Catawba Island State Park are closed as of July 9. The ramps are expected to remain closed through the end of 2018. While the park's boat ramps will be closed during construction, the day-use areas and restroom facilities, as well as access to the fishing pier will remain open. Anglers and recreational boaters are encouraged to use other nearby public access amps during this construction.
• Walleye fishing has been good along Lake Erie which can tempt anglers to keep more than their legal limit. That can be expensive. One angler who was checked by DOW personnel had his limit, but one proved under 15 inches and was confiscated. When the investigator tried to return the other fish to the cooler, the angler became nervous and requested to return the fish to his cooler himself. The investigator checked the cooler, and found three additional walleye, two of which were under 15 inches. He was issued summonses for possession of short walleye and over bagging.
• The Sportsmen's Alliance will hold its Rally 2018 on Saturday, Aug. 18 from 4 to 9:30 p.m. at the Villa Milano Banquet & Conference Center at 1630 Schrock Road in Columbus. The Rally will celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Alliance's mission to protect and advance the outdoor heritage of hunting, fishing, and trapping. Rally tickets start at $50 each, and include dinner plus two drink tickets. Call 614-888-4868 for details or tickets.
Dick Martin is a free-lance writer from Shelby. Reach him at [email protected] You can also visit his blog at outdoorswithmartin.com.