Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Bass Fishing in May.. what a feeling!

Well, my 4 day whirlwind trip to lake Erie and lake Chataugua has concluded, the weather was pretty much amazing and second only to the actual fishing. Our little group of 4 did some serious damage on Chataugua, and I popped my cherry on Lake Erie ( I have now wet a line in 4 of the 5 great lakes)

Our Trip started out on a foggy note, we arrived at Lake Erie slightly after 7am on Thursday morning and the fog was thick as pea soup. To avoid getting run over we decided to stick to the harbour and some small bays in the Buffalo area.

The fishing was slow, but we did manage to boat a few fish, including a nice smallie that came in around the 3.5lb mark.  We dragged tubes, tossed drop shop rigs and threw spinnerbaits at them, but did not manage more then a 3 or 4 bites.

(Kenny with a 3.8lb smallmouth)

Once the fog lifted we headed out into the big lake to work some shoals and try to  jig or crank up a Lake Erie Legend. I broke into my Sebile D&S Crank (yes I broke down and bought one) and built some muscle cranking it down in 20+ feet of water. We marked bait fish but were unable to find any more smallies out on the big lake. By early afternoon, we packed it in, and headed to second Erie hot spot .. the harbor in Dunkirk.

Once at Dunkirk, I was treated to a show I had never experienced before, 2 boats, 4 anglers and more double headers then I could count. In our short stay (the damn harbour launch is closed from 5-9pm on Thursdays) each angler netted more fish then I'm willing to share here, all of them were little tanks from 1 to 2lbs' and we were whacking them on everything from  tubes, to jerbait and spinnerbaits, you name it. The action was so fast that is was hard to stop for a picture, but I could not help but grab one for the memory bank.

(Me with some twins that Kenny and I caught)
With Day 1 in the books, we packed up and headed off to the cottage we rented on Chataugua lake. It was a nice little spot right on the water with a great view (see below). Although I think being the first renters of the season had it's down falls.. No TV! and with NHL playoffs in full swing, there is nothing more frustrating to a Canadian then missing playoff hockey.

Day 2, we started off on the Southern basin of Chataugua,  we cruised the lake in search of smallies and if we had too, Largmouth Bass. it did not take long to find fish, and although they were not in spawning mode, we did spot some fish in shallow and cruising the flats. It was very exciting to toss at a cruising fish and watch him blow up on my flipping tube

(Kenny with a shallow water largemouth)
once we had worked the shallows we moved to the many rock and gravel beds situated all over Chatagua, my fishing partner on Day 2 is a tube expert, so i let him drag away, while I broke out the drop shot rod. Not to long into our run,  I realize this was the way to go.. in a secluded gravel bed surrounded by Crappie anglers, I hooked into two nice smallies back to back, the first one being a brute weighing in at 4.8lbs (so close!)

(Me with my 4.8lb Smallmouth)

the second one was still a nice fish, but noticeably smaller then the first. We worked the bed until it was time to get off the water for the day, and managed a few more fish, as well as some nice sized sunfish. it was a great end to the day, and one I wont forget to soon.

(another drop shpt smallmouth)
Day 3, came too quick, and it was time to head up to the Northern basin. We decided to switched up partners and I got to fish with a the one guy on the trip I had yet to share a boat with. We decided to cheat a bit and started the day briefly in the south end of the lake hitting the spot I had success with the previous day.. 4 small fish later  it was time to head north.

When we got to the North end of the lake we were surprised to find that the water temp was noticeably cooler then that of the south end. With this in mind we then decided to focus on some off shore weed-beds and see if we could drum up some largies.. it took awhile, but we finally found a pattern and started to slam fish.

(Me with a 4lber on the drop shot)
Again it seemed the drop shot was what the fish were looking for.. small or large mouth alike. I made some subtle changes switching from a tube to a robo worm, and hooked into some great fish. My partner on the other hand was working an different angle and landed the biggest fish of the weekend a Largemouth pushing 6lb's, but in the commotion I was unable to get a pic prior to the release.

Once we had thoroughly worked the area, the sun was up and the water was starting to warm.. and we were again off in search of smallies. We found a great rock point and starting throwing jerkbaits, within 4 minutes my partner hooked into a monster smallie that tipped the scales at 5lbs.. look at the color of this fish!.. this one we made sure was captured on film

(Rick with a 5lb Smallmouth)

As the sun rose so did the winds, we continued to work points and gravel beds the best we could, but eventually we decided to head back to our initial spot and try to get out of the wind a bit. It seems our luck had changed and the bite started to slow.

