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How Does Wind Direction Affect Eastern Basin


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How far down the rabbit hole do you want to go? lol....

I'm fascinated by limnology and could ramble on for hours.  Water like any fluid is in constant motion even when it appears to be for all intents and purposes "still". 

This is a good read and discusses some generalities of how water moves through Lake Erie.  The LE Gyre is what our summer time Eastern basin fish "ride" back East after they spawn to the west.  The predominate  west/southwest winds magnify the current and Northeast winds tend to disrupt it.  This current is driven by how the lake warms in the spring (west to east and shoreline out).  Too much NE winds will slow the warming lake and delay that summer pattern.


Once the thermocline sets up, things are more stable, but winds can cause reverse submarine currents which mess with a bait's action at depth as it is trolled along.  A thermocline can bend and change depth after strong winds.  The depth you caught fish at before the blow could be drastically different temperature and void of fish after. 

This infish article is also worth reading on the topic....




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It's been my experience that if the wind is blowing out of the north or north east, you won't catch fish. I fish out of Dunkirk or Barcelona or Sturgeon point or the Catt creek. If it's blowin out of  Canada, you are better off launching in Buffalo. At least the waves won't beat the hell out of you. The further West you launch, the bigger the waves. Buffalo fish seem to disappear when the lake temp gets too high because it's so shallow up there so I try to fish just off the Canadian line when the water temp gets to high near the shallows. Lake O also generally sucks in in a NE wind. And the weather man will always tell you the wind speed is half out what it really is on the lake. Try to look up an off shore bouy before leaving home but it will always get worse by the time you get out off shore. I most always fish out of Wilson when on Ontario, but Olcott is a nice port too.

Edited by Puking Dog
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In the spring, steady SW winds stack warmer water in the Buffalo area. The fish turn on. Off shore winds blow the warm waters away and cold deep water up wells slowing and shutting off the fish. When summer conditions raise the temperature above the mid 60's the fish move west of Sturgeon Point and as summer continues they will move past Silver Creek. A thermocline forms and that cold water has low dissolved oxygen contact and the fish suspend above it. Come September and the water cools down the fish will return to the East end again till next summer.

Sent from my iPhone using Lake Erie United

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9 hours ago, J. Sparrow said:

Colder water holds more dissolved O2 than warmer water.  


Aye, it does but Jimski said "contact" with DO or essentially mixing with the air.  The thermocline forms a density barrier which prevents layers below from mixing with layers above, thus no further inputs of oxygen.  In a relatively shallow lake like Erie, there is a minimal volume of water between the thermocline and bottom.  Especially East of Sturgeon Point.  Nutrients dissolving in bottom waters consume oxygen.  Leading to anoxic conditions below the thermocline...ie, a dead zone.   A deeper lake such as Michigan or Ontario has more volume below the thermocline and can "eat" more nutrients than Erie can. 

Edited by kingfisher72
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I've never boat fished up at that end of the lake so I can't say from personal experience with regard to the thermocline.  I was speaking more generally why oxygen could be low below the thermocline.  I don't know to what degree walleye would be stressed enough by lack of oxygen to go outside their preferred temperature or feed less.  I see a 50% or so decline in that graphic over the course of that year in some places in the eastern basin.  Looks like the biggest change in the eastern basin is east of Sturgeon Point.  Some of that is probably shallow enough over there to be above the thermocline in late August or September though, so it may just be the water temperature at the bottom being warm.  Can't say. 

Walleye should be at or above the thermocline in most instances.  Oxygen concentrations below the thermocline would be more relevant to lake trout fishing.  You could almost label that September image "Lake Trout Hot Spot" instead.

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