One day, three kayak fishing locations

CWF05282016A fine Rainbow Trout from the kayak, at Wallace Lake

BEREA, OH – The previous weekend’s Kid’s Fishing Derby at Wallace Lake had me wondering if there were any stocker Rainbow Trout remaining.  If you read my previous post covering the event, you will know I did not give the fishing it’s due effort, which also left me feeling a bit bummed.  I was hopeful fish would remain, but also knew the lake would have had considerable pressure.

With an opportunity to fish nearly all of the day, I was fortunate that my plan could include multiple destinations.  I decided I would fish Wallace Lake for a few hours before moving on to the Rocky River at Emerald Necklace Marina and then into Lake Erie.

Getting on to the water at Wallace Lake, I was greeted with a nice Bluegill on my second cast.  This didn’t end up meaning anything as to the pace of the fishing as I would go nearly an hour and a half before the next strike.  That strike turned out to be a small Largemouth Bass.  Fortunately, I got this bite or I may have been out of the water by the time I hit the two hour mark where I had planned to leave.  As I fished on, I began to convince myself that it was unlikely many fish remained.  The lake is not so big as to not see a good number of shore anglers at any given time, and I had not seen a single trout taken by anyone.  I am not sure what motivated me to keep throwing my inline spinner and revise my departure time, but I did.  Finally, I got another hit and felt the pull of a bit better fish than the previous two.  As I got the fish close to the boat I could see it was a trout, and a fine sized one for a stocker.  Fish landed without issue, just under 17″.

The kayak view at the mouth of the Rocky River

With goal number one for the day accomplished by catching a trout out of Wallace Lake, it was on to the next missions.  While not so specific, I just wanted to catch some fish in the Rocky River and Lake Erie.  I headed north through the Rocky River Reservation and put the kayak in at Emerald Necklace Marina.  The river was pretty busy with boat traffic, both large and small crafts.  Who knows if this contributed to keeping fish out of the area but I had no hookups, just conversations with other paddling enthusiasts.  Moving on to the lake, my luck didn’t change.  All of my offerings were refused other than drifting worm harnesses that were getting destroyed by Round Gobies.  I landed a few of them to confirm what species was bait robbing me, and gave up on trying to get anything else to bite.  The weather changed too, and I called it a day.

I wish the river or lake would have given up a nice fish or two, but I was happy I got out, and I always get ideas for the next trip and how to be more successful.

Rocky River & Lake Erie from the kayak

CWF09172015Although the nights are starting to get cold, we are still having many very hot days on Ohio’s north coast.  I recently made the most out of one of those days by taking the kayak over to the Cleveland Metroparks and launching out of Emerald Necklace Marina.

I started my day of fishing right at the ramp and was rewarded with a 12″ Largemouth Bass on an inline spinner on the first cast.  This was my first bass from the Rocky River and I had only heard of Smallmouth being caught there, so it was a bit of a surprise.  I decided I would work my way north, fishing as I headed towards Lake Erie.  As easy as the first fish came, I would catch nothing else on my journey to the ‘big pond’.  Out in the lake, the fishing picked up and I caught several Channel Catfish and Freshwater Drum.  I was running a bottom bouncer/worm harness on one rod and casting a tube jig on the other.  I made a few lure changes and was disappointed that I missed a nice strike on a tandem of two Gulp! Minnows.  Maybe another drum, but I hate not knowing.

After getting my fill of the lake, I returned to the river and hooked up with a few more catfish and stumbled upon a new pattern.  I found a spot that I was catching Bluegill on every cast, with a few being worthy of table-fare, if I were keeping.  I will be curious if the spot holds up next trip.

As I headed in, I spotted another fisherman in a well rigged kayak and struck up some conversation.  It turns out it was someone from the CLE Kayak Anglers group I belong to on Facebook, Rusty Butchko.  Rusty knows the river well and was kind enough to share a few tips.  A visit to the Facebook page the next day, revealed that Rusty caught a very nice sized Walleye that evening, too cool!

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.