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Paddling for Lake Erie perch

November 22, 2013
By Mike Mainhart , Ohio Valley Outdoors

Editor's Note: Veteran outdoor photographer and writer Mike Mainhart, of Vienna, OH, works year-round to provide quality fishing and boating photographs and articles for our readers and beyond. This is a sampling of Mainhart's feature article that will appear in our Spring 2014 issue, due on newsstands March 1.

My wife (Dot) and I usually turn a few heads from passing boaters. It's not every day that a couple kayaks are spotted fishing a mile or so from the shores of Lake Erie. The lake offers world class yellow perch fishing. As summer turns towards autumn the perch move into near shore waters and remain through the fall. With careful consideration to weather conditions, safety equipment and a capable kayak, these perch can be found within paddling distance.

We fished the waters off of Ashtabula, Ohio in late August. Ashtabula has a public beach area just east of the main harbor that is ideal for launching kayaks. The deeper water of the central basin of Erie is notorious for jumbo perch.

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Lake Erie kayak fishing in August. Photo by Mike Mainhart

We paddled about a mile and a half from shore and set anchor in 44 feet of water. Within about 15 minutes Dot had her first perch in the kayak. The perch fishing was a bit slow. We did stay busy though, catching a variety of fish. Between the two of us we landed eight sheephead, they're always a thrill to land from a kayak. We even caught a half dozen nice sized channel cats. We fished for a few hours and ended up with one good limit of perch between us.

As the late afternoon light faded into evening, we paddled back towards shore. The last thing you want to do is get stuck in boat traffic in low light with a kayak. On the way back in, we were treated to one of the most amazing sunsets that we had ever seen on Erie; one of those moments that you just had to stop paddling and enjoy the spectacular site.

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