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JeffM

Where have all the Bass gone?

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Remember the good old days of dragging tubes in lake Erie and catching more bass than you could handle?  Where have they gone?  Is it tournament pressure and goby forage leading them to deeper water around structure?  I have changed my tactics but still haven't mastered how to catch them regularly.  I have tried goby imitations, drop shot etc. but still only smaller bass and not getting big numbers.  Are others having this issue or just me?  

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I haven't fished Erie in several years, but I remember catching 50-100 bass a day and they were BIG (20+" fish were common).  I used to fish out of North East and target the area around the W's.  There's structure there in 10-40' of water and that's where they were (on Erie a 2' bump is structure).  I can remember that color made a big difference day to day.  I had tube lures in at least a dozen colors and on any given day they might only want one of them.  Try adding scent to the lures also.  Some days, the drift bite would be dead but trolling triggered the strikes. 

 

Lat thought;  A lot of people pounded those fish while spawning and I'm sure that didn't help the population in the long run.  That could be the real issue.

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I don't know much about Erie Bass, but Lake Ontario smallies have dramatically fallen off (at least for me).  It seems like the Gobi introduction was the beginning of it for me.  I used to anchor off Ft. Niagara in 10 ft of water and pull in 60-70 smallies on a good day on spinners and twisters.  Now a good day is 10 - 15.

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Gobies are so prolific, they carpet the bottom of the lake.  A Bass on it's nest faces a daunting task of chasing these buggers off.  This means less bass but bigger as they begin to eat the gobies.  From experience, if you don't target the places gobies are living.....you are not going to get bit.  The days of catching Bass over sand or shale bottom is gone.  Those fish lived by feeding on emerald shiners.  Find structure with rocks that allow nooks and cranies for gobies to live and hide in.  They are often concentrated at a certain depth as well.  What I do is take a small piece of worm on a hook and send it to the bottom.  If the worm is not getting tapped by gobies, I pull anchor and move.  Bass don't have to move fast to catch gobies so they are getting accustom to slowly moving a long the bottom.  More productive to anchor than drifting.  For those targeting spawning fish......don't complain about lack of fish.  When you pull a fish off it's bed, say goodbye to all it's fry as the gobies will devour them in short order.

Edited by Gill-T

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I have zero experience on Erie and very little on Ontario for bass action.  I will say that I have noticed on inland lakes that there are large concentrations of predator fish on a few bodies of water and it can be extremely difficult to get them to take the presentation.  Some of the FLs are so clear you can see the bottom in 40ft of water.  Some are so full of bait that the juvees look like miniature slobs.  If you have a situation where both conditions occur, how would you expect to get a wary game fish to hit your presentation (consistently)?

 

Gill-T makes some good points.  If there are any fisheries students on here, this would make a good thesis argument.  What is the impact of the gobies on the bass population in the great lakes?  From data collected, what are recommendations moving forward.

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If you want to have some fun with bass right now, try 18 mile creek,  they're just moving in to spawn and are a blast to catch on the same gear one would use for steelies.

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It could be that the concentrations of Zebra Mussels and Quaggas have blocked much of the traditional spawning beds of bass and perch as well in the shallower areas in many places you can't see the bottom itself because they are so thick. They also strain out most if not all of the pyytoplankton that the younger baitfish feed on in shallow so the food sources are scarce to none there and it goes up the food chain.....

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I have been fishing Lake Erie a lot and have noticed a change in the catch the first year after the DEC opened the "trophy" season. I agree that pulling bass off the beds for a few minutes opens up the bed for predation. Just check out the guide boats hitting the walls out of the SBH starting Wed. Let me think now, a dozen boats every day, 2-3 clients, and a conservative 20+ bass per half day trip. 

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Targetting spawning bass can be a blast, but I feel that the DEC might need to revisit this issue as Im positive that fishing pressure during spawning is definitely harder on the bass than catch release fishing other times of the year.  Im not against those who do it as long as its legal, as matter of fact my son and I fished a local pond tonight and caught several largemouths including a 6+ pounder, but I know it wasnt the best idea.  Hard not to give em try when its legal, fun, and easy!

justin

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Zebras and gobies may have forced the bass to move to different structures but they are in Eerie still for sure.  The DVD on lake Eerie at this site has about an hour showing John Bales catching small mouth after small mouth http://spoonpluggerfilms.com/.  Think he catches close to 30 in an hour casting.  So they still must be there in good numbers, just finding the right spots and fishing in the right manner.

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Behind Donley's Wall dragging tubes, you can have 50 fish days!

Sent from my SCH-I200 using Lake Ontario United mobile app

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