Lake Erie Fishing

8am: Left the marina in Lorain under sunny skies. Wind forecast out of the south – which would be the best conditions. But instead, wind was actually out of the west. Choppy. Whitecaps on the water – means less than ideal conditions for fishing – but apparently good conditions for birding. Also we’d just come off a big storm front and the fish near shore tend to be stirred up.

We started fishing inshore, just a few minutes west of the marina, looking to sight fish for gar. Nate had spotted a large school (he’d described it as 30-40 fish, some of them over three feet long) and had caught a few – though they had been nearly impossible to hook. I think they were longnose gar (not their highly endangered cousins, the spotted gar – which probably shouldn’t be harassed). Nate had spotted a few fish, but not enough to spend time casting.

We moved to an inshore spot east of the marina, where an old automotive plant had been sunk into the inland sea to create a man-made reef. What’s down there? “Smokestacks, conveyor belts, junk cars… who knows?” Nate says.

We set up our friend David with a nightcrawler, just to see what kind of nasty individuals might be lurking around the old car factory. Multiple round gobies come aboard. More on Round Gobies later – but for now check out this link. David eventually hooks something big and he brings it up to the edge of the boat. I never saw it, but he said it was round and pink, looked like a flounder. I have no idea what that even means.

But that’s the beautiful thing about Lake Erie – there could very well be some kind of pink fucking flounder down there! It’s like a biological Jenga tower, with species getting introduced and/or yanked out of the food web all the time.

Despite the bite, we decide to head offshore to look for blitzing white bass, and potentially some topwater fly fishing. Also – Nate is itching to hook some of the steelhead while they’re still in the lake. He’s hooked a few while trolling for walleye and they’ve torn his gear up and gone crazy.

The slate green water with a purple gray haze of sky and clouds in the background is so oceanic, that I’m shocked when the spray from the lake doesn’t taste like salt on my face. I took photos of what I’m calling the cloud warrior, a formation of cirrus wisps that looks like a guy flying into battle holding a spear.

We proceed dozens of miles offshore, eventually finding water clarity and depth Nate likes. We have to put out the trolling gear – though there is some surface action, birds bombing minnows, predatory fish driving bait up from below, there’s really no way to cast or target them in the chop. In twenty minutes, we boat several species – walleye, white bass and white perch, another invasive.

Walleye and invasive white perch go home in the cooler, white bass go back in the water.

Based on the shear number of gulls, terns and cormorants staging off of Edgewater State Park and Wendy Park, I would imagine there is some brilliant offshore fishing (close to shore and to 2+ miles out). Gulls and cormorants leave their roosts at Wendy Park in the hundreds to thousands each morning around 7 am and make a beeline due north past the Crib. Last week cormorants were flying WNW towards fishing grounds off of Lakewood and Rocky River. This week they are flying due north.

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