Glass manufacturing is a distant memory now, but the docks are a local hot spot for everything the lake has to offer.
Dropping to about six feet deep right at the dock, fed by the cool waters of the creek on the north side, lined by weeds to the south, and straddled by concrete and rocks, the harbor is an ideal bass habitat. However, stuck all summer long by everyone from dock-side, leisure-time anglers in anti-gravity chairs to professional bass pros, these fish are savvy veterans.
Still, they gotta eat sometime, and you can nail ‘em on a free-swimming minnow, fat crayfish, or by presenting lures in new and unusual ways. For instance, I watched one guy nail a 15-inch smallie by twitching a floating stickbait on the surface. What was unusual about him using this popular low light technique is that he was doing it at high noon, out in open water.
Most who fish the dock are trying for panfish or bottom feeders. Yellow perch hang out in the open water, rock bass like the walls and rocks, and sunfish are plentiful along the weed edges. They hit the worms the majority is using, but I do just as good on a Berkley Atomic Teaser (a 1-inch tube jig/trailer combo) tipped with a Berkley Power Wiggler. In addition, my rig draws an occasional crappie and pickerel.
Walleyes move into the dock just about any time of the year, but especially in spring, when they run Black Creek to spawn, and fall, when cooling water temperatures draw them close to shore. They find the security of the deep water to their liking and stay all day long.
What’s more, this time of year the walleyes are drawn to the lake shallows on the south end of the fishing access site, within easy reach of surf anglers casting stickbaits.
Cleveland Dock offers some surprises, too. When I was there last week, I saw a sturgeon, my first in the wild. I was fishing in the shallow water on the north end and the thing come out of the deep. It moved sluggishly in two feet of water, staying in plain sight for a good two minutes. Unfortunately, all I had was my point-and-shoot camera and it doesn’t have a polarized lens so the fish didn’t appear in the photograph.
Get there by taking I-81 exit 32, and driving east on NY 49 for a little over 12 miles.