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Fishing Lake Erie: Where To Go and What Bait To Use

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Fishing Lake Erie brings together the best of Ohio angling.

Ask any Ohio sportsman or woman, and they will almost always agree that Lake Erie and its fishing opportunities are one of Ohio’s best outdoor resources. It offers a plethora of recreational activities for people of all ages to enjoy. Everything from boating and swimming to fishing and bird-watching are available on the lake and lake shore.

However, for those who haven’t spent much time around the lake, it can be a little daunting to figure out how to get started. That especially holds true for fishing.

With a wide variety of species to target and so much accessible water to cover, it can be challenging for any angler to consistently catch limits of fish on Lake Erie.

One of the best ways to experience fishing on Lake Erie is by going out with a guide and chartering a boat. Lake Erie guides have years of experience and know how and where to find the hottest fishing during all seasons of the year. You can learn more about fishing charters and guided fishing on the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) page.

Choosing a fishing spot in the spring really depends on what species you want to target the most. If you want a chance at catching a variety of fish, then fishing off Kelley’s Island will be your best bet. If walleye are on your mind, then Cleveland Harbor is a great place to go this time of year.

Walleye are biting in good numbers at depths of 38-46 feet of water on spinner rigs and spoons tipped with nightcrawlers. Just be sure to stock up on worms as you are sure to be robbed by the schools of white bass and white perch that are also patrolling the water.

If a mess of yellow perch are your target, then more shallow water closer to shore should be your target area. Perch are being caught this time of year in water from 32 feet deep and shallower.

You’ll want to use emerald shiner minnows for bait, but it’s a good idea to stock up on those as well. Expect to have to deal with hungry non-target species like white bass and white perch in these waters too.

Connected rivers are a great bet for anglers looking to hook into some of Lake Erie’s numerous and sizeable smallmouth bass. The Grand River east of Cleveland is a smallmouth hotspot in late spring. The bass should be finished or very close to finishing their spawning and will be looking to feed.

Tube jigs are a great bet for enticing some bronzebacks to bite. Jigs tipped with live bait such as golden shiners and crayfish are another good bet. Don’t be afraid to break out your jerkbaits either. Fishing off the breakwalls early in the day is another effective strategy.

If you’re planning to visit Lake Erie, don’t sweat the out-of-town blues. For the most part, Ohio anglers are a friendly bunch and will offer some assistance or tips if you ask for it. Just don’t expect anyone to give up their favorite fishing holes. It’s also a good idea to give other anglers a respectful distance before trying out any tips they may have offered.
RELATED: 5 Reasons Ohio is a Sportsman’s Paradise
Weather conditions play a huge role in Lake Erie fishing success. Rough weather can make for some pretty big waves on the lake and make for dangerous boating conditions or at the very least a seasickness inducing trip. The Fishing Lake Erie informational webpage includes some great links to forecasts, boating tips, and water temperatures, so check those out the day before you plan on fishing.

Whether you are a seasoned vet of fishing off the north coast of Ohio or not, make it a point to visit Lake Erie sometime this summer and enjoy the bounty of fish that are out there to catch. You won’t be sorry that you did.

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Fishing Lake Erie: Where To Go and What Bait To Use