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Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: West Hempfield, PA
You can do Erie in a kayak, a couple miles off shore, if you pick your days. That being said, I wouldn't run to the Canadian line in a 18-20' boat even on a great day. Summer pop up storms on Erie are no joke and can land you in big trouble, real quick.
A good, deep 19-20' Deep V that you can enclose the bow off in rough weather (canvas over the open bow, etc.) would be good for the majority of your fishing needs. Personally, if I bought an Erie boat again, I'd want to make sure I could maximize my fishing days so I'd go with a min. 23-24' hard top or WA with a self bailing cockpit and if it was an OB, make sure there is NOT a cut out in the transom. Transom has to be fully enclosed for me to be comfy. I have been out on Erie trolling in our old 24' skiff craft hard top in 3-5's and a following sea and had some sneaky whitecappers almost break over the transom.
Learning to operate your boat in heavy seas is key too. No matter how safe you are and how well you pick your days, if you fish Erie enough, you WILL get caught out in some uncomfortable weather.