Delaware Lake, Delaware, OH
Delaware Lake is one of central Ohio’s best picks for outdoor recreation and water sports. The lake is located in Delaware County just north of Columbus and covers 1,017 acres of wide-open unlimited horsepower water.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers constructed the dam in 1951. The dam impounds the Olentangy River and Whetstone Creek with a rolled earth fill structure that extends for 3 ½ miles and reaches a height of 92 feet. Lake levels can vary by as much as 20 feet.
Fishing is a mainstay on Delaware for many area residents and produces nice catches of largemouth bass, crappies, channel catfish, white bass, and the occasional muskie.
The largemouth bass population is only getting bigger and better as time goes by. The Ohio Division of Wildlife conducted an electrofishing survey in 2009. The results indicated that a whopping 32 percent of the bass were at least 12 inches long and 7 percent were rod-benders at 15 inches or better. The ODOW is predicting that the catch rates will increase over the next few years and the lake is consistently in the top 10 Ohio lakes for tournament results.
Crappie fishing is good depending on the year. As with other Buckeye state lakes the crappie population fluctuates, sometimes wildly, depending on successful spawnings, available food and current lake conditions. Target crappies in the spring and fall along shoreline vegetation and submerged weed beds. Big slabs love wood structure and if you find it near a drop-off you’re in a high percentage spot. The majority of crappies are under the 9-inch mark but there are notable exceptions.
White bass are taken on jigs and inline spinners when they make their spawning runs up Whetstone Creek. A lot of these fish are topping 13 inches. During the summer months schools of whites roam the main lake.
Catfishing on Delaware Lake is outstanding. Anglers regularly land 15-inch channel cats and have a sporting chance of tangling with fish in the 25- to 27-inch range. Bottom fishing with stink baits, home-made concoctions, chicken livers and nightcrawlers put fish on the stringer.
The razor-toothed muskellunge is at the top of the food chain in Delaware Lake. These brutes can top 50 inches and eat small ducks and muskrats. Crankbaits, inline spinners and half- to one-ounce jigheads tipped with soft plastic grubs and minnows from three to twelve inches in length tempt these giants into a rip-roaring fight.
It should be noted that though there are still some whopper-sized saugeyes in the lake the ODOW’s efforts at sustaining a viable fishery for these fish has been disappointing. Further stockings are stopped until further notice.
The Delaware State Park marina supplies food, fuel and other boating necessities to anglers and pleasure boaters. It’s common to see fishing boats and a wide array of power boats pulling tubes and skiers.
The state has worked hard to provide recreational access to the lake and surrounding areas. The Delaware Wildlife Area and Delaware State Park offer three ramp access points, parking lots, boat docks, eight picnic areas, a shooting range and a swimming beach that’s open to the public.
The 800-foot long state park beach is a popular destination in the summer. There are also two boat-swim areas on the lake where boaters can take a break from boating and get cooled off.
The state park campground features 211 electric sites, flush toilets, laundry facilities, showers and a dump station. Bring your pet to the pet-designated sites or rent bicycles at the office. Horseshoe courts, volleyball, basketball, tetherball, and other playground equipment are entertainment for all ages. The campground is particularly noted for the three Rent-A-Yurt units available from April through October that provide a unique camping experience.
Five separate trails cover nearly eight miles and connect the four campground areas. The trails are all rated as easy walking.
The 18-hole disc golf course is a winner. There is no fee and rental equipment is available upon request.
Visitors still come to Delaware Lake when the cold winter winds blow. An ice skating pond is provided and ice-fishing is productive.
Hunting for deer and upland game takes place on the 4,670-acre wildlife area. Waterfowl hunting is a popular pastime and a duck blind drawing is held every year.
The Columbus Zoo is an attractive way to spend a lazy afternoon. Visit the zoo to see animals from Africa, Asia, Australia, and other parts of the world.
Delaware Lake is located four miles north of the City of Delaware in Delaware County. The lake is accessible from State Routes 23, 42, and 229. The dam is on State Route 23.
For additional information on Delaware Lake call the Alum Creek State Park regional office at (740)548-4631 or the ODOW’s District One at (614)644-3925. Maps of the lake, state park and the wildlife area are available upon request.
Other Corp of Engineer lakes:
or go to the Ohio Lakes page to see even more great lakes to visit.