Cleveland Boat Show & Fishing Expo 2020

CLEVELAND, OH – I made it over to the IX Center for the Boat Show/Fishing Expo and had a really good time.  With events like this, I always see all over Facebook and social media the same question… “is it worth going?”.  Simply put, to me, it was.  I know that is a matter of opinion, but if you read this post, I think it will be evident why I found it worthwhile.

Hobie Fishing Team Members, Quinton Echols, Joe Meno, & Darrell Cornelius

The ‘Boat Show’ portion was what you typically expect if you have attended one in the past, even at a different venue.  A good sampling of retailers offering about every type of boat imaginable, some types more represented than others, but everything from large crafts down to PWC’s.  Many boats had very prominent labeled pricing, which I always think is good.  As for the pricing itself, I just haven’t been in the market for a boat so I don’t have good reference to know if any “Show Specials” were in fact great deals.  Being an avid kayak fisherman, I had the very specific hope of getting to meet some of the faces/personalities I enjoy following and interacting with in various media.  I was barely through the entrance when I spotted the familiar face of Quinton Echols, and fellow Hobie Kayak Fishing Team members Joe Meno & Darrell Cornelius.  They were at the Sun Valley Sports booth representing that retailer and of course, Hobie Kayaks.  We had a great time sharing fish stories with a lot of good laughs.  Kayak fishing has a true ‘brotherhood’ feeling.

President Brian Tighe, Cleveland Fishing Co., and author

The ‘Fishing Expo’ portion had a few vendors that I had come with the intent to find.  At the top of the list, was the Cleveland Fishing Company.  I enjoyed a nice conversation with Brian Tighe, recalling how I discovered the brand and enjoying watching it’s tremendous growth.  Brian is a very down to earth type of guy and someone if you spend any time at all talking with, it’s easy to see why he is successful.  Although I’ve never fished with him, I am happy to consider him a ‘kindred spirit’ in the NE Ohio fishing scene.  As for this company’s apparel, the designs are awesome.  They have a distinct bold urban love of Cleveland, blended perfectly to the outdoors and fishing.  Everything looks great on or off the water.  Worth mentioning, is that a % of gross profit, goes to The Cleveland Metroparks Fishing Fund.  This fund has contributed to volumes of children’s first catches and personally has provided my family many great memories.

The trout pond is always a big hit with the kids

My wife had a long list of errands to run so we used the divide and conquer philosophy to approach the day.  Her getting needed logistics done, while I would keep the kids (& myself!) entertained.  This is where the show really shined and where the bulk of this post will be focused.  This is not to discount the fact that even had I not had the kids with me, the show would have been worthwhile.  I just want to note the exceptional value it had due to the fact that they were with me and how much fun they had.  The first fun activity, fishing for trout pictured above!

The kids making a worm harness style lure with Ohio Sea Grant 

As a parent, one of my greatest joys is when I see my kids having fun while learning.  This is especially true if they are learning about anything fishing, fish, or the water they swim in.  I was very thankful to Jill Bartolotta and the kind gentleman pictured above for taking time with my kids to make a lure.  This booth was the Ohio Sea Grant.  I enjoyed reading their literature and learning more about what they do.  I know many people see Gibraltar Island in the summer when heading to Put In Bay and hear associated terms like Stone Lab and Ohio State, I encourage you to learn more by visiting the website.

Bryce holding an Eastern Fox Snake 

A special thank you to Susan Bixler, also from The Ohio State University / Ohio Sea Grant for allowing my son to hold a snake.  The kids were very content just getting to see the creatures, but getting to actually hold one, was a rare unique experience.

Successful matching of the fish cut-outs to the correct species name 

Along with the expertise of professionals manning the booths, there was plenty of self directed fun.  Pictured above, there were several walls of fish cut-outs that needed matched to the correct species name.  The kids had fun completing all of the walls while I just watched and dreamed that I was actually catching all those fish.

Bryce attempting to paint a white fish over some destroyed canvas

My son has a special gift with art and was a little disappointed that nearly all of the canvases were completely filled.  Using some white paint, he was able to select an area that was more less a splattered mess, and put a fish over it.  My daughter added a frog.

In total, I shot over 100 pictures that included at least 20 different areas of activity or exhibit.  For the sake of time and the length of this post, I had to exclude a lot of what I planned to cover.  To the countless number of folks that entertained and/or educated my children and I, thank you.  I’m certain we will be back again next year!

Ending and starting the year, at Wallace Lake

Arriving at a favorite fishing destination

BEREA, OH – Just getting out fishing, regardless of success or not, seems to be the goal of late.  I didn’t do nearly as well as I hoped in 2019 as far as the amount of time spent fishing.  With the holidays providing a little extra time off from work, I tried to make up for some lost time.  While I do enjoy ice fishing, if it’s not cold enough to create good safe ice, I prefer it to be mild enough to go out on the kayak in relative comfort.  The unseasonably warm weather allowed just that, and my final fishing of 2019 and first fishing of 2020 would be from the ‘yak.

The last fish caught of 2019

The kayak fishing wasn’t very successful, with just one fish was caught.  While it was a nice fish, a rather healthy Crappie, it wasn’t like I was catching them in great numbers.  It also wasn’t a mixed in catch amongst the trout I was targeting, it was just a lone fish.  I reminded myself what a blessing it was just to be out, healthy enough to be kayaking, and reminisced over 2019.  Fishing is a lot like life in general, moments of great joy and success, and pain and failure.  This past year had it’s share of pain with the loss of two close relatives, that has remained too difficult to blog about.

