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Fishing On Lake Erie: The Beginners Guide

If you’re wanting to research the perfect place to fish then there are few places better than Lake Erie. This large body of water spans multiple states and even has sides in both the US and Canada.

Fishing On Lake Erie Your Complete Guide

Whether you are just learning how to fish or have been a keen angler for years, Lake Erie has a lot to offer in terms of the variety of fishing environments as well as the different kinds of fish that you can encounter during your trips.

In this guide, we’ve gathered everything you need to know about fishing on Lake Erie including what charters you should choose, what fish you can catch, and what the best fishing spots in the US and Canada are so you can be as prepared as possible. 

What makes Lake Erie such a popular place for anglers is how many varieties of fish can be found in the water depending on the time of year and the time of day.

Lake Erie

With a body of water that spans over 240 miles, you are sure to find an area that is perfect for you whether you like to fish from the shore or on a charter.

Lake Erie is unique in that it has so much to offer and this has made it one of the top fishing destinations in the US and renowned among anglers across the world. 


One fish that anglers try to catch during their time on Lake Erie is Salmon. You can find both Chinook and Coho Salmon swimming in the Lake Erie waters but they are not as common as other fish due to their smaller numbers compared to Perch or Walleye.

salmon caught

However, if you do plan on catching Salmon then make sure you have the proper documentation to do so as you need it when trying to catch certain fish.

If you are hunting for Trout then the chances are that you may encounter Salmon while trolling the waters.

From the main two species of Salmon, you are more likely to catch a Coho Salmon due to the conditions of the creeks and rivers which are the ideal temperature for Coho Salmon to live, especially during the Spring and Fall months. 

Smallmouth Bass

One of the most common fish found in Lake Erie is the Smallmouth Bass which often goes unfavored by fishers but can make for an incredibly successful fishing trip.

best smallmouth bass lures

A great thing about Smallmouth Bass is that they will put up a fight which makes them a great target for experienced anglers and with such a high population, can pretty much guarantee success whether you are on your first fishing trip or 100th.

Smallmouth Bass can be found in the Summer months and are usually located in the deeper parts of the Lake that are between 20 to 40 feet deep where there are plenty of underwater structures where they can hide under. 


Lake Erie has become a renowned hotspot for Trout fishers from around the country. With the Steelhead species being the most commonly caught kind of Trout, you’ll also be able to find the Brown and Lake Trouts as well.

large steelhead trout

If you want to have a successful Trout fishing trip then venture to Lake Erie during the Spring and Fall months which is sure to boost up your chances.

On both the US and Canadian sides of Lake Erie, you’ll be able to locate Rainbow Trout, especially if you go between March and May when the weather has cooled down as well as September to November.

If you want to further your chances of success then go to Cattaraugus Creek which is in the mouth of the Vermilion River which has become known as Steelhead Alley. This fishing spot has garnered a reputation for landing large Rainbow Trouts. 


The great thing about Walleye is that it can be located at the majority of fishing spots across Lake Erie.

lake erie walleye fish species

With over 150 million Walleye swimming in the water and only showing signs of growth, Lake Erie has become highly popular with eager Walleye fishers.

If you’re wanting to catch a slew of Walleye yourself then head down to Lake Erie during the Summer months between June and September when Walleyes are found in abundance.

They spawn during Spring meaning that they move around much more and therefore are harder to catch during the first half of the year.

Some Walleye can be spotted as easily as April as they can be located closer to the surface; however, as they are incredibly sensitive towards the light, it’s best to try fishing for them during the early evenings when the light is starting to dim.

A lot of nighttime fishers like to hunt for Walleye during the evening because of this. If you are planning to hunt for Walleye during the daytime in the Summer then taking a slow trolling approach will better your chances of a successful catch and once you have caught one, immediately cast back in the same spot as they travel in schools. 

Yellow Perch

Lastly, another popular kind of fish that you should consider catching is the Yellow Perch. For those who want to catch fish that they wish to cook then Yellow Perch is the perfect species for you.

man holding a perch caught with a fishing rod

A great thing about the Yellow Perch is that you can catch them during the majority of the year, even when ice fishing so you can practice your skills.

The peak season for the Yellow Perch is during the late Summer and early Fall months where they prefer the deeper parts of the Lake as they are very similar to Walleye as they prefer to swim between 20 to 70 feet deep.

Yellow Perch thrive in colder conditions and travel in schools so once you have caught one, cast your line immediately to boost your chances of multiple catches. 

Types of Fishing on Lake Erie

There are many different kinds of fishing that you can do on Lake Erie thanks to the varying depths and unique aquatic life meaning that there are plenty of trips you can take without having the same kind of success.

lake erie in ohio

Whether you want to fish on a boat or from the shore or even ice fishing, there are many different fishing scenarios that you can consider. Here are just a few suggestions to inspire you:

Charter fishing

Charter fishing is when you take a boat out to the center of a body of water and fish from there.

charter boat on lake erie

Charter fishing on Lake Erie is extremely popular and you can even receive guidance from professionals who know the area well.

