Lake Erie is one of the premier smallmouth bass fisheries of North America. Beginning shortly after ice-out, massive schools move into the area to feed and spawn. What sets this fishery apart from many others is the size of bass available to anglers at this time of year. Five-pounders are so common, they rarely come up in discussion. A fish has to be over six to garner any bragging rights, and experienced anglers stand a good chance of catching a few of this size any given day. Seven-pounders aren't out of the question for savvy veterans. Big smallmouths are so numerous at this time of year they can be caught with about every presentation. Whether you're drop shotting, dragging tubes, jigging spoons, or casting the shallows you will catch fish. With so many 3- to 5-pound fish, an angler can be lulled into complacency, but those who fish hard and often tend to modify their presentation to target the biggest of the big.
A newcomer might take the view that catching a 6-pounder should be a numbers game. Not so says Frank Dimarcantonio, local guide with over 15 years of experience on Lake Erie. He's developed strong opinions about big-fish patterns, backed by plenty of lunker catches to bolster his case.
Of the many big fish (over 6 pounds) he and his clients have caught, he credits jerkbaits in early spring for at least half of these heavyweights. Bucking tradition, he rarely casts suspending stickbaits, relying instead on trolling or controlled drifting.