Lake Erie Bass Fishing

erie bass fishing
erie bass fishing

Lake Erie is a bass factory with booming populations of largemouth and smallmouth bass. The habitat in Lake Erie is what makes the bass thrive. There are plenty of weeds for largemouth to hang out in and plenty of deep structure for smallmouth to thrive. The populations weren’t always that great though, through conservation the bass population has come back and is getting better every day. In this article, we discuss all aspects of Lake Erie bass fishing.

Why is bass fishing on Lake Erie so Popular?

The abundance of Smallmouth and Largemouth Bass

Bass have always been a top sport fish for most fishermen and Lake Erie is a great place to search and catch them. Anglers come from all over the country to fish for largemouth and smallmouth bass on Lake Erie. The lake’s rich ecosystem provides an ideal environment for bass to thrive. Lake Erie has a lot of rocky features underwater, not to mention the shipwrecks that hold trophy smallmouth bass. The shorelines on all sides are covered in underwater rocks and lake weeds. Smallmouth will congregate in these areas in search of spawning grounds, bait, and shelter. The reef complex and North Bass Island are great places to fish.

Where to Find Lake Erie Bass

One of the key attractions of Lake Erie is its diverse range of fishing environments. From rocky shorelines and submerged structures to expansive open water areas, the lake caters to various bass fishing preferences. Whether you prefer casting near the shoreline or exploring deeper waters, Lake Erie offers options to suit every angler’s style. Rocky areas can be found around Kelley’s Island, South Bass Island, and Middle Bass Island. To catch smallmouth bass, look for rocky areas with deep water close by. Lake Erie smallmouth can be caught as deep as 40′ in some cases. For largemouth, fish the main shoreline and look for weed beds. Largemouth will school up to feed on these weed beds in all months of the year.

The best times for Lake Erie Bass Fishing

Lake Erie Smallmouth Bass: Spring Fishing

Springtime is best for numbers fishing for smallmouth bass on Lake Erie. As temperatures rise, smallmouth bass become more active, moving to shallower waters. Smallmouth can be fished for right after the ice leaves, but the peak time to fish is when the water gets to the upper 40’s and lower 50’s. These fish really shine at those temperatures. Anglers key in on this behavior, employing a variety of techniques such as jerkbaits, crankbaits, and soft plastics to entice bites from these feisty fighters.

Finding smallmouth in the Spring isn’t too difficult. Smallmouth on Lake Erie like the same areas when it’s time to spawn. Fish will cruise rocky flats in search of a place to spawn. Male fish will cruise the flats first, followed by the females when the water temperature gets above 55 degrees. Targeting these flats with moving baits and tubes can be a great tactic. Focus on flats in the 10-12 ft. range with structure. Use structure scan to identify these areas. Water temperature plays a big role in when the fish will move up, the further East you go, the later the spawn.

Lake Erie Largemouth: Summer Fishing

It is summertime and largemouth bass are grouped up in the weed beds on the Lake Erie shores. The warmer water temperatures encourage largemouths to explore the shallows, providing exciting opportunities for topwater action. Buzzbaits, frogs, and other surface lures become go-to choices for enticing strikes from these elusive and powerful fish. Sometimes largemouth will group up in 10-15 fow outside marinas to feed, these are excellent places to try a tube or dropshot bait. The marinas around Catawba Island are a great place to fish for Lake Erie Largemouth. The main lake has some shallow grassy areas that hold largemouth bass as well. If you need more information, offers a great article on summer Lake Erie bass fishing.

Smallmouth Fishing Lake Erie: Summer Months

In the summertime, smallmouth can be found grouped up in deep water 20-35 FOW. Smallmouth prefer irregularities in the bottom, such as a hump or boulders. You can find this using structure scan on a fish finder. Most fishermen that target smallmouth will scan the bottom at speed and look for these irregularities.

Smallmouth will also hang around steep drop-offs such as an underwater point. The islands in the western basin of Lake Erie are a great place to look for this structure. Pelee Island has this structure on all sides and has a great population of smallmouth bass. If you are having trouble finding smallmouth or want to lessen the learning curve, consider hiring a smallmouth bass guide.

Lake Erie Smallmouth Fishing

Fall Lake Erie Bass Fishing

Fall is a season of transition on Lake Erie, and it’s during this time that anglers often pursue trophy bass. The cooling water temperatures trigger migrations, prompting both smallmouth and largemouth bass to feed heavily. Crankbaits, jigs, and spinnerbaits are popular choices for fall Lake Erie Largemouth. For smallmouth, a dropshot or swimbait is hard to beat in the fall. In recent years the Canadian smallmouth Lake Erie record was broken fishing around Pelee Island in the fall. In the fall smallmouth can be found deep and shallow around the structure.

Lake Erie Bass Fishing: Tips and Techniques

Look for Baitfish

Finding bait around structure is a key factor in finding smallmouth bass on Lake Erie. Look for groups of shad using electronics. On a fish finder, a bait school looks like a large blob. This is typically emerald shiners or shad in a tight group. Start deep and work in shallow targeting areas that have bait. One other primary food for smallmouth is gobies. These can be found in rocky areas but are impossible to pick out on a fish finder. A good indicator they are in the area is if you are getting small pecks while fishing. Those bites are normally gobies. Largemouth will also hang around bait in all months of the year. Look for schools of baitfish in about 10-12 fow around the shorelines of the lake. These are great places to find largemouth bass.

Lake Erie Bass Behavior

Successful bass fishing on Lake Erie requires a keen understanding of bass behavior in different seasons. Being aware of their movement patterns, preferred habitats, and feeding habits enhances an angler’s ability to locate and catch bass consistently. Largemouth prefer stagnant shallow water around grass which creates oxygen. Smallmouth prefer deep underwater structures, even when spawning. Lake Erie smallmouth love drop-offs. They will hover in these areas pre and post-spawn. Just like any lake, there are feeding times. In the spring, bass can typically bite all day depending on conditions. In the summer and fall, bass fishing might be better in the morning and evenings. Schools of bass will move and feed during low-light periods.

Using Electronics to Catch Bass

Given the vastness of Lake Erie, the use of modern electronics is crucial. High-quality fish finders and GPS units can help anglers locate underwater structures, identify drop-offs, and pinpoint the most promising fishing spots. This technological edge significantly improves the chances of a successful day on the water. Side scanning for underwater structures is key to finding smallmouth bass on Lake Erie.

Forward facing sonar has taken over bass fishing in the past few years. Lake Erie bass fishing is no exception to that. Since Lake Erie bass usually hang out deeper than in other lakes, forward facing sonar now plays a big role in fishing for them.

Conservation and Responsibilities

Catch and Release Bass Fishing

As the popularity of bass fishing on Lake Erie continues to grow, anglers must prioritize conservation efforts. Practicing catch and release helps sustain the bass population. This ensures future generations can enjoy bass fishing on Lake Erie for years to come. Large bass are old fish, taking care of the larger fish will ensure future generations can enjoy what Lake Erie has to offer.