COMMENTARY

Erie serves up a surprise of feisty royalty

8/23/2013
BY MATT MARKEY
BLADE OUTDOORS EDITOR
Captain Bob Brown, Jr., caught this king salmon near Pelee island in Lake Erie. Brown estimated the weight at 15 pounds.
Captain Bob Brown, Jr., caught this king salmon near Pelee island in Lake Erie. Brown estimated the weight at 15 pounds.

MARBLEHEAD, Ohio — There have been thousands of trips out on Lake Erie, and hundreds of thousands of casts over the past four decades, yet Capt. Bob Brown, Jr., had not seen it all.

On a recent outing, with his Sundance Sportfishing Charters boat drift fishing in Canadian waters near Pelee Island, Brown tied into a fight like nothing Erie’s walleye, smallmouth bass, and yellow perch had ever offered him before.

Brown caught a rambunctious king salmon or chinook, the largest of the Pacific salmon species but one that is no longer stocked in Lake Erie. The 15-pounder he battled likely migrated this way from Lake Huron or Lake Michigan.

Matt Markey.
Matt Markey.

Brown said the king was broad and thick and had the telltale black gums of a chinook. The fish attacked a worm harness spinner rig, and after a few dynamic runs around the boat, the king was in the landing net. After some quick pictures, Brown released the fish to fight another day.

Species variety is nothing unusual for Brown, who is one of the owners of Channel Grove Marina here. He spends the winter months chartering out of Florida’s Marathon Key, where the heavy tackle is prepped for sailfish, dolphin, tuna, marlin, wahoo, cobia, grouper, snapper, amberjack, tarpon, and permit.

PERCH CLINIC: On Wednesday, Jann’s Netcraft on Briarfield Boulevard in Maumee will host a free perch-fishing seminar at 6:30 p.m. with John Hageman. Few have had a longer or closer relationship with Lake Erie and its bounty of fish than Hageman, who recently retired from the Ohio Sea Grant after serving as its Stone Lab research facility manager. Stone Lab is located on Gibraltar Island, in Put-in-Bay harbor, just off South Bass Island. Hageman first visited there as a high-schooler, then spent most of the next quarter century working there, as a student at Ohio State, and then as a biologist. He also served as a Lake Erie ice guide for many winters, so Hageman brings the perspective of both scientist and angler to the table. He will speak on proper tackle selection and the best locations to fish, and share his expertise on proven techniques used to locate perch, attracting fish, ideal baits, and effective anchoring. The session is free, but registration is recommended since seating is limited. Register for the perch-fishing seminar by stopping in at the showroom, emailing Jann’s at the techhelp@jannsnetcraft.com address, or by calling 419-868-8288 and pressing option No. 1.

FISHING REPORT: As August prepares to wind down into September, and the heat has returned, many fishing options remain available. The ODNR reports that walleye fishing has been productive north of the Toledo water intake, despite algae issues in the area. Anglers have also done well around West Sister Island, three miles north of Crane Creek, and north of the “C” can marker of the Camp Perry shooting range. The most productive method for the boats that are trolling for walleye has been using worm harnesses or with divers and spoons. Drift fishermen are still producing fish by casting weight-forward spinners tipped with worms, or mayfly rigs.

Jann’s Netcraft reports that yellow perch fishing has been steady in recent days, with good catches coming in 22 to 25 feet of water in an area about two miles northeast of the water intake. Another productive location has been northwest of Catawba Island State Park, near the green buoy in about 22 feet of water. The late afternoon and evening have been the most productive times to fish, with emerald shiners rigged on spreaders and fished just off the bottom.

The ODNR reports that yellow perch fishing has been steady around “B” can of the Camp Perry range, near the Canadian line just south of East Sister Island, east of the Kelleys Island landing strip, and on the dumping grounds east of Marblehead.

There have also been good results for largemouth bass anglers working the marinas, harbors, and nearshore areas around Catawba and Marblehead.

In Lake Erie’s central basin, walleye fishing has been decent in the area around the weather buoy along the Canadian border, west of Ruggles Reef. The walleye fishing is rated as excellent in 75 feet of water north of Ashtabula and northwest of Conneaut. Anglers are taking fish by trolling with blue, yellow, purple, green, and orange spoons. The central basin perch fishing has been best in about 50 feet of water north of Cleveland and northwest of Fairport Harbor, and in slightly deeper water north of Ashtabula and northwest of Conneaut.

Locally, Maumee Tackle reports that both largemouth and smallmouth bass fishing has been very steady in the Maumee River in recent days, with crankbaits, poppers, and tubes all producing fish. The bait shop continues to see a steady stream of big catfish coming from the river

Jann’s Netcraft reports good catches of bass coming in the mornings and evenings from Wauseon reservoir No. 2, along the riprap banks. Anglers are using plastic worms rigged Texas-style, or jigs fished around the rocks. Bluegill fishing has been best with wax worms or red worms fished three to five feet below a float.

Contact Blade outdoors editor Matt Markey at: mmarkey@theblade.com or 419-724-6068.