Not only can they help to navigate you through the waters but they will also have a lot of insight into what fish you can expect to find depending on the time of year and weather conditions.

Fishing on Lake Erie can turn unexpected as the weather is known for changing within minutes meaning that when you are fishing near the center it may not be as calm as it appears from the shore.

Professionals also ensure that you have the right equipment and are being as safe as possible. 

Ice fishing

The second option that you can consider is ice fishing where you can catch fish such as Yellow Perch.

person dragging their ice fishing gear

During the winter months, fishing may be off-limits in some areas but when it comes to Lake Erie, it is one of the most popular destinations thanks to the success that ice fishers experience, especially during January and February as some parts of the lake remain frozen for weeks on end.

As well as Yellow Perch, you may be able to catch some Crappie or Walleye. If you are planning on visiting Lake Erie and have never been ice fishing before then there are certain things you need to bear in mind.

The ice needs to be at least 4 inches thick to ensure that it won’t easily break and you mustn’t go ice fishing alone.

If possible, make sure you are with someone who is experienced with ice fishing to ensure that you are as safe as possible and make sure that the appropriate authorities are notified in case of an emergency. Make sure that you dress appropriately with plenty of layers and pack a thermos.

Shore fishing

Lastly, shore fishing is the most common kind of fishing as it allows you the comfort of fishing without having to venture out into the water.

the shore of lake erie

You can choose a variety of settings around the lake including the public pier or one of the many beaches so you can ensure that you are comfortable with the stable ground beneath your feet.

A lot of the fish you will encounter will include Panfish, Perch, and Walleye which are commonly found close to the shore.

How often you find them will depend on the time of year as well as the time of the day. For those who want to fish for trout, you can fish near the tributaries which seems to be a popular spot. 

Top fishing spots in the US

As you have guessed, Lake Erie is an extremely large body of water which means that there are plenty of spots where you can fish with some providing plenty of success more than others.

Here are some of the best places around Lake Erie where you can experience the most success:


The first place you should check out is in Buffalo, New York which provides a unique experience from anywhere else on Lake Erie.

Various fish that can be found here include Salmon and Trout which are especially popular in the area as well as other common finds such as Bass, Perch, and Walleye which can be found in other parts of Lake Erie. 


If you are looking to catch some Steelhead or Walleye then head to Erie, Pennsylvania and go to the Presque Isle Bay where they can be found. 

Lakeside Marblehead

Lakeside Marblehead can be found at the end of Sandusky Bay and has plenty of species on offer for avid anglers.

The best way to navigate the waters of Lakeside Marblehead is by recruiting a professional and heading out on a charter where you can venture between Catawba, Cedar Point, and Kelleys Island. 


Monroe in Michigan is a great spot for those who want a successful fishing trip as there is plenty of different fish that you can catch including Bass, Perch, Steelhead, and Walleye. 

Port Clinton

Port Clinton is great if you want to catch some Walleye or Yellow Perch making it ideal for those who want to board a charter. 

Top fishing spots in Canada

There are also plenty of ideal fishing spots around Lake Erie in Canada as well which are well worth checking out and can provide a variety of similar and different species. Here are some of the best fishing spots around Lake Erie that are in Canada:

lake erie from canada


Dunnville is the best place to go if you are wanting to catch some Salmon or Steelhead as it is a large fishing area.

Another great thing about Dunnville is that there is also a high chance of catching various types of Trout such as Lake and Rainbow Trout as well as Coho and Chinook. 


If you are wanting to head to the Canadian side of Lake Erie but live in the US then Erieau is great as it is close to Detroit. Erieau is great as there are plenty of Bass, Perch, Pike, and Walleye to catch. 

Port Dover

Lastly, Port Dover is fantastic for the huge Perch population that makes it a great spot for those who are wanting to catch plenty of Perch. 

Rules to remember before fishing

If you have never gone fishing on Lake Erie, there are certain rules that you need to follow to ensure that what you are doing is legal as well as making sure that you are as safe as possible.

catching a salmon in lake erie

The first thing to do is make sure that you have the appropriate fishing license depending on what kind of fishing you are doing as well as making sure you have the appropriate documentation for where you plan to fish so you have the proper permission needed.

If you plan on catching Salmon or Trout then you will need to purchase a valid license which includes a Trout Stamp. If you are fishing in Canada then bring your passport as well as your Canadian Outdoors Card and fishing license so you have everything you need. 

Final Thoughts

Overall, knowing where to fish on Lake Erie as well as learning what kind of fish you can expect to catch will mean that you are as prepared as possible and can have the most enjoyable experience, and this goes for all the Great Lakes, really.

Whether you are fishing from the US or Canadian side, taking the hints and tips from this guide will give you more chance of success when going on your fishing ventures. 

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