Lake Erie's been dubbed "The World's Best Smallmouth Bite" by In-Fisherman magazine, and it's made many Top-10 walleye-fishing lists. Take the Jet Express from Port Clinton to Put-in-Bay and purchase a one-day fishing license for 11 bucks. Walleye, perch, crappie, rock bass, and smallmouth bass are abundant until late May. Then, it's catfish time. If you need more guidance and want to fish in deeper waters, there's no shortage of pros willing to take you on their boats. Hawg Alert Charters offers chartered fishing trips from Port Clinton for $420 per day for six people. Or hop on board a fishing vessel at Wildwood Marina, where you can catch up to 30 fish per person ($32 per person for six hours). Live bait and metal rods are available for sale and rent.
Hawg Alert, 888-304-8767; Wildwood Marina, 216-481-5771; Jet Express, 800-245-1538, www.jet-express.com
Peace and quiet are just moments away at Camp Hi Canoe Livery in Hiram, about 45 minutes east of downtown Cleveland. Rent a canoe or kayak for a seven-mile journey down the Upper Cuyahoga River, which takes about two to four hours, depending on how out of shape you are. Canoes are $15 per person, kayaks $18, including paddles and life vests. The more socially adventurous may prefer Bradstreet Sea Kayakers, who organize group paddles all summer long and offer free lessons to beginners.
Camp Hi Canoe Livery, 330-569-7621, www.camphicanoe.com; Bradstreet Sea Kayakers, 440-617-9879, www.seakayaker.org
Urban cruise ships Goodtime III and The Nautica Queen host river-sightseeing tours through the scenic Flats and around the downtown shoreline. Non-award-winning buffet dining and onboard entertainment make it seem like the real thing, only shorter.
Goodtime III, 216-861-5110, www.goodtimeiii.com; the Nautica Queen Cruise, 216-696-8888, www.nauticaqueen.com
Great Lakes Watersports rents Seadoos from a booth in the Flats, located between Shooters and the Powerhouse, for $60-95 per hour. At Cedar Point, North Coast rents two-seat Wave Runners for $70 for 30 minutes or $120 for an hour of exhilarating water power.
Great Lakes Watersports, 216-771-4386; North Coast Parasail & Water Sports, 419-627-2279
Fly like an eagle -- or at least a seagull. North Coast Parasailing, which takes off from Cedar Point, offers eight minutes on a 400-foot towline for $70 or the more economical 10 minutes at 800 feet for $85. Or take flight in downtown Put-In-Bay at South Bass Island, where Captain Jay will immortalize your moment of insanity with a photograph. Try not to cry. The cost is $65 for a 10-minute flight.
Put-in-Bay Parasail, 419-285-3703; North Coast Parasail & Water Sports, 419-627-2279
Pollution, shmollution. Mike King, instructor at Buckeye Diving School, says that visibility in the water around Cleveland has improved over the years and is up to 15 to 20 feet. Lake Erie is the site of hundreds of shipwrecks -- the most in all the Great Lakes. Over the course of a day, a Buckeye excursion will take you to two sunken ships. Many of the ships are over 90 percent intact; all have tragic stories behind them. And speaking of tragic stories, on June 19 there will be a dive to the underwater remains of the old Browns stadium. A reef has developed on the old sports arena over the years and is now home to tons of fish. They'll come really close, too, if you hold out a little zebra mussel as bait. Guided excursions will set you back $65-$85 if you have your own equipment (if not, you can rent). Before you go, make sure that you're certified. Buckeye certifies divers over six weeks for about $275, plus $185 for an evaluation consisting of four open-water dives. Or get certified over two weekends at Gone to Sea for $395.
Buckeye Diving School, 440-439-3677, www.buckeyedive.com; Gone to Sea Scuba, 440-734-4008, www.gonetoseascuba.com
Limos are so passé. Have your own private "water chauffeur" pick you up from one of the waterfront restaurants in the Flats in a 24-foot sailboat. The boat accommodates Captain Dave Patterson and three passengers; an evening of nautical pleasure will cost $100-$150. Or learn to maneuver your own future boat with the Captain's basic sailing lessons at Marina Bay (two-and-a-half days, $345). Experienced sailors can fine-tune their navigation skills by attending Advanced Coastal Cruising (106), one of several American Sailing Association-certified courses at the Vermilion Sailing School in Kelleys Island.
Captain Dave's Cleveland Sailing Center, 216-406-7245; Vermilion Sailing School, 866-291-SAIL, www.vermilionsailing.com
Water Skiing C'mon, you know you've always wanted to try it. Skis can be purchased for about $119, a flotation vest will run about $25, and a towline can be had for about $20. Great Lakes Watersports, on the West Bank in the Flats, rents a 25-foot, 10-person powerboat and all the gear you need to show off your skills for the hot babes on waterfront patios. Rentals start at $285 for four hours.
Great Lakes Watersports (after June 1), 216-771-4386