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.

Cooler weather, bass still hot

It wont be long before we are all longing for the warm weather and days with more light.  Even on the north coast of Ohio where the colder weather months reward us with Steelhead fishing and excellent ice fishing opportunities, I still find myself wanting to hold on to every day of ‘T-shirt weather’.  I’ve done an excellent job getting out fishing lately, but only one notable fish worthy of sharing.

CWF09272015lmbAfter countless Bluegill, a good Largemouth Bass

Certain water I fish has an abundance of Bluegill and Pumpkinseed, so much so that it is hard to catch anything else.  If you are persistent and patient, at times you can be rewarded with some nice fish.  This was the case recently when a solid Largemouth Bass showed the panfish who was boss, and beat everyone else to the fly.  Maybe one day I will get good enough to figure out some flies the panfish ignore and only trigger the bass, but for now I enjoy the work of catching everything and the excitement when a fish like this is landed.  My 4 year old son has been joining me and catching plenty of bass on bait, so the bass truly are still very active.  I hope it stays this way for awhile!

CWF09302015bullA surprise bullhead on an olive Woolly Bugger

Anyone who fishes regularly knows what you expect to catch and what decides to bite can be surprising.  This recently proved true for me when a bullhead decided to take my fly.  For whatever reason, even when bottom fishing, I don’t encounter bullhead often so it was cool to see something different.

Bill Dance likes my bass

There is probably nothing more American than I can think of than Apple Pie, baseball, and pond fishing for Largemouth Bass!  Most of the fish I catch in ponds are smaller or less than average sized.  Every now and then though, a big grand-daddy pig amongst guppies comes along and gives a great memory, such as the fish below.

A dandy sized Ohio Largemouth Bass

As for the title of this blog entry… I started an Instagram account and have began posting some of my fishing photos to it.  I noticed that the “Official Bill Dance” liked a variation of the above picture.  So if this bass is good enough to get a ‘like’ from Bill Dance, it’s plenty of validation to me it’s a nice fish.  Thanks, Bill!, I feel almost fishing famous!

Making the most of little time

Time is a commodity I don’t have much of these days.  Between a demanding career and family, fishing has been few and far between in 2015.  Along with very limited outings, getting the time to even do a brief write up has proven difficult.  On the up side, when I have made it out I have had some good success.  Most notably, I made it over to the Sandusky River White Bass run and timed it perfect.  It was non stop action with a real nice class of fish.  Plenty of bonus species also kept things interesting.

CWF05032015wbA 16″ Fish Ohio Award White Bass

The pond has been fishing well, and of course gets the majority of my attention as it provides a quick fishing ‘fix’ when there is no time to get anywhere else.  For the most part, I just have been working on my fly fishing and seem to be getting more proficient.

CWF05032015pumpkinPumpkinseed are quite beautiful

CWF05032015flybassA few Bass get to the fly before the Bluegill

Only a single trip was made to the various spring trout stockings and even on that day I didn’t have much time.  I was happy to at least get a fish, a rather decent 12″ Rainbow that under the circumstances, made my day.

CWF05032015troutInstagram trout selfie

I’m not feeling very worthy of calling myself a fishing blogger these days with so little time for fishing and writing.  I appreciate the folks that still stop by and/or follow on Facebook, even a small following makes me want to continue doing this.  I hope everyone out there is having a fun spring and making some great catches!

New personal best, Largemouth Bass

Every now and then a fisherman is rewarded for their efforts with a significant catch. This reward that we are constantly in search of, when found, makes up for the countless hours and sometimes awful conditions we endure seeking it. My reward came tonight via a 22″ Largemouth Bass, a bass greater in size than any I have ever encountered.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESMaybe my new Cleveland Metroparks T-Shirt is lucky!?

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESLooking confident and almost ‘smug’, doing cartwheels on the inside

While I don’t target bass a lot, this evening I tied on a spinner specifically going for them.  I had caught several and actually had considered the fishing a success.  Often, in my mind I will say “last cast” when I am done, tonight was wild in that I actually uttered the words “last cast” out loud.  Maybe because I had actually said it, it caused me to pay attention to the cast, more so than any of the night.  It was a long cast, that I attempted to retrieve running parallel to the shoreline, about 5 feet out.  I recalled that the water temperatures were cooling, and slowed my retrieve.  When the spinner was about 12 feet from me, the fish hit with a dull heavy thud.  Other than a huge wave forming, nothing broke the surface, and I had no idea it was a bass.  For a few moments, I thought there was a good chance I inadvertently snagged into a Grass Carp.  It just felt too heavy to be a bass and wasn’t fighting like one.  It didn’t rise at all and wanted to stay down.  As I continued to fight the fish to shore, it eventually made a small jump and I got a clear side view of the fish.  My brain then registered the fact that I was fighting the biggest Largemouth Bass of my life!  I tried my best to remain calm and stay focused, as I got the fish to the water’s edge.  Normally, I would be somewhat cautious lipping a fish knowing there was a spinner with a treble hook present – but for this fish, I didn’t care.  I was prepared to take all three points into my fingers if necessary.  As good fortune would have it, and the unusually huge mouth of the fish, there was plenty of room for the lure and my fingers.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESThe trophy bass fell for this Blue Fox, Super Vibrax, size 3, inline spinner

The lure was sitting in the bottom lip of the fish, and was removed quickly.  I did a quick photo on the tape measure, then snatched it up for a quick photo op with me.  As much as I wanted to admire the fish, I knew the right thing was getting it returned to the water.  Apparently, I did a good job being quick about everything as the fish barely was back in the water as it bolted out of my hands and swam away strong.  It was a fantastic fish and seeing it swim away was the perfect ending.  Maybe, we cross paths again!

