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To call Lake Erie "big water" would be a major understatement. Covering nearly 10,000 square miles, Erie is far and away the largest body of water on the Elite Series schedule for 2008. It's not only one of the Great Lakes, it's also one of the great bass lakes in the world, especially if you're a fan of smallmouth bass. BASS was at Erie in the fall of 2006 when Joe Balog fooled 41 pounds of smallmouth to win the Northern Tour event out of Sandusky, Ohio. The 2008 Empire Chase, July 31-August 3, will be fished out of Buffalo, N.Y., where the Niagara River flows out of Erie, adding another top fishery to the available waters for the Elite Series pros. In 2006, soft plastic goby imitations fished on drop shot rigs near deep water reefs were the key to victory. It's a good bet that offshore tactics and soft plastics will be popular again in 2008, but so will shallow- and deep-diving crankbaits and possibly even spinnerbaits.