Two major professional walleye tournament trails again are kicking off their seasons on western Lake Erie this month.
An expanded field of 135 professional anglers will be seeking Lake Erie big-fish tournament records in the Bass Pro Shops Eastern Pro-Am, the first event in the In-Fisherman Professional Walleye Trail. The Pro-Am is set for April 19 through 21 at Port Clinton.
Pros paired with amateurs will vie for a total purse of $211,000, with the top pro taking home a $50,000 prize, including a boat and motor. Top amateur receives a $12,000 boat and motor.
Lake Erie and tournament records have been synonymous since the first PWT event on the lake in 1991. In 1993 the average of all 2,061 fish weighed was 7.26 pounds. In 1992, pro Steve Bissett won with 18 walleyes weighing 132.56 pounds.
The pro field will include 1997 PWT champion Rick LaCourse, of Oregon, and 1995 PWT champ Mark Brumbaugh, of Pitsburg, O. Also fishing the PWT tour this year is Larry Lambert, of Marblehead, and four rookie pros will fish or are alternates in the PWT's three-event eastern division. They include Todd Sprow, of Paulding, and Dan Wyma, of Oregon.
Daily weigh-ins are set for 3 p.m. at Water Works Park in Port Clinton. Pros will start filtering into the region and pre-tourney fishing begins Friday.
The second major event is the Cabela's North American Walleye Anglers' Lake Erie West team challenge, set for April 29-30 at Monroe, Mich.
Designed for the weekend angler, each of NAWA's team-challenge events are scheduled on Saturdays and Sundays, with each day comprising a separate event and payout of half the total purse.
First place each day pays $1,120, based on a 100-team field. Participants enter in two-person teams. The Monroe area event is one of seven on the NAWA schedule this year around the Midwest.
For details, call NAWA toll-free, 1-800-224-4990.
Fishing report - The stormy, windy weather since the middle of last week has slowed fishing to a crawl in the region, but the increased stream flows from the rains are expected to pull more walleye and white bass into the Maumee and Sandusky rivers.
"This will be the big run here,'' said Gary Lowry, river veteran and proprietor of Maumee Valley Bait and Tackle. Fishing since Saturday has been slow because of the high, fast water, but the Maumee has crested and should settle down by Thursday, he added. Water temperature had dropped to 48 degrees yesterday.
Lowry's shop is sponsoring a walleye derby for individuals on Saturday, sunrise to 1 p.m., with full payback for first through third places for the five longest fish entered. The shop is sponsoring a walleye tournament Sunday, sunrise to 2 p.m., for two-member teams entering the six heaviest fish, full payback for first through fourth places.
The Sandusky River at Fremont is high and muddy and is basically unfishable, according to Bernie Whitt at Anglers Supply. But the river has crested and is falling, and conditions are expected to improve by the weekend for both walleye and white bass.
Western Lake Erie was roiled by the recent winds and storms and may take a while to settle out, said Rick Ferguson at Al Szuch Live Bait. Visibility in the water in Maumee Bay has gone from 10 to 12 feet down to just five inches or so. Dave Ray at Edgewater Bait in Point Place said, however, that anglers launching at Cullen Park still are taking some walleye along the Toledo Ship Channel near the radar buoy.
Tomorrow - Friends of Side Cut Metropark, 7 p.m., Lamb Center at the park, program by Dick Bostdorff on underused perennials, call Alaina at 897-8663.
Tomorrow - Ohio Wildlife Council, 7 p.m., conference room, first floor, Building G, 1840 Belcher Dr., Columbus; approval of fish and game regulations; call the Ohio Division of Wildlife, 1-800-WILDLIFE.
Tomorrow - Woodcock and frog hike, 8 p.m., Secor Metropark Nature Discovery Center; also, Saturday, volunteer stewardship project, 10:30 a.m. to noon, restoring prairie at Wildwood Preserve Metropark, call for reservations 535-3058 extension 101; also, Sunday, Earth Day Family Festival, Secor Metropark Nature Discovery Center, 1 to 5 p.m., programs on native wildlife, nature hikes, live music, recycling aluminum cans to benefit burned children, displays by groups such as the Western Lake Erie Sierra Club, for details call the parks at 535-3058 extension 102; also, Monday, program on bird adaptations by Dr. Ron Woodruff, Bowling Green State University, 7:30 p.m., Secor Metropark Nature Discovery Center, cosponsored with Maumee Valley Audubon Society; also, Monday, Earth Day hike on the Andersons' parcel, 10 a.m. to noon, call for reservations 535-3058 extension 101.
Thursday - Toledo Naturalists' Association, 8 p.m., field trip for amphibians in the Oak Openings; leader Greg Lipps, Toledo Zoo; meet on Henry County Road 2 between Roads U and V; also, Sunday, TNA tour of Manhattan Marsh, 9 a.m., leader Rick Van Landingham, meet at Detwiler Pool parking lot.
Friday - Fish fry, 5:30 to 8:30 p.m., Ottawa Lake Sportsmen's Club, 9480 Old U.S. 223, Ottawa Lake, Mich., call Dave Price, 734-856-1806.
Friday - Naturalists' Camera Club of Toledo, 7:30 p.m., Secor Metropark Nature Discovery Center, Central Avenue entrance, program on black-and-white photography by Tony Carmona; also, Saturday, field trip to Collier Woods in Seneca County, call Adele Shelton, 474-2911.
Saturday - Highway cleanup, Black Swamp Bird Observatory, 9 a.m., join Ditch Pig King Steve Pollick to pick up litter along State Rt. 2 in front of Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge and Magee Marsh State Wildlife Area; meet at Crane Creek State Park office off State Rt. 2 at Magee; bring gloves and five-gallon bucket; call BSBO for reservations, 419-898-4070.
Saturday - Wild game dinner, doors open 5 p.m. serving 6 p.m., Oak Harbor Conservation Club, 975 South Gordon Rd., Oak Harbor, tickets at the door, call Keith Kralik, 419-355-8510.
Saturday - Wild game dinner, 6 p.m., Fremont Chapter, Izaak Walton League of America, Sandusky County Road 170 north of Turnpike Exit 6; call the club, 419-332-1276 between 6 and 9 p.m. Thursday for details.
Saturday - Indoor league dinner, Canvasback Gun Club, 3801 West Dunbar Rd., Monroe, Mich. call Tom Moran, 734-243-5268.
Saturday and Sunday - Trapshoots, starting time 9:30 a.m. daily, six events, Jaqua's Trap Club, 900 East Bigelow Ave., Findlay; call the club, 419-422-0912.
Sunday - SKS, AK, and M-1 Carbine Shoot, noon, Sandusky County Sportsmen's Club, State Rt. 600 East of Gibsonburg; call Bob Caswall, 862-2861.
Sunday - Bowshoot, Lenawee County Conservation League, travel league register 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., 1404 Sutton Rd., Adrian, Mich., 30 3-D targets, call Allan Andrews, 517-431-2909.
Monday - Open trapshoot, 6:30 p.m., Wolf Creek Sportsmen's Association, 349 Teachout Rd. north of State Rt. 2, Curtice; call Jeff Raczkowski, 836-2033.