Similarities in bass fishing on Erie, Ontario
In the Bassmaster ranking for Best Bass Spots for 2017, Lake Erie is at the top of the New York list, as it should be. Lake Erie was also named the top bass water in the Northeast and No. 4 in the Top 100 for the country. No. 2 for the Empire State is the Thousands Islands, which also takes in a portion of eastern Lake Ontario. It was also ranked No. 4 for the Northeast and also made the Top 100. There are a lot of similarities between these two Great Lakes.
One of those comparisons is how you fish for smallmouth in Lake Erie and how that transfers over into fishing for bronzebacks in Lake Ontario. Just ask Matt Becker of Finleyville, Pa., and Joe Fonzi of Gasport, N.Y. The two anglers placed one-two in the Costa FLW Northern Division tournament July 27-29 in the Thousand Islands out of Clayton.
Becker, a rookie on the tour, fishes Lake Erie a bunch. He has only fished the Thousand Islands and eastern Lake Ontario twice. He insists that the two lakes are very similar to fish. He was vertical fishing for almost all of his keepers and his final-day bag of 25 pounds, 2 ounces was impressive to take over the lead. His three-day total was 66 pounds, 4 ounces.
Fonzi agreed with Becker. As a guide on Lake Erie from spring to fall, the Thumbs Up Charter captain fishes for bass, as well as walleye and perch. The key was knowing how to fish for these smallies in deep water.
“Fishing Lake Erie as much as I do, it was important to know how to get my bait to the bottom and maintain bottom contact,” Fonzi said. “And once you have contact, it was important to know exactly when you had a bite. We were moving very fast between the wind and the current most times. It wasn’t easy getting your bait down and keeping it down.”
This was one contest Fonzi really believed he had won. He was in third place after the first day, and first place after the second day. On the final day, he came to the scales with four nice fish and one 3-pound bass. He tried to cull it but he couldn’t find any bigger fish at his secondary spots. He ended the tourney at 65 pounds, 11 ounces.
“I feel like Susan Lucci. This is my third second-place finish,” Fonzi said. “I’ve placed in the Top 10 four times. I let this one slip away.”
Fonzi was drop-shotting in 18 to 23 feet of water one day, 32 to 42 feet of water the next along a ledge that dropped from 12 to 60 feet. He found fish adapting to deep ledges, underwater points and other structure. This is what held the fish on any given day. However, they could be there one day, gone the next.
If you’re a bass fisherman on Lake Erie and want to try fishing on Lake Ontario, just bring your knowledge and baits. Ditto for Lake Ontario anglers wanting to tackle Lake Erie. Once you find the fish, you should be able to catch them.