Shore fishing can be an exciting and rewarding way to fish for Lake Erie walleye. There are a variety of tackle, baits, locations, and techniques to catch walleye from shore. The tips in this article are for Lake Erie southern shore fisherman. These techniques do hold true elsewhere, but more for Lake Erie. 99.9% of shore fishing happens at night when the walleye come close to the shoreline to feed on shad and other bait fish.
Most anglers choose to use a 6’-6” to 7’ medium fast action rod when casting for walleye from shore. A quality reel with quality braid is a necessity. Braided line is used for long casts, this keeps your bait in the water longer. 15-20 lb. braid will work best. A fluorocarbon leader helps with hookups as it is harder for the walleye to see. Most use a 10-15 lb. leader and keep a small spool in a bag. Lastly, a micro snap swivel at the end of the leader is a must to make changing lures easier.
Choosing what crankbait to throw can be overwhelming because there are a lot to choose from. If you are fishing deep water such as at the end of a pier, you may opt for a deep diving crankbait. If it is relatively shallow water you want a bait that has a shallow bill on it. The walleye will be higher in the water column at night, so carry more shallow divers than deep. Good choices in lures are Smithwick perfect 10, Reefrunner Shallow series, Rapala hj12 – hj14 (jointed and un-jointed), and a Rattle trap. Don’t get too caught up in custom colors, if the fish are there you will get bit. The type of lure seems to have more effect on hook up ratio.
There is an art to lure retrieval when shore fishing for walleye. Some folks do a short pause almost working like a jerk bait. Some do a slow retrieve. Some nights the walleye want the bait parallel to the bank and or bouncing off the rocks. If you see others catching fish and you aren’t, keep trying different retrieves or baits until you do. The fish want different something different each night.
Location, Location, and Location. Any pier that dips out into Lake Erie has the potential to hold walleye at night. Some popular spots to try are the Huron pier, Sandusky bay Dempsey access, Lorain pier, Edgewater pier, E55th st. in Cleveland, Lakeside (if you have access), Mazurick boat ramp, Catawba pier, and Vermillion break wall. There are other spots to try, but you will have to do some homework. Use google maps.
There is a lot of public access along the lake, which you can find using Google Maps. Bait is key, you need to have bait in the area. A lot of shore anglers will not even fish if the bait is not there. Visually check for shiners or shad in the area. Also, the water needs to be clean or semi-clean. I would not even waste my time in dirty water conditions.
Below is a list of public shore fishing locations:
- Lorain Mile Long Pier – 301 Lakeside Ave, Lorain, OH 44052
- Edgewater Pier – 6500 Cleveland Memorial Shoreway, Cleveland, OH 44102
- Vermilion Pier – 480 Main St, Vermilion, OH 44089
- Huron Pier – 30 Main St, Huron, OH 44839
- Sandusky Battery Park – 701 E Water St, Sandusky, OH 44870
- Marblehead Dempsey Access – 2498 Cook Dock, Lakeside Marblehead, OH 43440
- Lakeside Pier – 199 Maple Ave Lakeside Marblehead, OH 43440
- Mazurik Access – 8777 N Shore Blvd Lakeside Marblehead, OH 43440
- Catawba State Park – 4049 E Moores Dock Rd, Port Clinton, OH 43452
- Waterworks Park Port Clinton – 74 N Jefferson St, Port Clinton, OH 43452