BY MARK CAHLIK
Lake Erie has been a difficult place to fish in recent weeks, as the chilly winds of an early winter have slowly rolled into the Ohio shoreline of western and central Lake Erie. Over the last few days, though, with anxious boat anglers eager to search for trophy walleye to enter in the popular walleye fishing derbies, the weather finally flipped a bit.
The temperatures had moderated on the weekend, the winds had slacked off, and fishermen were ready. We were motoring the now-friendly waters off Huron and Vermilion on Saturday with a crowd of friends who included Bruce DeShano, with his son, Nick, and grandson, Ari, 13.
All are avid anglers, and Bruce and Nick create the popular Off Shore planer boards in Port Austin. Mich., for Great Lakes fishing. The planer boards are a mainstay of Lake Erie walleye anglers, and all were delighted they were presenting a range of Dead Eye Crank Baits to schools of hungry walleye that were biting with regularity.
The DeShanos know all about Lake Erie walleye, and so does John Bergsma of Fisherman’s Digest Television, a Michigan-based television show. The late fall and early winter Lake Erie fishing brings them all to Ohio each year with fishing and filming in mind.
When the sonar unit on my boat lit up with walleye marks, everyone was happy. For those entered in the Fall Brawl walleye fishing derby, which runs through Dec. 3, it was a chance to finally launch their fishing boats again, and there were plenty on the water on Saturday.
For some hot tips, the best depths from Cleveland to Kelleys Island seemed to be 40 to 45 feet of water, and huge numbers of walleye were suspending from 20 to 35 feet. Trolling speeds were 1.8 to 2.0 miles per hour, and our Dead Eye shallow-running plugs with 2-ounce weights and deep-diving lures without weights were filling the cooler.
The walleye anglers casting from shore have had the advantage in recent weeks because of the gnarly weather, and those anglers were dominating the fishing derby standings. If the decent weather continues, look for the boat fishermen to start boating some of the biggest walleye of all.