Every month of the year I plan on posting my thoughts as to what kind of fishing we should expect for that month in Erie. What I think the fish will be doing, and what patterns we should expect. April is a month of transition. Bass will start drawing out of their winter cover, and really put a focus on feeding. With the constant rise in water temps, metabolisms and the natural urge to spawn will cause them to go into full out frenzy at times. Of coarse we aren't out of the woods yet as far as weather, so it still will play a huge role on where the fish will be.
For the most part, the water temps should stay over 44 and work it's way up to the mid 50s by the end of the month. So expect the fishing to get better and better as we go. Most believe that a slow presentation will catch more fish in this colder period, but I totally disagree. I have had a lot of luck ripping lipless crankbaits even when the water is in the upper 40s. The first couple of weeks you should be able to find nice sized schools of male bass feeding on minnows or migrating shiners. The fishing will be fast at times, and be almost impossible the other times.
The key to catching fish this time of the year is finding two things....warmest water and baitfish. On most lakes you will find the warmest water on the Northeast side of the lake. The larger females aren't going to be in the schools just yet. I've found that these larger females will start to spread out and stage in deeper water next to spawning areas. Once the water hits around the low 50s they will start moving in and feeding really well. This isn't to say you can catch them, by all means, but they just won't be schooled up. So if you want a big fish, than don't fish these schools of bass you find. Focus on drop offs next to flats preferably with greening grass. Role a spinner bait or crankbait to draw the most strikes from them.
If you find a school of feeding bass than chances are you will have to stay on them pretty good. Considering they're in full eating mode they will move around a lot with the bait fish. Keep and eye out for birds diving, or even a few shorebirds on the shorelines. This is a good indicator if feeding fish. Toward the end of the month, depending on temps, you should expect to find a bunch of fish cruising the shallows feeding and searching for suitable spawning grounds. Look for water in the 2-5 foot range with sand and grass, and you'll find both the males and females. They won't be bedding yet, but will most likely be covering a lot of water in search of baitfish.
We should start to see some smallmouth activity in the bay towards the middle of the month. Look for deeper structure with rocks or gravel. I find that most smallmouth in the bay are on gradual drop offs next to a shallow flat. These fish should start feeding pretty well. Once you find one make sure you work that area good. These fish will be in very tight schools feeding on baitfish. The afternoon to evening bite seems to be a better choice for smallmouth this time of year. Throw crankbaits next to drop offs, or tubes work very well, too. Most of all your summer baits will draw strikes. There are some smallmouth in the bay as I type this, but don't expect them to be feeding to heavily until temps reach the mid 50s.
I'm really looking forward to warmer weather, and I think this is going to be a banner year! Good luck!
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