Fine fall fishing to be had on Lake Erie
If you have a small boat worthy of near-shore fishing on Lake Erie, don’t mothball it for the winter yet. There are yellow perch to be caught.
Excellent “Indian Summer” fishing for perch has been an item this year especially given periods of cooperative weather and light to calm offshore breezes that leave the lake calm as a millpond.
Fishing buddy Steve Hathaway and I filled our two perch tickets, 60 fish, in four and a half hours just two days ago, at this writing. We had anchored my seaworthy little Boston Whaler, a 13-footer that fishes “big,” within 400 yards of the fabled, historic Marblehead Lighthouse on western Lake Erie.
A small fleet of fishing boats of similar size, and on up the scale, were strung out from the lighthouse on around west to Lakeside. It is well-protected in light, offshore breezes. The parking lots at the excellent ramps at Mazurik State Access there were full of empty boat trailers. These were the savvy fishermen who knew about the fall bounty.
As the lake seasonally cools down, baitfish schools, especially emerald shiners, move inshore and schools of yellow perch, and walleye, follow them in. Perch become highly accessible near-shore by day, and walleye becoming a popular after-dark fishery for careful trollers and for plug-casters from shoreline piers.
The percids are putting on the feedbag big-time this time of year, fattening up for winter and for pre-spawning development. Our fish this day averaged 8-1/2 inches, but a day prior fishing with Todd Doncyson, Hathaway averaged well into the 9- to 10-inch range. Occasional fish went to 12 inches and more, which is smaller than central basin perch down Cleveland way but still very respectable, not to mention edible.
The day Hathaway and I enjoyed our perching bonus, Doncyson and another couple were anchored 150 feet away in his 17-foot Tracker and also filling a cooler. They completed their 90-count of perch right at sunset, and added an eight-pound walleye thrown in as a bonus.
If you want to go, use your head. Water temperatures this time of year are down to around 50, and falling. So be careful when fishing, and wear your life jacket. Also watch the weather. No fish are worth dying for.
But the point is, however, that fine fall fishing goes begging during periods when Lake Erie offers up sunny, mild days with little wind and waves. In past years I have caught perch in such weather as late as Thanksgiving week. Call it bonus fishing time on Ohio’s North Coast.