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 (www.clevelandmetroparks.com) 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.

A giant fish, stocker trout, & friends

BEREA, OH –  Some days are just about perfect, today was one of them.  If nothing more would have happened than getting to kayak fish on a 60 degree day near the end of January in northern Ohio – it would have been great.  When you add a giant fish, catch and releasing more than a limit of the targeted species, and fishing amongst friends it is truly a special day.

cwf01212017grasscarpA giant White Amur aka “Grass Carp”

A few years ago, I perfected some tactics to catch Grass Carp at a lake in Medina and the pond in my back yard.  The highlight was a huge fish caught by throwing some green leafy plants on the surface, and mixing in a leaf that had a single hook in it.  That fish was never documented.  In one of those ‘what was I thinking?!’ moments (this particular excuse applies to several memorable fish) I had decided it was necessary to clean the fish off before snapping a few photos.  It’s probably not necessary to fill in the blanks, but yes, right out of my hands the fish swam away.  I was pretty dejected to say the least.  It was my hope whether targeting or inadvertent, that I would encounter the same class fish at some point.  Most importantly, that the new story would end with a photo.  As you see above, on this day that happened and a bit of fishing redemption was mine.  I use the term “a bit” because the other fish took my offering in the mouth and was a catch in the purest sense.  Today’s fish ended up snagged after I kept casting where I saw a big fin breach the water.  While legal in Ohio for this species, it will never measure up to the first fish due to this.

cwf01212017rainbowA small stocker Rainbow Trout

Almost lost in my mind completely over the big fish, was that the targeted species was stocker Rainbow Trout.  The trout were placed in early December and it was apparent a good number remained.  While not fast and furious, I did get my 3 fish limit and continued to catch & release another 3 or 4.  A few fish came on the non-glorious (but always productive) Powerbait and the others on a Panther Martin inline spinner.  All of the trout I caught were rather small, and all Rainbows.  The Cleveland Metroparks do a great job of mixing in some bigger trout, some Golden, and a few others species of trout with most, if not all stockings.  I have never caught any of the ‘bonus’ fish despite a substantial effort in the number of times I’ve been out.

cwf01212017kayakThe author’s reaction to someone else’s big trout!

The photo above captures me reacting to someone else catching one of those ‘bonus’ fish I can’t seem to get.  I hope it shows my sportsmanship or a lot about my personality to see my joy over someone else getting a nice catch.  The unseasonably warm weather brought out a good number of kayak anglers, and this fortunate angler landed a very sizeable Rainbow.

cwf01212017kenAmongst the kayak anglers on the lake, was at least one face that looked familiar to me.  It turns out it was Ken Morris, a Pro Staffer for a few brands and definitely a well respected person in the kayak and fishing community.  I had first seen Ken in a Facebook Group we both belong to, CLE Kayak Angers, and it was nice to formally meet.  He has a wealth of knowledge and one of those people that freely offers his expertise and insight.  I hope to do some planned fishing trips with him in the future.  Ken mentioned the River Bassin Tournament Trail, a paddle-powered catch, photo, and release fishing tournament series.  It looks really outstanding and I wanted to give it some exposure on my blog.  Check it out!

Ominous weather for kayak fishing Lake Erie

CWF06042016yakbeachBAY VILLAGE, OH – Having a day available to fish is not an opportunity to pass up, even if the weather is less than ideal.  The forecast was just fair enough to make me feel comfortable hitting Lake Erie from the kayak, albeit not heading too far out.  Due to the weather being suspect, I decided to launch out of Huntington Beach (link here), part of the Cleveland Metroparks, a destination I have used a handful of times the past few years.

CWF06042016erieI started the day drifting worm harnesses on bottom bouncers and drop shotting artificial tubes.  My hope (better stated as my dream) was to catch Walleye and Smallmouth Bass.  Needless to say, neither happened.  I switched a few times before settling on attempting to troll crankbaits while paddling.  This turned out to be a great decision as the rest of the day I was routinely catching White Bass.  The size of the fish were good too, most falling between 12 to 14 inches.

While I don’t look happy in the photo, I was thrilled.  The serious face had more to do with conditions and trying to get the fish and equipment to cooperate for a picture.  Usually, my Lake Erie kayak fishing is tons of Round Gobies and a few Sheephead.  Throw in an occasional Channel Catfish and that is about all I’ve done.  To pick up a different species, and in good numbers and size, was fun and felt like an accomplishment.  Looking at the weather and how I was having success, I couldn’t help but think of the movie Caddyshack.  I just hoped it didn’t end with me getting struck by lightning.  This did cause me to come off the water earlier than I would’ve liked.

No complaints about the day, I enjoyed it far more than a beautiful day without catching fish.  Each time out I am trying new techniques and strategies, and my confidence is building as I am making more catches.  I also continue to do better with setting up the kayak for each trip with efficient packing and having the right items within reach while on it.  Right down to my loading and unloading of the yak, things seem vastly improved.  I can’t wait to get back out!