When former New York Outdoor News Editor Steve Piatt called and asked if I wanted to join him on a fishing trip to Lake Erie, I jumped at the chance. I’ve heard about how remarkable the fishing was for both bass and walleye and I was eager to find out for myself.
The fishing is so good, in 2019 Bassmaster Magazine named the shoreline between Dunkirk and Irving, New York as the third-best bass lake in the Northeastern United States but, despite the superb bass fishing, it was walleye we would be targeting on this trip.
Steve and I would be guests of the Chautauqua County Visitors Bureau and would fish on one of the boats run by Captains of the Eastern Lake Erie Charter Boat Association (ELECBA). The Association is an association of professional U.S. Coast Guard licensed charter captains operating in the Eastern Basin of Lake Erie, the Niagara River, Lake Ontario and Chautauqua Lake. It should be noted ELECBA captains meet or exceed U.S. Coast Guard regulations for safe boat operations.
Steve and I were assigned to Captain Joshua Kane’s boat Summer School and would be joined by Jeannie Macko who along with her husband run a dive shop and a marine assistance company serving Lake Erie and the Upper Niagara River. Our other fishing partner was Pete Harvey, Director of Sports Development with the Buffalo Niagara Sports Commission.
As Kane eased Summer School out of Holiday Harbor and Marina at Chadwick Bay he noted that there were estimated to be more than 100,000,000 walleye in Lake Erie. We only wanted a couple of them. Kane headed west a few miles and began setting lines on planer boards and downriggers.
We didn’t have to wait long for action. Piatt landed the first walleye about a 5-pounder and a short time later the second rod went off but, it was no walleye. “Probably a lake trout,” Kane said as he handed me the rod. His prediction was on the money when, after a good fight, he netted what we estimated to be a 15-pound laker. We boated five more walleyes ranging from 5 to 8 pounds before the half-day trip came to an end and we headed back to the marina for lunch and then home.
This trip was an eye-opener for me and I took away some personal observations. One was that Dunkirk and Lake Erie was less than a four hour ride from my Vestal home and a lot closer than I thought it was. This means I’ll be back perhaps with my son and grandson when they come to visit next summer.
The second takeaway was how knowledgeable Joshua Kane was about fishing and the enthusiastic way he approached his job as Captain of the Summer School. I’m certain the captains of the other boats are just as knowledgeable and enthusiastic as was Kane and would work hard to see that their clients caught fish.
The third thing I noted was how family-friendly the area was. Shops, restaurants, and excellent hotel accommodations ensured that any fishing trip to the area would not be Spartan in nature. Overall, it was an excellent trip with good people and a fine outcome. For what more could anyone ask?