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Jumbo Perch Headboats on Lake Erie

I grew up fishing in Northeast Ohio and have since gone back to my roots, with fond memories of days spent on Lake Erie with my father.

My son with a gorgeous Lake Erie jumbo perch.

My son with a gorgeous Lake Erie jumbo perch.

What Is a Headboat?

Headboats, often called party boats, are charter boats that take out large groups of fishermen at once. A headboat captain has one job and one job only: to put you on fish. I've been on many over the years, spanning from Port Clinton chasing walleye to Presque Isle loading up on perch with stops in between in Conneaut and East Lake Ohio.

One thing is for certain: If you want to fish and bring home a meal, headboats are usually a more affordable option than most charters. Bring your family and friends and you can often rent out a whole boat for your party and enjoy a nice day on the water with the whole family.

A nice haul on Conneaut Ohio's PC QUEEN from a day on the water.

A nice haul on Conneaut Ohio's PC QUEEN from a day on the water.

What You'll Need

Fishing on a headboat on Lake Erie is pretty simple, especially when targeting jumbo Lake Erie yellow perch. The same rules apply everywhere, from the eastern to the western basin and everything in between.

  • License. An appropriate fishing license is the most important article you can possibly bring. Nobody wants to turn an afternoon of fun into a hefty fine and possible jail time.
  • Bait. Wherever possible, fresh emerald shiners are by far the best bait. Live or dead, the perch will devour this lake delicacy. If emeralds are not available, fathead minnows or golden shiners will do in a pinch.
  • Rod and Reel: A medium action rod spooled with 20-lb braid is almost unanimously recommended for fishing on headboats, as it helps you get your catch in fast, and it has zero stretch, so you can feel the bite even if it's 40 feet down. Often if you don't have your own gear you can rent your own from the boat and use it for your trip.
  • Cooler or Bucket: It's no good going out for perch and not being able to keep your catch! Yellow perch are easily the most commercially important fish for Lake Erie and it's easy to see why. Firm, flaky flesh with a mild taste, jumbo Lake Erie yellow perch are truly a great addition to any meal.

Headboats I Recommend

Most of the larger communities along the lake's several hundred miles of shoreline have their own headboats. Listed below are some of the ones I would suggest for fishermen looking to get the best out of their money, listed in order from west to east. Hopefully, you will find a recommended boat and captain close to you.

More on Lake Erie Fishing

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