Pond Hopping – Lake Erie gaps

Pond Hopping – Lake Erie gaps

Jun 14, 2012

“Gaps” gather Lake Erie smallmouth – and wave weary anglers!

By Mike Pehanich

They don’t call the Great Lakes “great” for nothing!

Great fishing, great species diversity, great beauty…

And, at times, great big waves!

The smallmouth bass fishing in the Buffalo-Niagara area along the eastern basin of Lake Erie may be the world’s best, but, if you fish Erie often enough, the tall water will find you sooner or later.

Mark Davis of "Big Water Adventures" TV fame, hoists a "gap" smallmouth.

Experienced Great Lakes anglers make gear and safety preparations to absorb Nature’s blow, but, if you are not prepared for rough water, you can still find smallmouth action – and sanctuary – behind the breakwalls of Buffalo Harbor.

Before you set out to fish the Great Lakes, see Joe Balog’s boat preparation and boat control tips.

The breakwalls that create and protect the harbor are staggered, and between them lay the “gaps,” the openings that funnel current and attract forage and gamefish.

The gaps and adjacent current and channel areas are spring hot spots for smallmouth bass and stages rendezvous for the “hole-in-the-wall gang,” a mix of small boat and big boat anglers drawn to an easy-to-find location and, at times, refugees from wicked Lake Erie winds.

Smallmouth bass move up from deep water wintering areas in spring, with many moving toward the breakwalls and into the harbor to put on the spring feedbag and to spawn. The gaps are great places to intercept them.


 “The smallmouth stack up in these current areas,” explains Mark Davis, veteran Erie smallmouth angler and host of the “Big Water Adventures” television series. “You’ll want to use your electronics. But remember: the current is not always the same.  And a lot of that variance depends on the winds.”

Warning: the gaps can get crowded with anglers at times.

Waves of smallmouth, too!

Smallmouth move up in waves around and into the harbor for the spring spawn, but, like bass throughout the Great Lakes, not all are in the same stage at the same time.

Guide Frank Campbell of Niagara Region Charter Service draws a smallie from one of the Buffalo Harbor "gaps."

 “The spread of spawning is tremendous here,” notes veteran guide Frank Campbell of Niagara Region Charter Service. “You’ll find some smallmouth on nests in early May all the way up to July. That’s one reason our fishing is so good here, you have fish in the various spawning stages (pre-spawn, spawn and post-spawn) all the way through July, one wave after another.”

Tube jigs catch the lion’s share of fish for those throwing artificials. Emerald shiners on a three-way rig are the leading choice of live bait anglers.

Our tackle consisted of medium and medium heavy Abu Garcia Villain spinning and baitcasting rods and 8- and 10-pound Trilene 100% and Seaguar Tatsu fluorocarbon line on Pflueger Supreme and Abu Garcia Revo Premier reels.

Small Waters Tip: You will find similar situations with shifting currents around harbor walls throughout the Great Lakes. The strategy and tactics we applied at Erie have broad application.

Harbor fishing offers opportunities for small boat anglers, but exercise caution whenever you venture out. Strong winds and waves may develop fast. Wear life vests at all times, and seek protection in the harbor immediately if rough water prevails. 


Rods: Abu Garcia Villain spinning and baitcasting rods

Reels: Abu Garcia Revo Premier and Pflueger Supreme reels

Line: Seaguar Tatsu Fluorocarbon, 8 lb. and 10 lb.

Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon,  8 lb. and 10 lb.

Lures: Yum F2 2ube (plastic tubes) on Mustad jigs

Live bait hook: Mustad Double Wide Fine Wire Live Bait, #4


FOR MORE INFO on the great fishing and all this area has to offer, please see “Mike’s Excellent Fishing & Dining Adventure in Buffalo-Niagara.













No comments


  1. Cranking for Smallmouth Bass – Smallmouth Bass Crankbait Fishing | Bass Fishing Tips Today - [...] from river smallmouth bass seminar“Gaps” gather Lake Erie smallmouth – and wave weary anglers! jQuery.noConflict();…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *