LORAIN, OH – I always say, “it just takes a single bite to change a day”. That was exactly the case on my first kayak outing of 2018 on Cinco de Mayo. I woke up to a forecast that demanded I hit Lake Erie (only slight wind and out of the SW) and the only decision would be whether I wanted to hit a regular launch location or try somewhere new. After combing through info on some kayak fishing groups on Facebook, I settled on heading to Lorain.
I would launch at a small un-groomed beach next to Jackalope Lakeside. This area was familiar to me from shore fishing on the Mile long Pier, but I had never taken the kayak out anywhere near here. As I was running a little bit late, I somehow managed to leave my paddle leash at home, a minor annoyance but the type of distraction that can mentally start making you assume it will be a bad trip. Nonetheless, I found myself trolling two crankbaits by 4:15 p.m. with all the hope and optimism that had been stored from the long winter.
After an hour with no action, I began to do some free fishing with a variety of tactics employed. This resulted in nothing more than a few Round Gobies picking at some nightcrawlers when I tried live bait. I suppose this lack of success was a good thing as it prompted me to return to trolling the crankbaits. After resetting for trolling, it only took a couple minutes before the rod on my right side suddenly bent in half. The rod didn’t bounce, it just quickly had weight on it. I was worried that it actually had just become hung up on something but once in hand I could feel the movement of a fish. As I played the fish closer to the boat, I could see in the clear water it was a Walleye! I suspected from the fight style, it was, but there was nothing like the confirmation when my eyes saw it. I managed to get it netted on the first attempt, and overall from strike to landing everything was smooth. Just the way you like it on a good fish.
As most people know, I am a huge fan of catching ‘rough fish’. I can’t help but mention that I felt good about my credibility as kayak angler by catching this fish. For nearly everyone around here, if you are on Lake Erie, this is the target and generally accepted as the most coveted sport/food fish. While I’m not the type to be overly consumed with what people think of me or my angling ability, it mattered to me to get this fish, maybe because I needed to prove it to myself.
In a rare moment of luck, there was a photographer on the pier that looked eager to get good subject matter for some photos. I yelled out asking if he would take a few fish pictures for me, and he obliged. After exchanging contact information, I was treated to some really nice images that just made a great day even better. I remain appreciative that the memory of the day was uniquely captured by this chance encounter. Thank you John Peden! (view his Instagram here)
Look for me to return to this destination soon as I hope to build upon my initial success!… maybe a larger fish or multiple keepers or God willing, BOTH!