A big catfish amongst bait stealing gobies

cwf09042016gobyBAY VILLAGE, OH – It was a beautiful day to head out into Lake Erie from Huntington Beach.  I was happy to get some time fishing from the kayak and didn’t really care what I caught, I just wanted to catch fish.  I set up one rod with a bottom bouncer and worm harness as I drifted and the other rod was for casting.  I had a few moments of excitement when I had a strike on the tube jig I was throwing, but it was very short lived.  The 3-4 strikes all came off shortly into the fight.  Curious as to what it might have been, but I guess that’s fishing for you at times.

My bottom bouncer rig remained quiet throughout the day, other than a single Sheephead, and a number of Round Gobies.  I’ve determined my next trip I will dropshot the gobies as bait themselves, I used to do this at the pier in Port Clinton with some success.  The highlight of my day came when my rod I was casting was sitting in the rod holder.  While I was busy removing a goby from the other line, I felt the kayak shake and saw something had clearly taken the Berkley Gulp! Minnow that was just drifting in the current.  The rod was doubled over and the fish gave me one of the best fights I’ve had on the kayak to date.  While I still am searching for my first Smallmouth Bass or Walleye from the kayak, I was plenty happy with the big Channel Catfish.

cwf09042016catfishThe biggest catfish I’ve caught from the kayak

Memorial Day on the Sandusky River

CWF05302016drumFather & son, with one of many large fish

FREMONT, OH – While the girls went shopping and played at home, the boys headed to the river.  As Bryce and I made the hour drive to the grandparent’s house, it was very special to be able to explain what Memorial Day was about.  He grasped the main components of the holiday, and was waving an American Flag at any vehicle we passed.  This day was destined to be awesome.

Arriving to the river, we eagerly got lines in the water.  One set up for still fishing with nothing more than a worm suspended under a bobber, and the other I went about casting lures.  It didn’t take long and I had a nice big Freshwater Drum hit my inline spinner.  While Bryce and I took turns between reeling in the fish and manning the net to get the fish landed, I heard a loud splash.  A fish had pulled the other rod into the water.  There wasn’t anything I could do about the lost rod, so we just did our photo session with the drum (pictured above) before sending it back to the water.

CWF05302016pumpkinA handsome Pumpkinseed was one of many species encountered

After the big drum we continued to catch fish, namely a few Bluegill, Largemouth Bass, and Channel Catfish.  I’m not sure who was more excited, father or son, to be catching so many fish and multi species variety.  As if we weren’t having enough fun, we started seeing the bobber surface from the rod that had gone into the water!  I grabbed a canoe, and kept paddling to where the bobber had come up, only to have it go back under and surface 10 to 20 feet away again.  Bryce thought this was very funny.  Finally, I got close enough to the bobber to slip the paddle under it and get ahold of the line.  The rod end of the line was unable to be budged, so I went ahead and pulled in the fish by hand.  No surprise that it was a rather large Channel Catfish.

CWF05302016catfishThe rod stealing catfish, Bryce’s face shows he didn’t trust the fish

I threw the fish in the canoe so Bryce could see it up close and do a couple pictures.  After the fish was released, I was shocked to see the bobber was out of sight again.  With no fish pulling it, I assumed it would stay at the surface and my plan was to swim out to it, follow the line to the rod and free the rod from whatever it was stuck on.  Even though the bobber was not visible, I swam out thinking I would still be able to feel the line or bobber under the surface.  After 30 minutes, I gave up, and decided to just leave it as another good fishing story.

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.

CWF10102015SHSuccess!

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.