Fishing / General
The Division of Wildlife has launched a new fishing license sales system. For more information, read about the New License Sales and Game Check System.
It is unlawful to buy or sell any fish taken by sport fishing, including angling and trotlinefishing, taken from any water area in the state.
It is unlawful to transport and introduce any aquatic species (fish, invertebrate, plant) from one body of water to another.
It is unlawful for the public to tag and release fish into any public water area.
It is unlawful for any person to possess a fish in any form or condition other than whole while on or when unloading the fish from the boat, while wading, or while fishing from shore on any waters in this state where a fishing license is required.
Fillets must be kept whole until an angler reaches their permanent residence or until the fish are prepared for immediate consumption.
There is no requirement to keep any skin on fillets.
This does not apply to anglers with a receipt from a fish cleaning house or charter captain with states date, number, and type of fish possessed.
Fish may be transported whole or as a complete fillet while returning from the Lake Erie Islands on a commercial ferry boat.
HOW TO MEASURE A FISH - The measurement of a fish is taken in a straight line from the utmost end of the snout with the mouth closed to the utmost end of the caudal (tail) fin when the tail fin is compressed so that the upper and lower lobes touch or overlap.
Measure fish with mouth closed and tail compressed to determine total length.
FORAGE FISH- Forage fish means freshwater drum (in the Lake Erie fishing district only), carp, quillback, suckers, bowfin, gar, buffalo, gizzard shad, and goldfish. These species may be taken by any method except by means of explosives, poisons, firearms, electricity, chemicals, nets, seines, or traps, or by snagging within 1,000 feet downstream of a dam. Gizzard shad and smelt may be taken with a minnow seine, minnow dip net, or hand landing net.
SNAGGING- Snagging with a hook to pierce and hook a fish in a part of the body other than the inside of the mouth is illegal for all fish except forage fish. In Lake Erie, it is also illegal to snag freshwater drum. Snagging is illegal from September 1 to April 30 in the Ashtabula River, Chagrin River, Grand River, Rocky River, Vermilion River, Arcola Creek, Conneaut Creek, Cowles Creek, Euclid Creek, Indian Creek, Turkey Creek, and Wheeler Creek. Hooks may not be larger than five-eighths inch from shank to point.
FROG SEASON- Frog season is open from 6 p.m. the second Friday in June through April 30. Only bullfrogs and green frogs may be legally taken. Not more than 15 (singly or in combination) may be taken or possessed at any time. Frogs may not be shot except with a longbow and arrow.
TURTLE SEASON- Turtle season is open from July 1 through April 30. Turtles may not be taken by shooting with a gun or crossbow, or by use of a spring or steel trap. Only snapping and softshell turtles may be legally taken. Snapping turtles and softshell turtles must have a straight-line carapace length of 13 inches or greater to be taken and there is no daily limit on the number that may be taken. A turtle trap with mesh less than 4 inches square must have an opening at least 6 inches in diameter leading from it. Wings and leads are unlawful. The trap must be marked with the name and address of the owner or user in English language.
BAIT- It is unlawful for any person except licensed bait dealers to possess more than 100 crayfish or in combination 500 crayfish, minnows, and other bait fish. A bait dealer's permit is required of persons buying or selling minnows, crayfish, and hellgrammites. This permit may be obtained from any wildlife district office.
LAKE STURGEON- The lake sturgeon is an endangered species in Ohio and must be returned unharmed to the water as soon as possible if caught.
CLAMS, MUSSELS, OR MUSSEL SHELLS- Clams, mussels, or mussel shells may not be taken, possessed, or collected for any purpose.
MINNOW SEINES AND DIP NET REGULATIONS- Square mesh must not be larger than 1/2-inch on a side. Seine and net size limits and places where they may be used are as follows:
*Including East and West harbors in Ottawa County and waters where fishing with nets is licensed by law.
MINNOW OR BAIT FISH TRAPS- It is illegal for anglers to possess or use a minnow or bait fish trap larger than 24 inches in length and 12 inches in width. Additionally, possessing or using a minnow or bait fish trap with an opening larger than one inch is illegal.
CAST NETS- Forage fish and minnows may be taken with cast nets. It is unlawful to use a cast net with a square mesh less than 1/4-inch or larger than 1 inch on a side, or with a diameter of greater than 10 feet. It is illegal to use a cast net within a distance of 1000 feet downstream from any dam posted with Division of Wildlife signs indicating cast net use is prohibited.
FISHING LINES- Anglers may not use more than two fishing lines, whether fastened to a pole, a rod and reel, or hand held. Anglers may use up to three hooks on each line, except as provided in the Ohio Administrative Code.
ARCHERY ANGLERS- Archery anglers may use bows of any weight pull. A fishing license is required. Longbows may be used to take bullfrogs, green frogs, snapping and softshell turtles, and forage fish. Crossbows may be used to take forage fish.
ICE ANGLERS- Ice anglers may use holes no larger than 12 inches in diameter. In Lake Erie ice anglers may use holes no larger than 12 inches in width. Ice anglers may not use more than 6 tip-ups and 2 rods per person. All shelters and tip-ups must display the name and address of the owner or user in English lettering.
LIVE RELEASE OF FISH- Any fish not of legal size or not legally caught must be released immediately. Handle it carefully with a wet hand or a wet towel so it can be freed unharmed. If the fish is hooked deeply and the hook can't easily be removed, cut the line to release the fish. Tearing a hook out can harm a fish so badly that it may not live.
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