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You can bet your bass there is good fishing in Lake Erie

• Oct 11, 2019 at 10:30 PM

There's little question that Lake Erie is the Walleye Capital of the World. And I'd bet that if anybody did some careful checking, it might rank high in the U.S. for perch, smallmouth bass, channel cats, white bass  and other hard fighting fish.

So when Huron County area anglers head north, they'll most likely be seeking these prime game fish. But if walleye and perch aren't hitting during your trip, there's still a fish that can save your day, and that's largemouth bass. Yes, they're up there, and lots of them, too. 

Largemouth bass belong in farm ponds and lakes from Charles Mill Lake to Pymatuning and Salt Fork, not Lake Erie. Which is why so many anglers have been surprised to pick up occasional largemouths

while seeking other species. The big lake's largemouth bass population was a well kept secret for long years, but word gradually leaked out and as more and more inlanders launched bass boats and started worming and crankbaiting rugged shorelines, its fame began to grow. Today, bass clubs from all over Ohio hold tournaments on Lake Erie, and their catches are sometimes phenomenal.

I first heard about this new hotspot from a fishing chum who's been working Sandusky Bay for at least two seasons. "You can't believe the action up there." he chortled. "One cast you'll get a largemouth, the next a smallmouth. You can get both kinds right along the same piece of shoreline"

I went up with him one Saturday in late-September, and we launched his boat not too far from Old Bay Bridge. Our first stop was right along the northwest side of the bridge where there were trailers and lots of small docks. We worked those docks just like I'd work any on inland lakes, easing along with an electric motor and tossing plastic worms among the pilings. They worked just fine.

Another favorite largemouth spot for growing numbers of bass hunters is East Harbor. The shoreline has plenty of docks and pilings, and unused sections have lots of drowned logs, stumps, brushy trees, and riprap. Bass like all of these, and anglers who drift quietly along tossing lures at promising targets should do well. Another top tactic here is to cast well back beneath the dockswith a jig wearing a rubber skirt and a piece of porkrind or plastic worm. If the water is murky, use dark colors like black, brown, and purple. If clear, go to lighter shades, maybe even a Betsy Flip in camo. Fishing in early fall with surface baits around shoreline cover and weed beds when the water is calm can be exciting, too, especially when a three or four pound fish explodes under the lure. 

There are always anglers who just don't like to fish largemouths with plastic worms or jigs, and for these, there are other choices. One who visits the Big Lake often favors a white spinnerbait, and casts it around stumps and fallen timber or overhanging trees and bushes. "I usually put on a bigger blade on the spinners, and keep them single spin, so the blade will vibrate more." And some prefer crankbaits, too. It's your choice.

At any rate, if you're tired of catching walleye and your freezer is already filled with perch, largemouth bass can be a welcome change. They're big, hard fighting and high leaping, and ready to tackle anything, particularly in early fall when they're building up fat for winter. Reason enough to seek them now..

Hooks & Bullets:

There's more public land for Buckeye outdoorsmen! Governor Mike DeWine recently announced the ODNR and American Electric Power have reached an agreement that will secure more than 31,000 acres of public land in perpetuity for conservation and outdoor recreation. The land is in Morgan, Muskingum, Noble, and Guernsey counties, top deer country, and will be acquired in parcels over the next two years. The area has long been a popular destination for hunting, fishing, camping and hiking. It has 24 continuous miles of the Buckeye Trail and includes 350 lakes and ponds and six campgrounds.

Anyone interested in trying wild game for the first time is encouraged to attend a tasting event on Saturday, Oct. 19 when the Division of Wildlife is partnering with Table One restaurant to provide a unique opportunity to try venison and other wild game. The event begins at 6 p.m. and will be held at the Table One restaurant, located at 1 North Detroit St., Kenton 43326. The event is free of charge, though donations are appreciated, and interested "foodies" can register at https://apps.ohiodnr.gov/wildlife/educationregistration.

Ohio's forest canopies are beginning to change to beautiful fall colors, and many Buckeyes like to travel a bit and see the best of natures offerings. To find the peak of the color change, look for a current forecast and informational videos at fallcolor.ohiodnr.gov. The trees showing the most color right now are buckeye and dogwood as well as walnut and some maples.

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