Lake Erie, already known for its highly rated walleye and smallmouth bass fishing, may be notching another list-topper in its Sandusky Bay. That would be carp.
A state bowfishing record for carp - 38 inches long, 47.65 pounds - recently was certified by the Outdoor Writers of Ohio, in conjunction with the Ohio Division of Wildlife.
It is the second bowfishing record in just two years from the shallow western Erie bay, supplanting a 40 1/4-pound carp taken in June, 2006.
"That's where the big ones are," said Rich Cady of Newark, Ohio, the man who arrowed the new record. "I've been trying to set the state record the last 13 years."
Cady, who has been bowfishing for carp since the late '80s, is obviously serious about the pursuit. He and buddies Gary McGirr of Newark and Jack Brooks of Buckeye Lake like to prowl the shallows of the bay in Cady's 18-foot flat-bottom boat, the bow of which is rigged with a shooting platform. They pussyfoot along on an electric trolling motor, watching for big fish.
On May 28, Cady spied and shot the 47-pounder, an egg-laden prespawn female. McGirr was along the night Cady took the record carp, which had a girth of 31 1/2 inches. His previous best on the bay was a 35-pounder. The record was taken near the old causeway across the bay. But as Cady notes, "it's just hit or miss. They're everywhere."
He uses a "just plain old" recurve bow of about 50-pound draw, with Muzzy fish-tips on fiberglass arrows and an AMS Retriever bowreel.
For details on certifying record fish in Ohio and a list of state record fish of all species, visit online at outdoorwritersofohio.org, or call Tom Cross, OWO record fish chairman, at 937-386-2752.
Thirteen-year-old Madison Mehl of Haskins caught a few small bluegills when she was a little girl, but never landed a "real" fish until she went on a recent family fishing vacation at Chub Lake near Thessalon, Ont.
She proceeded to land a 32 1/2-inch, 10-pound, 8-ounce walleye, which is a notable 'eye anywhere but especially so in the cold, slow-growing waters of northern Canada. A color photograph of teen and fish shows the deep, dark coloration of walleyes found in rocky, cold, northern waters.
The daughter of Scott Mehl and Billy Jo Mehl, Madison was part of a crew that included her dad, brother James, 9, and her friend, Lauren Kessler, 12. The girls will be in the eighth grade at Otsego Middle School.
"We've been going there for the last 18 years," said Scott of the family fishing vacation ritual. As for Madison's catch, he added, "it was phenomenal. When we got back to camp everybody was down there [at the dock].
"We went out in late evening, almost dark, to a spot I have fished for years," Mehl said. They dropped lime-green jigs tipped with minnows straight over the side in 25 to 30 feet of water, and in less than a half-hour Madison had the lunker walleye aboard.
Her grandmother, Barbara Mehl of Holland, initially called attention to the catch. "I just thought it was kind of odd that a 13-year-old would even be interested in fishing." Obviously, some of them are, and they get results.
Madison's fish now is in the hands of Mark Lodzinski at Artistic Touch Taxidermy in Oregon and ultimately headed for a wall to spark memorable tales.
Excellent walleye action is being found just off the mouth of the Portage River at Port Clinton in 13 to 19 feet of water, according to Rick Catley at Rickard's Bait on Catawba Island.
"It's picked up in the last week there," Catley said. "I don't know what the fish are feeding on, but there must have been 70 boats there."
The action is occurring off G and H Cans, the southeasternmost along the boundaries of the Camp Perry Firing Range.
Drifters are casting both mayfly rigs and traditional weight-forward spinners, or dragging bottom-bouncers with worm harnesses to take limits, Catley added. Gold or chartreuse are the colors.
Dead calm and then too-windy conditions inhibited fishing in the extreme western end of the lake at midweek, but action there is expected to resume when conditions settle, said Rick Ferguson at Al Szuch Live Bait. Try off Crane Creek and northwest of West Sister Island to the Toledo Ship Channel.
Yellow perch action is slowly picking up, as can be expected for the season. The Ohio Division of Wildlife's picks for perch are off Lakeside, Cedar Point, and west of Kelleys Island.
Some anglers also are finding perch around the reefs off Davis-Besse. Dan Tucker reports fish running three to a pound, which is not bad.
Inland, the Maumee River finally is clearing and reaching normal summer pool after too much rain and high, muddy water for too long.
As a result some smallmouth bass action has picked up (catch and release, please), and so has the action for channel and flathead catfish.
"Flatheads are back in the holes," said Chris Martin at River Lures in Grand Rapids. "They're flathead crazy," he said of area fishermen.
In other fishing notes, Frank Merritt, ecology director at Pioneer Scout Reservation in Williams County, reports good catching of bluegills at the state's popular, productive Lake La Su An impoundments near the reservation.
"In 1997 when I took over for my first full year as ecology director," Merritt said, "I established a 'fishing outpost' where we took Scouts and Scouters to La Su An and fished Lake Wood Duck. This has been a popular outing over the years, with the total number participating usually between 10 and 20.
"I have introduced a large number of individuals from Ohio and Michigan to the wonderful resource at La Su An and have convinced more than one southeast Michigan resident that the fishing is better in Ohio there than in southeast Michigan.
"This last week was, however, amazing we took a total of 50 people to Wood Duck and they caught 74 fish in about 2 1/2 hours on a hot sticky night.
"Anyone who doubts the quality of the northwest Ohio fishery after that is a total fool."
Brian Coates of Amherst, Ohio, won the Wal-Mart Bass Fishing League's Michigan Division event on Sandusky Bay last Saturday with a five-bass limit of 22 pounds, 14 ounces, earning $2,914.
He fished a four-inch green pumpkin Berley Gulp! Sinking Minnow.
Brent Dunmyer of Weston finished fourth with five bass at 19-10 to win $809.
The next division event is Aug. 9 on Lake St. Clair. For details visit online at FLWOutdoors.com or call 270-252-1000.
Bowshoot Sunday, Tomahawk Archers, 2085 Erie Rd., Temperance, Mich., register 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., 30 hand-painted paper targets of big game; call Jay Kimura 419-351-8190.