Unpredictable Mother NatureBy Dave Duwe - May 1, 2011
Anyone who has ever fished Lake Erie knows that weather is the great equalizer. Lake Erie is full of walleyes, big and small. Tommy Harris of Tommy Harris Blades, Scott Hill a fellow fishing guide and our Captain Randy Roth of Hit N Miss Charters out of Port Clinton, set out with the same goal, to catch a bunch of small fish to eat and a few photo fish for memories. In the end, the tally was two 16 inch walleyes and one photo of the ugly author of this article.
We left early on Easter morning, after Easter church service of course. It was a beautiful day, 65 degrees and just a little wind. All aboard my truck with high hopes of returning in a few days with sore arms from reeling in the fish. When we arrived in Port Clinton, OH it was the same weather as when we left, beautiful! We met Randy at one of the houses that he owns for his customers to rent. It was an awesome farmhouse with sleeping accommodations for up to 9 anglers. Every detail was met, can Koozies for your beer, cable TV, even a cribbage board. I even joked with my fellow travelers that it was so odd that the pegs for the cribbage board were worn out. I found out why the next day.
We arrived at the dock early Monday morning all set to go. The weather called for some wind with light rain. We arrived at a reef 3 miles off shore to start our drift. We were using blade baits and hair jigs, ¾ oz in blue and black. Our first drift yielded one walleye, which Scott caught on a blade bait, gold Cicada ¾ oz. I hated the fact that I owed him a dollar for first fish. Then it hit, the light rain that had been forecasted. I don't know what light rain means to everyone but this was what I would consider a car wash rain. It hit you hard all over your, riding on the 20-25 mph winds. I was lucky to catch my fish by accident on a jig. After 3 or 4 hours of that, we were all soaked to our underwear and it was time to go in. The rest of the day and the next day were spent playing cribbage and visiting with friends. With the weather on this trip, some would say they had mud in their eyes and were stuck to the bottom. Randy joked that the water was so muddy that it was hard to get the jigs to the bottom. Who would have thought we were lucky enough to go to Lake Erie for the wettest and windiest April in Ohio history!
The interesting part was that Scott was fishing the same waters a week earlier with great success. They caught a lot of fish in short order trolling Reef Runners and Tommy Harris crawler harnesses behind Off-Shore planer boards. The only difference was that the lake was fishable thanks to great weather. The fish are post-spawn and transitioning from rock to mud right know. With nice weather they aggressively feed off bottom.
Even though our success was limited, it is always nice to spend time with both old and new friends. Pleasant conditions are never guaranteed so it's always a bit of a gamble when you plan to fish Lake Erie in late April. There is always next year.
Weather can make for trips of a lifetime or for a nice car ride. Being a guide and fisherman, I've always followed a credo, " you can't catch them if you don't go out fishing." I will fish in weather that most won't, because you just never know. So much of the success is due to confidence and the ability to adapt to all different weather conditions, but sometimes, Mother Nature has a different idea.