You can have family fun on Lake Erie this summer with minimal bother and expense, and it can be productive for young and old. Try perch fishing with a licensed charter captain.
At times, Lake Erie can be more lake than the average angler can handle. Catching fish requires the best possible fish finding equipment and fishing tackle, a big lake boat and, the proper bait. The most accurate and current information is critical especially weather information.
Finally, you will need a good measure of personal know how. When it comes to Lake Erie perch fishing, the good news is you can have it all without breaking the bank because licensed charter captains deliver everything you need for a reasonable fee. They position the boat above the fish and the rest is up to you.
Most head boats are docked at Dobbins Landing along Erie’s Bayfront. Don’t be tempted to use one of the parking meters adjacent to the dock. There is plenty of free parking located nearby - just drop your gear and members of your fishing party at the dock. Then park the car.
You should arrive early and be ready to go 30-minutes before departure. You can choose between the 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. trip, and the 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. evening charter. Check departure times with your charter captain. Most anglers want to catch fish early and then head for shore before the days heat kicks in. The late afternoon and evening trip can be fishy too, and you have the added benefit of the famous Lake Erie Sunsets. I recommend the morning trip to avoid a possible late afternoon summer thunderstorm, but both are great options.
Pack the necessities - fishing license, sun screen, insect repellent, hat, windbreaker, sun glasses, comfortable footwear and clothes - I like light pants rather than shorts. The sun on the water can be intense and insects seem to take a liking to my “lily white” legs. Take a cooler with snacks and beverages - there is plenty of room on board to store your gear. Pray it does not rain, but take the rain gear unless you are sure that the weather forecast is accurate. Take a camera - I never leave home without it.
You can bring your own fishing gear if you like, but if you and the other members of your party arrive at the dock with a license, comfortable clothes, a sincere interest in catching perch and nothing more - the head boat has everything you need - rod and reel to rent, plenty of free bait, snacks/beverages for sale and a helpful crew who suffer when people are fishless so they will provide plenty of free advice.
A light breakfast snack bar or bowl of cereal is okay especially if you are taking any sea sickness pills, but don’t eat the eggs and sausage special before your trip. The waves are gentle, but some people are affected by the rocking boat. The head boats have plenty of room at the fishing railing that goes completely around the boat. There is comfortable bench seating back from the fishing rail where you can rest and enjoy a snack or beverage. There is a head [restroom] onboard - one size fits all, and it is larger than the ones on most commercial airlines!
If you are taking the kids along, use some common sense. If your little one drives you nuts when the two of you are in a confined space, a seven hour fishing trip will send you over the edge; not to mention the fun you will share with the other anglers onboard. You can’t always rely on age to help you decide if taking the kids is a good idea. Here is my advice. If the children are in grade school and have a healthy respect [fear] of their elders, they will have fun and so will you. For perch trips, you need no prior fishing experience. There is no casting necessary. You simply bait the hook with an emerald shiner, open the bail and let it fall to the bottom. Ta Da, you are fishing!
Fishing charters are actually divided into four parts: 1. First you have a three-mile, 1/2 hour ride to a fishing location where perch are reported to be. This relaxing boat ride is a great way to begin your fishing day. You sit back and take in the sites of the bay and the City of Erie fading into the distance as you motor north out of Presque Isle Bay. 2. Next comes the fishing. You get to bait up, lower your offering into the deep and catch some yellow perch. Once you get the few easy lessons from the crew and experience what a bite feels like, you will have little problem catching perch. If you catch the largest one for the trip you will win a t-shirt. There is a 30-fish limit per angler, and limits are not uncommon. As time passes, catching and watching others catch fish eventually turns into a good natured contest of who can catch the next one. This is usually followed by relaxing with a cold beverage and some snacks. If the kids come along, bring plenty of both! 4. Finally, the return trip to the dock and a fish cleaning/filleting lesson along the way.
Let the summer chores wait for a few days and make plans to catch some yellow perch.
This video shows what to expect.