Day 3 ended as another great day on the water, but my day 2 partner had an even better day then I did, landing largie after largie until his arms were too tired to cast (including a 5lb hawg). No complaints on my end though, as my partner and I would have finished with a 5 fish bag at around the 19lb mark.

(sorry..phone pic)

Day 4, our final day on the water, prior to heading home, we switched back to our original partners and this time decided to focus on the middle portion of the lake. We worked large weed beds, flats as well as some docks.. we saw many cruising fish, and a little musky getting some sun. We threw everything at them while trying to duplicate our success from day 3, but some very cool overnight temps seemed to have scattered the fish, we were patient and started to just look for the bait fish, and when we did come across a school, I decided to start to throw my spinnerbait at them.. it was not to long before I started hooking up.. and my first fish of the morning a a nice 4.2lb largmouth that just gobbled up my spinnerbait.

 Pattern solved, this was a spinnerbait morning for sure, and from then on we could not keep the fish off them, it was almost sad when noon rolled around and It was time to head home, but we were leaving on a high note, with tired arms, what more could you ask for.

(Me with a 4.2lb Largemouth)
As I said before, this was my first time fishing on US soil and my first time Bass fishing prior to the June opener in Ontario. I had an amazing time, and hope to get the invite back again next year. Those who live in the area should consider them selves very lucky to have such a great fishery.. me Im happy to have some great friends willing to share in the action.

Weapons of Choice:

I think it would be mean of me to sit here and rhyme off the above  success story without sharing with you all some of the gear I used to catch my fish (sorry, I cant and wont share what my partners were using) but im an open book (when I want to be)

Spinnerbait Set-Up: This one was my fav rod to throw this weekend, it was a ton of fun. I used a Dobyns DX744 rod with a Diawa Zillion Reel. I threw one spinnerbait all weekend long and it was a War Eagle 1/2oz in white. To be honest that is the only color spinnerbait I throw, and I love the low profile look to the war eagle, this is quickly becoming a personal favorite.

Jerkbait Set-Up: for Jerkbaits I was using a Dobyns Savvy 744 with mircroguides. I tested out the Sunline 10lb sniper line, and it felt great. As for the lures, I was using the IMA Flit in both the 100 and 120 depending the the depth I was fishing. My color choices were ghost minnow and bone shad.

Drop Shot Set-Up: When other guys where throwing senkos or dragging tubes, I would break out the drop shot rod. My rod of choice is a Dobyns DX742 paired with a Shimano Stradic CI4, light weigh and strong, this combo will server you well.

On this trip I got to break out the VMC/Owner spinning drop shot hook, and it did not fail me once, I got solid hook-ups each and every time. When I was fishing for smallies, I would use a Strike King bitsy tube, and when in largemouth territory I switched over to a roboworm. due to some wind and decent depths, I  used a 1/2oz drop shot weight

Crank-bait Set-Up: I had two crank bait rods with me and used one for shallow and one for deeper presentations. The shallow rod was a Dobyns 705glass rod and I switched between various squarebills including the IMA as well as a Rick Clunn series. Muddy dark water pushed me towards darker colors.

for the deeper presentation, I used a Dobyns 805RM crank-bait rod, this worked wonders with my Sebile D&S crank as well as a Spro Little John. That rod is super tuff and the perfect match for deep cranking.

these were the 4 main techniques I used on the water this past weekend, most of my success came from the spinnerbait and drop shot set-ups.. I will state that my partners in crime found success using many other set-ups and rarely did we every double up on one presentation

(Just a cool Pic of the area around the Buffalo harbour once the fog lifted)

P.S: Last but not least I want to give a special thanks to the Happy Hooker bait shop, they were supper friendly and gave great advice about the lake and the hot techniques. If you are fishing the Chataugua lake, you should stop in and say hi.. remember it is important to support your local tackle shops when you can.

1 comment:

  1. Awesome report! I've fished Erie often for smallies, and really miss fishing there as I haven't been back in several years now. What a great fishery. Thanks for the report and sharing your pics.