Lake Erie's Summertime Smorgasbord

Lake Erie contains all of the most popular summertime angling species in the East, from smallmouths to walleyes, catfish and perch. Here's a look at how you can get in on the action this month.

By Mike Bleech

Lake Erie is probably the best, most diverse fishery in the country. The lake is most noted for its big walleyes, smallmouth bass and yellow perch. Steelhead get nearly as much recognition, and the opportunities for largemouth bass, northern pike, white bass, lake trout and other species are outstanding.

Summer just isn't long enough to do it all!


Ohio's Lake Erie's fishing regulations have undergone some changes.

For walleyes, the daily bag limit between March 1 and April 30 has been reduced from four to three. For all other times, the bag limit for walleyes will remain at six fish per day.

Other new walleye regulations include a year-round size limit of 15 inches and the elimination of treble hooks in Maumee Bay and Sandusky Bay during the March-April spawning runs.

To help boost largemouth and smallmouth bass reproduction, a closed season was approved for the period including May 1 until the last Saturday in June.

Photo by Mike Bleech

Regulations have also changed in Pennsylvania. The minimum size limit for walleyes on Lake Erie and Presque Isle Bay has changed to 18 inches, with a four-fish daily creel limit.

Here is a look at some of the best spots for summertime angling action on Lake Erie.


Walleyes move a lot, so there is no way to determine precisely where they will be from one day to the next. The shipping channel outside of Toledo, at the western end of Ohio's 262 miles of Lake Erie shoreline, is a good bet. Expect to have to motor out several miles from shore. Trolling is probably the most productive method.

This area also has good yellow perch potential north of the Toledo water intake.

Anglers should find good shore-fishing at International Park and Maumee Bay State Park, though the summer catch will include crappies, bluegills or channel catfish.

For information about local services, contact the Greater Toledo Convention and Visitors Bureau, 401 Jefferson Avenue, Toledo, Ohio 43604-1067; or call (800) 243-4667.

Port Clinton

Walleyes will be in deeper water this month, which means long runs from the boat ramps. Summer fishing may be best somewhere on a line toward the Canadian border north of West Sister Island and north of North Bass Island.

Yellow perch will probably be most abundant northwest of Port Clinton and north from the Camp Perry firing range.

For smallmouth bass, the reefs northwest and northeast of Port Clinton are the place to be.

Information about this area is available through the Ottawa County Visitors Bureau, 109 Main Street, Port Clinton, Ohio 43452; or call (800) 441-1271.


Sandusky also provides boat access to the islands at the eastern end of the western basin, particularly the reefs around Kelleys Island. Great smallmouth bass fishing can be found over rocky reefs off Marblehead Peninsula and in Sandusky Bay. This port is at the western end of the central basin, which is also good for walleyes.

Sandusky Bay is one of the better places to find channel catfish. You can also find largemouth bass and panfish in the bay.

Local information is available from the Erie County Visitors Bureau, 4424 Milan Road, Suite A (U.S. Route 250), Sandusky, Ohio 44870; or call (800) 255-3743.

Cleveland Area

In addition to providing boat access to the central basin, there are substantial shore-fishing opportunities in the Cleveland area. Try Cleveland's Lakefront State Park from East 72nd and East 55th streets to Edgewater. You might find some yellow perch here, but summer catches more likely will be made up of white perch, white bass, rock bass, sunfish and sheepshead.

Smallmouth bass and yellow perch are attracted to artificial reefs in the Cleveland area, including the Cleveland Stadium artificial reefs. These are marked by red and white buoys.

Reefs constructed of material from the demolished Cleveland Stadium are northwest of the Edgewater Ramp and Marina and northeast of the Wildwood State Park ramp.

Information about local services is available from the Convention and Visitors Bureau of Greater Cleveland, 50 Public Square, 3100 Terminal Tower, Cleveland, Ohio 44113-2290; or call (800) 321-1001.

Fairport Harbor

Fairport Harbor provides access to great fishing for walleyes, steelhead, smallmouth bass and yellow perch in the central basin. The area between Fairport and Conneaut has plenty of the rocky structure that holds smallmouths.

Offshore fishing is highly variable. Walleye anglers often have to travel more than a dozen miles to find fish, but this is normal in most of Lake Erie.

There is also good shore-fishing, notably for white bass, from the short pier. Channel catfish can be caught here, too, though the best fishing is at night or when the water is discolored.

Information about local services is available from the Lake County Visitors Bureau, 1610 Mentor Avenue, Painesville, Ohio 44077; or call (800) 368-LAKE.


The Walnut Creek access, operated by the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, provides access to the extreme eastern end of Lake Erie's central basin, where much of the better yellow perch fishing occurs. Look for perch in 45 to 65 feet of water. Smallmouth bass are also plentiful in this area. Walleye fishing is sometimes good, but it is variable.

City of Erie

Presque Isle Bay, at Erie, is the only natural harbor along Pennsylvania's 42 miles of Lake Erie shoreline. Anglers launch from the harbor to reach the outstanding yellow perch, walleye, steelhead and smallmouth bass fishing nearby. Perch and walleye fishing is generally excellent north from the point of Presque Isle. Some of the be

tter smallmouth bass fishing is east of Erie.

Presque Isle Bay provides relatively calm water that is suitable for smaller boats. It also offers good fishing for largemouth bass, northern pike, crappies and bluegills along with smallmouth bass and yellow perch. Popular shore-fishing spots on the mainland are Dobbins Landing and the harbor entrance. On Presque Isle, which is a state park, there is good fishing for largemouth bass and bluegills in several ponds and lagoons.

Information about Presque Isle is available through Presque Isle State Park, P.O. Box 8510, Erie, PA 16505-0510; or call (814) 833-7424.

North East Marina

North East Marina is a manmade harbor near the eastern end of the Pennsylvania shoreline that provides access into the deep eastern basin. Fishing is excellent in this area for smallmouth bass and yellow perch. The walleye fishing is sometimes very good, but is largely dependent on walleye migrations from the central basin, although there are also resident walleyes.

The steelhead and lake trout fishing is superb. Look for them beyond an area known as "the Mountain," a slight rise about four miles offshore that drops into depths of more than 100 feet.

Information about local services all along the Pennsylvania portion of Lake Erie is available through the Erie Convention and Visitors Bureau 109 Boston Store Place, Erie, PA 16501-2312; or call (800) 524-3743.

For more about fishing in Pennsylvania's portion of Lake Erie, contact the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, P.O. Box 67000, 1601 Elmerton Avenue, Harrisburg, PA 17106-7000; or call (717) 705-7800.

For information on U.S. Coast Guard boating regulations, refer to the USCG's Web site at

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