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Small boat Erie advice sought

Discussion in 'Boats and Motors' started by RiparianRanger, Jul 10, 2017.

  1. RiparianRanger

    RiparianRanger Bronze > Gold

    Central Ohio angler here that has dreamed of hooking into some of those Lake Erie footballs I see so many pictures of. My boat (shown in my avatar) is not large enough or heavy enough for the main lake though it may work for protected coves. I'm wondering if any of you might point me in the direction of suitable spots for a day trip up from Columbus. Looking to target smallmouth in harbors protected by break walls generally between Port Clinton and Cleveland. Any recommendations are much appreciated.
    Reel Therapy likes this.
  2. The small mouth have basically move out to the main lake deeper water. The marinas have some very good large mouth fishing now.
    angler69 likes this.

  3. ldrjay

    ldrjay Jay

    how small? i was running a 16 ft with 20 hp no problem. yes main lake.
    Saugeyefisher likes this.
  4. It depends on the day. Last week it was dead calm on one day. We had a 17' bass boat all over the islands no problem. But the next day it was blowing and we could not have gotten out. I looked at many forecasts and wave hts before deciding.
  5. mlkostur

    mlkostur "Sweet Caroline"

    Above is very true. Depends on the day, and be prepared to head in at a moments notice. Keep an eye on the weather then entire time. I would make sure you have a marine radio and good anchor along with all other coast guard lake erie required items.
  6. Your best bet, only option if it was me, is to ferry your truck and boat over to one of the islands. This way you are always close to your trailer if you need to get back in a hurry. Even then you will have to watch the weather and boat wakes. One thing is you will not want to be in the "washing machine" on the weekend in that boat. This is the area between Catawba, kelleys, and south bass.
  7. I took a 12 foot boat with a 9.9 out on the lake a handful of times and I do not recommend it. I would venture out on calm evenings looking to do the same as you, but I you're caught off guard by a large wake the boat may flip. I had a close call one time and that was all the warning that I needed.

    A 16 foot boat is the absolute minimum that I would take out there.
    Shortdrift likes this.
  8. TAG24

    TAG24 Member

    Sandusky bay is another option. Public launch at Shelby St. Excellent LM & SM fishing there.
  9. If money is not an issue probably Carpmans idea of the islands is your best bet. You could also launch out of Edgewater and fish behind the breakwall. You could also look into Lorain, Fairport, and Astabula. Good Luck. C-town offers lots of things to do when you are off the lake
    the_waterwolf and RiparianRanger like this.
  10. RiparianRanger

    RiparianRanger Bronze > Gold

    Thanks everyone. For those that asked, my boat is 14.5' with a 9.9hp. Just taking a stab and guessing I'd say the boat, gear, and two anglers is maybe 1,200-1,300 lbs.

    From what I understand this is too small for main lake and thus limits me to protected coves. Wouldn't most of these protected coves be idle only / no wake and therefore suitable for my craft?

    And while I'm after smallies, I could be persuaded to target bucket mouths. I imagine they're in a class all their own versus the sizes found at inland lakes. On this note, when do the smallmouth typically return to the calm coves?
  11. On a calm day you would be OK on the main lake nearshore. The problem you will have is the boat wakes. They are much worse around the western end of the lake than east of Huron.
    the_waterwolf likes this.
  12. I would not venture out into the main lake at all in a boat that small. There are a few people that do and will tell you to go ahead. They do it all the time. Not a very bright move, especially with little or no knowledge of the lake. This time of year the smallies are out in much deeper water, open water. You might want to look into a charter. There aren't too many captains out there that run smallmouth charters or have the knowledge too fish for them. You might want to look into fishing Sandusky Bay there are some rock piles and bridge piers that hold smallies that you could fish in your boat. If you do go out make sure you have a marine radio and all your safety equipment is all in order. Lake Erie is very dangerous weather and waves come out of nowhere with no warning. More and more people are going out on the lake in there very small boats. More and more of them aren't making it back on their boats. Most boats on Erie throw wakes that will put you in danger on a boat as small as yours. If you are interested in a smallmouth charter give Tibbels a call. Chuck Nudding, a captain there is probably the wisest smallies captain on the lake.
    the_waterwolf and RiparianRanger like this.
  13. Hey ripranger fellow weekend warrior from columbus as well alot of whats posted covers it no dont try main unless its really calm yes the bass do move out to main ecspecially west basin but i thought id ad you afew sm. Tips try to pick acess areas with the largest size breaker walls possible and if you combine that with favorable weather conditions you could have fun. next year try earlier and you can do good in east middle n west harbor panfish mix with big l.m. also theres alot of harbors you can hit wildwings etc. But timing is off now but i thought id add lorain and edgewater breaks can hold some decent fish this late crazy whitebass action as a fallback you will not be dissappointed! Also wildwood in cleveland gets good with the rockbass as consellation? Spelling? Prize. Ive always wanted to hit that but still havent. My partner and i always try to have a backup as you know it sucks to make that drive n get shut out by mother nature i know u want the smallies but the lake can be fruitful for alot of other stuff if u cant hit it right hope this helps your decision making and of course pm me if you need further explanations id be glad to help out with anything i know good luck!
    RiparianRanger likes this.
  14. I wouldn't hesitate to go for smallies in the spring with that boat IF 1. Forecast is two feet or less 2. No thunderstorms in forecast. 3. Have a VHF. 4. Have a cell phone 5. Check weather buoy, south bass station frequently 6. Install bilge pump and of course have all safety equip. The reason I recommend springtime is the bass are in 20 ft or less. You could get into smallies now but you would have to fish 20-35 feet now and you would catch more cats and sheep than bass, depending on where you go. From Ashtabula to conneaut you could still get into them in summer, ruggles too. Good luck be safe!!

