Into the Outdoors: Fall Fishing


We might as well face it, folks. Summer is just about shot. As depressing as that is, there is fishing fun to be had in the fall. A fishing charter on Lake Erie can be a real blast. Sadly, I haven’t done this in a while, but I have some great memories of doing so. Many charter captains have openings available.

With the fantastic walleye fishing found in Lake Erie, it is all too easy to overlook the other species. September is a great month for yellow perch. These tasty little cousins of the walleye make for a great outing. Often, you can catch huge quantities in one day. The limits are liberal. Most perch charters require that you bring your own rod and reel, but the bait is usually provided. The cost is typically much less than that of a walleye charter, and that is figuring an Ohio license into the picture. If you fish in Pennsylvania and already have a license, the cost is usually less.

Another great fall fishery in Lake Erie involves smallmouth bass. As far as I’m concerned, there are few finer gamefish than the smallmouth. The bronzebacks seem to go on a pre-winter feeding spree. Even a small one gives you a tussle, and usually does some acrobatics to boot. Bass trips cost a bit more than perch trips. Again, the guide usually provides the baits but you have to bring your own rod and reel combo. Be sure to check all of this out with your captain before your trip. A deposit is usually required for any charter, but it’s refunded if the trip is canceled.,

Here are a few more random thoughts on charter fishing. If you have sneakers, by all means, wear them. They’re worth their weight in gold on a smooth, slippery deck. Also, most captains prefer that you wear them, to avoid marking or damaging the deck surface. Whatever you do, don’t forget sunglasses. The glare on the water can be very uncomfortable or even dangerous to your eyes. A rain parka of some kind is a great idea, too. I was once caught in a deluge without one, and I won’t make that mistake again. Virtually no charter captains permit glass bottles on a trip, so all beverages must be in cans. Be sure to bring enough coolers to transport your catch home. Sometimes, with perch, a party will catch a huge quantity of good-sized fish.

On most charters, you have to bring your own lunch, although some captains, for an extra charge, will provide the food as a part of your package. I don’t know if it’s the sea air or what, but you can really work up an appetite out there.

If you’ve never gone on a fall charter, here are a couple of clothing tips. Even if it’s nice and warm on shore, it can be pretty nippy out on the lake. In October and November, it can be downright cold. I always take a duffle bag with extra clothing in it along on an autumn outing. This is another lesson I learned the hard way, but such lessons tend to stay with you.

Seasickness, or, rather, its prevention, is one of the most important factors of all. Countless outings are ruined by it. There are lots of preventive medicines out there. My personal preference is for the little patches that go behind the ear. They are available only by prescription, but they’re worth the effort and expense to get them.

A fall charter is a great experience, and it represents that last fling before winter sets in and, sadly, that will happen before we know it.


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