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Jack Wollitz: Weekdays are best at Conneaut Lake

Published: Sat, August 3, 2019 @ 12:00 a.m.

As sometimes happens, we drifted apart after years of friendship and weeks turned to months that piled up as years since our last get-together.

I met my friend in the early 1990s and visited regularly over the span of a quarter century. But until Thursday, our paths had not crossed for five or six years. Our reunion this week was a fun time, better even than the days we spent together in the past.

My old friend is Conneaut Lake, located midway between Pymatuning Reservoir and Meadville, Pa. I have enjoyed some excellent bass fishing trips there in the past, but summer is playtime at Conneaut Lake and the water gets over-crowded on weekends by pontoons, jet skis, cruisers and speedboats towing skiers.

Weekdays are another matter at Conneaut Lake. A few boats shared the lake with me Thursday, so the water over the edges of the aquatic vegetation and around the hundreds of boat docks was relatively calm.

Conneaut Lake was a good friend indeed. The fish apparently appreciated the peace and quiet as much as I did. Their mood matched up perfectly with the lures I pitched and skipped into dark places.

Morning broke with a few wisps of fog and the lake was as flat as a mirror as I idled away from the dock to dash across the water for a familiar old row of docks.

Just as they did in the past, the docks yielded some dandy largemouth bass. In the calm conditions, I chose a weightless stick worm to skip into the shadows under platforms.

Largemouths weren’t the only takers. Spunky rock bass bravely gobbled the stick worm and provided some bonus action between bass bites.

Within two hours, I boated five largemouths, two sub-keeper smallmouth bass and six or seven rockies. Not a bad morning. It was just like many others I remembered from past visits to Conneaut Lake.

The lake also has some pretty good muskie fishing. A fair-sized muskie grabbed the tube I’d pitched to a dock and cut my line clean as a whistle on the hookset.

Another toothy beast attacked my tube and churned in protest as I set the hook. It was a 15-inch bowfin, a prehistoric creature with a grinning face and choppers that remind me of needle sharp puppy teeth. Perhaps that’s why the bowfin also is known as dogfish.

As the sun climbed toward noon, I crossed the lake to visit a stretch of docks that had been especially friendly to me many years ago.

The bass were home there, too. I boated five more largemouths and a feisty smallie before stowing my rods to head to the ramp.

Conneaut Lake was gouged out by the glacier that scoured the Great Lakes region. It has lots of deep water bordered by aquatic grasses where the fish can retreat to beat the heat and the helter-skelter boat traffic.

My visit Thursday reminded me why I enjoyed the lake in the past. It’s a healthy waterway and a great get-away spot to catch a bunch of bass.

Anglers who decide to visit my old friend Conneaut will do well to schedule a weekday trip to avoid the helter-skelter boat traffic. It is a completely different lake on weekends — still fishy, but not angler friendly — unless you like bouncing and bobbing on wakes from hundreds of other boaters.

Jack Wollitz is a lifelong angler who enjoys opportunities to fish weekdays when the lakes are peaceful. He also enjoys emails from readers. Send a note to him at jackbbaass@gmail.com

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