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!

The Good River

I love rivers.  I often find myself standing in one or on the shore of one.  My mind often drifts into the past, half expecting to see a canoe with native people come around the bend going about their daily work.  As reality sets back in, I embrace the scenery, the wildlife, and a peace comes over me.  I have a deep appreciation that the water still flows present day.  While I may not be fishing to sustain my very existence by the meat I hope to catch, the river provides a salve to my soul and a nourishment I get nowhere else.  To me, that is a ‘good river’, and it is a spiritual connection.

Some time ago, I was fortunate to stumble upon a retailer named “Good River”, who can be found at www.thegoodriver.com.  I had no idea how well they would capture the way I feel about rivers, outdoors, nostalgia, and Ohio, in a hat(s).  I literally love everything about the company and what they sell.  Great people selling a great product.  In my mind, they operate out of an old Victorian era factory, beside a river that could be in anyone’s hometown.  For me, it is the Sandusky River in Tiffin, Ohio.

Before I completely fade into thoughts of walking around the Heritage Festival in the early 1980’s, I better get right down to the business of why this post was initially inked.  The fine folks at Good River decided to gift me with a custom CWF trucker style baseball cap.  Easily, one of the coolest things to happen since having my website/blog!  I suppose the gift was for supporting them by sporting one of their hats (a de-stressed Ohio fish hat) in so many of my photos, but to me, I am just appreciative to them for making something I love to put on that captures my fishing and Ohio pride.


I love these two photos, my new hat & a picturesque shot of me fly fishing

After getting the new hat, I went down to the Rocky River with it, took some photos and created a new banner for the CWF Facebook Page.  I couldn’t resist getting a little bit of fishing in, but I found no takers.  I’ll blame that on the previous night’s rain, but it could have been that I was distracted taking my cap off to admire it every few minutes.  I rarely go on the record to promote something, but I will say without reservation to go check out the Good River website, I’m willing to bet you will find your new favorite hat.

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.

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.

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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.

Fishing the Rocky River’s West Branch

CWF070614wbrockyThe view from the Water Street Bridge

With the family moving recently, it has required some time devoted to researching new waters to fish.  It seems each year I have a goal of fishing new places, the move has made this a necessity, whether motivated to do so or not.  Overall, this is a good thing, and I just need to be patient with my expectations of instant fishing success.  Today’s trip was unique in not only that it was my first time at the West Branch of the Rocky River at Olmsted Falls, Ohio, but also in the fact that I only took fly fishing gear.  This is a personal goal of becoming more proficient with the fly rod and it seems if I take my spinning gear, the fly gear ends up sitting in the vehicle.  I didn’t allow myself to let this happen today.

CWF070614carpA rather large carp was cruising the shallow water

Whenever I manage to make it to new water, especially if it is a venue plagued by shallow water, I always worry about the presence of fish.  Obviously, catching a fish makes that worry go away, but certainly even seeing a fish is reassuring.  Before making my way down to the river, I started by looking down from a bridge to see what it would reveal.  Along with some nice scenic views (including the photo to start this post), I was able to spot some fish.

CWF070614fishpairA carp with a mystery companion fish

Thanks to a good decision to bring both of my cameras, including the one with the 27x optical zoom, I was quite surprised at how well the photos turned out.  The photo above was my favorite, as I didn’t even notice the smaller mystery fish until I was at home reviewing on the computer.  I don’t have any idea what species it is, anyone have thoughts?

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESI spent the majority of my time fishing this area below the dam

I eventually stopped looking at the fish, reminding myself I was there to try to catch them.  Making my way down to the water, I realized just how popular the dam was.  While some creative cropping yielded the desired affect of pristine untouched water, the reality was that this area was very popular.  Along with several fisherman, there were five times as many people just wading and splashing around in the water.  In a day and age where most kids are glued to the television or video games, it was difficult to be mad that they would cause the fishing to be more challenging.  At least a few parents out there see value in prying their kids out of a chair.  It was refreshing and reassuring to see.

As expected, the fishing was tough.  Every time I found a decent hole, someone would walk through it or close enough to scare everything away.  When I finally reached an area a little less populated, a group of kayakers decided to have a water fight and take respite on rocks right by where I was intending to fish.  I forced myself to simply enjoy the scenery and work on my fly casting.  After all, this was a beautiful place to practice.

Eventually, I found a spot under the dam that was unmolested from foot traffic.  At this point, any catch would have made my day and I was thrilled to bring to the net two little Smallmouth Bass and a Rock Bass.  I did have to ‘cheat’ and I won’t really consider it a fly fishing catch, as I used a 1/32 oz jig tipped with a Berkley Gulp! Minnow.

As a final note, the area I was at today is named David Fortier River Park.