Spouting off on Lake Erie Fishing
It was a little after 7 a.m. when the 28-foot Baha boat named “Clean Living” pulled away from the slip at Chadwick Bay Marina in Dunkirk. It was part of a media event this summer sponsored by Chautauqua County, in conjunction with the county’s Fisheries Advisory Board and the Erie County Fisheries Advisory Board. The purpose was to show off the local sportfishery. Little did we realize, the event would be doing more than that in the next half hour.
Captains Bill and Peter Beiger of Dunkirk (716-366-0268) were the capable skippers on our boat, brothers who were brought up fishing on the lake with their dad. They were headed a bit west, where they did well a few days before – targeting 80-90 feet of water. As they started to set up, a storm line worked to the north of us, crossing the water at a steady clip. It didn’t affect us with anything windy or wavy, but it did drop a little rain on us.
“Look at the waterspout out there on the water!” shouted Peter. “Grab your cameras!” Before we could grab the cameras, though, a second and third waterspout appeared. Then a fourth dropped down from the clouds. A fifth even materialized before our very eyes. The water was whipping up from the surface of the lake, spewing spray into the air in a tornado-like frenzy. We watched with amazement from afar, pegged at several miles from where we were trolling. At one point it appeared that two of the waterspouts collided with each other, forming yet a bigger one. I’ve seen a few waterspouts on Lake Ontario before but this display was amazing.
Almost on cue, as soon as the waterspouts dissipated, the first walleye hit – munching on a Renosky stickbait off a planerboard behind five colors of lead core and trailing about 400 feet behind the boat. The key was to get the bait into the fish zone, estimated at 45 to 55 feet down in this part of the lake. Fish number two was not too far behind, nailing a Michigan Stinger spoon 40 feet down on the rigger. By the time we ended our morning adventure, we had six walleyes in the box and we missed a couple of others – all taken are artificial lures. Not bad for less than three hours of fishing. Other boats participating in the media event did well on worm harnesses.
Lake Erie was on fire in the walleye department this year. That was the hot bite for sure, followed closely by bass and perch on this Great Lake. The lake is coming off an excellent year (2013) that saw the best-ever catch rates for both smallmouth bass and yellow perch. Walleye wasn’t far behind. Still, the numbers of fishermen chasing these fish dropped in 2013. Let’s hope it picks back up in 2015 because more anglers need to realize the tremendous resource that this lake is.
For more information on fishing out of Chautauqua County, check out www.tourchautauqua.com. And don’t worry about the waterspouts.