Lake Erie producing limits of walleyes these days
I just arrived home from a fishing trip out of Port Clinton, Ohio, which promotes itself as the walleye capital of the world. From what I’ve seen after every visit, I cannot argue the city’s claim to fame.
I was part of a group of guys who have been fishing Lake Erie with charter captains for more than 30 years. On this trip, we had several newcomers, including myself, who have fished with the crew as a back-up for a few years. During those few years, the fishing has been consistent, while life has been anything but routine.
We filled in for members of the original six who couldn’t make it for one reason or another, including family events such as retirements and travel, new jobs, lost jobs, births and deaths. All of us who fished this year are aged between 50 and 70 years, and I’d have to say that all or most of us were feeling every one of those years, yet grateful for seeing another one.
One of us had two knees that were only a few years old. Another was awaiting surgery to repair torn shoulder tendons. Neither let that stop them from standing on the deck of a boat pitching in pretty good seas, while collectively reeling in more than 30 walleye, that averaged nearly two pounds each, along with a bazillion sheepshead (freshwater drum). The rest of the anglers were feeling the effects of aches and pains in our joints from active lives well-lived.
We had a great time. Port Clinton is barely over the Michigan border, and we were probably even closer to the border when we were on the lake. We were “casting” crawler harnesses with inline sinkers, although that method was known as “drifting” where I grew up catching walleye on Lake St. Clair. While the wind held up, the fishing was fast. As it died, we had to work a little harder to add to the cooler.
But as we all know, fishing is more than fish dinners. Several miles out on Lake Erie in the haze, you might as well be in the middle of the ocean. The water is big and the natural resources are incredible. In between netting fish, we watched great blue and great white herons trade between the islands in the western basin of the lake, along with a couple groups of white pelicans – whether bound for their nesting grounds on the northern prairies or setting up camp in the Erie marshes, we weren’t sure.
What was certain was the camaraderie, the scenery and adventure, and the memory of friends no longer with us. We saluted them and felt their presence on board and we look forward to the next year, no matter what it brings.