The author with a limit of Wallace Lake trout

A few fish that will serve finely for table fare

While I would end 2019 with some tough fishing, my second time fishing in the new year was marked by tremendous success.  It may have been that I wasn’t as rusty as I had thought, but just the reality that the fish stocked on December 16th may not have spread out across the lake as I had expected.  With some advice from a friend, I hit an area that I had not covered on the kayak in previous trips.  This resulted in a total of 8-9 landed Rainbow Trout, quite the difference to be catch and releasing after a limit, than fighting to get a single bite!

The color and markings on this small fish were beautiful

It can sometimes be challenging to determine whether to keep or release a fish.  I never want to have more than two until I am leaving, just in case one of those bonus fish find their way to my hook.  If you read the Cleveland Metroparks Fishing Blog, you can see some of those choice specimen get landed now and then.  These fish provide a little more fun and excitement, just knowing they are out there.  I have managed only one, a very interestingly colored Brown Trout on my first kayak outing of 2019 (can see that fish here).  On today’s trip, it was just a wide range of size, shape, and color of Rainbow Trout.  One of the reasons I love the species, is just how much diversity there is within it.  The above pictured fish, was one of the smallest of the day, but most handsome.  It was released.  A nice couple fishing near me, showed me their stunning Brook Trout that was deeply colored with the bright orange fins tipped in white.  A spectacular fish!

An example of two very different variations of Rainbow Trout caught today 

The two fish pictured above are great examples of the uniqueness of each individual fish.  I’m not sure if I am the exception or other anglers are like me, in that I appreciate each catch.  Even if I only inspect it briefly before a quick release, I always find myself taking a quick note of it’s characteristics.  Maybe it’s my inner child, that simply has never stopped enjoying anything I catch!

2019 Fall Fishing Derby at Walker Road Park

AVON LAKE, OH – They say timing is everything and that definitely proved true today.  I had stumbled across an event on Facebook for a “Fall Fishing Derby” and it happened to be on a day I had promised my son we would go fishing.  Also making it worthwhile, was that I occasionally get asked about Walker Road Park and I had never been able to give a direct report regarding it.  Making my son happy while being at a new venue on a beautiful September Saturday, seemed like a great way to spend a few hours.  Little did I know, the day would end up rather memorable.

An impressive crowd assembled for this derby

I am not certain how many years they have done this derby, but the personable friendly staff and volunteers made it easy for me to see why the event was so well attended.  In fact, it was downright amazing considering the derby overlapped with the start of an Ohio State football game!  The event was sponsored by The City of Avon Lake, the Avon Lake Parks & Recreation Department, and Avon Lake Boat Club.  Awards and Raffle prizes were donated by Cabelas and Dairy Queen.  If I am incorrect or have any omissions, please leave a comment or let me know on the CoolWaterFish Facebook Page.  A HUGE thank you to all of them!

Charlotte casts better than kids twice her age and probably some adults

I’ve learned there is often a lot in common between the adults who attend these events.  I guess a kinship in finding the recreation of fishing to be fun and the value of doing it with your kid(s).  I almost always make friends with those fishing near me and this date would be no exception.  The photo above was a few of our new friends and I love the watchful eye of dad as his daughter mastered casting.  It makes me wish my daughter would have attended, but sadly the lure of shopping with mommy won out over catching “slimy fish”.

A hopeful Bryce early in the event

In what has become the norm, Bryce spends more time capturing critters on the shoreline as he does actually fishing.  This includes netting small fish, crayfish, tadpoles, snails, frogs, toads, or anything else he can find.  The actual fishing is usually me yelling “hey your bobber is going under” as he runs back to the rod only to have the bait stolen.  This repeats over and over until some unfortunate fish manages to gorge itself on a worm enough to get the point of the hook in it’s mouth.  More than half of the event was over before something other than that finally happened.  We had one rod tight lined off the bottom, which got a much stronger strike than the small Bluegill that were playing with the offerings under the bobber.  This time, the fish was solidly hooked.  Bryce fought the fish to shore, where I assisted with the net.  We did a quick High-Five and then ran to a judging table.

A solid 14.5″ Channel Catfish

A lot of great award and raffle items were given out

With most people fishing under a float, the plentiful Bluegill were the typical catch.  Bryce only caught that single fish, but due to bottom fishing, ended up getting the Channel Catfish.  He was excited to learn that his fish was rumored to be the largest caught for the day, and I know it seemed an eternity for him to wait (asking me every 5 minutes if the derby was over) until it was confirmed during the awards/raffle ceremony.  He received some nice fishing swag and everyone was very kind in congratulating him.  The event organizers did a real nice job recognizing winners while also validating every child there and the efforts they made to catch fish.  The focus truly was about family and getting outdoors together.  I firmly believe that is more important than any single fish, even a derby winning 14.5″ Channel Catfish.

One very happy boy!

Once again, thank you to everyone involved with this fishing derby.  It was very well organized and we would have had a great time whether we caught a fish or not.  We hope to be back in 2020!

UPDATE:  A special thank you to Mayor Greg Zilka for acknowledging this post, seen here.