Far too few weeknights like this

N. RIDGEVILLE, OH – We finally had a warm enough evening that the ‘stir crazy’ kids and I could get out of the house and do some fishing.  A weeknight fishing trip always means just enough time to fish in the pond or a local park, but that’s good enough!  The kids hadn’t fished since Fall, so they were especially excited.  Dad was pretty excited too, fishing memories are some of the best!

This gem was the “take a picture with your sister” directive

My daughter likes to fish and is willing, but my son always loves to tell her she will get pricked by a fish if she catches it.  This usually ends with her not wanting to fish and Bryce having to do some time disciplined with no fishing.  His goal is to have her stop fishing so he can manage more rods or get all of the attention.  Pretty much a jerk move, but I suppose that overly strong desire to catch the fish, and fishing selfishness – came from me.

She loves her dolls and babies, but has her rugged side too

As for my firstborn, he is a ‘mini me’.  He loves fishing and never wears out from it.  I suppose the only real difference between him and I is that I am sad when it’s time to stop fishing, but usually I am not reduced to crying or tears.  Please note I said “usually”.

The first evening fishing and the Bluegill were biting non-stop

As with most parents, you lower the expectations of any family endeavor to just hoping the kids get along and aren’t fighting the whole time.  Happily, this was one of those times where it was magical.  Both kids happy, and Bluegill that were hitting as fast as the bobber landed.  We ended up fishing with a single rod because we could not manage more than one.

Bryce admiring his first catch of the year

Not only were the fish biting, they were decent sized

A gnarly looking bonus catch

Fish after fish, I dare say we wore out catch and releasing Bluegill.  Towards the end we did get rewarded with a hard fighting bonus fish, a Bullhead that finally took the jig and maggot faster than a Bluegill could snatch it.  I’m thrilled Bryce thinks they look cool, instead of ugly.  I’m trying to raise a fisherman that appreciates all of the species like his dad does.  As for my daughter,  I’m pretty sure at this point she thinks all fish are ugly, but at least she thinks they are fun to catch.  Overall, a very fun time this evening, we have “Far too few weeknights like this”.

A cool catch on the first kayak outing of 2019

This 16″ Brown Trout ranks as one of my favorite kayak caught fish

BEREA, OH – It’s always special to get out on the kayak for the first time of the year.  Not just because it is a fun way to catch fish, but it usually (yes it does try to snow in April at times) marks a tangible measure that winter is over for me.  This past winter, for some reason, just seamed exceptionally long.  I had some extra motivation to make Wallace Lake the first outing due to a stocking that had taken place that included Brook, Brown, and Golden Trout along with the Rainbows.  I wasn’t able to get out, even for shore fishing, and was agonized seeing all the amazing catches featured on the Cleveland Metroparks Fishing Blog.  The ‘recent’ stocking suddenly went from days ago, to weeks ago… and I just hoped some were left.

Arriving at the lake, my hope turned to confirmation as a shore angler was leaving with a fine Rainbow Trout on a stringer.  I launched quickly and began covering a lot of water offering an inline spinner.  My only taker was a small Largemouth Bass in the first hour.  It’s impossible to know if conditions, fishing pressure, or total number of fish available was the reason, but the fishing was slow.  I rarely had less than 6-8 fisherman within view and my bass was the only fish I saw caught.  About the moment my mind started second guessing my decision to fish at Wallace over the river or a different venue… my spinner got smacked.  The fantastic strike was followed by the rod revealing a decent sized fish that was giving plenty of fight.  It didn’t take long to get it to the boat, but I did get very nervous about successfully landing it when I saw the distinct markings of a Brown Trout!  It’s a species that I haven’t encountered a lot and I was so excited to get it landed.  Weeks after the last stocking, I had somehow managed one of the ‘bonus fish’!  Pure Joy.

While admittedly the Cleveland Metroparks Fishing Blog has shown plenty of examples of bigger or more interestingly marked up fish, this one was my catch, and it was prized.  In fact I was so enamored by it, I found it almost difficult to continue fishing.  I was so thrilled with that single bite it made me content that I didn’t need to do more.  I fished a little less vigorously but did carry on another hour and a half.  I managed another trout, this one being a small colorful Rainbow Trout, that was returned to the water.

Wallace Lake, ice fishing for trout

BEREA, OH – You know something is awesome if you love it even though you aren’t good at it.  That is me with ice fishing.  There is just something inherently cool about walking onto the water, drilling a hole, and pulling a fish out of it.  I’ve pretty much mastered the first two, but the last is a struggle.  The past few years, I’ve invested a little more time online researching and increasing my knowledge base which has improved my on the water success.  The culmination of this effort recently was realized with a limit of stocker trout (and some bonus catches) at Wallace Lake.  While this day might hardly be a blip on the map for an accomplished ice anger, it probably represents the best I have ever done on an ice outing.  I’ll let the pictures tell the story…

Destination

Hopeful anglers

Where my ice fishing photos usually end

A fine Rainbow Trout through the ice

A good looking trout a bit over 14 inches

A somewhat chunky fish around 16 inches

Side by side comparison of the last two fish

A beautiful small fish that was released

Behind every picture is a memory, and I wish somehow I could translate in words just how exciting every catch was.  Maybe once I have become more masterful with ice fishing, each catch may not be as meaningful.  As it stands right now, any fish caught on the ice is a big deal, and the excitement and ‘newness’ of catching through the ice hasn’t worn off.  I can understand why ice fishing has it’s own niche of people who specialize in it and consider it their favorite method to fish.  My largest fish of the day put up an amazing spirited fight, and trying to get it head first to the hole and then lift out with my other hand was adrenaline packed fun… and this was just a 16″ fish!  After I got it on the ice, the hook came out and it nearly jumped back in the hole.  I scooted it away from the hole and it almost slid into another nearby hole… when I finally got it contained I was beyond relieved and just sat there thinking “how much fun is this?!”.

The day was likely the most successful I have ever had on the ice.  My confidence is improved.  If you’ve read my previous post detailing the Cleveland Metroparks stocking, you know there are some extra special fish swimming in these lakes.  This includes some Brown, Brook, and Golden Trout.  While these remain my most hoped for catches through the ice, my banner day was not diminished in the slightest because I didn’t encounter one.  I just will continue to hope…

Along with the photos included in this post, I did catch a White Crappie and a Bluegill.  I missed a good number of bites, and lost one trout at the hole.  I made some new friends with nearby anglers and also got to see what had to be one of the biggest catches of the day anywhere on the lake.  Near the end of the day, a guy near me landed a Rainbow that was a bit over 18″ and it had some shoulders on it.  From covering the stocking, I knew the size potential of a few of the best specimen, and he certainly found one.  He was stoked over the catch and I have to imagine any angler with a pulse would be.  I was excited just getting to see the catch.

So there you have it, the most fun I’ve ever had on the ice.  I can’t wait to get out again!