First, let me be upfront with you. There are, in my experience, no 'killer' spots around the Dayton area for fisherman. Many of the more popular and more revered waters are a bit of a drive away, mostly north. That's not to say that there aren't plenty of options around the Dayton area, but in my experience, many people drive farther away to have more successful fishing.
But if you're like me, it's not about catching the biggest fish, or the most caught, or the hardest fighter. It's about getting outside, enjoying yourself or spending time with close friends, and just letting the stress of daily life roll off your back. More often than not, I prefer to fish close to home and just enjoy my day, regardless of whether I land a big catch or not.
Alright, let's go over some of my favorite fishing spots around the Dayton area. Just a warning, I don't give too much information in specific location or 'spots' at each area. A fisherman guards his favorite spots! But I encourage you to check out the areas and start exploring!
Located near Waynesville, OH (a town famous for its antique shops) is one of the more popular lakes (don't let the name fool you) in the area.
Caesar's Creek is huge (2,800 acres of water) and offers many possibilities for fishermen, from boat and shore alike. There is also a 'fossil hunting' ground, an old pioneer village, a beach, many shelters, and plenty of hiking trails to enjoy.
Look for crappie around the rocky shallows, especially near the dock by the main bridge. Catfish also hang out under that bridge once the sun sets. Smallmouth and saugeye are found all over the lake. Recent stocking of musky have made musky fishing more attractive to many.
Secret: check out the water just below the spillway, you never know what might end up there!
My only caveat with this lake is this - beware the boaters. It's a very popular lake for boaters, both for sport and pleasure. Many 'joy riders' out there seem to have little concern for boating ethics and even less care for fishermen, choosing to fly by in close proximity. Stay aware from the crowded areas.
A long river that encircles nearly half of downtown Dayton, the Great Miami offers plenty of great fishing opportunities for the person who's willing to search the waters. Look for areas with structure in the water, near dams, or north of downtown. One of my favorite fish in this river is carp - put a Wheatie doughball on a hook, sling it out there, and wait for the fun. There are also several stretches that are popular for smallies.
There are plenty of places around this river, but it's a little rough right now because of construction in the area that has recently lowered the water levels. I'm hoping it will get better soon!
Twisting down through the Spring Valley and Xenia area, passing through Bellbrook, and going down to Waynesville (and continuing much farther south), the Little Miami can be a really fun river to fish in the south-eastern area of Dayton. It runs parallel with many roads in the aforementioned towns - sometimes, it best just to look for a pull off and try your luck. Canoe and kayak fishing is very popular on this river.
Look for panfish, smallmouth, channel cats, and whatever else may find its way in. I prefer to look for 'crooks' in the river, where the fish seem to gather (and pools tend to form, housing structure that fish love to hide in).
Located in Eastwood Metro Park, this lake offers fishing opportunities for both boaters and shore fishermen. Drive along the stretch, find a spot, and settle down. There's also a second 'pond' of sorts which sits opposite of the lake down near the end of its entrance road. Some people swear by it (it traps flooding waters, along with the fish caught in the current).
Catfish always seem in abundance here, and I've also seen many smallies, rock bass, and even (surprisingly to me) some perch. Also, cool thing - the park stays open for night fishing during the warmer parts of the year on the weekends.
Those are some of the main ones around the area, but there are many smaller ones that either I don't have time to mention or simply haven't gotten around to fishing yet.
One small lake I will add as a side note is Spring Lakes, near Bellbrook. It's owned by Greene County, so you need to get a special fishing license through them to fish there.
It's actually a fun little lake - some good catfish holes and some nice looking bass get pulled out of there sometimes. Kids can get a kick out of panfish and crawdads. It's a bit hidden, as you have to drive through a small cement and concrete factory. But I recommend it - especially fun if you have younger kids.
And remember, for all the other places mentioned, support the Ohio DNR and purchase a license to make sure you're fishing legally. Best of luck out there!