Most Ohio anglers agree Lake Erie is the destination for walleye, smallmouth and perch fishing. It has plenty of public access, and it offers bonuses like bird-watching, swimming and points of historical interest.
Lake Erie is the fourth-largest of the five Great Lakes and the 12th-largest in the world in surface area, which means 9,910 square miles of fish-hiding water.
Unfortunately, for novices visiting the lake, figuring out where to start can be tough. You may be able to locate a beach or land a bottle of pink catawba, but finding a cooperative school of fish can be daunting.
One of the best strategies for catching your limit is to find an experienced guide and charter a boat. A guide monitors fishing successes through his trips and by staying in contact with other pros and bait shops. They also pay attention to weather conditions and will have proper safety gear.
It’s also good to have friends, especially those that happen to be fishermen and own a lake-worthy vessel. While they may not always be as successful as a professional guide, they make up for it with camaraderie.
Choosing the right fishing spot depends on what you hope to catch. If variety is the stringer of the day, then Kelleys Island might be the place to start. If you’re after walleye, Cleveland Harbor seems to be doing well.
The water depth in the eastern lake runs a little deeper and the walleye have been hitting spinners and spoons tipped with worms at depths of 38-46 feet. Schools of white bass are also studying there.
Yellow perch have been found closer to shore and don’t require quite as long of a boat trip. In fact, the piers have been turning in fair numbers for shore fishermen.
Emerald shiners are perch’s preferred lunch fare, so make sure to stock up. White bass and white perch like to rob your hook.
If you’re looking for smallmouth, the islands and breakwalls are best fished early in the day to avoid too much boating traffic which seems to quell their aggressive nature. Jigs tipped with shiners and crayfish and soft tube jigs do a good job of netting bronzebacks.
When boating on Lake Erie, weather can be crucial to your fishing success as well as your safe return.
As the shallowest of the Great Lakes, bad weather kicks up some pretty big waves in a hurry. This can result in “green-gills” for some boaters and catastrophe for the foolish. Check the forecast before and during any trip.
Check Ohio’s latest fishing reports, including Lake Erie’s, as well as the Charter Boat Association at the Division of Wildlife’s website: www.wildohio.com.
Along the Way:
I’ve found that when fishing our Great Lake that sometimes fish just don’t cooperate. It must be an aversion to deep-frying. Just so those trips aren’t wasted, I recommend visiting one of our north-coast wineries.
Lake Erie allows vintners to produce wine amid some of the country’s most scenic vistas. The Wing Watch Wine Trail includes an area well known to birders that also offers an array of wineries.
Throughout this cool-climate growing district, historic vineyards have been farmed by wine families for generations. Numerous soil types, deposited by years of glacial movements, provide fertile ground for great viticulture.
Visit www.ohiowines.org to ensure that your next fishing trip doesn’t result in your coming home empty-handed.
• This week at the UCOA, 6943 Marion Township 243, Findlay:
Today: three-gun shoot, 12 p.m.
Tomorrow: IDPA pistol match, 9 a.m.
Thursday-Friday: Trap and skeet, 5 p.m.
• Tomorrow: Mixed target archery shoot, registration opens 8 a.m., Field and Stream Bowhunters, 11400 Allen Township 109, Findlay.
• Tuesday: Women on Target, 5:30 p.m. HCCL, 13748 Jackson Township 168, Findlay.
Abrams is a retired wildlife officer supervisor for the state Division of Wildlife in Findlay. He can be reached at P.O. Box 413, Mount Blanchard, OH 45867-0413 or via email at email@example.com.
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