Pennsylvania Bass Fishing Spots

Smallmouth Bass Fishing Lake Erie with Destin DeMarion

Smallmouth Bass Fishing Lake Erie with Destin DeMarion

Destin DeMarion is a guide and fishing pro from western Pennsylvania. Destin is having success all across the United States on some amazing bass fisheries, but Lake Erie still holds a very special place for him when it comes to smallmouth bass fishing. Destin shares with us some of his tips for being successful smallmouth bass fishing Lake Erie.

How long have you been smallmouth bass fishing Lake Erie?

Fishing Erie for smallmouth for the past 15 years.  When I was younger it was mostly wading and fishing the from the piers.  I usually get to fish the lake about 5 to 10 days a month average, but this year I’ve been on the road a ton.

What was you best day ever on Erie? 

I would say catching 21-8 at the Bassmaster Open in Sandusky a few years back.  It was special because that was my first year and first top 10, as well as for there being a lot of adversity that week with 5 to 6 foot waves, a seasick co-angler day one and the boat sinking on day two.

Ok I am going to make you rank these fisheries for smallmouth fishing, how do you rank them and why that order? Lake Erie, Lake Champlain, Lake Ontario and St. Lawrence River/1000 Islands

Lake Ontario, Erie, 1000 Islands, Champlain.  Ontario cranks out the biggest bags overall.  Erie has got them too and I would give it an edge on the river for consistency in size year round.  Champlain has the most fish by far, but not quite the size of the others.

Beautiful Lake Erie Smallmouth Bass from the Central Basin
Beautiful Lake Erie Smallmouth Bass from the Central Basin

What section of Lake Erie do you primarily fish and guide on for smallmouth bass?

Erie out of Pennsylvania.  Its the Central basin which overall has less population than East and West, but the top end size of fish is real big.  The spawn in Presque Isle Bay in the spring concentrates a ton of smallmouth that are fairly easy to catch.  It can be one of the best springtime fishing spots on the lake.

What are your three favorite baits to throw for big smallmouth bass in the Central basin? 

Three favorite baits would be Senko, Crosstail Shad and Binsky.  The key for the first two is to make them look as natural as possible.  Generally presenting them on a drop shot and letting wave action impart most of action. 

With the Binsky it is figuring out how they want it.  Sometimes it takes a more aggressive jigging, other times barely moving it is key.

How important is color selection on Erie?

In my opinion its fairly important, but you can get away with only a few colors.  Anything resembling a goby, perch or shiner will do.  Just natural color schemes.

What do you consider the best conditions for smallmouth bass fishing Lake Erie?

Best conditions are actually when its blowing pretty good.  As long as you can get out there, they usually bite better with wind.

Dura Edge Pro Destin DeMarion with Two Lake Erie Tournament Smallmouth Bass
Dura Edge Pro Destin DeMarion with Two Lake Erie Tournament Smallmouth Bass

What do you consider the toughest conditions for smallmouth bass fishing Lake Erie?

Dead calm, bluebird skies can be tough.  You really just have to be patient and try and keep your bait in front of them on your graph.

Overall, what are 5 mistakes that you see bass anglers make when smallmouth bass fishing Lake Erie? 

  1. Fishing too fast.  Slow down in area with fish and grind on them. 
  2. Drifting around aimlessly/boat control.  Although you can catch fish drifting around without a plan, specifically drifting through proper contour/structure is generally more effective. 
  3. Not adjusting at different times in the day.  The fish will move from morning to afternoon in certain seasons.  If you aren’t seeing them anymore, idle around or move. 
  4. Not looking deep enough.  I’ve caught them as deep as 55 feet of water.  They will go deeper than where most will look. 
  5. Bait selection.  Certain baits and colors just plain work better.  Experiment until you find which they like best that day.

Recently, the FLW tournament on Lake Erie was reduced to one day due to conditions. What do you look for to decide when you can safely navigate the big waters of Lake Erie?

I look at various weather forecasts as they all differ somewhat.  I always look at NOAA as its pretty accurate overall.  I specifically look at wind direction and speed as certain directions spell treacherous conditions out of our part of the lake.  Ideal wind is somewhere out of the south in PA for navigation purposes.  If the waves are big but spaced out you can generally run them.  If close together, this is more dangerous.

How can someone reach you about a guide trip?

I can be reached at 724-790-4232 (4BFB) and there is additional information at  We do half days, full days and extreme days on Lake Erie.  When fishing with me you can expect a safe, educational and fun trip on the water.  I enjoy sharing what I know about navigation, fishing and reading electronics to find fish.

Thank you Destin. Good luck with the rest of the season on Erie and your tournament schedule! Will be following on Instagram @destinedtofish.