Multi species day on the Sandusky River

FREMONT, OH – Maybe the Sandusky River knows the spiritual connection I have with it or knows my efforts to see the natural flow restored through the Ballville Dam removal… whatever it is… the river is nearly always good to me.  Today was no exception.  By the day’s end, between myself, son, and a couple friends we would catch seven species (White Bass, White Perch, Yellow Perch, Freshwater Drum, Channel Catfish, Rock Bass, & Golden Redhorse) and a total number of fish that was impossible to keep track of.  A truly banner day of Spring river fishing!

I’ll take the pull and fight of a big Freshwater Drum any day

A couple of the nicer sized Channel Catfish from the day

Now in typical fashion of someone who enjoys catching rough fish, there won’t be a picture of the Yellow Perch or White Bass.  While this wasn’t really intentional, I just noticed the few pictures that I had tagged for the blog just happened to not include them.  I guess a nice sized drum or catfish I consider more noteworthy and fun over an average White Bass or Yellow Perch.  I also wanted to highlight them as they seemed to be the most prevalent catches.  Overall, the mix of fish took everything from tight lining nightcrawlers off the bottom, to live minnows under a float, and inline spinners.  The most interesting catch was the single Golden Redhorse, as I have only recorded a few other sucker catches ever on this stretch of the river.  The other surprise was the volume of Yellow Perch, while I have encountered them here, never in the numbers as I did today and certainly never in abundance over the White Bass.

Bald Eagle

Northern Watersnake

Along with the great fishing, we encountered some wildlife without fins too.  I always welcome these bonus sightings and my son is always especially excited to see what we come across.  Today included a toad, a Northern Watersnake, and many types of birds and waterfowl.  The highlight had to be that as often as I see Bald Eagles, I finally was able to get a somewhat decent picture of one.  I do not have a professional camera with a great optical zoom – I carry rugged cameras that can handle the abuse of the outdoors and water.  This makes the practical application of fish pictures easy, but not so much for running around pointing it in the sky at moving birds.  Somehow, I did pull it off and was pleased with what I captured considering the device used.

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 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 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.

Father and Son, summer fishing

Although the time to post updates on the blog can prove difficult, there has been plenty of fishing this summer.  A lot of the fishing has been from shore with my son.  He is growing up so fast and it is amazing how each trip he can do more and more on his own.  I guess it is a lot like life in many ways, so I will treasure everything he still needs my help with.  The photos below are from a trip earlier this summer where we were catching Freshwater Drum, Green Sunfish, White Bass, and Channel Catfish.  Hopefully, I am grooming him to be just like me, in appreciating all of the species.

I love the look of Bryce’s intensity in this photo

One of the few times he let me net the fish, he loves having that job

Regardless of the fish, I love these father & son memories

Lippin’ the fish like a pro

I have to admit this entry is very self serving, no trophy fish photo, no awesome report, just a dad proud of his son and the simple joy of parenthood.  Days like this will be treasured and come too few and far between.  I pray he is old enough to remember them!

A new personal record Freshwater Drum

The holiday weekend provided an opportunity to get back out on the kayak. I wanted to get out in Lake Erie but was worried about the wind and subsequent wave height. For once, I felt like I made a thoughtful well calculated plan, and chose to put in at Emerald Necklace Marina on the Rocky River. It was close enough to the mouth that I could paddle to the lake, yet if conditions were bad I could just stay in the river. So I put my plan into action and sure enough the lake was far to choppy for me to feel safe. I did not use good judgment as I was compelled to go out and ‘test it’, but dumping would never be a good way to say, “yes I was right, too poor of conditions”. My novice status as a kayak fisherman was also evident by my failure to realize I had left the scupper plugs in. A self bailing sit on top does no good when soaked if the plugs aren’t out. Lesson learned.

CWF052515drumThe largest Freshwater Drum I’ve ever caught, 27 1/2″

While I was disappointed to be heading back into the river, I still had great expectations of good fishing and maybe would get into some Smallmouth Bass, Channel Catfish, or Common Carp.  Reports had all of these species being picked up in good numbers recently.  While highly unlikely, I also thought maybe I stood a chance at a Steelhead heading back out to the lake.  As the day went on and the fishing was slow, I went from wondering what I was going to catch to wondering if I was going to catch at all.  It may have been due to all the boat traffic and recreational paddlers, maybe the people and dogs splashing in the water, but the end result was nothing happening as far as fish.

