Cooled by Lake Erie’s Central Basin’s greater depth, northeast Ohio’s angling is just now coming online. That is in contrast to the much shallower Western Basin which got its foot in the fishing door months ago. Now it is the Central Basin’s turn to shine. The deeper into May one goes and raking up the dates in June and even into early July the better Lake Erie fishing becomes. This is when the walleye bite takes a chomp out of anglers’ interests.
First the fish will be found near shore and from roughly the Mentor Lagoons east toward the North Perry Nuclear Power Plant. These fish will be taken in large measure by anglers employing what’s called “flat-line trolling,” or where a crankbait like a Rapala F11, Rapala Shad Raps or a Smithwick Rattlin’ Rogue is towed single file behind a fishing boat that traveling (as a rule) less than two mph.
Anglers typically are seeking the fish in water less than 30 feet deep while they also are keeping one eye on the GPS/Fish finder to help ensure they are covering a rocky bottom. And even when the summer heat arrives there is a group of quiet anglers who want to keep hush-hush that this near-shore fishing opportunity is still available. That is, if you are something of a night owl and don’t mind fishing the cusp of day between full light and star light.
Don’t forget either that this is the same zone where smallmouth bass are found. And not only will they strike the fore-mentioned hard-body baits they’ll also relish a properly tossed tube jig. Best use a motor-oil finished plastic jig with a weighted leadhead of up to one-half ounce. Oh, and don’t overlook the turbulence caused by the water exiting the “nuke” plant. Not to worry any; this water is not radioactive and there’s no glow to the bass, only on the smiles of successful anglers who may catch a bass of their lifetime.
Once summer truly gets underway then the fishing reverts to deep-water trolling. This system requires big boats with big engines, big directional divers and planer boards and sometimes big spoons such as the Stinger, the larger version of the Michigan-made Scorpion. Such gear and sometimes the distance required to approach the best fishing grounds is often best left up to knowledge and services of a licensed Ohio charter captain.
This is the same crew that can pilot a party of six to one of the region’s most fabled fishing grounds called “the hump.” It’s located north between the mouth of the Grand River and the Mentor Lagoons in roughly 50 feet of water, though here there is the kind of variation that yellow perch are drawn to.
While Lake County does not have an over-abundance of inland waters to choose from there are still enough small ponds and such to attract the interest of some anglers. Particularly if they are in the company of youngsters.
Lake Metroparks is a great starting point and not just with its Granger’s Pond that is located within Veteran’s Park in Mentor. Most folks – including many residents – are unaware that Lake Metroparks has built several of what’s called mitigation ponds that are also stocked with such fish species as bass, sunfish and catfish. Among the parks with small ponds to fish are Concord Woods, Girdled Road, Chapin Forest and Penitentiary Glen.
Don’t forget either that Lake Metroparks has a series of ponds located off River Road in Madison Township. These ponds can be fished by the public but are not listed in any directory nor advertised with much signage.
Lastly – and best of all – is the parks system’s Hidden Lake Lodge in Leroy Township. This is a limited entry-only fishing reserve that restricts how many people can fish the pond at any one time, the number of days available to angling and how many fish can be kept. This is very much an exclusive-style of premier angling for warm-water fish species.
For further information about Lake Metroparks call 440-358-72755 or visit its website.
– Jeff Frischkorn – Outdoor Editor, The News-Herald
To read more from Jeff, visit his blog “Outdoors with Frischkorn”