Cleveland Metroparks, Wallace Lake Fishing Derby

BEREA, OH – With my wife out of town for work, I had a little assistance from the Cleveland Metroparks ( with keeping the kids entertained today.  In what has become an annual tradition, we participated in a kids fishing derby at Wallace Lake.  These are very well organized, a lot of fun, and create some wonderful memories.  Staff and volunteers are always eager to assist in any way to help participants have a good time.  It never ceases to amaze me how Cleveland Metroparks Aquatic Biologist Mike Durkalec amidst all the logistics and chaos of the day – can give so many different kids some personal attention.  Pretty amazing.

Along with the tradition of going to these events, is my inexplicable tradition of not being able to help put my kids on fish during the event.  I really can’t explain it, but it reminds me to never consider tournament fishing.  If there is any degree of competition or I am ‘on the clock’ of an event, I do bad.  Thankfully, my kids are forgiving and there is enough going on that they still have a blast.  Maybe I need a big button that says “MEDIA” that I can wear, and claim my poor efforts are due to the distraction of covering the event.

I love the photos posted above.  The shot of my son and daughter with their arms around each other getting along, both smiling naturally (not the usual cheesy Bryce insists on) is captured very rarely.  I also loved seeing them admire some of the catches that make their way into the tank.  This is a very popular attraction for all the kids, not just mine.  I thought the huge 19.5″ bass was exceptionally kind to frame itself so nicely in my daughter’s photo.  That fish, was actually caught by a young girl similar in age to Alexis… surely others were dealing with the same thoughts I was of being excited for her while just a tad bit jealous!  What a catch!

Being in the Cleveland Metroparks never limits you to a specific a single type of wildlife.  We saw many neat creatures, critters, and animals of all types and sizes.  Of note, Great Blue Herons, Orioles, Egrets, turtles, and a toad.  My kids did not leave the event sad or disappointed they didn’t catch fish, instead I was treated to conversations throughout the day regarding everything they did see and do, and especially the toad.

Despite somewhat cool weather and overall tough fishing for most, attendance was pretty impressive.  This photo taken a few minutes before the morning session awards, shows only a small sampling of the population around the event area and doesn’t account for the numbers that  continued to fish.  I am glad so many people, with those kids, make it out.

I live about 20 minutes from Wallace Lake, this photo was 5 minutes after we left.  Needless to say, they were spent.  I love knowing they played that hard.

***UPDATE 5/26/17***

Shortly after we arrived, I recalled that we spoke to a gentleman who was covering the event.  It was Michael Iglewski, who runs a YouTube Channel “Michael Iglewski Outdoor Sports“.  The image capture above is from his event video which can be seen here.  I wish there was footage of us reeling in a monster, but that would have required epic editing skills as we didn’t catch anything.

Family man making for a fail fishing blogger

NORTH RIDGEVILLE, OH –  There are numerous websites that offer ‘professional’ advice to bloggers.  While I question some of the expert advice or even laugh at how the ‘professionals’ will contradict themselves, there is one thing they all agree on – it is never a good thing to go silent and not have new content posting at frequent or somewhat regular intervals.  I don’t disagree, and accept this as a fact.  The quandary that this has always put me in is my philosophy on when to write a post, “If I don’t have an at least marginally interesting story to tell, I don’t post”.  This is why my little blog will never rank that high on Google or any of the sites that score anything with a web address, I simply don’t post enough and the algorithms hate this.  I view people’s time as important and simply cant fathom the idea to mindlessly spew content to appear more legitimate in the ‘fishing world’ at the expense of the content being worse.

cwf11202016kidsThe lovely culprits… err blessings… that reduce fishing frequency

With a philosophy that is already pretty conservative about when to post, it increasingly works against me if I am not even out fishing to have an opportunity for something to happen worthy of a post.  I often wonder in my Instagram feed if the anglers are exceptional or is it simply they can fish a lot.  It also doesn’t hurt if those same folks live in places with exceptionally good water with good fish in it (especially true for those fortunate souls living on or near Saltwater).