Four days of bliss, an Instagram interpretation

It’s rare that I take time off from work, so this past week when I had four consecutive days off, I wanted to make the most of it.  My goal was to hit a combination of known places to hopefully ensure some catches, while also exploring new waters.  By week’s end, I was satisfied I had accomplished these goals.  The fishing was okay, with the highlight catch being a Bluegill that exceeded the “Fish Ohio’ mark.  Along with Bluegill, other species I encountered included Largemouth Bass, Pumpkinseed, Common Shiner, Yellow Bullhead, Rock Bass, and Round Goby (man those are annoying).

I did a fair amount of fly fishing, and I continue to gain confidence with this technique.  I do miss a good number of hookups, but I know practice and getting more experience is the best remedy for that.  Even missing some fish, I really was appreciating the scenery and simply enjoying the outdoors.  I reminded myself several times, it isn’t just about the fish.

Rather than my typical posing with fish, I thought I would attempt to be a bit more artistic with how I presented the content.  Below, is a selection of Instagram pictures from the week.  If you dig my favorite fishing hat in the first photo, It is from Good River.

CWFIG10102014hat

CWFIG10102014vermilion

CWIF101010bgflys

CWF10102014cro

CWFIG10102014blackriver

CWFIG10102014rocky

CWFIG10102014lake

CWFIG10102014bullhead

CWFIG10102014bluegills

CWFIG10102014bryce

CWFIG10102014bass

CWFIG10102014bigbgs

The only complaint I have, is that the four days went by far too quickly.  I pray that as the days get colder and shorter, I still get out for a few more experiences like this.  All the fish pictured and caught this week were released.

Where did the summer go?

I’m amazed at how fast the summer went, and how busy I was between work and family.  Outside of my special trip to New Hampshire, most of the fishing I have done has been pretty routine with nothing caught of noteworthy mention.  It is exciting that my son is getting to an age of really enjoying fishing, knows what he is doing and demonstrating a genuine interest in it.  So while the actual fish caught aren’t worth bragging about, watching him grow and seeing his personality develop, has made every trip memorable.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESHoping Bryce is old enough to remember days like this

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESI love how interested he is in each fish, a little version of daddy

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESHappiest when he can touch the fish, and insists on throwing them back

I imagine many of you can relate to these photos as it is the experiences you have had with your little ones.  It truly is an amazing part of life and I’m soaking up every second of it!

For those of you without kids or just generally are looking for reports and more dynamic excursions – don’t worry I do have a lot of fishing coming soon.  I took the week of October 6th off and plan on fishing all over the region!  More to come on that, soon!

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.

Grass Carp added to life list!

Finalgrasscarp2013As a multi species angler, adding a species to my life list always ranks at the top of my fishing goals. Add a lifer that comes with a great story and family around to witness it, and it makes it’s way into some of my all time favorite catches. Being Easter Sunday, the family headed to Jill’s aunt & uncle’s home that sits on a very magnificent fishing lake. I have caught numerous Largemouth Bass, some real monster Bluegill and a couple Bullhead in. The fishing plan was very simple for the day, catch some fish on the spinning gear and then discipline myself to practice with the fly rod. Everything went as planned. I caught quite a few Largemouth Bass on a jig/grub combo and then some on the 4wt fly rod. I managed a couple real nice Bluegill, the largest being a bit over 10″. The day was complete with a Fish Ohio award sized Bluegill and catching fish on the fly rod, if it would have ended then, I was more than satisfied.

CWF2013MAR31jigAs fate would have it, I got a massive knot on the end of my fly line. Knowing it would take quite awhile to get it untangled, I decided to throw out an offering that I could still-fish while working on the mess. After tying on a tandem of 1/64 oz jigs, I went to the container of waxworms. The waxworms looked like they were on steroids and then I read the container to see that it said “Butter Worms”. My wife had been kind enough to offer to get my bait while she was out shopping, and inadvertently grabbed these. It goes without saying that his proved to be a very fortunate mistake!

I had barely made progress on my knot when I saw my bobber go under. I ran to my rod and knew instantly it wasn’t anything I had encountered on this body of water before. The fish was powerful, and nearly impossible to control on the 6# line. I was trying to play the fish while waving frantically at everyone in the house. I didn’t have a net but thought Jill’s uncle might have one, or if nothing else, people might get to see a glimpse of the fish before it broke me off. Surprisingly, as many runs as the fish made, it stayed on. I got it into the shallow water by the dock several times, with it slipping out of my hands and back into the water. On the third or fourth attempt, I was able to get my fingers behind the gills to hoist it onto the shore. At some point people must have seen or heard me as by the time it was successfully landed – everyone was standing there watching. Jill grabbed the camera and took some really great shots rather quickly, and the fish was returned to the water without issue. I really feel lucky to have caught and landed this fish, what a memory!

CWF2013MAR3120collageWhile the Grass Carp stole the show, a 10.25″ “Fish Ohio Award” Bluegill and fly caught Largemouth Bass highlighted some of the other catches from the day. I can’t wait to get back to this lake.