Freeing a gull, or any bird, from a deadly tangle of spent fishing line is a noble act, and Point Place outdoorsman Mike Coon has done so no less than eight times.
But the last time he freed a gull, fate rewarded him with more than a feel-good bonus. It was a $250 fishing outfit.
Coon said he and his wife, Sarah, share a cottage that his great-aunt and great-uncle built in 1901, on a recent Saturday were out beachcombing for arrowheads on the Woodtick Peninsula, Bay Point, and Guard Island in North Maumee Bay.
"We came across a gull tangled up pretty good in fishing line. It had a diving lure in its mouth,with the rear treble hook coming out of its external nostril. It took about two seconds to release it due to the hook fitting in and out perfectly. The gull then followed us for a mile north as we continued hunting arrowheads, apparently quite appreciative.
"We found six perfect heads, by the by. On Sunday, we went out again since the water level dropped significantly, which always assists in the hunting for heads. Very close to where we released the gull, at the water's edge, partially submerged, I found a Cabela's eight-foot trolling special pole with an Okuma-Magda reel on it, equipped with a line counter. This sells for about $250 at Cabela's.
"I theorize that the gull nailed the lure, pulling [the rig] out of the boat, taking it to shore. Or, the fisherman, seeing the hopelessly entangled gull, voluntarily gave up the rig, hoping the gull would free itself. That seems unlikely though.
"Either way, I have a rig that costs more than three times more than what I'd spend on one and am as happy as a just-freed gull. The things we find at the beach - amazing.
"In the 26 years we've lived here and hunted heads, we've probably released eight entangled gulls. Oddly, they all seemed very thankful, and one I recall stayed aloft just above us for a long time, following."
"The fishing rig only needed the silt and algae removed, and a good lube. It has already nailed a few walleye and many more sheephead. Anyone for stew?"
Walleye fishing has been good though boat activity has been light in Lake Erie's western basin.
Much of the action in the far west end has been between the chart area marked Gravel Pit, along the east side of the Toledo Ship Channel, to the Turning Buoy at channel's end.
The Ohio Division of Wildlife said fishing also was good nearshore off Crane Creek, around Niagara Reef and west of West Reef for both drifters and trollers.
Yellow perch fishing reports were limited. Try traditional areas such as Green and Rattlesnake islands, Marblehead, Kelleys Island, Ballast Island, and Cedar Point, the division said.
As ever the lake may produce something other than walleye - a muskellunge, a sturgeon, or a steelhead trout for instance. Twenty-year-old Annie McLaren, of Indianapolis, learned just that, landing a 22-inch steelie on a recent trolling trip with her dad, George, brother, Andrew, 17, and skipper Steve Connor out West Sister Island way. So you never know till you reel in.
Elsewhere, Toledo angler Brian Bocian and his dad, Eric, of Monclova, took in a Lake Michigan salmon charter out of Manistee, Mich., fishing with Riverside Charters and skipper Paul Schlafley.
Colder water had pushed inshore, Bocian said, and they landed 19 fish their first day, all tight to shore. They took king, or chinook, salmon, steelhead trout, and brown trout. One of their fish included a fine 35-inch king taken by Eric.
Next the water inshore warmed, and they fished 10 miles out. The action was much slower, Bocian said, but they managed six fish. He added that a special treat was enjoying "a stunning sunset over Lake Michigan."
In other news, pro bass angler Chip Harrison of Bremen, Ind., caught a five-bass limit weighing 20 pounds, 4 ounces Saturday to win the Stren Series Central Division tournament on the Detroit River.
His three-day total of 15 bass weighed 61 pounds, 5 ounces, earning him $21,713 cash and a fully rigged Ranger boat.
In a related event, the Western Michigan team of John Gipson, Jr., Niles, Mich., and Matt Monroe, Three Rivers, Mich., won the National Guard FLW College Fishing Central Division event on the Detroit River Saturday with six bass weighing 20 pounds even.
The victory earned the team $10,000 to be split evenly between the university and the university's bass-fishing club.
Rounding out the top five teams were the University of Wisconsin-Stout (six bass, 15-0, $5,000); Henderson State (six bass, 14-10, $4,000); Central Arkansas (six bass, 13-5, $3,000); and Ohio University (six bass, 13-2, $2,000).
For more information about FLW Outdoors and its tournaments, visit FLWOutdoors.com or call (270) 252-1000
On the weekend - Sunday, youth and women's shoot, Wolf Creek Sportsmen's Association, 349 Teachout Rd., Jerusalem Township, call Michelle Schwiefert 419-691-2016.
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