CLEVELAND - While the Fourth of July may mean fireworks to some people, out on Lake Erie it means an explosion of a different kind.
Summer means fishing on the big lake is heating up. This is the time of year to catch some of Lake Erie’s most popular fish species. Here is a quick look at how to do it.
Sometimes referred to as “Lake Erie Gold,” the yellow perch is one of the most sought after, and tastiest, fishes you can catch along the north coast. During the summer and through the fall, yellow perch form tight schools.
They can be caught anywhere in the lake, though the bigger ones are usually found from east of Kelley’s Island east to Ashtabula, and can be caught from a boat or shore. Break walls and fishing piers are often popular places for shorebound anglers to catch them. Fishing from boats, especially off of Avon, Cleveland, and Euclid is also a great way to catch yellow perch. The most common rig is a spreader or crappie rig baited with emerald shiners, and fished near or on the bottom.
There are a variety of charters and headboats that target yellow perch in the Cleveland area.
Lake Erie has been called the Walleye Capital of the World. It’s a title that is well-earned. Lake Erie has one of the top walleye fisheries anywhere. The fish provides a sporting fight, but is also appreciated on the table as a fine eating fish.
Walleye range throughout the lake. While they are sometimes caught from shore in the summer, more often they’re taken by boat fishermen. How you fish for them depends on where you are fishing. In the shallower western basin, from about Vermilion west, boat fishermen often drift weight forward spinners and worm harnesses baited with nightcrawlers. In the deeper central basin, trolling spoons and crankbaits is the preferred method.
There is a huge sportfishing industry on Lake Erie that specifically targets walleye. Charters and headboats are available from Toledo to Ashtabula, with several in the Cleveland area.
Lake Erie is one of the premier locations to catch smallmouth bass. Pound for pound, the smallmouth may be one of the fiercest fighting fish in the world.
They are found mostly around rock cover. In the western basin, anglers take them by casting crankbaits or jigs toward rocky shorelines or on the rock reefs that dot that region. Casting is popular in the central basin, as is drifting with live bait like crawfish.
Many charters are available for smallmouth bass on Lake Erie, though anglers may have to specifically request smallmouth as the target.
Steelhead are fantastic fighters and a much-prized gamefish. They are sometimes caught by people fishing for walleyes, but are also specifically targeted. The steelhead provides fantastic table fare, as well.
Steelhead are found primarily in the deeper central and eastern basins of Lake Erie. There is a thriving steelhead fishery from Cleveland east to Ashtabula. They are almost exclusively caught from boats in the summer.
The preferred method is precision trolling with downriggers and spoons. Steelhead are found in deeper water, so extra weight is required to get the lures down to them.
Charters are available for steelhead at locations along the lake from Cleveland east.
Lake Erie offers summer fishing for a variety of other fish like white bass, white perch, catfish, sheepshead, and panfish.
Techniques and baits vary from location to location. But, if you want to get in on the catching, regardless of your target, summer is the time to do it.
Copyright 2012 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
Local News Headlines
A 1992 cover story, told by Wilma Smith, takes a look back at the WEWS anchor team's beginnings.
A former youth softball league commissioner in northeast Ohio has been sentenced to 10 months in prison for possessing child pornography and inappropriately touching a 17-year-old girl.