Deer Creek Reservoir, Mt. Sterling, OH
Most of the activity on this U.S. Corps of Engineers impoundment centers around the excellent fishing opportunities. Deer Creek is just the right size for smaller boats and not too big to take advantage of. The dedicated group of local anglers don’t want the secret out but this is a destination worthy of the drive to get here. The electric-motor only restriction keeps a lot of visitors off the lake and the peace and quiet soothes the soul. Other than a quiet day on the water there isn’t a lot to do around the reservoir.
Deer Creek Reservoir in Stark County is commonly mistaken for Deer Creek Lake in Pickaway County. It’s not the same place as many folks discover when they show up looking for the attractions.
Fishing is king in this reservoir. The lake covers 334 acres and dips to about 20 feet at the deepest point. Anglers come looking for a variety of species and if they’re willing to target whatever happens to be biting the fishing is good throughout the year.
Deer Creek is a solid largemouth bass fishery. The bass angling is good but the catches can be hit-and-miss. Bass tournaments have weighed in 5-fish limits that totaled between 21 and 23 pounds in recent years, results that are virtually unheard of in the northern part of the Buckeye state. Start exploring for big bass on the outside edges of the shoreline structure and fallen trees with a Maxx tube in green pepper color. Toss the bait right into the middle of the cover and let it descend and bounce through the branches and weeds as it sinks. Shake it a few times and then begin working the Maxx tube back up through the tangle. Stout line is required to wrestle bass out of this type of cover so come prepared. The Ohio Division of Wildlife surveys have indicated that over 60% of the bass in the lake are at least 12 inches long and that of these fish, 31% are 15 inches or longer. There is the possibility of catching a 19-incher weighing several pounds.
Crappies are another draw for the fishing crowd. Slabs can grow to over 12 inches though most are in the 8-inch range. The water is fertile and crappies have good growth rates. Check the fish attractors that have been dropped along much of the eastern bank, fallen timber, stick-ups and the sloping shoreline that drops into the old river bed for crappies in the spring and early summer. They go deeper as the water warms during the summer months and then move up shallow again when it cools in the fall.
Channel cats average 17 inches. Yearling cats are stocked every other year and quickly put on size and weight. Stink baits, nightcrawlers and other traditional catfish baits produce well during the summer months. Occasionally an aggressive cat will strike a crankbait and give the bass angler a surprise.
There are bluegills in the lake but panfishermen will be disappointed if bluegills alone are the reason for the trip. Most of the ‘gills are too small for the frying pan. Bigger bluegills are in the lake in small numbers. These bulls hang in the water column along submerged structure much deeper than the smaller fish.
Other species present and accounted for are yellow perch, bullheads and carp. Perch can be taken in decent sizes when you’re on a school but aren’t particularly numerous. Bullheads are sometimes taken by catfishermen on the same baits. The carp are a lot of fun if you’re looking for a locomotive on the end of light fishing gear.
The Stark County Park District manages the lands around the reservoir and provides limited day use facilities. Hiking, bird watching and other quiet outdoor activities are enjoyed by many visitors. Some folks bring a book to catch up on or just enjoy a picnic with their families.
Handicapped accessible shoreline fishing spots are available.
Deer Creek Reservoir is the primary water supply for the City of Alliance. Deer Creek, a tributary of the Majohing River, was impounded in 1954. The lake has ten miles of shoreline.
Deer Creek Reservoir is located in the northern part of Stark County 5 miles north of Alliance and a mile east of Limaville. The reservoir can be reached on Price Street east of Limaville near State Route 183.
For more information call the U.S. Corps of Engineers Project Manager at 740-869-2243 or the ODOW Wildlife District Three at 330-644-2293.