Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Big Smallmouth and Walleye

We have been growing some nice smallmouth bass and walleye here in Central Illinois in private lakes and ponds. Its been a breath of fresh air so to speak from the traditional largemouth bass pond. Anyhow the fish we encountered this past week was beyond a breath of fresh air and leaning more towards unbelievable!!

We traveled north up to Port Clinton, Ohio to do some work for Mark 1 Sportfishing at Bays Edge Resort. They have a really awesome lake on their property that they want to turn into the best private fishing lake in Ohio for their guests to enjoy after they catch their limit of perch and walleyes out on Lake Erie...

Anyhow we arrived at Bays Edge and didnt waste any time electrofishing the lake to see what fish were in there and what kind of body condition they were in coming out of the winter. We dialed up some very nice fish:

The smallmouth overall were doing pretty good, but the largemouth, bluegill, and walleye really needed some help... Anyhow we are creating a cutting edge management plan for this lake that is gonna turn it into the pond of dreams. Our goal is 1.5 lb bluegills, 4-6 lb smallmouth and largemouth, but we are eliminating the walleyes... its gonna happen, the owner Mark is very passionate about FISH!!

So Jared and I got done with our work at their lake, had some daylight left so we went out walleye fishing on Lake Erie with some of guys that were at the resort. I don't have much experience fishing on big water, but Randy and Ray have been fishing Erie for combined 60 years. Also Kenny from Florida didnt have much experience either, but came along for some entertainment... Also I am not a fan of  big diesel boats, but this big boat was actually a gas engine, so no fumes to worry about! That was literally a breath of fresh air, Diesel fumes get me sea sick much faster than waves do.

We didnt have much time, so we only headed about 2 miles  out and started fishing. We each trolled 2 rods with 6-7" reef runner lures on them back about 40-60 yards. It took all of 10 minutes of trolling for Jared to land our first fish and when we saw it coming to the boat we literally were almost in a shell shocked disbelief to see the biggest walleye of our lives coming into the net. Almost as if it were too easy... Our trip was complete with just this one fish!

Then just a few minutes later it happened again, only on my line! Kinda like a fairy tale, only this fish was even bigger!! Im talking the calibre of walleye you only dream about catching, but know full well you have no hope of ever actually catching a double digit fish....

Then bam again:

And again:

And again and again:

For the next hour and a half we caught 8 walleyes from 7-11 lbs!

So we were flying high! Literally in just 2 hrs from dock to dock we caught the most amazing stringer of walleyes ever imaginable. We took the whole crew out to the Crow's Nest for supper and headed back to Bays Edge with a cooler full of 70 lbs of walleye!!

We had other obligations in Ohio the next day, but Mark, Randy, and Ray with tons of leg pulling and arm twisting actually talked us into going out on the big lake again for just a couple hours early in the morning before heading South....

A cold front had moved through and the sunny skies from the day before were dreary overcast skies, and the morning bite was a little different than the day before.... It took about 20 minutes before we hooked up with our first fish, and it was a dinky 5 lber...

We kept catching pesky 4-6 lbers, but then it happened... we went on a streak of 4 fish in a row over 10 lbs!!! Here is a pic showing the difference between a 4 lber and an 11 lber..

Here is my biggest walleye of my life! 32.5 inches long!!

We again limited out real quick and were headed back in less than 2 hours!

We kept our fish from the day before on ice back at the fish house and picked out the 8 biggest ones for the taxidermist. We knew our wives would absolutely kill us for getting fish mounted, but we also knew we wouldnt be able to live with ourselves if we didnt get these fish mounted. The story of these double digit fish all hanging on the wall together will hopefully be told for 40 years or more! It was funny listening to Jared mentioning this to Amy, but no so funny when it was my turn to mention it to Brook...

Here is the tote heading to the taxidermist. If you subtract the weight of the tote we are talking a 10.5 lb average for these 8 fish!!

Mike, the taxidermist, said the walleye mounts will be done about September. Before going over shipping options, I asked Mark Cahlik whats biting in September and he said limits of big perch and some really big smallmouth.... I have a hunch we will be picking up these fish from the taxidermist personally in September and maybe just maybe dropping off a smallmouth bass or two...

Anyhow we still made it to the next place in Ohio, we just didnt make it home till much later than planned... Also as a side note both Jared and I are still happily married to our wives, but I think these fish mounts are going to cost us more than money for the next few weeks.... also the girls dont know quite yet know about plans for a return trip to Ohio in September... We def wont spring that on them for awhile and hopefully will be able to disguise and label this trip as a "work" trip, because it wont happen as a "fishing" trip...

Basically what needs to happen is I need to find some more work in Ohio for an excuse to get back up there! Is there anyone out there between Peoria, IL and Port Clinton, OH that would like their lake or pond electrofished? Mid-September is the perfect time for a fall survey!

Seriously, if you havent been walleye fishing on Lake Erie, this is a must do trip. The last couple years have been fantastic all year long for walleyes, perch, and smallmouth. There are tons of Lake Erie charter fishing options, but the resort we are working for Mark 1 Sportfishing is first class, top notch with really nice lodging and fishing boats for up to 36 guys! 2 day fishing and 2 night lodging packages are the most economical if you have increments of 6 guys and only cost about $300 per person. These guys specialize in multi-species trips where you can perch and walleye fish for a day and perch and smallmouth fish for the next day!!

Im still on cloud nine, and now I am back in the land of 1-3 lb walleyes. Oh well, at least we will grow some monster largemouth bass here....

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