Brown Trout caught on first kayak outing of 2021

A beautiful Brown Trout caught from the kayak at Wallace Lake

BEREA, OH – Nearly a month and a half since the last trout stocking at the Cleveland Metroparks, Wallace Lake, I had guarded optimism for my first kayak trip of 2021.  Any doubt would be removed rather quickly.  I had barely gotten everything adjusted and set up from the long winter break (from the yak), and had an eager fish slam my inline spinner.  Fumbling to get the net while keeping tension on the rod, I caught a few glances of the fish with no evidence it wasn’t the typical Rainbow Trout.  Maybe it was all the splashing and commotion, but it was one of those very rare occurrences where I didn’t realize what I had until it was in the net.  If you read my post from February 6th (here), you know how stoked I was to catch one of the ‘bonus’ fish.  I was near speechless having caught this beautiful, just under 16″, Brown Trout!

Stocker trout make for guilt free table fare

The trout stocking program is one of those unique opportunities to catch & keep without anyone judging or a need for any personal remorse.  While I am an avid catch & release fisherman, it is unlikely there is any carryover through the summer.  This makes it very easy to keep your catch for table fare.  I ate this fish, grilled with lemon and dill, and it was delicious.

A small caught & released bass

After the near immediate success of the memorable Brown Trout, the fishing got very slow.  I went from thinking I would have my three fish limit in 45 minutes, to wondering if I would even get a second bite.  Well over an hour, possibly two, I finally had another hookup.  Instead of a typical Rainbow Trout stocker, it was a small Largemouth Bass.  It was released, and helped to provide a bit more motivation to continue fishing.  That would be it for the catching though, the only additional action being a very nice Rainbow Trout that followed my spinner right to the side of the kayak.  I never thought to try a ‘figure eight’, but maybe the next time that happens, I will!

While not a day for catching numbers, the Brown Trout more than made up for it.

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!

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, multi-species from the kayak

BEREA, OH – I returned to Wallace Lake a few days after the fishing derby, solo this time with the kayak.  A bit of mixed emotion with the day’s success after the poor showing with the kids.  I would have gladly traded these catches for just a single fish for each of them to reel in.  That’s how fishing goes though and I certainly wont say that just because I didn’t catch any with them, that I hoped I wouldn’t catch any without them!  Just a little fisherman’s honesty there!

A very nice sized Wallace Lake catfish

The fishing started fast as I caught a Largemouth Bass on one of my first few casts.  I had also used a second rod to still fish (and slightly drift) which yielded a very nice 22″ catfish.  After those two catches I decided to focus on the trout as that was my main target of the day.  While I did have to work for them, I did get a limit.

Typical stocker Rainbow Trout

After catching the 3 fish limit of trout (only 1 was kept that wasn’t fit for release), I played around in the shallower areas sight fishing.  I got a few bumps and follows but nothing else was caught except a single Bluegill.  The day had grown exceptionally hot, and I was pleased with catching four species and accomplishing the trout limit goal.  Being more than content, I called it a day.

First kayak outing of 2018, with a memorable catch

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.

A couple photos of what I consider one of my best kayak catches to date!

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.

The relief of seeing the fish in the net

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.

While the fish looks small, I love this photo showing the entire kayak (Photo credit John Peden)

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)

Parting shot (Photo credit John Peden)

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!

Urban kayak fishing, Cleveland style

Catching fish in Lake Erie, by First Energy Stadium

CLEVELAND, OH – I can never find enough time to fish, but when I do get the opportunity, I have tried to get out on the kayak.  A couple trips out have not yielded anything of significance, but I am always happy to get a workout while chasing the fish.  I’m hard pressed to think of any trip where there isn’t something neat to see or experience, even if it isn’t a trophy fish.  The above pictured Sheephead, is probably the biggest fish of the recent trips.  I also thought the photo was cool in it’s own right, having caught a football shaped fish in front of the Brown’s stadium.  Unlike the Browns receivers, I apparently CAN catch a ‘football’. <insert devilish grin>

Cleveland kayak fishing… again

CLEVELAND, OH – I had so much fun that was documented on the last post… I had to go back and do it again!  Sure enough, plenty of cooperative fish with multiple Walleye, Rock Bass, Freshwater Drum, and even a Common Carp caught.  There really isn’t any additional commentary to add, just that I enjoy this venue a lot.  There is a substantial amount of boat and wave runner traffic, but this setback does not outweigh the good fishing and neat urban environment.

