June 30, 2012
By Matt Straw
Here's my good friend Jerry Myers again, with a decent bass from a protected bay on Erie near Port Clinton. We needed the protection, as the winds of Erie picked up and blew even stronger than the day before.
It was a bluebird day—just 24 hours after a cold front blew through. Not a cloud in the sky. So we stayed off the rolling seas, lathered up with sunscreen, and pitched Bass'N Bait Company Snakie Spoons onto expansive pad fields, rolling them over the slop and down through the pockets. The unique action of the Snakie pulled quite a few out of the heavy stuff, but—as is so typical on days like these—the big girls refused to come out and play. I really don't understand those who keep trying to convince us that bass—big bass in particular—don't respond to cold fronts. Their reaction is quite consistent. All lack of scientific evidence aside, big bass bury themselves in heavy cover after severe fronts. The strike zone in front of them shrinks from feet to inches.
Myers won a tournament here recently on a windy day, catching several largemouths over 4 pounds. So we faithfully moved around to see if we could unearth a few, trying the deeper weeds with spinnerbaits. We caught a few more, rolling double Colorados along with steady retrieves, but nothing fantastic. Finally, we moved into a channel leading into the big lake and fished the base of rip-rap walls in 8 to 12 feet of water, hoping to find some errant smallmouths. Myers and Bass'N Bait owner Ron Perrine said smallies once thrived in these spots, but largemouths have since taken over, pushing their bronze cousins entirely out to sea.
We found truckloads of 1- to 3-pound bass, but nothing bigger. We pitched gobie-pattern tubes on 3/16- to 5/16-ounce heads with exposed hooks, finding consistent action right at the base of the rocks. While releasing one small fish after the other, we looked wistfully out over the whitecaps beyond the breakwalls, wishing Nature had given us one more chance to dance with bronzebacks on one of the finest smallmouth lakes on the planet.
Story of my life. Like the time an 80-year old Native American met me on the dock as I stepped off a float plane in Quebec and said, "I've never seen the water this high in my life." Or the time I walked up to a lodge on Lake Huites in the Sierra Madres, where an 80-year old Mexican announced, "Senor—it has never been this cold before in my lifetime." Call me Jonah, but I was allowed to discover that Erie has some pretty spectacular—and largely unheralded—largemouth fishing in its harbors and bays.