When the fishing gets tough, the tough go fishing, and sometimes they catch really big fish.
Like the 13-pound-plus walleye giant that Toledo angling pro Ross Robertson landed one recent night trolling off Cleveland. Yes off Cleveland, way down in the central basin. At night.
"I have been fishing near Cleveland because of all of the dirty water we have had in the western basin," said Robertson Thursday. "We have been night fishing exclusively for the last few weeks to try to get a giant. I haven't had a fish under seven pounds the last three trips, and a couple fish were in the 12-to-13-pound range. One that got off close to the boat that would have been close to the state record -- it was ridiculously huge." The Ohio record walleye is 16.19 pounds, a 33-incher taken from central Lake Erie off Cleveland in 1999.
Night fishing in mid-December off Cleveland is for neither the inexperienced nor the faint of heart. Robertson said he and partners have been trolling big Rapalas, Bombers, and Reef Runner stickbaits very shallow on lighted (planer) boards. "We have been averaging about 15 hookups per night, but because they are slashing at it we might only get half in the boat." The best bait of the lot so far has been the No. 18 Rapala, colors running into chromes and chartreuse patterns. Robertson can be reached through bigwaterfishing.com.
Closer to home on Lake Erie, walleye are being taken only occasionally from Vermilion to Cedar Point the Ohio Division of Wildlife reported. Most fish have been caught in 30 to 45 feet of water using crankbaits trolled from 5 to 15 feet down. Fish also have been caught at night from Huron to Vermilion and around Cleveland harbor.
In other fishing news, a crew of steelhead flyfishing fanatics from northern Ohio found excellent stream angling for big trout and salmon in the Oak Orchard River, a Lake Ontario tributary about 60 miles east of Niagara Falls, N.Y., this according to Mike Reny, the Toledo member of the contingent.
His buddy, Ed Nowak of Akron, landed the story-fish of the trip, a whopping 13-pound brown trout. He also took his first Atlantic salmon. The third man joining in the fun was Dan Haude of Avon Lake. "It was great trip," said Reny, who said the gang took a lot of fish. Among top fly patterns they used were pink sucker spawn, green caddis, and pink eggs.
The "Steelhead Alley" stream tales of the three anglers and several other "usual suspects" are collected in a recent book by Nowak, Meet Me at the Net. It's an entertaining and educational read, great for those winter nights by the fire when a true-blue steelheader is thawing out. The book, 323 pages, is $24.95 and is available online at SteelheadAlley.net.
Steelhead Alley generally includes the central and eastern basin tributaries of Lake Erie in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York.
Controlled trout-fishing opportunities on Cold Creek in Erie County again will be offered in 2012 via a special lottery by the Ohio Division of Wildlife.
A half-mile section of the creek, at the Castalia State Fish Hatchery, will be open to a limited number of anglers on selected dates between April 2 and Nov. 2. Anglers must apply online at wildohio.com and pay a nonrefundable $3 application fee before Jan. 31 to be eligible.
Two seasons will be offered. One is for adults and teens 16 and older from April 2 through June15 and Aug. 20 through Nov. 2. A second season will be held for those 15 and younger from June 18 to Aug. 17. Individuals selected to participate in either season will be allowed to bring two adults (includes 16 and older) and three youths age 15 and younger (no more than six anglers in all).
Anglers 16 and older must hold valid fishing licenses. Participation is determined by a computer-generated, random drawing, set for early February. The results of the drawing will be posted on wildohio.com.
Artist Joseph Hautman of Plymouth, Minn., has won the 2011 federal duck stamp contest. This is his fourth win in the prestigious program, this year's entry being an acrylic painting of a single wood duck. It will be used on the 2012-2013 federal duck stamp.
Hautman's brother, Jim Hautman, won last year's competition. A judging panel weighed 190 entries.
Contact Steve Pollick at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6068.