COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Wildlife, in cooperation with the Ohio Huskie Muskie Club and Muskies, Inc., released 2,370 muskellunge in Piedmont Lake (Belmont and Harrison counties) during a stocking event on Monday, Sept. 25. Muskellunge, or muskies, are released by the Division of Wildlife annually in the fall.
“The muskie release is the culmination of six months of work by Division of Wildlife hatchery staff to raise these fish,” ODNR Division of Wildlife Chief Kendra Wecker said. “Eventually, they will grow to large sizes and create trophy fishing opportunities at Piedmont Lake and the other reservoirs where we stock them.”
Piedmont Lake in Belmont and Harrison counties offers superb fishing for crappie, bass, and muskellunge in its 2,270 acres of water. The current state record muskellunge, which weighed 55.13 pounds, was pulled from Piedmont Lake in 1972. The lake continues to provide excellent opportunities to catch a Fish Ohio muskie of 40 inches or more.
The Division of Wildlife stocks 20,000 muskellunge across nine Ohio reservoirs: Alum Creek Lake, C. J. Brown Reservoir, Caesar Creek Lake, Clearfork Reservoir, Lake Milton, Leesville Lake, Piedmont Lake, Salt Fork Lake, and West Branch Reservoir. Beginning in April, hatchery and fish management staff begin the rearing process. The muskies grow to lengths of 10 to 12 inches long at London and Kincaid state fish hatcheries before being stocked in September. Anglers can report catches to The Muskie Angler Log, which was developed as a resource to support management efforts.
Trophy muskellunge have been documented across the nine stocking locations. In July, an angler reeled in a 51 1/4-inch muskie in Pleasant Hill Lake. This muskie was initially captured in 2016 by Division of Wildlife staff in Clearfork Reservoir and fitted with a tag. At the time, it was 44 inches long. In 2019, it was detected by a tag reader in the Clearfork Reservoir tailwaters. Then, in 2020, it was caught by an angler at Pleasant Hill Lake and reported as 49 inches long.
The Division of Wildlife operates six state fish hatcheries to manage fish populations and increase public fishing opportunities. Eleven fish species are stocked statewide, and the agency put more than 52 million fish into public waters in 2022. Learn more about fish stocking at wildohio.gov, or view complete fish stocking records at data.ohio.gov.
Sales of fishing licenses along with the federal Sport Fish Restorationprogram support the operation of Division of Wildlife fish hatcheries. Since 1950, the Sport Fish Restoration program has dedicated permanent funding to fishery conservation through federal excise taxes on sport fishing equipment, import duties on fishing tackle and pleasure boats, and the portion of the gasoline fuel tax attributable to small engines and motorboats. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service annually apportions these funds that the Division of Wildlife uses to acquire habitat, produce and stock fish, conduct research and assessment surveys, provide aquatic education, and secure fishing access.
Anglers ages 16 and older are required to have an Ohio fishing license to fish in state public waters. An annual license is $25 and is valid for one year after purchase. A one-day fishing license costs $14 and may be redeemed for credit toward the purchase of a one-year fishing license. Licenses and permits can be purchased online at wildohio.gov, through the HuntFish OH app, and at participating license sales agents.
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.