Lake Erie 4-1-1


As Lake Erie continues to experience the greatest fishing ever for walleyes, September is “all species” month. The yellow perch have started to explode, and smallmouth bass and walleyes remain steady.  Learn more about the plentiful multi-species fishing action that Lake Erie provides! We will start with walleyes.


Lake Erie Walleye Fishing


Casting will be good on rock piles in eight to twenty feet. Early morning is the best time to do this while using a single hook harness tipped with a nightcrawler. On windy and cloudy days, fishing will continue all day. Rock piles with best success are around islands, off points, and main reefs like Gull Reef and Kelly’s Island shoals. Also, as fall progresses, off Huron and east of Kelly’s Island in 40-foot-plus depths will be strong. The West Reef, which is west of North Bass, can also be a good fishing spot. The anglers that are going to choose to troll will be in the deeper waters, West off the islands or East of Kelly’s Island. The fish that are West of the islands will be mainly “eaters” that are two to four pounds. East of Kelly’s is going to produce the bigger fish.


The month will start with using Tru-Trips and spoons, and as the water begins to cool, it will go to using crank baits. Also, as the water begins to cool, the speeds that you are using while trolling will go from 2.2 to 2.3 miles per hour in early September to 1.5 to 1.9 in late fall. There are still walleyes from the 2013 record hatch out there that could be up to 15 pounds. As I have said in the past, 2018 is now the new year with the record hatch. So the fun of walleye fishing is here to stay. It helps that the last six hatches have been great as well. If we get good ice this winter, fishing will be fun.


Lake Erie Smallmouth Bass Fishing


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Now on to smallmouth bass. As with most species, the later in fall it is, the bigger the fish are. Fishing the islands in Ohio can be good at times but my favorite area to go is Pelee Island in Canada. It is an hour boat ride out of Port Clinton, and once you get there, it’s incredible bass fishing. You will need a permit and a license to go into the Canadian waters to fish but it is well worth it. September will start with being in fifteen to twenty feet depths of water while using plastics and soft craws. I like to anchor in September and then drift in October when bass minnows work well. Goby and craw imitations work well when vertically jigged. Bizz baits carry a great naturally looking line of colors and sizes that you can choose from. Once you have found the fish, be patient, because the fish will “cycle” around. Captain Mark’s winning tip number one is to use circle hooks with live bait so that the bass will not swallow them and it will make for an easy release, but will also hook tight in their mouths. Keep your line tight at all times, as the fish will go side to side and jump, especially in shallower waters. East of Pelee Island is better that West. Just look at your charts for breaks and points.


Lake Erie Yellow Pmarkerch Fishing


The last species we are going to discuss is the yellow perch, aka “golden nuggets.” Many say that perch are the tastiest of all the fish in Lake Erie. Fishing for them is pretty basic, using a crappie rig, which is a sinker on the bottom with two hooks above it. You could also use a wire spreader with a hook on each end. You are going to want to tip your hooks with minnows. The native shiner minnow can be tough to get, and most bait shops will be selling golden minnows. The best fall spots to fish for perch are west of Rattlesnake Island in 30 feet of water and east of Kelly’s Island in 40 feet of water. Winning tip number two is when you are looking for perch, look for bait. A lot of times I fish bait on the fish finder instead of looking for fish.


With the numbers of walleye at record levels, limit bags of fish will be common. The limit for walleye per person per day is 6 and with perch it is 30 perch per person per day.


Mark Cahlik has been guiding on Lake Erie for 35 years and owns an eight-boat fleet called Mark 1 Sportfishing. He also operates Bay’s Edge—a one-stop site featuring premium townhouse rentals, fish cleaning services and a new, full-service bait and tackle store.