Like many areas across the country early summer offers some of the hottest fishing action and reliable weather of the year.  The famed Central Basin of Lake Erie is no different and has a large variety of fishing options for both boat and shore bound anglers.  The most popular options are Walleye, Smallmouth Bass, and Perch and this will remain for most of the season.  However, there are many other species are available and the techniques to target them are just as diverse.  I hope you find the information helpful and feel free to reach out to me for more information.

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Smallmouth- Once temperatures hover or reach above 50 degrees you can be sure hot smallmouth fishing isn’t far behind. Consistent weather and clear water are key factors when targeting these hard fighting site feeders. Many techniques popular throughout the smallmouth’s range also work well in the Central Basin. Popular lures include tubes, dropshot rigs, and jerkbaits will consistently take fish though early summer. Target depths from 15 feet to near shore and adjust with weather conditions and temperature. It’s no secret smallmouth love boulders and other structural elements and finding these features while covering the entire water column with a variety of lure will lead to success. The fish will tell you the pattern for the day and savvy anglers must adjust to meet the feed mood of the fish. If you find fish inhaling your bait and making savage strikes it is a good idea to use larger lures and more aggressive techniques to cover more water and engage more fish. The opposite is true if you are getting short strikes and not connecting consistently. Downsizing you bait and slowing down should trigger negative/neutral fish and help you get through a tough bite (I’ve used as small as a 1/16oz jig in really tough bites). Smallmouth and most other “black” bass are off limits for retention in the Early Summer so be sure to check local regulations before harvesting.

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Walleye- Central Basin walleye should be broken up into two groups. Giant migrating fish that traverse the lake and are typically available through the Central Basin from Mid-May through Mid-June and the locals. The locals are generally found shallower and are slightly smaller, but available year round. Many local fishermen target these local fish in early season at night fishing stickbaits (Husky Jerks, Thundersticks, and other popular brands) from the area breakwalls and public access points in Lorain and Vermillion. When fishing for the larger migrating groups of fish trolling Reef Runners, worm harness, and traditional walleye fair is the name of the game. It is not to say you can’t jig or cast for these fish, but eliminating unproductive water and finding active fish is the key to success.  GPS units are a must and good chartplotters will help to find key depth breaks and structural variances in order to pattern these giants. This is my favorite time of year for walleye because of the sheer size of the fish. Numerous fish at or above 30” are common and make for an unforgettable trip for even the most seasoned angler.

 

Perch- Early Summer Perch can be found and caught in the Central Basin, but traditionally fall is still the best time of year for fast action. Emerald shiners are a must and fish can be caught using spreaders, crappie rigs, and a variety of other live bait rigs.

 

When visiting the Central Basin weather and wind is always an important factor. Check local forecasts and be prepared for changes throughout the day. It isn’t uncommon for the wind to shift through the day especially in the early afternoon and can make for a very nautical experience for those unfamiliar with the perils of Lake Erie. As a rule winds from the south and west are the best and north and east the least favorable. This is especially true as a north/east wind will pull cooler water in near shore and naturally larger wave as they build across the lake.  Look for sustained winds under 10 mph and pay attention to the forecast the day before and after to get a sense of any weather surprises you might encounter. A good skipper on Lake Erie will also be an amateur weatherman and while staying safe is the goal this will also help you put more fish in the boat. Sunny days with south winds are great days to target perch and bass while clouds and a little chop should help put more walleyes on your line. Also, there are lesser noticed fisheries for panfish, catfish, and whitebass available to anglers both from shore and near shore vessels.

 

Join Captain Nate Stansberry for adventure fly fishing and light tackle action on Lake Erie. Captain Nate runs a 25′ Pursuit Center Console fishing craft for a safe, comfortable trip — and twin 150hp Yamaha’s to get to the fishing fast. A  US Coast Guard licensed Captain, with experience guiding some of the toughest waters in the country. He cut his teeth guiding on the West Coast, running the wildest water on the continent — the North Pacific. Now back home Nate teaches light tackle angling, fly fishing, and tying out of Lorain, Ohio.

Contact- Phone: 330-414-1765 or nstansbe@gmail.com or visit stansberrysportfishing.com for information on how to book Lake Erie guide trips for walleye, smallmouth bass and a huge mix of other freshwater options.

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