I’m never one to give up easily and after multiple lure changes, I settled in on using a Blue Fox Super Vibrax.  I’m a big fan of inline spinners and this is one of my favorites.  After 5 or 10 minutes, I felt my first nudge of the day and a few casts later I had my first fish, a small drum.  As slow as the fishing was, I appreciated anything willing to bite and that included a small non noteworthy fish.  I also have to say that any catch from the kayak is celebrated, as it is a newer experience.  I decided I would just keep throwing the same lure and it paid off in consistent catches, albeit small to medium sized drum.  They fight plenty good for their size and I wasn’t looking for a meal, so it suited me fine.  I remained optimistic that eventually something else would come along, but if it didn’t at least I was catching.  As I was nearing my time to quit for the day, I had a massive strike and my drag immediately was screaming.  I was pulled to the center of the river rather quickly and was fortunate that traffic was light at this time.  A few recreational yakers moved out of the way and proceeded to have some entertainment, I also noted a considerable amount of shore fisherman and onlookers watching the battle ensue.  I figured it was a drum as it was reluctant to do anything other than hug the bottom as it fought, but it was remarkable in it’s ability to change direction and I found myself fighting it at various times from either side of the kayak.  Landing it was no easy task, but after 5 or 6 minutes I got it in the net.  I have to admit I was not expecting a fish of this size and it was truly the most fun fish to catch in a very long time.  I put the fish on a stringer just to help control it for the photo op and it also proved to help with reviving for release.

No success getting a photo while it was perfectly straight on the Hawg Trough

While I know a good majority of angler’s will simply say, “it’s just a drum”, I love catching the rough fish and less widely accepted and targeted species.  This was the largest I have ever caught and a welcomed upgrade on my life list.  It far exceeded the 22″ necessary for Fish Ohio Award and gave me quite the memory.   Call it a Sheephead, Reef Donkey, or whatever you want, I’ll call it a trophy.

Good ‘rough’ fishing on the Sandusky River

The White Bass Run in the Sandusky River didn’t prove to be that great for me this year.  It seems it was one of those years where every time I got to fish, the action just wasn’t fast.  I did catch a fair number, but those familiar with the run know exactly how fantastic it can be if you time it right.  So I made the most of my outings by simply enjoying the other species that were being cooperative.  This turned out to be various ‘rough’ fish, which was plenty fun, and included another Fish Ohio Award.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESA 26″ Fish Ohio Award Channel Catfish

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESNot ugly in my book, just a cool big fish

Over the course of several trips during the Memorial Day Weekend, the theme of species was consistent.  The White Bass would hit now and then but the majority of catches were Channel Catfish, Freshwater Drum, White Perch, and Common Carp.  I did change up my offerings quite a bit, minnows, night- crawlers and threw inline spinners and a few swim baits, but these were the only takers.  No complaints, I was catching fish!

The big catfish was a fun catch.  I was using a 1/64 oz. jig tipped with waxworms, under a bobber.  I was fishing only about a foot off the dock, in 3 feet of water.  The bobber went under with some ferocity and when I lifted the rod it almost yanked out of my hands.  So much for me thinking I was targeting panfish on that rod!  The drag was set correctly and I was happy the 6# test line held up each time the fish ran.  My dad was beside me on the dock and we had a blast trying to get it netted, 4-5 times we got it close and it would take off again.  Even when we had it back close to the dock it was doing loops and circles and it was exhausting trying to get the net in front of it.  We did finally manage to get it landed, and a few photos later, it was swimming again.  Definitely a memorable catch.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESA nice sized Freshwater Drum that hit a white jig/grub combo

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESI did catch one Largemouth Bass during the weekend

So there’s my Memorial Day Weekend fishing report.  It was great to spend time with the family and feel the tug of a few fish.  A big thank you to all active duty and veterans out there.  I also am very thankful for all those who gave their lives for the freedoms we have.