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Go fish: Lake Erie full of walleye, perch, smallmouth


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Lake Erie is known for walleyes.

Sure, smallmouth, steelhead and perch also abound, but it’s walleye most anglers think of when they hear someone mention Lake Erie.

As far as I am concerned, walleye is some of the tastiest table fare that swims, and Lake Erie is the place to go for catching limits.

Lake Erie is home to a fleet of charter boats that probably outnumbers the naval ships of most countries. It’s not hard to find someone to take you out for walleye on Erie. Just Google Lake Erie charter boats and you’ll get plenty of hits for outfitters offering guided fly trips for marble eyes.

If you are interested in giving Lake Erie walleye fishing a try, I suggest you reach out to an outfitter and explain what you would like to fish for — numbers or size. After a trip or two with an outfitter, you’ll know where to find Erie ’eyes on your own.

Taking a trip to Lake Erie should be a life requirement for any serious walleye angler. On my first trip to Lake Erie, I fished with an outfitter from Port Clinton. The action was fast and furious. I left with a cooler full of fillets and a 9-pound, 28-inch whopper wrapped for my taxidermist.

Smallmouth fishing also has come into its own in Lake Erie.

A number of writers, including noted fly-fishing writer Jerry Darkes,

have been reporting on the lake’s healthy bronzeback population for years. Erie is a special destination because it’s home to both numbers and size. Since there is such a focus on walleye, smallmouth for the most part remain an underutilized species.

Smallmouth can be caught all along the Ohio shoreline, but one of the most scenic, and therefore enjoyable, places to fish for smallmouth in Lake Erie is around the Lake Erie islands archipelago. Of which, the three Bass Islands are the primary destination for tourists. Combine the opportunity to fish around the islands for smallmouth with the fun one can expect from the festive spirit of Put-In-Bay, and all of a sudden the Bass Islands become the Key West of the Great Lakes.

With a deep affection for islands, I’m always excited by the prospect of an island-based adventure. The incredible smallmouth bass fishery of Lake Erie may not be a secret, but it’s not like you are going to run into an onslaught of smallmouth fisherman around Lake Erie, especially on the Bass Islands. This is a pursuit you can undertake with little competition.

A trip to the Bass Islands to stalk smallmouth would be both a unique and exciting adventure. One great aspect of island fishing is the fact that you can always get out of the wind. If you plan to travel to either island without a boat, you’ll still have a fine fishing adventure; but if bringing your own boat, or if renting one is an option, I recommend doing so.

Lake Erie is undeniably one of the premier fishing locations in America. Whether you choose to venture out to the Bass Islands in search of smallmouth or you fish the Port Clinton/Sandusky area of Ohio for walleye, you’ll find yourself in a great vacation spot for the angler who is interested in having an all-around good time.

Brandon Butler’s outdoors column appears Saturdays in the Daily Journal. Send comments to letters@dailyjournal.net.

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