By Freddie McKnight
For the most part, the city of Erie is synonymous with the world-class fisheries on either the big lake or its tributary streams. But the truth is that Erie County has a number of great fishing waters outside the lake and tributaries – ones that offer equal or better angling opportunities than the better-known waters.
Presque Isle park ponds
First, take a look at Presque Isle State Park. Yes, it juts out into Lake Eire and you can fish it from the shoreline, but the park has numerous ponds within its boundaries.
These ponds are not large, but they provide great action for largemouth bass, crappies, bluegills, trout and a few other species.
The ponds are choked with weeds for the most part, but there are open pockets within those weed patches that provide the perfect ambush point for fish to feed.
Casting baits or lures into these locations is sure to draw action and you just never know what is going to be on the other end of the line.
You may want to gear your tackle toward larger fish, not only because you stand a good chance of latching onto something of bigger size, but because the heavy vegetation demands stout tackle.
Trying to navigate an average-size bluegill through the matted stuff can be a tough job for shoreline anglers.
If you like to focus on trout, you had better get there early in the day. The water at this time of the year is warm, and any fish that are left are apt to feed before the bright summer sun hits the water.
Also, this park sees some of the highest visitation of any state park in the nation, and the shorelines of these small impoundments show heavy use.
You will have no trouble accessing the waters where the trout have been stocked; thousands of others have been there before you. The secret to catching the trout is to be there early and fish slowly.
In the western portion of the county, there are gravel pits left over from mining operations that now provide a good opportunity for fishing.
In particular, the 10-acre Upper Gravel Pit is stocked several times a year with trout. The great thing about this location is that trout can hold and thrive here in the summer months when other waters in the area may not be able to support them.
The water is clean and deep, with plenty of oxygen allowing any holdover fish to grow in size and surprise anglers as to what they have on the end of their lines.
Edinboro Lake is another location well worth traveling too, especially if you are after toothy critters. The lake holds a good number of muskies, northern pike and pickerel.
As it is part of the brood stock lakes program, the fish in these waters are sought out for state fish-culture operations. As such, this body of water has special regulations attached to it, so if you plan a trip here, know the law.
Howard Eaton Reservoir
Another brood stock lake that can provide great action on members of the pike family is Howard Eaton Reservoir. It is not a large body of water, but it is known to harbor some big fish.
This lake is especially attractive for anglers seeking northern pike, particularly in the early spring when the fish are staged in shallow water just after spawning.
There are a few natural lakes in the county, left from the depressions made by glaciers, which are now good destinations for anglers. One of those is Lake Pleasant, a 60-acre lake that offers bass, panfish, and stocked trout as its primary inhabitants.
It is not deep and is the classic bowl shape of such natural bodies of water. Much of the cover is weed growth and downed timber. Fishing this lake is largely a visual affair.
The county also has numerous streams spread across it that offer up great action for various species at nearly any time of the year. Trout are the primary species sought out, but you can also catch bass, panfish and catfish in these waters with regularity.
At this time of the year, with angling pressure hard on the big lake, some sections of these streams may not see regular visits from anglers at all. This means that by getting away from easy access points may put you on unpressured fish.
Remember that if you do visit Erie County, certain waters require you to also have the Lake Erie stamp in your possession, so make sure to firm up your fishing plans and make sure what waters fall into this category before you go.
One last great thing about fishing in Erie County is that fishing reports are widely available on the internet. The outdoors is still a large part of the tourist attraction to the area, and anything that brings in that much money to the area is noted by the tourism professionals.
Fishing reports are done on a weekly basis for much of the year, and you can find out about most of the action with a few simple clicks of a mouse.
Erie County waters
Presque Isle park ponds: Presque Park State Park has numerous ponds within its boundaries. They provide great action for largemouth bass, crappies, bluegills, trout and a few other species.
Gravel pits: The 10-acre Upper Gravel Pit is stocked several times a year. Trout can hold and thrive here in the summer months.
Edinboro Lake: The lake holds a good number of muskies, northern pike and pickerel. But there are special regulations.
Howard Eaton Reservoir: It is especially attractive for anglers after northern pike, particularly in the early spring.
Lake Pleasant: This 60-acre lake boats bass, panfish and stocked trout.