Visiting and Fishing Ohio’s Hoover Memorial Reservoir

Hoover Memorial Reservoir is a short drive from downtown Columbus, Ohio and offers anglers of all levels a chance to catch several regionally popular fish species. The reservoir was constructed with the damming of the Big Walnut Creek basin during the mid 1950s, creating one of several water sources for Columbus.

Though not as large as its neighbor, Alum Creek Lake, Hoover Reservoir has more than 2,800 acres of surface area available to visitors and residents for fishing and boating. The reservoir has a 10 horsepower limit on outboard engines, making it calmer waters for anglers on kayaks and canoes.

Hoover Reservoir reaches its greatest depth in the south portion of the lake near the dam and becomes more shallow in the upper reaches of the lake’s northern portion. Two bridges divide the lake into three distinct sections that can help anglers orient themselves easily and explore all that Hoover Reservoir has to offer.

Accessing Hoover Reservoir

To access the reservoir, the City of Columbus maintains a variety of access points throughout the area. The southern portion of the reservoir is accessed through boat ramps in the southwest shoreline along Sunbury Road. The Smothers Road bridge offers a parking lot and kayak launch, and the Maxtown Boat Ramp provides access for boats to the middle portion of the reservoir. Further north, a small launch on Sunbury Road is available for kayaks and boats. On the opposite shore, the Twin Bridges Boat Ramp is a great launching location to explore quiet coves and calmer waters.

The northern third of the reservoir can be accessed on the west shoreline at the Oxbow Road Boat Ramp. There are several small trails and fishing areas at the Oxbow Ramp where anglers can explore shallow bays. Paddling both north and south of the ramp will lead to the shallow inlets, while moving straight out into the main channel will lead to deeper water.

On the Water at Hoover Reservoir

A new or visiting angler fishing for bass may benefit from starting at Oxbow Ramp or by finding a place along shore or the causeway at Smothers Road to fish for a variety of species. If an angler has a kayak or canoe, any of the boat ramps will provide good access to fishing close to shore. But the Twin Bridges launch is considered the most secluded and protected starting point with a higher chance of fishing solitude. From the ramp, paddle west toward the main lake channel and try fishing the small bays and downed logs for bass or crappie.

If a kayak angler is more comfortable with open water, the ramps on Sunbury Road are good options for a place to launch and get out on the water. Once launched and underway, head south from the ramp and out towards the middle of the lake. Caste a line where the water depth begins to noticeably drop.

Hoover Reservoir is most often fished for crappie, largemouth bass and several species of catfish including blue, channel, and flathead. All species can be found throughout the reservoir, but if targeting either bass or catfish, there are different locations and strategies to narrow your chances.

Largemouth bass in Hoover Reservoir tend to prefer the shallow, weed-filled bays and coves of the northern two thirds of the reservoir while catfish like the depth and colder water near the dam in the bottom third section. Water depth can reach sixty feet in the lower third of the reservoir and close to fifty feet near the Smothers Road Bridge.

Blue catfish can reach sizes upwards of thirty pounds, a reason many local anglers consider Hoover Reservoir a premier catfish destination in the region. Walleye stocking in the reservoir is also beginning to have an impact on Hoover Reservoir, providing additional opportunity for anglers. For fans of white bass, try fishing up the creek in the springtime for a higher change of greater numbers of fish.

Thinking Like a Fish at Hoover Reservoir

Catfish can be caught most often with bait dropped a few feet off the bottom. Nightcrawlers, cut shad, or strong scented bait attached to a circle hook and paired with a weight or float are different ways to fish for catfish in the reservoir. Using a strike indicator or bobber is important for catfish fishing as they do not typically attack baits in an aggressive style like bass are known to feed. A strike indicator, when pulled underwater, gives the angler a clear visual signal and more of a chance to set the hook and reel in a fish. Ten, twenty, and thirty pound line are all used for catfish. The heavier strength and higher pound test line is particularly important when chasing larger species like blue catfish.

For largemouth bass, soft bait lures in pumpkin green or peanut butter jelly colors can get the attention of bass on Hoover Reservoir. Local kayak anglers often will use plastic worms and the paddle tail soft lures for use on weedless set ups.

Crappie are also attracted to plastic baits. Bright, lighter colors are often best in the spring, whereas darker patterns are typically more effective in the summer and fall. A good retrieve on a jig will include the lure moving up and down in the water column at varying speeds. Crappie are schooling fish and like deeper water and structure, though they can also sometimes be found off shallow shoreline docks throughout the lake. A minnow and a bobber can be effective for crappie in the summer.

Check out the Baitstick Box for Ohio and fish local water out of the box with bait and tackle handpicked by the Baitstick team. Seasoned anglers can resupply with essentials and new anglers can fish a lake right out of the box.

There is plenty to see and catch on Hoover Memorial Reservoir regardless of angler’s favorite season. And with Hoover Memorial Reservoir less than twenty miles from the downtown center of Columbus there is good local access to a top fishing destination in the state. Regardless of how much time an angler of any level spends at Hoover Memorial Reservoir, there is great opportunity to catch a range of trophy fish.

Baitstick supports efforts to build the next generation of anglers nationwide, including the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation (RBFF) and The Outdoor Foundation