37Spring Smallmouth in New York on Lake Erie.
By…. JP DeRose.

When and where: Lake Erie on the US side is open all year for bass fishing but by the first Saturday in May the fish and the lake will be ready for action. There are 3 main places to launch that will get you within 5-15 miles of the best fishing grounds as well.

1. Buffalo Small Boat Harbor: it is 10 minutes past the Fort Erie boarder and Peace Bridge… There are amazing boat ramps, washroom facilities and the launch fee is $6.00.. All winds are good except South West or West over 20 km/h. The best spots are within a 5 minute boat ride… The Ford Dumping grounds are just outside the break wall but within 10 miles is Seneca Shoal and within 15 is some really good humps on the south shore.

2. Sturgeon Point Marina: this gets you within a stones throw of several very good offshore humps and shoals that can give up fish all day long. Best fished with a east or south wind. Anything under 20 km/h from the north is also very fishable. South West and West winds are the Devil!!!

3. Dunkirk Harbor: $10.00 for out of State’s I believe. But, they have a warm water discharge that is protected by a break wall and is loaded with fish, also the Erie State Park, Vanburen Point and some nice shoals are all within driving distance… look for the same winds as above!!

The secret to consistently catch Smallmouth in numbers and size is to fish the break lines. Smallmouth bass are structure and depth oriented fish. Finding rocky contours that have perpendicular highs and lows in relation to the shoreline are very productive Smallmouth spots. Determine the depth the majority of the aggressive fish are being caught and try to maintain the same depth around the entire edge of structure being fished and It is extremely important to visualize the bottom of the area being fished to consistently place casts in the most productive waters. This method will not only increase the number of bass caught, but it will also produce larger fish. In the Eastern Basin, it is not uncommon for each fisherman to catch 50 Smallmouth or more. The majority of bass caught will range between two and four pounds with some exceeding five and six pounds. Anglers experiencing this phenomenal fishery for the first time, be prepared to catch Smallmouth bass like never before. The number of fish caught usually causes a severe case of bass thumb. And for fisherman not familiar with the term “bass thumb”, a few hours on the Eastern basin of Lake Erie will enlighten them.

My Recommendations for Rods, Reels line and Baits:

Rods: Spinning rods – 6’8” – 7’2” – Medium to Medium Heavy power, Fast or Extra Fast action rated 6-12 lb or 8-17 lb.

Cranking Rods – 7’0″” – 7’11” – Medium Heavy power, Moderate Fast action rated 10-20 lb.

Reels: Any spinning reel in the 2500 to 3000 size.. they must hold at least 100 to 110 yds of 10 lb test.

Line Options: There are two options however with the deeper water the best is Braid to Fluorocarbon Leader. 15 to 20 lb test Braided line with a 6’ – 12-14 lb test Fluorocarbon line tied on using either a surgeons loop or a double uni knot. The other option would be a 10 lb Fluoro or Mono main line!!

Baits: Tubes, tubes and tubes.. 3.5” to 4” – Smoke Purple, Watermelon Purple and Green Pumpkin will get you by every time. Other options include Hair Jigs, Grubs, finesse worms and any dropshot bait.. also ½ oz. jigging spoons can be very effective. Deep diving Crankbaits also have their place when the fish begin to move up during warm spells. Rapala DT-16’s and DT-20’s are a great choice.

When choosing hooks and jigs, go with Gamakatsu hooks 3/0 or 4/0 poured with weights ranging from ¼ oz. – ½ oz. For dropshotting, any circle hook or ultra light worm hook will do, I prefer Owner downshot hooks or Owner #1 circle hooks. When using grubs or finesse worms, the stand up shakey head or the mushroom head work very well.

You need a New York fishing licence which runs from October till September and costs $40 per year for non residents. There is a tackle shop right over the boarder and it takes a few minute to get one.

Big Catch Bait & Tackle
2287 Niagara St
Buffalo, NY   Phone: (716) 877-0971

Get the winter rust off and get out for some of the world’s best Smallmouth fishing… Lake Erie’s Eastern basin gives up many 100 plus fish days and is a great way to tune up for the coming bass season here in Ontario.

Tight Lines and Long Weekends
….JP DeRose.