At least I will say I have a wonderful reason for my low fishing frequency and the subsequent result of less chance for a post worthy happening.  This would be my amazing family.  I truly am blessed and wouldn’t change a thing.  As it relates to fishing, more than one dad has reiterated to me how fast time will go and that it is completely normal to have what feels like huge gaps in time not doing your previous recreations when you have a baby/babies.  I have already noted how fast time is going as my oldest is 5 and my youngest is 2.  My son is already demonstrating the ability to enjoy fishing with me and my daughter isn’t far behind.  I love the meme I see that circulates saying “Some people find a fishing buddy, I raised mine”.  In my case, I hope it’s fishing “buddies”.

cwf11202016jillMy wife recently fishing, a beautiful sight I haven’t seen in years

As my life now has taken me to nearly school age and a later stage toddler, I recognize some of the most around the clock constant supervision and demands are behind me.  While I am wise to know parenting and involvement never ceases (nor would I want it to), I also am acutely aware I am gaining ground on the ability to get out fishing.  I know my fishing experiences will often remain pretty remedial as they will likely often have kid(s) in tow, but I hope there will still be people who enjoy watching and reading along.  Maybe what they see will remind them of their own memories or for the younger audience, to see what might be ahead for them.

cwf11202016bryceA small fish provides simple joy and intrigue

Fighting a fish at the ‘big water’, Lake Erie

I’ve made it this far without giving up on blogging, it makes no sense to give up on it now.  It may very well turn out that for a period of time this blog will only serve the purpose of being a keepsake that my kids might enjoy one day.  For those that stick around through this period of time, I will continue to try to entertain, inform, and stumble upon some nice fish now and then.

2016 North Ridgeville Corn Festival, Fishing Derby

CWF08132016derbyNORTH RIDGEVILLE, OH – The Annual Corn Festival for 2016 was plagued with rain and poor weather.  We were fortunate though, that Saturday morning’s kid’s fishing derby had near perfect weather, maybe even the best half day of the entire weekend.  I guess it’s just proof that God loves fisherman!  In all seriousness, I was pleased with the forecast and happy that Bryce woke up eager to go to the event.  The derby was organized by the North Ridgeville Fishing Club, some of the nicest folks you can meet.  My son and I have attended other events they have been affiliated with, and always have had a great time.  Today would be no exception.  I will say attendance was down for this event, I think likely due to impending late day weather, and a lot of people were cheated of a great day of making memories.

CWF08132016derby4Bryce stopped for a picture with Mike, who got no rest from my son all day

There was not a new stocking of fish for the event, and overall, the fishing was slow.  We did have enough Bluegill biting to keep us occupied and provided some fun.  We also were catching some crayfish which entertained Bryce more than fish.  My son ‘adopted’ a couple of volunteers, Mike and Karen, who got little rest as he would yell for them to come over regardless of whether we had a new catch.  They were good sports about it, and Bryce soaked up the attention.

CWF08132016derby5A Snapping Turtle that we somehow landed on 6# test line

The highlight of our rod and reel action was what I thought was going to be a nice heavy fish.  Bryce was manning the rod and it had a considerable bend, much bigger than the Bluegill we were catching.  As he reeled it in, it came into view and I could tell it was a Snapping Turtle.  I used the metal rod holder to hoist it onto shore to get a few pictures, before letting it head back into the water.  It was Bryce’s first turtle catch and quite the surprise!

CWF08132016derby6Bryce wins a fishing pole!

CWF08132016derby2One happy and very proud kid

When the whistle sounded ending the event, Bryce had caught the most fish in his age group.  This earned him a cool new blue Zebco fishing rod.  The only thing that had his attention more than the crayfish, was this new prize.  He was super excited and made sure everyone heard all of his fishing stories from the day.  He needs to work on being humble, but that’s a tough concept at 4 years old.

CWF08132016derby3All I can say about this group photo is, “yep, that’s my son”

There were plenty of group photos where Bryce posed appropriately, but the photo above cracks me up.  Like a conquering hero, this is how he wanted to hold his new rod.  Amongst his 4 year old peers, I do somehow think he convinced them the rod was even more awesome – because of how he held it.  My next big catch, I think I’m going to strike this pose with the rod, after the release.

CWF08132016derby8Bryce with Keriann (from the Corn Festival Committee), reviewing an ODNR fish booklet

It was a day well spent with my son, catching crayfish, fish, and even a turtle.  We won something, ate some good festival food, and made new friends.  A big thank you to the North Ridgeville Corn Festival Committee (Corn Festival Website) and the North Ridgeville Fishing Club (NRFC Website) for the great time!  If there is a fishing event on the schedule next year, we will be there!

Cabela’s opens in Avon, Ohio

CWF08112016Father and son, yep, we were there opening day!

AVON, OH – In case you live under a rock or otherwise do not communicate with the outside world, a Cabela’s ( store is now in Northeast Ohio!  The doors opened to the general public on August 11th with quite a bit of fanfare.  Being that it was a weekday, I was unable to go early for any of the fanfare and giveaways, but I did take my son that evening.  I guess I do consider this something historic, and wanted to be there on day one.

