Bluegill & Crappie
Most people don't realize it, but Lake Erie’s south shore harbors and marshes are really good for both bluegills and crappies in the fall, through the ice and in the spring.
What is a Bluegill?
Bluegill, also known as Bream, inhabit virtually all lakes, rivers, and streams in the Lake Erie Region. These fish are typical around 6"-10" long, and although colors vary, all Bluegill have a black spot on their ear flap.
What is a Crappie?
Black Crappie, native to western Lake Erie as well as other Ohio streams and rivers, prefer clear water with little vegetation. They are identifiable by the seven to eight spines on their dorsal fin.
Fishing for Bluegill & Crappie
We all know about booming populations of Lake Erie’s walleye, smallmouths, perch, steelhead, and more. Guess what? Bluegill and Crappie seem to be on the rise as well. The panfish attack is on from Sandusky, Ohio, to Erie, Pennsylvania, to Buffalo, New York at Lake Erie's southern harbors.
Starting in the fall the bluegill and crappie move from the main lake the harbors and marshlands to feed and spawn. Both white and black crappie and multiple species of bluegill inhabit these waters sometime between September and the end of May. Anglers can fish for crappie and bluegill with the ultra light fishing rod of your choice, 4 – 6lb test line and a multitude of baits including jigs, spoons, small crankbaits, live bait and more. Bluegill and crappie can also be fished through the ice in these areas with ultra-light rods with minnows and jigs.
Where to Find Bluegill & Crappie
Lake Erie provides bluegill and crappie anglers’ tremendous opportunity for bank fishing or those with small boats. The key to catching bluegill and crappie is structure and there are countless empty boat slips, break-walls, piers and backwater marsh systems on Lake Erie!
Cooking Bluegill & Crappie
Panfish can be cooked a number of ways, including pan sauteed, broiled, baked, fried, and grilled. Panfish is a delicate fish and care should be taken not to overcook the fish. Cook it just until the fillets flake when touched with a fork.
What Anglers Are Catching
Anglers fishing Lake Erie for bluegill and crappie will more than likely see a mixed bag that makes up their catch. Sometimes you catch white crappie, black crappie, bluegill and sunfish sometimes all the same and sometimes a mixed bag. The size of the fish varies as the smaller fish in-habit these areas first and then the bigger fish move in. You can expect to see bluegill up to 8-inches and good numbers of 15- and 16-inch crappie with the average size near 11-inches. In fact, the Ohio record crappie was caught in the Vermilion River, a Lake Erie Tributary.
Limits - 2010
Michigan - Bag limit of 25 fish in combination. No size limit, No closed season.
Ohio – No size limit, No closed season.
Pennsylvania - Bag limit of 50 in combination. No size limit, No closed season.
New York - Bag limit of 50 in combination. No size limit, No closed season.
Ontario –Bag limit for crappie is 30 per person with a sportsman license and 10 per person with a conservation license. Bag limit for bluegill is 100 per person with a sportsman license and 50 per person with a conservation license. No size limit, No closed season.
Anglers are reminded that fishing conditions on Lake Erie can change hourly and adjustments are often necessary to improve success. Anglers should take into account such factors as water temperature, cloud cover, water clarity, boat traffic, wave action, structure and the amount of baitfish in the area. Anglers are also reminded to carefully monitor Lake Erie weather and to seek safe harbor before storms approach.