Lake Erie’s Biggie Smallies

Dave Mercer of the Facts of Fishing TV Show and two giant smallmouth bass.

The Great Lakes are well known for their outstanding fishing.  Some of the species targeted by anglers include walleye, yellow perch, and salmon.  To remember the names of these lakes in geography, some schoolchildren are taught the acronym: HOMES. (Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, Superior.)  SHMOE works too, I suppose.

Dave Mercer, of Facts of Fishing TV show, has the tough job of fishing all over the country and knows the Great Lakes well. When I asked about his favorite Great Lakes fishing he replied, “Lake Erie, near Buffalo, NY in May. 100+ giant smallmouth a day.”

You had me at “100+.”

Spring fishing for Lake Erie smallmouth bass is no secret.  Numerous anglers can attest to the large numbers of smallmouth bass that may reach 9 pounds. However, Erie is a large lake so you may have to cover some water in a boat to find areas the bass have congregated.

In April, these bass start moving to shallower spawning grounds but some fishing reports recommend starting at about 18 feet.  Mercer has caught massive cool water smallmouth in 45 feet, and recommends braided line to fish this depth. “Braid has zero stretch,” he shared. This allows greater sensitivity to feel any light tap of a bite.

Anglers watch for rocks that are just the right size and quantity to hold fish, using their electronics if water clarity dictates.   Then, a good technique is to maintain contact with the bottom. Spoons and blade baits bumping the bottom work great, but tube jigs are especially popular.  Jigs also have a single hook so hanging up on the rocks is less likely.

Andy Whitcomb

Andy Whitcomb

Andy is an outdoor writer ( and stressed-out Dad has contributed over 380 blogs to since 2011. Born in Florida, but raised on banks of Oklahoma farm ponds, he now chases pike, smallmouth bass, and steelhead in Pennsylvania. After earning a B.S. in Zoology from OSU, he worked in fish hatcheries and as a fisheries research technician at OSU, Iowa State, and Michigan State.