Our monsoon spring has wiped out a large part of local fishing. One place that has hardly been affected is Lake Erie. Fishing at Lake Erie this spring may have gotten off to a slow start due to the long, harsh winter, but now things are happening is a great way.
Lake trout fishing off North East Marina has been spectacular for the past few weeks. This might not last much longer, so it is a good thing to sample this weekend.
A large boat is not necessary for spring lake trout fishing in the North East area, depending on wind velocity and direction, because it happens within a couple miles of the artificial harbor. Ideally, the best wind direction for smaller boats here an elsewhere in the near shore areas of southern lake Erie is from the south. South-southwest is good. Northeast wind is generally regarded as the worst wind for fishing the lake. Northwest wind tends to be a problem since it comes from the full length of the lake.
Fishing for lake trout in relatively near-shore water during spring is one of the least exploited fisheries in the Pennsylvania portion of Lake Erie. It can be done from relatively small boats if the proper safety
precautions are taken.
Trolling for lake trout does not necessarily require downriggers, although certainly downriggers can be a big help. Dipsy Divers, Snap Weights or leadcore line can get lures deep enough, depending on the depth lake trout are using at the time.
Spoons are the most often preferred lures for lake trout. A variety of color patterns may be effective. I suggest that color patterns include blue and silver, green and silver and red. Red does not seem as though it would be effective since red disappears as a color before other colors disappear. But there is no arguing that red is effective. Use larger spoons that you might for steelhead or brown trout, more on the order of chinook salmon sizes.
Lake trout grow very large, often 20 pounds, and occasionally much larger.
Stick baits also are very effective for lake trout. The most effective stick bait for lake trout in my experience is the Renosky Crystalina with a green and silver color pattern.
Lake trout generally seem to prefer that lures be trolled slowly, no more than 2-1/2 mph. It pays to experiment, though, if you are not getting hits.
Springtime lake trout fishing in the North East area takes place inside the 'Mountain', which actually is better defined as a long drop-off which is actually named the Dunkirk Escarpment. Expect to be fishing over depths ranging from about 45 feet to 65 feet.
Catching steelhead, brown trout and walleye along with lake trout is normal for this fishery. This spring walleye have not been abundant, but those which have been caught have been very large, 30 inches and longer.
Mainly because of the variety of fish species which might be caught, it pays to troll lures at a variety of depths, anywhere from 15 feet deep to just above bottom.
While this is going on, other anglers in the same general area, though in shallower water, are enjoying some of the best smallmouth bass fishing on Earth.
Smallmouth bass fishing got underway first in Presque Isle Bay. This continues to be excellent. Fishing in the main lake always starts later. This year it did not get into full swing until the past couple of weeks.
In either case, lake or bay, look for irregular, rocky bottom structure including drop-offs and humps. In the bay, depths generally range from about 10 feet to 20 feet. In the lake smallmouth bass might be caught anywhere from about 35 feet into 5 feet.
Two types of lures are most favored by experienced smallmouth bass anglers at Lake Erie and in Presque Isle Bay. Blade baits typically are most effective during the first few weeks of the spring smallmouth bass fishery. Then tubes jigs become more effective. Either type of lure may be effective anytime during the spring fishery, though.
Blade baits are not often used when the smallmouth bass are in water shallower than about 15 feet. Crankbaits are very popular in depths of 10 feet to 15 feet.
Blade baits most often are mainly silver, sometimes with blue. Watermelon and other color patterns that include drab green, brown, chartreuse and glitter are good for tube jigs.
In water deeper than about 20 feet, fishing lures vertically may be the best tactic. This way sensitivity and the hook-setting ratio is best. But if the boat can not accurately be kept immediately over irregular structure, or if for any other reason vertical fishing is not effective, casting covers more water and may be more effective. When wind direction and velocity is favorable, moving a boat along a drop-off or over a series of humps, wind drifting is a great tactic.
Swedish Pimples are excellent lures for vertical jigging. Try various color patterns.
Boats have been having increasingly good results trolling for walleye around sunset. The best of this has been in the area from Walnut Creek to Elk Creek. Troll either spoons or stick baits in depths of about 15 feet to 40 feet.