Lake Erie Smallmouth Bass
Barcelona & Dunkirk, New York

Smallmouth bass fishing off the shores of Lake Erie's Eastern Basin is now being recognized as one of the top Smallmouth producing waters in the world. Particularly, the locations of Barcelona and Dunkirk, NY offer excellent access to some of the best fishing on Lake Erie for Smallmouth. We Wan Chu Cottages, located less than a twenty minute drive from Barcelona Harbor, provides the best accommodations around to enjoy the benefits that Lake Erie offers. Dunkirk Harbor, which is only an additional twenty minutes East on I-90 or Route 5, offers the same types of underwater structure that produces Smallmouth in size and quantity that is unheard of in most parts of the country. Both launching facilities have adequate parking and usually, plenty of depth in the harbor to run out to the desired fishing waters which eliminates the hassles that occur at other launching sites. Whether the primary intention of the fishing trip is to fish Chautauqua Lake or Lake Erie, We Wan Chu Cottages is your best bet for accommodations. Lake Erie is a weather-permitting fishery. If waves conditions exceed two to four feet on Erie, the day may be well spent fishing on Chautauqua Lake for Smallmouth or a multitude of other species. We Wan Chu Cottages provides cable TV which allows the fisherman to analyze the following day's forecast on the weather channel to determine their strategy.

Techniques and tactics on Lake Erie vary pertaining to the season being fished. Excellent Smallmouth fishing may be experienced in the spring, summer, and fall. Traditionally, the spring of the year provides the best Smallmouth bite. Activity usually begins at the start of May and continues through June. There are many factors that determine the way one fishes for Smallmouth bass. Wind conditions, clarity of water, and water temperature all affect the location of the fish. Structure in the forms of shale and boulders differentiates the eastern part of Lake Erie from the Central and Western Basins. Access to deep water is not far from Barcelona and Dunkirk Harbors. The majority of Smallmouth bass are usually caught within 3/4 of a mile from New York's entire shoreline. Both launching facilities are staffed with knowledgeable personnel. They are capable of providing excellent information pertaining to depth and location for Smallmouth during any given time of the year.

The primary forage for Smallmouth bass in Lake Erie is minnows, leeches, Nightcrawlers, and crawfish. The secret to success is to match the lure presentation with the most abundant forage during the fished season. In the spring, the emerald shiner is the primary baitfish for Smallmouth in the Eastern Basin. Water clarity usually determines whether a live bait or artificial presentation is used. When fishing stained or cloudy water, the added attraction of live bait will provide smell, taste, and high frequency sounds that are superior to any artificial bait. Soft plastic baits, such as tube jigs and grubs that simulate a minnow, are usually the most productive baits in the spring. The color of the lure is directly correlated with water clarity. In clear water conditions, natural colors work best. On the other hand, colors with higher visibility will catch more fish in stained waters. Attaching live bait to the tube or grub will increase the number of strikes when Smallmouth are in a negative feeding mood. Lure weight is determined by wind conditions and water depth. The majority of Smallmouth are usually caught between the depths of 8' to 30' of water. On calm days, a 1/8 or 1/4-ounce bait will be sufficient. However, if wind speeds pick up or the depth of water fished increases, a 3/8 ounce bait or heavier is necessary to keep the lure in the strike zone.

The secret to consistently catch Smallmouth in numbers and size is to fish the break lines. Smallmouth bass are structure and depth oriented fish. Finding rocky contours that have perpendicular highs and lows in relation to the shoreline are very productive Smallmouth spots. Determine the depth the majority of the aggressive fish are being caught and try to maintain the same depth around the entire edge of structure being fished. It is extremely important to visualize the bottom of the area being fished to consistently place casts in the most productive waters. This method will not only increase the number of bass caught, but it will also produce larger fish. In the Eastern Basin, it is not uncommon for each fisherman to catch 50 Smallmouth or more. The majority of bass caught will range between two and four pounds with some exceeding five and six pounds. Anglers experiencing this phenomenal fishery for the first time, be prepared to catch Smallmouth bass like never before. The number of fish caught usually causes a severe case of bass thumb. And for fisherman not familiar with the term "bass thumb", a few hours on the Eastern basin of Lake Erie will enlighten them.

In summation, staying at We Wan Chu Cottages affords the fisherman the unique opportunity of experiencing the excellent Smallmouth fishing in the Eastern Basin of Lake Erie and inland waters of Chautauqua Lake.


Darren Dossi
North Canton, OH