6 Best Boating Lakes in Ohio for Water Based Activities

best boating lakes in ohio

Ohio, a name originating from the term “the great river” and the home of the Buckeyes, is popular for many things, namely: theme parks, former presidents, football, and rock and roll. There is one more thing that is often overlooked regarding Ohio, and that is the fact that the absolute best boating lakes in Ohio are as good as, if not better than, the boating lakes found in other regions of the world.

With the likes of Lake Erie, the Indian Lake, and a handful more, the destinations and boating lakes we have listed below are something that you should pay attention to, especially if you plan to take an out-of-town trip to Ohio to enjoy water-based activities and excitement!

If you would like to know more about boating lakes and destinations in Ohio, common aquatic fauna, and other amenities and facilities, then keep on reading our handy guide!

Our Top 6 Boating Lakes and Destinations in Ohio

1. Indian Lake

indian lake

Indian Lake was originally called the Lewistown Reservoir back in the day and is a reservoir that obtains its aquatic resources from the north and south forks of Miami River.

It is approximately 5,000 acres in surface area and has an average depth of roughly 10 feet.

Despite its relatively small size, its location in Ohio makes it a great tourist spot to neighboring states. Facilities and services include the following:

  • Cottages
  • Hotels
  • Camping sites
  • Event hosting
  • Parks
  • Recreational areas
  • Watersports
  • Fishing
  • Shopping
  • Dining

The most notable fish species found in the Indian Lake are the following:

  • Sauger
  • Bluegill
  • Largemouth bass
  • Yellow perth
  • White crappie

2. Mosquito Creek Lake

mosquito creek lake

Mosquito Creek Lake is another reservoir and is identified as the second-largest inland lake in Ohio (behind Pymatuning Reservoir which is also on this list).

The name allegedly is based on historical anecdotes indicating that the area was a great hunting spot, both for aquatic and land-based fauna, but due to the influx of mosquito populations, a lot of people had to seek hunting opportunities elsewhere.

There are a handful of things to do in this area, most notable of which are the following:

  • Boat rental
  • Camping sites
  • Fishing areas
  • Marina
  • Swimming locations

There are regulations for fishing in this area, like with several other lakes where the aquatic ecosystem is being preserved. Here are the notable fish species that can be caught in the area:

  • Catfish
  • Bluegill
  • Smallmouth bass
  • Largemouth bass
  • White perth
  • Round goby

3. Punderson Lake

punderson lake

Punderson Lake (known most commonly as the Punderson State Park), is one of the state’s of Ohio’s natural lakes and has its origins attributed to an ice sheet breaking off, forming a kettle lake body of water.

The lake itself is 150 acres in size, and offers the following areas and activities:

  • Swimming
  • Manor tours
  • Hotel accommodations
  • Boating
  • Fishing

Notable fish species in this lake include the following:

  • Rainbow trout
  • Black crappie
  • Brown bullhead
  • Largemouth bass
  • Bluegill
  • Channel catfish

4. Pymatuning Reservoir

pymatuning lake

The Pymatuning Reservoir is the largest man-made inland lake in the state of Ohio (largest in the commonwealth), with a surface area of roughly 17,000 acres and a surface elevation of approximately 1,000 feet.

There are park facilities, fish hatchery sites, wildlife viewing areas, camping sites, and tourist centers, but the most attractive thing about this destination is the water-based activities such as boating, swimming, and fishing.

Notable fish species would depend on the season, but here is a list of fish caught in the area in the past few years:

  • Walleye
  • Muskellunge
  • Carp
  • Perch
  • Crappie
  • Bluegill
  • Smallmouth bass
  • Largemouth bass

5. Tappan Lake

lake tappan

Tappan Lake, advertised as Nature’s Playground and known alternatively as the Tappan Reservoir, is a 2,350-acre lake with roughly 5,000 acres of landmass in its vicinity.

This destination is great for outdoor recreation enthusiasts. Engage in any of the following activities while in this area:

  • Skiing
  • Tubing
  • Wakeboarding
  • Fishing
  • Boating

Tappan Lake also offers boat rentals, docking areas, and hundreds of campsites and vacation cabins, so lodging and amenities will definitely not be an issue should you decide to visit.

Notable fish species that can be caught in Tappan Lake are the following:

  • Largemouth bass
  • White bass
  • Bluegill
  • Channel catfish
  • Flathead catfish

6. Lake Erie

lake erie

Saving the best for the last - Lake Erie is hands down the most popular and most visited water-based destination in the state of Ohio.

Lake Erie is a naturally occurring lake and was born of a glacier of ice dating back to approximately 4,000 years ago.

This location has a rich history, having been a place of settlement for Native Americans and a location visited by Europeans in their exploration ventures during the 1800s.

Lake Erie, relative to other great lakes, is not the largest and deepest, but the surrounding environment brings out a pristine ambience and is excellent for nature-loving individuals.

This lake is one of the five great lakes in North America (fourth-largest lake) and one of the snowiest lakes in the region during the winter season.

This destination has attracted millions of visitors from far and wide on an annual basis, barring the conditions brought about by the pandemic.

This year, however, Lake Erie seems to be on the uptrend and is opening up certain areas, facilities, and services, including:

  • Hosting exclusive events
  • Island tours
  • Marinas
  • Hotels and Inns
  • Campsites
  • Watersports
  • Dinner cruise
  • Vineyard and winery
  • State park
  • Bicentennial Tower visit
  • Lighthouse tours

The notable aquatic species that can be caught in Lake Erie include:

  • Rainbow trout
  • Smallmouth bass
  • Bigmouth buffalo
  • Rainbow smelt
  • Brown trout
  • Common carp
  • Alewife
  • Walleye


The Buckeye State definitely has been dealt a varied hand of cards when it comes to wildlife, agriculture, and commercial development. This is what makes Ohio such a wonderful yet underrated destination. People would usually flock to the likes of The Big Apple or Las Vegas to find things and activities to enjoy, but if you are a more laid-back type of person who seeks thrill and pleasure on the simpler, more natural things in life, then do visit Ohio and keep this list of best boating lakes in Ohio bookmarked for reference.

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