News from the Ohio Department of Wildlife last week confirmed that a 10.15-pound bass caught by an Ohio fisherman in November in Lake Erie was a 16-year-old female and possibly the largest bass ever reeled from the lake. .
The Erie continues to impress with great catches of cutthroat, smallmouth and steelhead. Few can argue that with a small investment in a fishing license, Ohio anglers now have access to some of the best freshwater fishing in the world.
When the time is right, anglers who know what they are doing can count on unprecedented excitement and satisfaction in fishing during an era when there are so many wrinkles to return to “the good old days” in so many aspects of their lives.
For anglers, the best time to fish is here and now.
The 10.15-pound bass caught by Gregg Gallagher of Fremont came from Ontario waters after he and his son crossed the border from Ohio on Nov. 3. They returned to Port Clinton with the huge fish and weighed it on a certified scale.
Gallagher’s catch was the crème de la crème of Erie smallmouth fishing in 2022. Throughout the season, anglers battled big bronzebacks from the mouth of the Detroit River to the Bass Islands to the Cleveland, Erie and Buffalo coasts.
While the 10-plus-pounder has been pulled from Canadian waters, the waters of Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York are equally capable of producing huge little fish for anglers rejecting Ned rigs, tube jigs and drop-shot rigs. I wouldn’t be surprised if another 10-pounder is caught in Erie this year.
Setting the hook for bass fattened with numerous gobies, crayfish, perch and shiners never gets old. In my experience, nothing compares to the moment a hook ignites a 4- or 5-pound smallmouth bass fight and the battle goes from submarine to aerial.
The new Erie record fish surpasses a 9.84-pound fish caught in 1984. The current Ohio record is a 9.5-pound fish caught from Lake Erie. Biologists routinely survey Erie’s largemouth bass population and haven’t found a fish to match Gallagher’s catch — although 20-inch, seven-pound fish do show up in surveys.
The fact that the Erie continues to get better and better is thanks to regulations that have led to vast improvements in water quality over the past 40 years and excellent fish management practices and cooperative efforts by governments in Ohio, Michigan, New York and Ontario.
Walleye management is a prime example of the value that can be gained when fishery managers share data and best practices and agree on harvest quotas and more.
Whether Youngstown-Warren anglers enjoy casting nightcrawlers and spinners or trolling with baits and spoons, they can find great Erie fish fishing just an hour or two from home.
Steelhead fans can book an expensive expedition on the great rivers of Alaska, British Columbia, Washington and Oregon. Or they can invest in a tank of gas, hop on Ohio 11 and drive to Ashtabula or Grand Rivers or Conneaut Creek.
Ohio’s Erie tributaries offer easy access to 8- to 10-pound steelhead from mid-September through the winter to early April. During the summer months, anglers find big steelies feasting around huge schools of bait above the Erie’s cool depths.
If you haven’t fished Lake Erie in a while, you’d be wise to put it on your 2023 to-do list.
Jack Wolitz’s book, “Ordinary Angler” is an impressive look at why anglers are passionate about fishing. Send a message to email@example.com.