A freshwater bonefish, AKA Carp from the Lake Erie near shore

  A small Rock Bass at the marina

Lots of small throwback Walleye in the lake this year

This Walleye went 14″, the best of the day, but still not a keeper

The pictures speak for themselves at how fun of a day it was, but I did want to acknowledge one thing I noticed.  My PFD was not on.  I was fishing very close to shore and was hot, most often I do wear my PFD and would always recommend that.  I can assure everyone the PFD was right behind me, not even an arms length away.

Cleveland shoreline fishing, from the kayak

CLEVELAND, OH – One of the top things on my ‘to do’ list after getting into kayak fishing was to get to the downtown Cleveland area to fish the shoreline and near shore waters of Lake Erie.  For whatever reason, I just hadn’t made this a reality.  I guess I’m a creature of habit and usually end up launching off Huntington Beach in Bay Village, Ohio.  Nonetheless, I am happy to report my first trip to fish downtown is in the books.  Of course, I am now kicking myself for not doing this sooner as it was a lot of fun.

The energy of the area was downright awesome.  There was some kind of festival with live music and the unbelievable smell of barbecue.  I watched a steady stream of people posing with the iconic script Cleveland sign.  A short way from there, a high school band prepared for a performance while the flag corp. rhythmically practiced their routine.  All this to entertain, while fishing!

Being true to my craft of multi species fishing, no matter how interesting, new, or exciting a venue is, it still is all about the fish.  The fishing itself was a series of highs and lows.  I won’t ever complain about fishing if I am catching, and plenty of fish were caught.  I will start with the lows so I can end with the good stuff.  So here it goes; my goal was to target Smallmouth Bass – I threw tubes for hours with none caught, I only carried two rods and early into the excursion one was lost to the lake – a reminder to tether or have a float as I had to fish one rod all day, I fought and landed the largest drum of my life, well over the elusive 30″ mark – only to have it swim out of the net before a single photo.  For most, those might not seem all that horrible, but for me were rather depressing.  Probably the least big deal for most would be the drum, yet that was my biggest disappointment of the day.  I plan to a post about that single fish, as it is deserving of a story.

The photos above represent the fishing high points of the day.  Easily the most noteworthy catch was my first ever Walleye from the kayak.  It wasn’t quite a keeper, but the simple fact it was a Walleye, was awesome.  The next fish worth noting was a Largemouth Bass, not that it had any considerable size, but rather the fact I got something even anything, to bite on tubes that I desperately threw for hours trying to get a Smallmouth.  Finally, a 26 3/4″ Fish Ohio Award Freshwater Drum for my first award sized fish of the year.  Never knowing how often I can fish, getting the first is important to receive each year’s unique pin.

This day’s plan, is definitely something I look forward to doing again!

Memorial Day Weekend, Wallace Lake

The tail end of my kayak and the fountain at Wallace Lake

BEREA, OH – It’s fair to say I am more patriotic than most people.  I love our country and especially our veterans.  I am a strong believer and supporter of American exceptionalism and no words can describe how I feel about those who have laid down their lives for this great nation.  While my fishing blog is not used as a political platform, I just wanted to acknowledge my fantastic weekend both fishing and enjoying my family was a direct result of those who gave the ultimate sacrifice.

One of six Largemouth Bass caught

A week had passed since the Children’s Fishing Derby at Wallace Lake that I had blogged about here.  I thought there would be a strong likelihood of trout remaining and of course my shot at a Golden Trout.  The Cleveland Metroparks released 100 of them in conjunction with their Centennial Celebration.  The Golden Trout would continue to elude me, but their was plenty of action to make for a banner day of kayak fishing.  In the end, I tallied six Largemouth Bass caught and released and my three fish limit of Rainbow Trout.  A few more trout were released after hitting the limit.

The author with a rare smiling photo

A quality sized stocker measuring a bit over 14 inches

The bass were caught on 1/32 ounce jigs with Berkley Gulp! Minnows, and the trout all were brought to net via inline spinners.  I have no idea what size a keeper bass is as I only release them, but if it is 12″, a couple would have been a little better or under that mark.  Two of the three trout kept were rather decent for stockers, I only measured the largest, that fish a tad over 14″.

The end of the day

Memorial Day Weekend tends to offer time for a lot of folks to fish.  I was excited to see so many people, especially kids, fishing on my Facebook and Instagram feeds.  I couldn’t have been happier with the results of my day (well unless I finally caught a Golden), and hope others had success.  Even if the fish didn’t cooperate for you, I am certain the time was well spent!