Erie’s hot!

Last weekend was a big deal for me. I made my inaugural Lake Erie trip of the year and caught my first 5-pound smallie. I have to say that of all the places I’ve fished Lake Erie is probably my favorite.  

I say that with some hesitation, however. I’ve fished a lot of places and most have caught my fancy, at least for a few days. Nearly all of them have something to recommend them. In truth, picking a favorite lake is much like picking the prettiest girl in a crowd. Everyone has an opinion and no one’s is necessarily better than anyone else’s. It’s in the eye of the beholder. 
But before we get into the details of my trip I want to take a minute to congratulate Mike Iaconelli, Aaron Martens, Jeff Kriet and Skeet Reese on their selection to participate in the Toyota Trucks All-Star Week in Alabama. There are several anglers who deserve to go but these four are at the top of the list. 
Their careers say everything that needs to be said. They’ve caught bass in every imaginable river and lake over the years under a wide variety of conditions and have shown high morals and integrity. We — those of us who didn’t qualify through the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year points system — couldn’t be represented by a better group of guys. The fans made wise choices.
Now, let’s get back to Erie. One of the reasons I like it so much is because it’s a simple lake to fish. All you have to do is find the fish. The rest will take care of itself. There’s no need to pack a dozen lures in every size and color imaginable. All you need is a stout rod and reel, a spool of strong line and a few plastics.
My usual baits for the summer up there are Berkley Gulp plastics on a drop shot rig and a handful of Venom tubes. Keep everything on or near the bottom and you’ll catch your fair share before the day is over.
And after what I saw last weekend, it seems like there’s good news for the future. It’s been an open secret among experienced anglers that the number of young smallmouth bass is declining in Erie. You could fish a longtime without catching a juvenile bass. It was cause for concern. 
It’s fine to catch 5- and 6-pounders but you need little ones for the future. Big Lake Erie smallies are old. They aren’t going to live forever. At some point we’ll need fresh blood. (Just how old is a subject of some dispute. If anyone knows — really knows — don’t be shy. Write in and let us know.)
Overall, things look good on Erie. Unless something changes we’ll see lots of limits and heavy sacks at the Open in August this year, and for many years to come.