North Branch Kokosing River Lake, Warsaw, OH
The North Branch Kokosing River Lake is a great place to take a nap if the fish aren’t biting. The lake covers 149 acres in Knox County and is a great little fishing destination if you don’t mind relaxing more than you’re fishing.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers finished construction of the small dam in 1972 for flood control measures. The dam is built of packed earth with rip-rap rock covering and houses an unregulated outlet structure. Little regulation of the water flow is needed since the dam handles only a 44.5 square mile drainage area. Normally there is as much water flowing into the lake as flows out and few people take notice. The Kokosing River is a tributary of the Walhonding River in east-central Ohio and many Ohioans are completely unaware of the lake’s existence.
The Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District offers a beautiful little getaway in this park. A small lake-front campground with electric sites is the perfect place to set up a trailer or a tent and enjoy an evening campfire. There’s not a lot of activity here which is exactly the way the regular campers like it.
A 10-horsepower boat motor restriction is in place to preserve the pristine nature of the lake. Small fishing boats, kayaks, canoes, and inflatable boats are all welcome. The horsepower restriction means that electric motors are acceptable along with small 9.9 horsepower or less outboard motors.
The fishing is a quiet past-time here, not the main attraction. The lake is easy for anglers to effectively cover due to its small size and the fact that the north end is silted in and extremely shallow. The main lake only averages between six and seven feet deep so shallow-running baits and hook-and-bobber combinations are more than adequate.
Kokosing is a bass and panfish lake. The recent Ohio Division of Wildlife electrofishing survey found a decent largemouth bass population, in part due to the forage base of bluegills and in part due to the stumps that dot the lake bottom. Thirty-four percent of the sampled bass were at least 12 inches in length and whoppers over the 18-inch mark were found. The old creek channel points and drop-offs are where the bucketmouths gather during warm weather and the shorelines are good in the spring and fall.
Channel catfish are fun to catch and delicious eating. Drift fish across the lake’s surface or target the old creek bed during the daytime hours. A gob of earthworms, stink baits, shrimp, and other smelly offerings can land fish in the frying pan.
Crappies are a draw for local anglers that like to hook a minnow under a tiny bobber. The average-sized slab sampled during the ODOW fisheries survey was between eight and nine inches in length. Big crappies up to 14 inches were found. Hit the crappies in the woody cover.
Hunting season finds the 959 acres of diverse wildlife habitat busy with area hunters. Diversity of habitat is the key to hunting success and the Kokosing Lake property has it. Agricultural areas are managed through field sizes and crop rotations to provide food and shelter for a variety of wildlife. Ducks and geese utilize the water and the crop fields in the fall. Whitetail deer, rabbits, squirrels, quail, and pheasants are successfully hunted in the agricultural fields and throughout the open fields and wooded sections. Trappers take advantage of the Kokosing River’s opossums, raccoons, mink, weasels, muskrats, fox, and skunks.
Anglers and small watercraft operators use the two-lane boat launch near the picnic area. There is a pit toilet here and a lighted parking lot.
The campground has 42 electric sites that cater to tents and RVs. Campers will be happy to discover that a new restroom and bath house have been constructed. The facility is handicapped accessible and provides diaper changing stations in both the men’s and women’s areas. The dump station is also up and running.
Bicycling is permitted in the campground areas and on the roadways. Hikers are limited to the dam area or the wildlife section that is open to hunting.
Kokosing Lake is located north of Mount Vernon and west of Fredericktown. Visitors traveling from Fredericktown reach the dam via State Route 13 north to Waterford Road. The dam is about two miles from the junction of Route 13 and Waterford Road. The campground and picnic areas are about a half mile further up Waterford Road.
For fishing information contact the ODOW’s District One in Columbus at (614)466-3337. The MWCD can be reached at (419)368-6885 for information on camping or visit the website at www.mwcdlakes.com.