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Ohio Muskie Guide Service: A First-Hand Review

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Ohio Muskie Guide Service: A First-Hand Review

Chad Harmon Muskie Fishing
Chad Harmon, Guide and owner of Ohio Muskie Guide Service

When it comes to freshwater fishing, muskie is the absolute king. The ultimate predator. The water’s top prize. I love fishing, but no other species quite compares to “the fish of ten thousand casts.”

In Ohio, where I spend much of my time, you won’t find the biggest muskie in the United States, but it is possible to land some sizeable fish. This is especially in the eastern part of the state.

Growing up on Piedmont Lake in Ohio, it was common to see 40+ inchers being caught on a regular basis. The lake is, after all, the home of Joe Lykin’s long-standing state record, as well as a massive fish caught by Zack Hall near the dam in 2018 that many thought could have been the new state record. It has produced over ten muskie that broke the 50-inch mark and countless others in the 40-50 inch range.

My “PB” is a 50-inch beauty that is the only fish to date I have ever had mounted and despite spending years on the water, I have never been able to catch its equal. It had been a while since I put a trophy muskie in the boat, so I opted to link up with Chad Harmon, owner of the Ohio Muskie Guide Service.

Chad has been guiding for years and fishes throughout eastern Ohio for most the year. Between mid-March and mid-December, Chad takes clients out on Piedmont, Leesville, Salt Fork, West Branch, and Lake Milton.

Despite fishing in the same area as Chad for years, I actually first heard about him through a December 2021 episode of the Back Lash Musky Fishing Podcast, hosted by Jeff Widmann of Team Rhino Outdoors and Brad Hoppe of Musky Mayhem Tackle.

I’ve slowly been getting back into muskie fishing over the past two years and had tuned in to a few episodes of the podcast. I remember being incredibly impressed by how insightful and knowledgeable Chad was and felt confident that this was the guy who could possibly put me on a new “PB.” Whenever I go fishing with a guide, I am also looking at the outing as an investment in learning perhaps even more than a chance to potentially land a big fish.

Seeing as I’ve been focusing heavily on crappie for the past couple years, it was important to get out on the water with someone who was hauling in sizeable muskie on a regular basis. Chad also seemed like a reasonable guy who would gladly share his knowledge, so the decision to book with Ohio Muskie Guide Service was essentially a no-brainer.

Hitting the Water

Planning the trip was incredibly easy and, despite Piedmont being a “home” lake for me, we settled on fishing Leesville Lake – one of several Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District lakes (along with Piedmont) in eastern Ohio.

The start of the trip was nice, simple, and straight forward. Chad got me acclimated to his boat and laid out the goals for the day, including where we would be fishing, what we would be throwing, etc. Since muskie can prove to be a notoriously hard bite, we were open to moving around in search of a good fish.

The day started early and conditions were smooth for a bit. Heavy rain and cold winds started brewing, though, and carried on for the rest of the day. The Cabela’s Guidewear Xtreme Late Season Parka was an absolute blessing that day – I fish almost year-round and it would have been a rough day on the water without it! Even in mid-April, we were fishing in the low 30s, so anything caught that day would have felt earned.

Throughout the trip, Chad switched up our locations and methods. Over a span of about six hours, we threw twitch baits, glide baits, and even jigs. If we didn’t end up on a big fish, it was not going to be for any lack of trying.

Locating these prehistoric monsters takes a lot of time on the water but being able to catch them is a whole other world. Getting them to follow and bite is one thing but having them commit to a certain pattern honestly takes some skill. Throughout the trip, I definitely was learning more than I could have anticipated from Chad.

Perhaps the most positive aspect of fishing with Chad is that he was able to eliminate some of the “guess work” and explain why we were using certain techniques at any given time. As most of my experience fishing for muskie in the past has come from trolling, it was also nice to not only spend most of the day casting, but also receiving live instruction on how to increase my chances of hooking up with a big fish.

A Day Well Spent on The Water

Christian Schultz_Ohio Muskie
A nearly-PB muskie on Leesville Lake (Photo via Christian Schultz/Premier Angler)

The time on the water learning from Chad alone would have been worth it, even with the miserable weather.

Fortunately, he was able to get on one fish that day and, as you can see from the photo above, that is the only one we needed.

This fish was just shy of my PB, but it was definitely the biggest muskie I’ve had in my hands in years. If you check out the Ohio Muskie Guide Service website, you’ll see that Chad is getting folks on nice fish quite often.

If you’re ever in Ohio and want to take a shot at landing a massive muskie, you know where to go.