Lake Erie can certainly be an intimidating body of water to fish, mainly because of its sheer size. It may seem like a daunting task to find any fish in so much water, let alone catch anything when you’re just restricted to the shore. However, this really isn’t the case. Whether it be walleye, steelhead, bass, perch, or even catfish you’re after, there’s an urban shore fishing location along Lake Erie’s Ohio coast where you can catch it. In this article, I’ll break down some prime locations to check out and basic tackle to pick up for your Lake Erie trip.
Let’s start at arguably the best portion of Lake Erie to shore fish, the western basin. From Toledo to Sandusky to be a little more specific, with the Port Clinton area being the shining star. The Port Clinton area has East and West Harbors and countless piers, rock jetties, marinas, and protected bays that are phenomenal for fishing right in town! April, May, and June are undoubtedly the best months to shore fish the area. The cold water has all popular gamefish species close to shore and either feeding or spawning. It’s very possible to catch a trophy walleye, smallmouth bass, and largemouth bass all from the same spot on the same day in the springtime. For these species, a 7’ Medium action spinning rod with a 3000-size spinning reel spooled up with 10lb fluorocarbon will do the trick. Jerkbaits, swimbaits, and ned rigs are all excellent options. Don’t be afraid to cast these lures parallel to the pier, rock jetty, or shoreline you’re fishing from as well as straight out. Perch are also prevalent near shore early in the year and can be taken on perch rigs with emerald shiners. Visit the nearest bait shop for live emerald shiners and a local fishing report. As the year goes on and the water warms, shore fishing slows as many fish move offshore. This doesn’t mean it isn’t worth fishing, though. Largemouth bass, giant catfish, and massive sheepshead are always lurking close to shore. Although catfish and sheepshead aren’t the most prized catches, they offer an excellent fight that can be very exciting for beginner anglers. Just upsize the hooks on those perch rigs and add shiners or nightcrawlers and hold on!
The eastern half of the state doesn’t have quite as many public access fishing locations as the western half, but it still offers phenomenal opportunities where present. It comes as a shock to many, but the shoreline access areas of downtown Cleveland are excellent places to fish. Some of the biggest shore-caught walleyes of the year come casting these areas at night in the fall and spring. (For more details on shore casting for walleyes, check out my other article “Shore Fishing for Lake Erie Walleye”) Smallmouth and largemouth bass are available in great numbers in the marinas and rock jetties as well. It can be quite an experience catching a Lake Erie trophy walleye or bass with downtown Cleveland as a backdrop!
As you move further east from Cleveland, the urban fishing remains similar with lots of piers and rock jetties offering available fishing access. However, shoreline fishing for steelhead starts to improve. Staging fish will stack at the river mouths beginning in late September, waiting for rain and cool nights to trigger them to run upstream, and they’re more than happy to crush a spoon or a spinner while they wait. Steelhead are arguably the most exciting fish in all of Lake Erie to catch as they perform peeling runs and insane acrobatics when hooked. The tackle you’ll want for steelhead is a bit different than what’s listed above. You’ll want a longer rod to help bomb casts way offshore and absorb the shock of a large fish rolling, running, and head shaking. Fishusa.com has an excellent variety of steelhead rods to choose from. Pair one of these rods up with a 3000-size spinning reel and some 8lb monofilament and you’re golden!
For a couple of complete Lake Erie urban angling tackle kits with my specific product recommendations check out the links below! These products are excellent for both beginners and experienced anglers alike. Next time you’re itching to get out fishing pick up some of these products from FishUSA.com and head to the nearest shoreline!
Bonus tip: One of the most important tools to have when urban angling is a landing net. Be safe and get one with a long handle. This prevents you from having to lean too far over any walls to reach for a fish and ensures you can easily land your prized catch.