May 11 2022

5 places to fish without a license in your MetroParks

Grab your fishing rods, lures and bait – it’s time for fair-weather anglers to head to their favorite fishing destinations in Five Rivers MetroParks. A relaxing way to enjoy the outdoors, observe nature and unplug with your family, fishing provides an opportunity to slow down and find peaceful moments near the water.

Safety first

In addition to all the gear you’ll need to start fishing, you’ll want to have a safe experience by the water. A lifejacket is recommended for everyone who is near the waterfront. This also includes those who are fly fishing in the water and anyone on watercraft. Additionally, it’s also important to dress for the weather. Summer days are often hot and sunny, so plenty of snacks and water, sunscreen, sunglasses and a hat may also be necessary.

Where to fish license-free

Anglers can find locations to fish in every MetroPark with the exception of Cox Arboretum, Hills & Dales and Sugarcreek MetroParks. To fish without a license, head to:

What could you catch?

With the appropriate gear — such as tackle, lures and bait — anglers in this region can expect to catch a variety of fish. While you may not catch a 4-foot, profile-picture-worthy catfish on every outing, people may see the following catches with the appropriate bait:

  • Largemouth bass: Found in lakes and ponds. Use bait such as crayfish, minnows, plugs and spinners. Similar flies for crayfish and baitfish for fly fishing as well.
  • White sucker: Found in streams. Use nightcrawlers as bait.
  • Brown trout: Found in the Mad River. Use bait such as cheese, worms, corn, small spoons, small spinners and flies that hatch.
  • Smallmouth bass: Found in streams. Use bait such as crayfish, minnows, spinners and similar flies.
  • Pumpkinseed: Found in lakes, ponds and streams. Use bait such as red worms, wax or meal worms and jigs.
  • Channel catfish: Found in all lakes, ponds and streams. Use nightcrawlers as bait.
  • Bullhead: Found in all lakes, ponds and streams. Use bait such as nightcrawlers, liver and hot dogs.
  • Rock bass: Found in streams. Use bait such as crayfish, minnows and small spinners.
  • Crappie: Found in lakes, ponds and streams. Use bait such as minnow, jigs and similar flies.

Mind your line

A conservation agency, MetroParks’ mission is to protect the region’s natural heritage. One way you can help protect aquatic habitats and wildlife is to pack out what you carry into the park – especially fishing line.

Discarded line that ends up along the water’s edge can become tangled around unsuspecting animals, causing them serious harm.

MetroParks has made it easy for anglers by setting up fishing line recycling stations next to many of its most popular fishing destinations. Once you are finished, place unwanted line in the receptacle and MetroParks will have it recycled. As of 2019, MetroParks recycled more than 15 miles of line with help from local anglers and Berkley.

New to fishing or want to learn more? Check out the following programs this summer:

Try Fly Fishing

Possum Creek MetroPark

Eastwood MetroPark

Learn basic fly fishing techniques with help from instructors and volunteers. Equipment is provided and no fishing license is required. Free and for those ages 14+

Try Spin Fishing

Saturday, July 23, from 9 a.m. to noon at Eastwood MetroPark

Advance from worm and bobber fishing and try spin fishing with MetroParks instructors. Learn to cast an open face reel. Free for ages 8+; valid Ohio fishing license required.

Learn more about fishing in your Five Rivers MetroParks by visiting metroparks.org/fishing

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