Pennsylvania is home to some of the most productive walleye fishing in the country and the Lake that is home to all these walleye is Lake Erie. Lake Erie walleye fishing is to say the least is "Awesome", however it can be a daunting task to pick up and go out and fish Lake Erie for walleye. Having the right boat such as Deep-V is absolutely essential due to some of the rough water conditions that can pop up on Lake Erie in a heartbeat. Also often some of the best walleye fishing is done by trolling in deep water using Dipsy Divers or with down riggers and will require you to have special gear designed for trolling such as rod holders, trolling rods and reels, etc. However if you have the boat and are willing to travel several miles out into Lake Erie some serious fun awaits you at Lake Erie in Pennsylvania.
Locations - Trenches & The Mountain
First let's talk about some of the locations that are the most productive when fishing in the Lake Erie for walleye. There are three primary locations in Pennsylvania at Lake Erie that are walleye magnets. The first one is called the first trench which lies 7 miles out from the Walnut Creek Marina and it's depth goes from 60 feet of water to 79 feet of water and stretches from the Ohio border to just in front of the Walnut Creek Marina. The second location is called the second trench, which is 1 mile out further than the first trench and stretches from the Ohio Border to in front of the Walnut Creek Marina. The trenches are a single trench close to the Ohio border and then get split into two trenches by an area that rises to 50 feet and drops to 70 on both sides which make up the first and second trench. The next location that is targeted for walleye and often steelhead and lake trout is an area known as "The Mountain" which is located three miles out from the Northeast Marina. The Mountain is best targeted on the edges of the mountain where the water rises up to 42 feet and then drops off to 100 feet of water. In the deeper water during summer months is an excellent location to target lake trout and steelhead.
These locations are all excellent during the peak season, which is right in the middle of the summer from July to September. However during the fall season walleye can be caught closer to the shore in front of the tributaries along with steelhead that are moving in to run up into the streams to spawn.
Trolling Techniques - Dipsy Divers & Crawler Harnesses
By far and away the most common method to catching walleye in Lake Erie in these three locations is by trolling. One of the most popular and easiest ways to troll for these walleyes is by utilizing Dipsy Divers. Dipsy Divers will allow you to troll these areas without the use of downriggers. Fishing with Dipsy Divers you will need pretty good set of rod holders such as Tite-Lok Sure-Set Rod Holder With C-Mount and you will also need 4 trolling rods and conventional reels with line counters on them so you can get your Dipsy Diver to the correct depth. A great combo at a really great price is Cabelas DepthMaster II/ Whuppin' Stick Trolling Combo which will allow you to choose their dipsy diver models that are 9 foot for the for the inner rod holders and 10 foot 6 inches for the outer rod holders. Now that you have your boat all rigged up with 4 rod holders and you have 4 trolling combos now for the actual fishing. What you want to do is to use the larger size Dipsy Diver on the rod holders closet to the engine on the 9 foot rods and use the smaller Dipsy Divers on the 10 foot 6 inch rods on the outer rod holders and you want to set the smaller dipsy on left side of the boat to swing out to the left and the Dipsy Diver on the right side of the boat to swing out to the right. The larger dipsy you want to dive straight down below the boat and get them to the bottom. The smaller Dipsy Divers that are swinging out to the left and right will pick up on the fish that are suspended in the middle of the water column. You will want to be trolling at speeds around 1.5 to 2 mph. With a number 1 Dipsy Diver which is the small one at the furthest setting to swing it to the right or left you'll need to let out 140 feet of Line to get it down to 50 feet. The Magnum Dipsy a number 3 which your fishing under the boat you'll need to let out 100 feet of line to get down to 60 to 70 feet of water. Now what to attach to your Dipsy Diver this can vary but the most common item is a double willow leaf crawler harness in the colors Purple and Black, Blue Berry Muffin, and Watermelon. These Hi Tech Wire Bait Holder harnesses can be found at any bait store in the Erie area or online from FishUSA.com, which has a large selection of crawler harness and trolling equipment to choose from. Also many anglers will use Stinger Spoons in Black and Purple to pick up walleye and steelhead.
Near Shore Locations
As for fishing from the shore for the "Resident" walleye this is primarily done during the spring months at dusk and night from the mouths of the creeks that are stocked with steelhead such as Walnut Creek. Fishing from the shore you will need to wade out with a spinning outfit and you'll want to be casting number 7 Floating Rapala and be really quiet and keep your lights at home. Basically all you do is cast the Rapala out as far as you can and reel it in really slowly twitching it occasionally to make it look like a injured baitfish. A popular color is Rainbow Trout, which will represent a fingerling steelhead that was stocked.
Boating at Lake Erie
So there you have it Lake Erie walleye fishing in a nutshell. Just remember that Lake Erie is a very unpredictable piece of water and should always be respected when you venture out in search of any fish. The weather on Lake Erie can change very rapidly and it is best to have a weather radio / marine radio so you can radio for help if needed, flares are required, flare gun preferred, a depth finder is essential, and a GPS or Loran unit to find your way out and home. Lake Erie is no place for small boats and anything other than a Deep-V boat with at least a 50 HP motor should be taken out. Lake Erie is not very Bass Boat friendly and they should only be used to fish near shore locations such at the "Cribs" or in front of the mouths of creeks.
Be Safe, Tight Lines, and Have Fun