By EZ Angler Staff –
If you are a hardcore fan of pursuing smallmouth then Lake Erie has more than 9,910 square miles of smallmouth action waiting for you. In fact, smallies make up an estimated 25% of all Lake Erie fishing trips for the entire year, according to the Department of Environmental Conservation.
Aside from being such a large lake (the tenth largest globally, but the shallowest of the five Great Lakes.), Lake Erie yields such good catches because it offers an excellent habitat and forage for smallmouth bass (a.k.a. Micropterus dolomieu). Due to its structure, Lake Erie is one of the most diverse fishing grounds in the country where any EZ Angler can find a large quantity of yellow perch, largemouth bass, northern pike, white bass, walleye and many other bass fish species. Non-native sport fish such as rainbow trout and brown trout are stocked specifically for anglers.
Productive lures for this body of water include blade baits, jigging spoons, spoonbill jerk baits and of course tube jigs, soft plastics and live bait. Through vertical jigging and canst and retrieve methods, fishing with tubes offers a very effective way and a preferred method by many anglers for snagging smallmouth on Erie. At least a 10 to 20 pound line class is highly recommended.
When you decide to go hit up Lake Erie be very vigilant of weather conditions and respect the power of the lake. Although it is a lake, the waters often resemble that of the ocean. A clear bright day can suddenly turn into a bad one accompanied by forceful winds and create total havoc, just like what happened to some ten bass boats fishing on the lake in September 1992. On that day a B.A.S.S. competition was being held and on a dime the weather turned for the worst resulting in massive ten-foot plus waves. Several boats were sunk and beached and 12 anglers were thrown into the depths of the lake. Other anglers and boaters have lost their lives in the lake, which is named after the Erie Tribe of Native Americans who once lived along its southern shore.
If you are a virgin to the lake and intend to leave the calmness of Erie’s bays, you may want to strongly consider hiring a guide.
While bass fishing at Lake Erie you must also remember some standard regulations which are imposed in states such as in Pennsylvania where if you are to catch the walleye, it must be at least 18 inches.
In Ohio, which covers about 262 miles of shoreline, smallmouth bass fishing at Lake Erie during summer months have limits as to number the of bags. You are allowed to have three bags only instead of four and during any other time, you can catch up to a maximum of six bags. For those who may be unfamiliar with the term, a bag limit is a law imposed on fishermen restricting the number of fish within a specific species or group that may be caught and brought back to shore. Bag limits, which can typically take into account size, serve to keep a healthy population for the carrying capacity of the species’ environment.
During the spawning period, from March to April, you are not allowed to catch using the treble hooks. These are new regulations you have to remember.
Spots on Erie
So if you are bass fishing at Lake Erie and want to share with the typical smallmouth catch of 80,000 smallmouths during a six week period starting end of June, just after the spawning period, you can go to Long point Bay. Smallmouths swim through this bay as they travel back to the main lake after the spawning period.
In recent years, it was noted that there is a phenomenon of increasing clear water in the lake which can be attributed to the so called “zebra water infestation” which has been driving the smallmouth species to the deep waters even during spawning, thus trolling is still the number one way of catching smallies.
Depending on what side of the lake you’re on there are numerous campsites and hotels along the shorelines and several experienced guides that can assist. If you haven’t done so already and want to have an excellent smallmouth experience add Lake Erie to your bucket list.
And if you’re lucky you might just get a glimpse of the notorious and elusive Lake Erie Monster. That’s right – monster. But that’s a story for another day.