Summer Fishing on Lake Erie
The best spots for the three most popular catches
Summer is a great time for fishing on Lake Erie. It's the height of walleye season, and offshore angling can yield exciting results. You can also get into some fantastic steelhead and lake trout fishing, as the warmer weather pushes fish into deeper water.
Lake Erie is divided into three "basins," western, central, and eastern, each deeper than the last as you move from west to east.
Along most of the lake's shoreline, the depth drops quickly to around 30 feet. The rocky drop-offs and ledges in that depth range attract a lot of smallmouth bass and panfish.
You may hear people refer to Lake Erie's "trenches" and the "mountain." The lake features a series of deep trenches that start on the western side of Pennsylvania's waters. Located in the eastern basin, there's an underwater mountain that's made up of a raised area surrounded by a large, deep depression.
Those two geographical features are magnets for fish and fisherman. Walleye love to hang out in the trenches to the west. The mountain is renowned as a great place to catch steelhead and lake trout.
In the rest of this article, we'll give you some tips to catch those three summer-loving species: walleye, steelhead, and lake trout. We hope this information helps you make the most of your Lake Erie angling adventures.
You can find really big walleye in Lake Erie, with most fish measuring well over 15 inches and weighing three to five pounds. Small- to medium-sized fish are great for eating.
Although walleye are not as sensitive to temperature as other species, they don't like light, so they're not typically found near the surface on sunny days. They're a schooling fish, so, if you find one, there are probably others in the area.
Most summer walleye fishing is done offshore, with trolling (i.e., trailing a baited line behind the boat) being the most popular way to catch them. There's also a good number of walleye anglers who like drift fishing under the right conditions. In general, sitting still is not a good way to catch walleye.
A commonly used walleye lure is a willow leaf spinner and nightcrawler combo. You can find the rig at any local bait shop. Other popular lures for walleye include spoons, stick baits, and deep-diving crankbaits.
Mid to late summer is the perfect time to fish for steelhead in Lake Erie. They've moved into the deep waters near the mountain, in the eastern basin.
Fishing for steelhead (along with Coho salmon and brown trout) requires a trout stamp, so make sure you're in compliance with the regulations.
Deep-water steelhead fishing in Lake Erie typically involves trolling near the mountain. Steelhead don't school during the summer, so you'll find one here and one there, perhaps picking up a few walleyes in between.
They may not be as tasty as walleye or perch, but steelhead are energetic fighters once hooked, especially when the lake water is warm.
Like steelhead, lake trout like to hang around the mountain in late summer. A species that's native to Lake Erie, lake trout mature far slower than steelhead, with a large specimen of lake trout being about 10 years old. That long life cycle has caused fishing authorities to impose a reduced creel limit (number of fish you can keep) for lake trout, and you'll need a trout stamp if you want to fish for them.
While they can be caught all over Lake Erie, lake trout are much more commonly found east of the City of Erie. Try to fish near the mountain. The fish you're targeting will be on or near the bottom, so it's best to go with trolling a spoon (reflective, oblong, and usually concave lure) at a very slow rate.
Lake Erie—A Summer Fishing Paradise
Summer is a time of year that walleye, steelhead, and lake trout are all active, so resident and visiting fishermen should take full advantage. After a cold spring spent dreaming of trophy fish leaping in the sunshine, the warmth of summer sees fishermen heading to the open waters of beautiful Lake Erie.
Whether you're dissecting the trenches to fill your cooler with tasty walleye, or you're probing the depths around the mountain for the steelhead or lake trout of a lifetime, Lake Erie fishing will not disappoint.
This summer, you should get out there and see what the lake has to offer.
If you liked this article and are interested in getting some advice from experienced anglers about all kinds of fishing gear, head over to fishingrefined.com and take a look.