Lake Erie out of Barcelona 8/19 – 8/21


Well I finally made it down to Lake Erie after years of wanting to get over there. I had a slight problem on my Yamaha motor so I stopped over at Silver Lake Marine on Tuesday, had them order a part, and then had it put in on Thurs. In between this maintenance I fished Erie.

Most people will say, that the biggest problem with fishing Lake Erie is a four-letter word – W I N D! According to the weather forecasts, I should have had a beautiful 3 days on L. Erie, but the “less than 1′ waves” turned into 2 to 3 footers or better on Tuesday afternoon. So I didn’t go out. There’s a big Cabelas PWT (walleye tourney) happening on Erie out of Dunkirk this weekend, so there were walleye guys everywhere. As I gazed onto “white cap filled Erie” a couple brothers walked down towards me and we talked. They were tourney guys from Michigan and also decided against going out. They had been up for two days and still hadn’t launched their boat (a big boat I might add.) I reserved a cottage at South Shore Cottages and worked on my tackle before getting to bed early. I didn’t have the energy for Chautauqua Lake – my back up plan.

On Tues. night the lake calmed down and I was stoked for Wed. I launched at 7 am out of Barcelona. For those of you unfamiliar with Barcelona, it’s more the “walleye/lake trout” launch for Lake Erie, though Kotaro Kiriyama of BASS did great there on 5lb. smallmouths during the Elite Series tourney a couple weeks ago. The wind didn’t lay down for long and I had 1-foot waves out there in no time. I motored out due east of Barcelona and headed out. I marked a fair number of fish on my way out. The activity zone seemed to be around 40′. I dropped down my temp probe and was surprised to see the thermocline was so shallow on L. Erie. The temp change was from 40′ to 50′. Below 50′ the water temps were in the mid-40s. I tried an assortment of lures on the deep marks – jigging spoons, spoons inserted into goby-colored tubes, dropshot worms/goby lures, and fluke/shakers. Not much doing. Working marks for the first couple hours didn’t pay off at all. It’s a hard call on Lake Erie, because there’s so much diversity “species wise”. A mark could be a carp, catfish, bass, drum, white perch, burbot – who knows? I decided that I’d be better off working some cover/structure – like a dropoff or hump. Everytime I decided this and motored off, I’d run over a school of fish or a few big hooks – so it was frustrating in a pleasant way.

I worked some areas with my goby dropshot rig and started getting a few hits. A rockbass was the first fish of the trip in around 25′ of water. The lake started getting nasty with NE winds around 10 knots or better. Occasional waves came over the bow. It wasn’t fun – it was basically the same conditions as the day before. I worked around Van Buren Point. Excellent structure out there! Before I knew it the clock said 1 pm and I still hadn’t caught much of anything. I decided to “stop screwing around” and took my boat back out to 40′ of water where I’d been marking the most fish and where the thermocline met the bottom. I looked for the widest 40′ flat/shelf I could find. In the moderately heavy wave action, I settled for whatever I could get. I figured something would start hitting sooner or later. I dropped my BPS Goby down on my new Canavan Dropshot rod and felt some weight as I picked up! Paydirt! My first Lake Erie bass – it was a nice 18″+ smallmouth! From 39′ of water. I took my time bringing it up so I wouldn’t have any air bladder problems. I snapped a quick shot and released the fish. Before I knew it my boat had drifted way off my area. Eventually I got back on 40′ and felt another heavy weight on bottom. This fish rocketed right up from the bottom and jumped around 30′ away from the boat! Another solid smallmouth – this one bigger than the last. It dove back down a couple times – what a great fight! This fish was 19 1/2″ – a solid 4lber I’d imagine. I released it and felt I would be in business. But the wave action kept intensifying and I didn’t hook any more fish. I worked my way back to Barcelona w/o any more fish. The ride back was nasty, but not dangerous. Lots of 2′ to 3′ waves with an occasional 4-footer.

I got interviewed for the Lake Erie DEC Creel Census at the launch. It was nice getting some fishing info re: walleyes, lakers and bass from the DEC person. Some boats had done well on walleyes today, others struggled. I weighed a 9lb walleye caught by some Canadian anglers. The walleye guys were some of the nicest fishermen I’ve ever met. Every single one I talked to was personable and friendly, as well as open with information.

That evening I met up with John Sander for a bite to eat in Fredonia. It was great catching up with John and as usual I pestered him about when the Finger Lakes Edition of the Sanders Guide would come out. Let’s hope next year sometimes! Most of it has been done.

Today I drove over to Dunkirk, where there’s generally better bass fishing from what I’ve heard. Unfortunately the launch was overflowing with walleye boats. There was no parking to be had anywhere! So I drove the 15 miles south to Barcelona again. The lake was calm, but it was sunny and bright as heck out. I decided I’d work out to 130′ of water – hoping for bass and maybe some lakers. The flat areas off Barcelona aren’t very conducive to much great bass fishing as far as I could tell. I marked a lot of bait and some hooks. I had some hits, but no hookups. I even had hits down 60′ over 120′. But nothing solid. Trollers scored on walleyes, drum and white perch yesterday at 40′ over 60′. Today’s reports were much slower. A guy I talked to hammered walleyes on the NE wind, and only had one to show for todays calm/onshore conditions. I fished until just after noon, then had to get back to Silver Lake Marine.

So basically tough fishing for me on Erie. Two albeit nice bass and one rock bass to show for a day and a half of fishing. I felt good about what I’d found on the smallmouths, but wasn’t able to return back to my areas. It would have been a time consuming 15 mile run today and I wasn’t up for it. A couple more days on Erie would have been nice, and I will return – probably in the spring or fall and I’ll work Dunkirk to Buffalo Harbor – generally better bass areas. I did see quite a few dead and dying drum. I hope it isn’t VHS, but I’m skeptical. These trips make me appreciate the Finger Lakes! My buddy Jared called me when I was fighting waves on Erie. He’d fished Owasco the day before and nailed around 15 lakers and a 26″ brown trout in a half day of fishing! The bass we catch on Owasco are Erie sized fish. The wind is only a factor on the rare occasions. We don’t have many blow-out days on the Fingers! Lakers are also easy to find with our terrific shelves and basic structure. No need to comb miles and miles of featureless flats! When I lived in Rochester I would take steelhead trips over to Salmon River or drive to Oak Orchard Ck. for browns. I usually did better when I came home – fishing Irondequoit Ck., Webster Ck. or the Genesee River. I keep learning that lesson over and over!