COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – As fishing season returns in full force, the Ohio Department of Health recommends anglers check their catch to make sure they’re not consuming too many toxins.
The Ohio Sport Fish Consumption Advisory sets maximum consumption guidelines for fish from Ohio’s waters. Ranging from recommending several servings a week to avoid eating at all costs, the advisory outlines contaminants that accumulate in fish, including mercury, arsenic and polychlorinated biphenyls.
Dozens of Ohio bodies of water have species-specific guidelines, but the advisory also has general guidelines for all species of fish in all bodies of water. Under the guidelines, one serving of fish is 4 to 6 cooked ounces for adults and 2 to 3 cooked ounces for children.
Unless otherwise specified, general guidelines recommend one serving of Ohio-caught fish per week. According to the advisory, all listed frequencies are designed to be safe for consumption by pregnant people and young children, who are more susceptible to health effects from contamination. You can find an interactive map of fishing advisories here.
Below are images of the most common sport fish in Ohio, from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.
Do not eat
Little Scioto River (Marion): From State Route 739 near Marion to Holland Road near Marion, all fish in this river contain dangerous levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons from coal, crude oil and gasoline.
Big Darby Creek (Franklin, Madison, Union, Pickaway): Once a month: From U.S. Route 42 in Plain City to the creek’s mouth at the Scioto River, any channel catfish, large freshwater drum or smallmouth bass are contaminated with mercury. Channel catfish also have PCBs.
Clear Creek (Fairfield, Hocking): Once a month: From Clearport Road in Clearport to the creek’s mouth at the Hocking River, common carp contain high levels of mercury.’ Hocking River, common carp contain high levels of mercury.
Delaware Lake (Delaware)
- Twice a week: With lower mercury levels, bluegill and common carp are safe to more frequently consume
- Once a week: The black crappie contains arsenic, the channel catfish contains PCBs, and the largemouth bass has arsenic and mercury.
Deer Creek (Fayette, Madison, Pickaway, Ross): Twice a week: The channel catfish and white crappie caught between Interstate 70 and the creek’s mouth at the Scioto River have mercury.
Deer Creek Lane (Fayette, Pickaway): Twice a week: Common cark, largemouth bass and white crappie have mercury.
Dow Lake (Athens): Once a month: Channel catfish and largemouth bass are contaminated with mercury.
Griggs Reservoir (Franklin): Twice per week: Common carp, which has mercury
Hocking River (Athens, Fairfield, Hocking)
- Twice per week: Spotted bass from U.S. Route 50 in Athens to the river’s mouth at the Ohio River contain lead.
- Once a month:
- Common carp and smallmouth bass caught between Rock Mill Road in Rock Mill and State Route 33 in The Plains have mercury, and carp have PCBs.
- Walleye, smallmouth bass, spotted bass and freshwater drum from State Route 33 to the river’s mouth at the Ohio River have mercury and PCBs.
Knox Lake (Knox): Twice per week: Common carp and white crappie.
Kokosing River (Coshocton, Knox): Once a month: Rock bass over 8 inches and smallmouth bass have mercury.
Lake Logan (Hocking): Twice per week: Common carp and white crappie contain mercury.
Lake White (Pike): Twice per week: Common carp.
Mill Creek (Union County)
- Twice per week: Saugeye from State Route 36 to the creek’s mouth at the Scioto River, saugeye
- Once a month: Smallmouth bass along the same route.
Ohio River (Athens, Adams, Belmont, Brown, Clermont, Columbiana, Gallia, Hamilton, Jefferson, Lawrence, Meigs, Monroe, Scioto, Washington)
- Once a month:
- From Pennsylvania border to Belleville Lock: Black bass, flathead catfish, largemouth bass, saugeye, smallmouth bass, smallmouth buffalo, spotted bass, suckers, walleye, crappie, freshwater drum and sauger.
- From Belleville Lock to Indiana border: Black bass, white bass, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, spotted bass, suckers, freshwater drum over 14 inches, common carp over 22 inches, and channel catfish under 18 inches.
- Once every two months:
- From Pennsylvania border to Belleville Lock: Channel catfish, common carp, hybrid striped bass and white bass.
- From Belleville Lock to Indiana border: Channel catfish over 18 inches and hybrid striped bass.
Olentangy River (Delaware, Franklin, Marion): Once a month: Smallmouth bass from State Route 95 in Claridon to the river’s mouth at the Scioto River.
O’Shaughnessy Reservoir (Delaware): Twice a week: Channel catfish, common carp and white crappie.
Paint Creek (Fayette, Highland, Madison, Ross)
- Once a month:
- From State Route 734 near Jeffersonville to Plyley’s Lane in Belleview Heights: Largemouth bass
- From Plyley’s Lane to the creek’s mouth at the Scioto River: Common carp and largemouth bass.
Pike Lake (Pike): Twice per week: Channel catfish.
Rocky Fork Licking River (Licking): Twice a month: Smallmouth bass caught between Jobes Road near Davis Farm to the river’s mouth at the Licking River.
Rush Creek Lake (Fairfield, Perry)
- Twice a week: Channel catfish and common carp.
- Once a week: Redear sunfish are safe to eat once a week.
Salt Creek (Hocking, Ross, Vinton): Once a month: Channel catfish over 18 inches, sauger, smallmouth bass, spotted bass and flathead catfish from State Route 56 in Haynes to the creek’s mouth at the Scioto River.
Salt Lick Creek (Jackson, Ross): Once a month: Spotted bass caught between North High Street in Jackson and County Road 216.
Scioto River (Delaware, Franklin, Hardin, Marion, Pickaway, Pike, Ross, Scioto)
- Once a month:
- From U.S. Route 68 in Kenton to Ostrander Road in Warrensburg: Northern pike, saugeye over 19 inches, smallmouth bass and flathead catfish over 21 inches.
- From Ostrander Road to U.S. Route 35 in Chillicothe: Saugeye over 19 inches.
- From the Greenlawn Dam in Columbus to the mouth at the Ohio River: Flathead catfish, white bass over 12 inches, channel catfish and common carp.
St. Joseph Lake (Perry): Once a month: Largemouth bass.
Tuscarawas River (Coshocton): Once a month: Channel catfish, common carp, flathead catfish and freshwater drum caught between State Route 751 in Orange and the river’s mouth at tje Muskingum River.
Wakatomika Creek (Coshocton, Knox, Licking, Muskingum): Once a month: Smallmouth bass.
Walhonding River (Coshocton): Once a month: Freshwater drum and smallmouth bass.
Walnut Creek (Fairfield, Franklin, Pickaway): Once a month: Channel catfish and smallmouth bass.
Wills Creek (Muskingum, Coshocton): Twice a week: Channel catfish, which contains mercury.
When fish consumption is unrestricted
Buckeye Lake (Fairfield, Licking, Perry): Blue crappie, bluegill, channel catfish, largemouth bass and saugeye are all safe to eat at any frequency.
Hocking River (Athens, Fairfield, Hocking): The black crappie is safe, regardless of consumption frequency.
Knox Lake (Knox): Channel catfish.
Lake Logan (Hocking): You can eat as much bluegill, channel catfish and saugeye as you want.
O’Shaughnessy Reservoir (Delaware): Saugeye is safe at all levels.
Salt Fork Reservoir (Guernsey): Bluegill is safe at all levels.