American Fly Fishing

The Western Shoreline
By Jerry Darkes

Lake Erie, MI/OH

An angler releases a fat smallmouth along a shallow shoreline. In spring, prespawn bass are found along drop-offs close to shore and around harbor entrances where there is plenty of rock and gravel. They eagerly attack flies. ALL PHOTOS BY JERRY DARKES

New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Michigan, as well as the province of Ontario, all claim a share of sprawling Lake Erie’s shoreline, and throughout this southernmost of the Great Lakes, anglers pursue myriad species. But the lake’s western basin, from west of Sandusky Bay in Ohio northward to Point Pelee in Ontario, offers especially good prospects for fly anglers.

The western basin’s average depth of only 24 feet equates to a lot of water that’s easy to fish with fly tackle. Moreover, this basin’s shoreline features extensive shallows, rocky drop-offs, breakwalls, river deltas, piers, harbors, and other fish magnets. These waters teem with smallmouth bass, panfish, freshwater drum, walleyes, northern pike, largemouth bass, and other species. Armed with a small boat, an angler has countless options. Kayaks and canoes also work well in many areas, and even shore-bound anglers can get in on the action.