Cabela’s has a special place in my heart, which might be hard to understand without explanation.  Years ago, while living in Toledo, Ohio, I came to enjoy the Cabela’s in Dundee, Michigan.  I have many great memories shopping there, and fishing in the local area (River Raisin).  The extended family would also do an annual fishing vacation to the Upper Peninsula, and this store was always a stop on the way for gear/supplies and our Michigan fishing license.  Lastly, it was a destination that my future wife and I did a road trip to, when we were newly dating.  All of these great memories, make it a bit of a landmark on the map, and my life.

I am so happy they are now closer to home.

Trout lottery and spring stocking dates

CASTALIA, OH – It’s that time of year again when the ODNR releases Rainbow Trout (10 to 14″) throughout Ohio.  This is a ‘put & take’ type fishery that can be a lot of fun.  I’ve actually managed some larger fish, possibly a few brood stock released or the inadvertent carry over that isn’t expected to happen.  Dates/locations can be found here.

The author displaying a typical stocker, this one taken at Norwalk Reservoir

Catching these fish usually isn’t too complicated but depending on conditions and how soon you arrive after the stocking, it can be very easy or a bit challenging.  If I have reason to suspect it will be an easy day, I always try to include an invitation to someone who doesn’t fish or some kids as it is an excellent way to introduce others to fishing.  I am a little puzzled at times when I see adults grabbing a prime location and having their lines in the water practically on top of the release site.  This doesn’t seem too sporting.  The fish can be taken a variety of ways with some of the most popular being Powerbait and corn.  Others will throw inline spinners or flies and plenty of fish get taken on worms and minnows.  I usually have a few options with me, in case one isn’t working.

Along with the trout stockings, there is a Castalia Trout Fishing Lottery.  The annual application period is March 1st – March 31st each year.  It has become an annual rejection for me as I have never won and have applied every year of the lottery’s existence.  I want to note this includes the rejection of a few family members and friends who would be willing to take me as a guest, if they won.  A person might wonder why I would publicize the lottery increasing my odds of failure, but the funds raised do benefit the ODNR so I will sacrifice the odds to see them raise more money.  The lottery information can be found here.  Good luck!

*UPDATE* While hardly unexpected or newsworthy, my rejection for 2016 was confirmed.  A common saying from the Cleveland area comes to mind, “There’s always next year”.

Fremont voters approve Ballville Dam removal

CWF11102015damThe Ballville Dam has blocked the Sandusky River since 1913

Fremont, OH – It appears the saga of the Ballville Dam removal has finally come to an end.  For those not familiar with the Sandusky River and/or the Fremont, Ohio area, this dam has been the center of controversy and legal action for a good number of years.  The two polarizing views are those who support the removal of the dam and those who wanted to save it.  On November 3rd, 2015, the people were able to decide the dam’s fate.  Fremont voters approved the removal of the Ballville Dam by an almost 1,000-vote margin.  The results were 2,637 yes votes (61.3 percent) on the removal ordinance, and 1,663 no votes.  Finally, it is settled… and I am thrilled with the outcome.

I am a strong proponent of dam removal in general, but I was especially interested in this dam.  This was due to a host of reasons most notably being; this is a river that runs through the city I grew up in, I have fished this river more than any other body of water, and my family owns waterfront property on the river.  Needless to say, I love the river and wanted to see the fish that swim in it gain an extra 22 miles of unimpeded habitat.  I can’t believe this will finally be a reality!

At some point in 2016, I will be adding a page to the blog that will be devoted to the Ballville Dam and it’s removal.  I hope to create a photo journal of the progress that will go from start to finish and beyond.  I anticipate fish surveys and research will happen for many years to come, if not indefinitely.

Fall Family Fishing Fest

CWF10102015entranceA historic site for a family fishing event

Fishing a new location is always exciting, and today I got to do that while also participating in a very fun Cleveland Metroparks sponsored event with my son.  The event, “Fall Family Fishing Fest” took place at the Ohio & Erie Canal Reservation on E49th in Cuyahoga Heights, Ohio.  The main attraction for Bryce and I was the fishing derby which gave prizes for kids catching the top 3 lengths of Channel Catfish and Rainbow Trout (the species stocked specifically for the event).  Additionally, there was a category for special catches outside of those two species which made it fun to see what resident fish might turn up.  Along with the fishing, there were educational areas and programs offered that rewarded youths not only with knowledge – but a new fishing pole!  Bryce had already participated in an event that gave him this reward, so we would opt out to ensure that another child would get one.

