August 28, 2020
If you’re looking for some of the best smallmouth bass fishing in the country, look no further than the bountiful Lake Erie. This Great Lake is one of the best fisheries for bass, and anglers from around the world travel here to experience reeling in “smallies”.
The topography of Lake Erie creates the perfect habitat for smallmouth bass, especially on the eastern coast near Pennsylvania and New York. The shallow waters have lots of rocky structures, and the deeper waters have plenty of ledges and dropoffs. This allows smallmouth bass travel from shallow waters in the colder months to deeper waters as the water temperatures reach over 65 degrees.
That’s not to say you can’t catch smallmouth bass in the western basin of Lake Erie in Ohio. In fact, near the shores of Sandusky and Put-In Bay are some excellent reefs where smallies are found feeding and spawning. If you are catching smallmouth bass in Ohio, keep in mind that most anglers practice catch-and-release. If you decide to harvest your catch, the fish must be longer than 14 inches to keep.
The central basin also has some artificial reefs that are known as excellent fishing grounds for smallmouth bass. If you’re near Cleveland, head out to the nearby reefs for a great day of fishing. Or checkout the break walls of Ashtabula, Fairport Harbor, and Vermilion. Anglers fishing the breakwalls are essentially fishing from the bank of Lake Erie. Make sure you are on public property and have all appropriate licensing and permits.
Smallmouth bass are typically found in the 2-6 pound range when fished in Lake Erie. Anglers start fishing for smallies as soon as the ice melts; this typically happens near the end of March or beginning of April. The spring season is also when the fish are spawning, and it’s a great time to schedule your Lake Erie smallmouth bass fishing trip. Fish near the shores in waters around 20 feet deep in the morning hours. If the sky is overcast you’re more likely to have a very productive day, especially if you add a top-water plug to your line. Jigs or spinnerbaits are great options as well.
Summer months are not great for fishing for smallmouth bass, but it’s still possible. Just know that the fish have moved to deeper waters and you’ll need some radar technology or local guide help to find them. If you’re familiar with the area, you’ll know the dropoffs where the smallies are hiding, or use fishfinder technology to locate the schools of fish. They are usually found in waters 20-40 feet deep. Start your New York smallmouth bass trip near the Van Buren or Myers reefs; they are known as places to catch smallies in the summer.
Fishing for smallmouth bass in Lake Erie is good until the lake freezes over, anytime from late December to early January depending on the season. You may not catch large-sized smallmouth bass during winter months, but you could catch several in just a short time if you know where to find them. Fish in waters 20 feet deep with jigs and you’re sure to have a productive day.
Anglers can cast for smallmouth bass with cut or live bait or artificial lures. Live bait is almost always preferred as they are the most successful in bringing smallies to the line. Consider using shiner minnows or crayfish when selecting live bait. If you opt for artificials, crankbaits, spoons, jigs and spinners are known to work. Jigging is a very common technique used, moving the bait up and down in the water to bring the fish to the line. Once you have the hook set, the smallmouth bass do like to jump and thrash to toss the hook, so hold on tight!
Locals along the Lake Erie coast know just how enticing the smallmouth bass bite can be – it’s a rewarding gamefish that brings anglers back for more! If you have never experienced fishing this spectacular species, there’s no better fishery than Lake Erie. Whether you fish the western, central, or eastern basin, there’s sure to be a school of smallies nearby waiting for your offering. If you’re not quite sure where or how to have a successful day on the water, consider hiring a local professional fishing guide. They will have all the gear you need and can teach you the techniques needed to land the catch.
Bring your family along for a memorable day like none other. Trips typically last six hours when fishing with a professional charter captain, or head out on your own to a local breakwall and enjoy a few hours of rod-bending action. On the shore or on a vessel, fishing for smallmouth bass is always an adventure on Lake Erie!
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