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Lake Erie pier fishing tactics

By DICK MARTIN • Apr 14, 2018 at 5:36 PM

Is Lake Erie really the most fertile and fish filled big lake in the world? The answer would be hard to prove, but if it isn't, Erie is surely a close runner-up. It's walleye fishing is tops, smallmouth action excellent, limits of yellow perch can be easy to come by, and between bites, there are tons of ordinary fish like sheepshead, channel cats, white perch, white bass, and other species waiting to eat your bait. If the big lake has a problem, it's that a days fishing can be costly, hundreds of dollars if you go out on a six pack, $30 to $50 for a headboat, and even an outing on a friends craft can bend your wallet for a share of gas, food, bait, and beverages.

Isn't there a way to just hit the big lake and enjoy some fishing, spend a few hours or a day enjoying fresh air, lapping waves, and mewling seagulls, all for the cost of a couple of dozen nightcrawlers or nothing at all if you catch your own? Sure. You go pier fishing. Piers thrust out into the lake literally from border to border, and they can provide good action for summertime anglers. Any are worth trying, but there is little doubt that the Huron Pier is one of the best.

It lies due north of downtown Huron with the Huron River touching one side, and stretches far out into Lake Erie to end at a lighthouse. Bait shops lie within a reasonable distance, and there's adequate parking close by. I've fished the Huron Pier for at least 30 years, probably more, and learned a few things that have consistently improved my catch. For openers, it's usually the case that the further you walk out on the pier, the better fishing will be, with premier action right by the lighthouse. It's a long hike, and longer if you're hauling a heavy bait bucket, stool, rods, and other necessities, but usually you can still do well closer in near the blockhouse, and that's nice flat cement for easy travel.

Time can be important when fishing any pier. I've caught fish at all times of the day, but nine times out of ten, best action will come just at dawn. Many species are sight feeders, and after a long night of nothing much, they're hungry and ready to pounce on anything edible. Also, perch particularly, often are in close feeding at dawn and gradually move out toward deeper water during the day, returning come late evening. A few stay and can be caught anytime, but if you turn up at a pier at nine or ten a.m. you'll often have missed the best fishing. Don't forget night fishing, either. Anglers along the Huron Pier or any other often find good action at night, mostly for channel cats and bullheads, but sometimes for night foraging walleyes.

The Huron Pier is a top spot, but there are others worth trying. The pier in Lorain's harbor can be tops in spring for several species of fish, though perch tend to move offshore at this time of year. If the water is reasonably clear and not roiled by recent rains, it's a good spot and there's plenty of parking and only a moderate walk to reach fishing country. You might like to take the family along and fish the Catawba State Park pier, which lies on the northwest corner of Catawba Island. The pier is a small one, but often productive, and the park nearby offers restrooms, a play area, picnic tables. and lots of parking.

Don't forget two state-of-the-art fishing spots near Marblehead, Mazurik and Dempsey Access. Both are easy to find, thanks to abundant road signs, and they can be good spots for perch, sheepshead, cats, and other species when winds and weather are right. A personal favorite of mine is the pier at South Bass Island State Park, an L shaped structure that lies within a short walk of the campground.

The pier at Kelleys Island State Park can be productive too, and the long pier that parallels the river at Port Clinton is another worth fishing. It doesn't really matter where you fish, whether it be downtown Cleveland, east of Cleveland or near Toledo. Just get there early, change spots as needed, and have a net that will reach the water. You should have a pleasant day for little cost, and enjoy some of the best that our Great Lake has to offer.


Dick Martin is a free-lance writer from Shelby. Reach him at [email protected] You can also visit his blog at outdoorswithmartin.com.

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