CWF10102015crowdHopeful anglers line the grassy banks of the canal

The weather was perfect, hardly a trace of wind and plenty warm for an October day.  The venue itself was neat due to its history (can read here) and was quite scenic.  As with any Cleveland Metroparks event, their staff and volunteers always make it fun and enjoyable for all participants.  I’m impressed that even with hundreds of kids running around and all the chaos, there are countless examples of each kid getting personal attention and being made to feel special.

CWF10102015dadbryceIf one photo describes being a dad to me, this is it

Bryce and I set up a couple rods with jigs tipped with waxworms in the hopes of enticing a trout to bite.  I also thought this offering might have a bit of ‘universal appeal’ to other species.  Taking a newly 4 year old fishing, I mostly just hoped to keep bites happening so he didn’t grow bored and end our day.


The plan worked rather well and Bryce caught a decent catfish within minutes of our arrival.  He was thrilled to watch his fish get measured, his name written on the leaderboard, and see his fish go into an onsite aquarium for the day.  While the day would eventually see his name completely off the board, I had to laugh that he coped with this by saying he still was first because he caught the first one.  It was also funny that people who asked him how long his catch was would get, “600 hundred and 27 hundred pounds”.  Along with inheriting his dad’s love of fishing, he may have gotten my math skills.

CWF10102015bassfightThat’s a big fish bending the fly rod like that!

CWF10102015evanWay to go Evan!

The two photos above, were a story that just had to be told.  I watched a boy not far from us get instructed on fly fishing and he proceeded to cast for hours.  With that kind of persistence I was hoping he would be rewarded with a bite, and boy did it happen!  I looked over and saw a huge bend in the rod and knew it was a substantial fish.  After a spirited battle with the fish, it made it to the net.  We all were a bit shocked to see a dandy Largemouth Bass.  I venture to say there are many accomplished fly fisherman that haven’t caught a bass of that size.  Congratulations to Evan, and I think it is safe to say he is hooked on fly fishing!

CWF10102015aquariumThe aquarium that held a sampling of catches, Bryce was enthralled

While maybe nothing quite as exciting as Evan’s catch, similar joyous moments of fishing success were playing out all along the canal.  From first catches to special catches, big fish to little fish and everything in between, yes even a rock that was caught – people of all ages were having a good time.  These events are amazing in the life long memories they create and the way it instills an appreciation of nature for the kids participating.

CWF10102015mikeMike Durkalec, Cleveland Metroparks, handing out the awards

The day ended with awards being distributed to the kids that had the top catches.  Many arms and hands were holding some serious fishing swag, prompting a lot of smiling faces.  I heard a lot of fishing stories being exchanged, including a few of the ‘ones that got away’.  Even with a few lost fish it seemed everyone had some level of success.  The metroparks staff and volunteers were largely responsible for why this was the case by offering equipment for loan, some free equipment, free bait, and some expert fishing guidance.  Folks even canvassed the fishing area with long handled nets indicating to me that every detail had been well thought out.

If you missed this event, make sure you don’t miss the next.  I would like to personally extend a big thank you to the Cleveland Metroparks and the volunteers for providing such a fun day for my son and I.

The Good River

I love rivers.  I often find myself standing in one or on the shore of one.  My mind often drifts into the past, half expecting to see a canoe with native people come around the bend going about their daily work.  As reality sets back in, I embrace the scenery, the wildlife, and a peace comes over me.  I have a deep appreciation that the water still flows present day.  While I may not be fishing to sustain my very existence by the meat I hope to catch, the river provides a salve to my soul and a nourishment I get nowhere else.  To me, that is a ‘good river’, and it is a spiritual connection.

Some time ago, I was fortunate to stumble upon a retailer named “Good River”, who can be found at  I had no idea how well they would capture the way I feel about rivers, outdoors, nostalgia, and Ohio, in a hat(s).  I literally love everything about the company and what they sell.  Great people selling a great product.  In my mind, they operate out of an old Victorian era factory, beside a river that could be in anyone’s hometown.  For me, it is the Sandusky River in Tiffin, Ohio.

Before I completely fade into thoughts of walking around the Heritage Festival in the early 1980’s, I better get right down to the business of why this post was initially inked.  The fine folks at Good River decided to gift me with a custom CWF trucker style baseball cap.  Easily, one of the coolest things to happen since having my website/blog!  I suppose the gift was for supporting them by sporting one of their hats (a de-stressed Ohio fish hat) in so many of my photos, but to me, I am just appreciative to them for making something I love to put on that captures my fishing and Ohio pride.

