I really think it is a shame when I see smallmouth being kept for the table anywhere, but it really bothers me to watch the numbers of bass kept in Erie.
The ODNR has reduced the limit but it still bothers me to watch them being taken from the lake in such large numbers, especially when there are so many perch and walleye available in the same areas if you want fish to eat.
My prefered method is to use tube jigs, but golden shiners are very hard to beat when they are not taking the tubes. I've caught them on rubber worms to buzzbaits and everything in between, but tubes are the my first choice for artficials.
We don't use any softcraws anymore for the smallmouth. The shiners easily out perform the craws for us. One of the best live baits last year were what we named "Lake Chubs". They are just goby's in the 3-4" range. The bass love them. Of course the are illegal to have in your possesion so you have to catch a new one for bait after each bass.
During the last 4-5 years of seriously chasing the smallies on Erie only one smallmouth has been kept on my boat, that was by a guest that wanted to have it mounted.
I know that you don't venture far from the creeks but if you want to fish some smallies in Erie east of Cleveland this spring I'd be happy to take you along on a trip. It's not the same as wading the Darby but it's still some great fun.