In these waning days of the western Lake Erie ice fishing season, retiree Bill Warner caught the walleye of a lifetime.
Warner, 70, of Point Place, was fishing Tuesday off Camp Perry with Jim Gramza of Temperance, Mich. The fishing was slow, Gramza said, and they only caught one fish - Warner's, a 321/2-inch, 141/4-pound walleye.
“He didn't want to throw it back because of his age,” Gramza said in jest. “He figured he won't live long enough to catch a bigger one.”
The men were fishing about 31/2 miles off Camp Perry, but except for Warner's trophy “hog,” action Tuesday was slow.
Gramza noted that parking on the access road to Willow Beach, just east of Camp Perry, remains a problem. The Camp Perry side of the road is open for parking, but cars opposite are liable to be towed. One area resident also is allowing pay-parking in a field, but demand outstrips available space. The camp is closed to visitors for security.
Daytime temperatures forecast at 55 degrees or higher through Tuesday, plus some forecast rain and strong winds, are expected to end the ice season.
Guide John Hageman, at Put-in-Bay, said he is folding his tent. “It's been a good run ... [but] we expect that everything will be over for all but airboat fishing after the weekend.” His fellow South Bass Island guide, Pat Chrysler, said a major crack - from 30 feet to a half-mile wide - extends from the north side of North Bass Island to the Toledo Water Intake.
Airboats have been the ticket farther west, according to Rick Ferguson at Al Szuch Live Bait on Corduroy Road. Five airboat anglers took limits in three hours Tuesday, running out of Cooley Canal. But, he added, “it's going to be day-to-day now.”
Elsewhere on the walleye front, the runs on the Maumee and Sandusky rivers remain on hold, at least until the ice washes out and the streams are safe to wade.
Jam-ice clogs the Sandusky below downtown Fremont, and the river downtown is running high, said Bernie Whitt at Anglers Supply there.
With the predicted thaw and rain in the next few days, however, some jacks, the younger male walleye that are the vanguard of the main spring run, could be in the streams within a week or so, said Larry Goedde, fish management supervisor for Ohio Wildlife District 2.
The temperature in the Maumee River yesterday at 3 p.m. was 34 degrees and the river was running high - 583 feet measured on the I-475 bridge, said Gary Lowry at Maumee Valley Bait and Tackle. He said the river still has some shelf ice on the Buttonwood side and is unwadable, at least for a few days “until the ice gets out.”
Walleye anglers, whether fishing lake or stream, ice or open water, are cautioned by Kevin Newsome, state wildlife officer in Lucas County, about overbag abuses. The daily creel limit in March and April is four.
At the marsh pier on Ward's Canal, some anglers had filleted their fish and threw the innards on the rocks. This was done apparently to conceal their catch and to allow a run back out on the ice to poach more fish. It is illegal, Newsome noted, to have unidentifiable “clean fillets” on the lake. Throwing fish entrails on the rocks, moreover, is a litter fine that can cost $500.
Ethical anglers are urged to turn in such low-life behavior, which gives every angler a black eye. And you can count on Oregon Municipal Court Judge Donald Petroff, an avid outdoorsman. He will throw the book at slobs hauled before his bench and will cut them no slack. Just call 1-800-POACHER, the anonymous hotline.
Tonight - Toledo Area Aboriginal Research Society annual dinner, 7:30, Fort Meigs visitor center, speaker Dr. David Bush, Heidelberg College, on Johnson's Island Civil War camp; for dinner reservations call Joann Ward, 419-874-8424.
Tomorrow - Naturalists' Camera Club of Toledo, 7:30 p.m., Secor Metropark Nature Discovery Center, Central Avenue entrance, program by Carolyn Manchester on crystallized minerals; call Adele Shelton, 419-474-2911.
Tomorrow through Sunday - Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge, national refuge centennial events, 14000 West State Rt. 2, Oak Harbor; Friday open house and auto tours 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., time capsule ceremony 9:30 a.m., Visitor Center groundbreaking 10 a.m., Saturday auto tours 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Sunday, ONWR Association meeting, 1 p.m., silent auction and awards, public; call the refuge, 419-898-0014.
Saturday - Saw-whet owl banding, 7 p.m., meet at Sandusky County Park District office, 1970 Countryside Dr., off U.S. 6, south of U.S. 20 bypass, east of Fremont; call the parks, 419-334-4495 or 1-888-200-5577.
Saturday - Western Lake Erie safe-boating course, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monroe Boat Club, Exit 11 off I-75, Monroe, Mich.; call 1-800-278-4017.
Saturday - Waterfowl-migration program, 10 a.m. to noon, day lodge, Mary Jane Thurston State Park, State Rt. 65 west of Grand Rapids; call Ron Bowerman, 419-832-7662.
Saturday - Jigs dinner and steak shoot, noon, Wolf Creek Sportsmen's Association, 349 Teachout Rd. north of State Rt. 2, Curtice; call Jim Lamb, 419-836-2431.
Saturday - Reservation deadline for 42nd annual Ohio Huskie Muskie Banquet, scheduled for March 22 at the Zanesville Holiday Inn, 4645 Pike, Zanesville, Ohio, off I-70; business meeting 3 to 5 p.m., dinner 6 p.m.; call Don Weaver, 740-269-2122.
Saturday - Toledo Naturalists' Association, 7:30 p.m., Andersons' activity center, 1833 South Holland-Sylvania Rd.; program on butterfly eggs and caterpillars by Leslie Angel, Ohio Lepidopterists' Society.
Saturday through March 23 - 66th annual Cleveland Sport, Travel, and Outdoor Show, I-X Center, 6200 Riverside Dr., next to Hopkins International Airport, Cleveland; call 1-800-600-0307, or visit www.sportandtravel.com.
Sunday - Sporting Clays shoot, Hog Creek Game Club, 9 a.m., west of Lima off State Rt. 81, a mile north of County Road 15; call Tom Ekleberry, 419-648-7995.
Sunday - Travel league trapshoot, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monroe Rod and Gun Club, 6280 Lighthouse Rd., Monroe, Mich., breakfast and lunch available; call 734-243-9774.
Monday - Northwest Ohio Canoe and Kayak Club, 7 p.m., community room, Northtowne Mall, Defiance, program by Ohio Division of Watercraft; call Herbert Delventhal, 419-784-3953.