I love these two photos, my new hat & a picturesque shot of me fly fishing

After getting the new hat, I went down to the Rocky River with it, took some photos and created a new banner for the CWF Facebook Page.  I couldn’t resist getting a little bit of fishing in, but I found no takers.  I’ll blame that on the previous night’s rain, but it could have been that I was distracted taking my cap off to admire it every few minutes.  I rarely go on the record to promote something, but I will say without reservation to go check out the Good River website, I’m willing to bet you will find your new favorite hat.

Fly Fishing Film Tour, Cleveland

fftlogoSome years ago, I was able to catch a Fly Fishing Film Tour in Maumee, Ohio.  It made a lasting impression and I always hoped that each year the funding or sponsorship would be found to keep it going.  I was excited to learn that the film tour was not only still being produced, but stopping in Cleveland this year.  There was no question, I would be in attendance.

While my overall opinion on the film tour is highly favorable, I do give honest critques and there were some things I didn’t like.  Let me start by saying, none of the negatives were profound enough to outweigh the positives, and I was glad I went and would go again.  So let me get the bad parts off my chest.  Parking is a genuine pain in the a** around the Cleveland Museum of Natural History.  There are very few parking spaces on the street, a small lot at the museum that fills quickly, and a nightmare traffic flow problem at the next closest parking garage at the art museum.  The latter option, gives everyone approaching from the right the ability to turn in, while if you need to access making a left turn you will wait an ungodly amount of time – all while making everyone behind you mad that isn’t trying to get in the garage.  For the incredible inconvenience, you are treated to $8 parking.  Maybe the locals or people that visit routinely know the ins and outs and how to navigate it, to anyone else it was a buzzkill start to the night.  I must not have been the only one who thought so, as I heard a museum worker discuss with a patron a “capital project” that included a new parking garage.  If true, I’m not one to just complain, I would give to it.  The next downfall was the apparent mindset of ‘the more the merrier’.  I bought my tickets as a pre-purchase and know there was an “at the door” option for a few bucks more.  I’m sure no one was turned away at the door.  When it came time to get seated for the film, my wife and I ended up in makeshift rows of chairs at the side of the auditorium.  A not so great view of the screen with people behind you putting their feet on the rung of your chair or inadvertently kicking it every 2 minutes.  Heard many people commenting around me about it.

CWF03062015AJSo now let’s talk about the awesome-ness which is the Fly Fishing Film Tour!  My night started with the same beautiful date I had years ago in Maumee, only instead of  being a good looking girlfriend, it was my wife and mother of my two children.  It was pretty fun to have a couple people say they had seen her at events at the museum before – even though she hadn’t been there in 30 years.  It was flattering to my wife (and I) and she is so humble, it was fun to see her embarrassed by the attention.  I know I’m biased, but how gorgeous is she?!

CWF03062015beerBoth the event and museum staff were warm and friendly.  The reception area was plenty sizable and despite the large turnout, there was no shortage of great tasting free appetizers.  Drinks were priced fairly for this type of event at $4 a beer and $6 a cocktail.  My beer of choice, a tasty 16 oz. Sweet Water Brewing Company Pale Ale, felt like a steal.  I enjoyed the beer and the ‘packaging’ was as cool as I have ever seen – a Steelhead in air with the fisherman in the background standing in a small wooden jon boat. Photo to the left.

There were numerous vendor/sponsor tables throughout the corridors.  While due to the aforementioned parking, I did not have time to visit many.  My wife and I decided food and beverage superseded them, in the limited time before the movie.  It did look like people were having a good time checking out the various wares and services, along with entering some raffles for substantially nice prizes.  Bummed I didn’t get to participate.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSo the best is for last. The night is truly about the film(s) and that has never disappointed me in the two events I’ve attended. For those that don’t know, the format is a series of short films that in total, resemble the length of a full feature film.  Each short is as diverse and entertaining as the anglers that enjoy the sport.  From swagger and style, to humor, serious, and conservation, it is all covered.  Some parts light, some heavy, all overwhelmingly entertaining.  You leave feeling connected to nature, the fish, and the brotherhood of fly fisherman all over the world.  It is a near religious experience.  The energy and vibe of what not only is happening on screen, but with the audience, is impossible for me to explain in words.  The more obvious and easy to describe moments are when hundreds of people let out an audible sigh and breath of relief when a fish is landed or the collective gasp on a missed strike or fish comes off.  I wont go any further explaining – I just want to invite you to experience it.  If the Fly Fishing Film Tour is coming to a city near you, don’t miss it!