I would like to share with all Kentuckians a wonderful and friendly little fishing destination. Rondeau Bay, Ontario. For many years, this great bass fishing spot has been a well kept secret, known only to a small group of fishermen in the South Shore, KY area. My love affair with Rondeau began in the early 1960's and has continued ever since, drawing me back at least once each summer. Before you automatically decide that Canada is too far, please read on..you may be pleasantly surprised. Rondeau Bay is located on the north shore of Lake Erie, approximately 65 miles from Detroit, Michigan. The Bay is about 10 miles wide, 8 miles long, and not over 12' deep at it's deepest. Full of milfoil and hydrilla, Rondeau is a bass fisherman's paradise. Let me take you back in time to...give you a little history of the Bay, say to 1930....
For many years, before WWII, Rondeau Bay was a weedless estuary used by Great Lakes coal carrying ships as an unloading terminal. The small town of Erieau, located on the sand bar separating the Bay from Lake Erie, sprang up to support the coal operations and commercial perch fishermen. During those early years the Bay provided sports fishermen with good fishing for Smallmouth Bass and Northern Pike. Fishing then was pretty much a la live bait. Very few people from the States were willing, or could afford, to travel that far back then, therefore, the Bay got little pressure. After WWII all that changed and so did the Bay. As the farming practices surrounding Rondeau changed, with better fertilizers and irrigation, weeds began to appear, dense weeds. These changes triggered the development of one of the greatest Largemouth Bass fisheries in North America. While the Smallmouth and Pike fishing remained constant, the Largemouth flourished beyond belief.
The weeds got so thick that a mechanical weed cutter (a pontoon boat with an adjustable cutter bar in front) was used to open channels, or cuts , in order for boats to traverse the Bay. These cuts were like roadways that acted as Bass magnets. Year after year saw Rondeau Bay produced tremendous catches of Largemouth Bass. Fishermen from Ohio, Michigan, and yes, a few from Kentucky, visited the Bay regularly and enjoyed her bounty. The two most popular artificial lures in those days were weedless black "rubber" worms and a crank bait called a Bayou Boogie. Rondeau continued producing heavy stringers of Largemouths until 1974, when a terrible mistake brought it all crashing down. As the use of the mechanical weed cutter was costly, the Canadian Government decided to try a chemical approach to weed management. Well, the day after they applied the chemical in a test area, a wind storm came up and dispersed the poison throughout the entire Bay. Every weed was killed. For the next 10 years the Bay was dead from a fishing point of view. Without weeds to act as filters, the water got muddy and the Largemouth Bass disappeared. I, like so many other Rondeau regulars, quit fishing the Bay. None of us thought it would ever recover...but we were wrong.
In early July, 1991, I got a call from Joe Stewart, an old friend and excellent bass fisherman, living in Blenhiem, Ontario, a town about 10 miles west of the Bay. He told me " John, the weeds are back !!" I decided that my wife Terry and I should load up the truck, hitch on the bass boat, and make the trip. We left central Kentucky at 6:00 a.m. and were in Erieau at 2:00 p.m.. Driving straight up Interstate 75 to Detroit, then across the Ambassador Bridge into Windsor, Ontario. From Windsor you take the 401 east, which is a Canadian equivalent to our interstate highways. Leaving 401 at the Blenhiem exit, we were almost there. While Terry and I had only allowed two days for our trip, we knew that the eight hour drive would be worth it. We arrived at our long time favorite fish camp, Roberts Cabins, (Formerly Burk's) in Erieau with plenty of time for the evening bite. After settling in we were out on the Bay throwing spinnerbaits and catching some dandy largemouths.
The weeds are back to about 75% of the density that existed before 1974 and the water is, once again, clear. The best lure patterns and configurations we found were small, shad colored spinnerbaits with small blades. The big flash and vibration so often needed here in our Kentucky lakes is not necessary in Rondeau. Jigs tipped with power craws also produce well, especially near the inlet from Lake Erie. This area has fewer weeds, a noticeable current and big Smallmouths. You can pick up a topo map in Erieau which will show the drop offs which, though subtle, are where your going to find the most bass. The limit in Canada is six bass in combination per person per day and a three day non-resident license is $20 (Canadian) which is about $ 15 in our money. The only thing I don't like about Canada is that their bass fishing season is so short. The Bass season doesn't normally open until June 30th. of each year and in Canada you are not permitted to fish for bass before the season, whether you plan on keeping them or not. That aside, it's a great place to select as a mini vacation site. In addition to the great bass fishing you can venture out into Lake Erie for Walleye and Salmon or Steelhead Trout. If panfish are your bag then Rondeau is for you as well. Bluegill, Crappie and large Yellow Perch action is steady through September.
You can contact Sue or Larry Robert at Robert's Cabins, 519-676-2238, in Erieau for cabin availability, rates and fishing conditions. Sue and Larry maintain a clean, comfortable camp that is great for the kids as well as the adults. Boat and motor rental is also available.Should you wish to camp, the Rondeau Provincial Park has great hook-up, etc. The park is located on the north end of the Bay. If you decide to go have a nice trip and catch a few for Terry and me.