CLEVELAND, Ohio – Wind is a major problem for Lake Erie fishermen who launch boats after dark at this time of year. Falling water temperatures are a very risky business if a boater or angler ends up in the water.
A lack of visibility is also critical. Boats need lighting mandated by the Coast Guard. Some blame this after dark issue for a Tuesday night boating accident just east of the Huron River in the Cranberry Creek and The Castle area.
Small red, green and white lights are often difficult to see against a background of shore lights. The lights of the canals are difficult to see when the boater is heading to a harbor docks or launch sites.
The surprising number of night fishermen fishing from small boats has compounded the problem. With huge schools of walleye congregating from Cleveland to Huron, and beyond, the exceptional success of walleye fishing has attracted hundreds of boaters to try their luck.
Lake Erie was fairly calm last Tuesday night. It’s rarely late November. Veteran boaters have reported on social media that the large lake is surprisingly crowded with mild southwest winds.
The Fall Brawl and Walleye Slam fishing derbies have thousands of competitors, but the entry deadline was a month ago. The derbies will both end on Sunday, November 28. Derby fishermen can also weigh in entries captured by kayaking and casting from shore. Three of the eight top 10 weights in the fall brawl were captured from the shore and two of the eight in the Walleye Slam.
This weekend will be a prime example of possible wind and weather issues on Lake Erie. The National Weather Service’s marine forecast for Lake Erie predicted 2 to 4 feet on Friday. The waves will calm down a bit on Saturday, then rise to 2 to 4 feet on Sunday and 3 to 5 feet on Monday.
The Huron area is a hot spot right now and will draw crowds.
At this time of year, walleye preparing to spawn in the spring will congregate off Huron in 40 to 45 feet of water. Large fish often move to shallow water after dark to feed on baitfish, especially gizzard shad, to bolster the rigorous spawning season in late March and April.
Coastal anglers know that a northerly wind will push shad into shallow water where walleye, the main predator with exceptional nighttime fishing, will congregate against the shore and trigger a feeding frenzy.
Steelhead by day, golden by night: The Port of Cleveland continues to forgo good to good catches of rainbow trout during the day, with fish waiting for heavy rains to encourage them to move up the spawning streams.
Spoons and spinners are good choices for large trout, as are jigs placed under a float and worked near jetties and breakwaters. Jigs are often tilted with spawning bags, maggots or waxworms.
At night, walleyes move to shallow harbor areas, where they can be caught by coastal anglers casting Smithwick Perfect 10 Shallow Lip Lures, Bandits and Husky Jerks, as well as baits. with lipless rattles like the Cordell Spot and the Rat-L-Trap. Dark colors like purple and black are often productive.
Perch bites: Some of the biggest and longest yellow perch of the year are finally caught along the Lake Erie shore on crappie platforms and perch spreaders topped with emerald minnows. Many local bait shops still open feature Shiner Shiner.
Hot spots for perch have been the mouth of Sandusky Bay, from the Marblehead Peninsula to the foghorn at Cedar Point, and the shore of Cranberry Creek in Vermilion.