    As far as boat wakes nothin you can do about that!
    the_waterwolf and RiparianRanger like this.
  15. I have what most would consider to be a small boat. It's a 16 1/2 ft vintage crestliner. I take it out in the lake all the time but I have a 35 hp johnson, a 3 1/2 ft closed bow and it sits pretty high out of the water. I also have two decades of experience on the lake so I know when it's too dangerous.

    I've seen a lot people in Cleveland Harbor with boats like yours. As far as protected areas, my thought would be that you still have to get to those protected areas and the bigger boats easily make 2 ft or higher wakes. As someone who also has a smaller boat I would say you would be safer staying close in the main lake, on flat days, like south winds 5 mph or less, than somewhere like Cleveland Harbor in my opinion. I've never been in Sandusky Bay but I can tell you Cleveland Harbor can get huge waves with a NE wind. You would have to be real choosy with the day, like other people said be prepared to turn the boat around.
    Example: One night I went up last fall it was completely flat, the average bathtub would be bumpier. I could see the wake from my planer boards 1/4 mile away, it was kinda spooky really. So you can do it, but pick the days well. Look at this NOAA forecast, look for most of the lake to be grey with south winds and you'll probably be ok. All this is just based on my experience. What I keep in mind is this: If you don't feel safe you should have already been off the lake.

    Also, one thing I don't think anyone mentioned... Put a bilge pump on your boat if it does not have one. If yours is like mine and does not have a splash well, it does not take much to get a few waves over the transom.
    RiparianRanger likes this.
  16. Moozboy

    Moozboy mooboy

    even with a flat lake out of Conneaut we have gotten beat up by other boats coming out and going in harbor ,, really no need for those guys to blow you over for a few seconds but they do even inside the breaker wall they will go full bore right up to no wake zones, common courtesy seems gone.
  17. Yep. People are jerks. Had some guy blow right past me within 10ft of my bow, out in the lake while I was trolling sunday, all so he could stop and drift fish 25 ft from me. I go up to Erie to get away from that nonsense. I figure he was watching me pulling them in becasue I can't figure why else and I was killing em.
  18. ApeShip

    ApeShip Silverback

    Sad part is staying in close it can be rougher. From folks going east and west, but not going anywhere, and when winds become on shore; hot land mass creates rising air and cool lake air come in blowing from the lake towards the land.

    Many times we have been out in +50fow trolling and it is as still as...yes, that still. We head in and the waves slowly build to where we have to come off plane and come in 12-15 mph or so.

    We have 19 ft Monark and I still watch for wakes. I recall a big Albemarle come out of Bratenahl/Sohreby that I swear put out a 4 ft wave.
    Saugeyefisher likes this.
  19. As cannot control wakes from other boats.

    Many harbors including Cleveland and Fairport are NOT wake free
    zones. Not unusual to have 2-4' wakes inside harbors especially mid summer weekends.

    Maybe Sandusky Bay or East Harbor. Good luck. Be safe.
  20. Boat wakes suck while fishing in a bass boat. Our last trip it was pretty flat but had a few wakes break over the bow of the boat while casting some rock piles.