Cleveland Heights fishing guide George Uhl III was trolling for trophy walleye along Cleveland’s East 72nd Street dike on Lake Erie this week at dusk when he thought he might have a winner in the Fall Brawl Walleye Derby. His first fish of the day was one of the largest northern pike in memory, a 20-pounder that stretched 40 inches. Uhl quickly unhooked the Smithwick Perfect 10 lure and released the big fish after a quick photo. The state record for northern pike is 22.78 pounds. (Courtesy D’Arcy Egan)
CLEVELAND, Ohio — Lake Erie anglers are swarming the shoreline piers and breakwalls to cast for walleye and trolling near-shore waters with excellent success. With the annual Fall Brawl Walleye Derby provoking a fishing frenzy through Dec. 3, the leader is John Fair’s 12.820 walleye.
The big rains earlier this week lured excellent numbers of steelhead trout into Northeast Ohio spawning streams from the Vermilion River to Conneaut Creek. Anglers are also casting from the piers and breakaways for big trout.
The Cleveland area walleye fishing has been outstanding this week, with many limits while trolling 10- to 15-foot depths after dark and in 42 feet of water during the day. Diving plugs are catching the majority, with blue-chrome and fluorescent chartreuse Bandits a top choice for trolling anglers, said Craig Lewis of Erie Outfitters in Sheffield Lake.
Lewis said the pier and breakwall walleye fishing is the best he’s seen in many years. Rapala Husky Jerks, Smithwick Perfect 10s and Bayrats are the top lures in blue-chrome and clown colors. The best shoreline hot spots for casting after dark, depending on wind and weather, include the piers in Huron, Lorain, Cleveland and Fairport Harbor. The East 55th Street Pier in Cleveland has been crowded many evenings.
Day and night fishing has been good off Cranberry Creek, Huron, and just west of The Castle, said Bob Hanko at Cranberry Creek Marina. Some nice yellow perch are being caught on minnows at the far end of the Huron Pier. A few party fishing boats were still taking anglers for perch in the Port Clinton area.
RIVERS AND STREAMS
High water after big rains early in the week had big numbers of steelhead trout running up the rivers and streams. The water was a bit dingy on Thursday, making spawn bags the preferred choice for fishermen. Fly fishermen should be in action soon with egg patterns, wooly buggers and small streamers.
The Rocky, Chagrin and Vermilion rivers are clearing nicely, as is Conneaut Creek. The Grand River’s sprawling watershed will need a few days to reach prime status.
The Cleveland Metroparks fishing is tops in the area, especially since the park system added about 300 1- to 2-pound coho salmon and a few rainbow trout to Wallace Lake in Berea last month. The salmon have become acclimated, and are biting.
Fisheries expert Mike Durkalec reported catfish, largemouth bass and panfish are also biting around Wallace Lake, at Ledge and Shadow lakes and Beyer’s Pond. Wallace Lake anglers benefited from the release of 449 largemouth bass and bluegill in recent weeks netted from a private lake. The Ohio & Erie Canal fishing area was stocked a few weeks ago with rainbow trout and channel catfish.
Capt. George Uhl III of Cleveland Heights and Playin’ Hooky Sportfishing was trolling for walleye this week at dusk along Cleveland’s East 72nd Street Breakwall and his first fish of the evening on a Smithwick Perfect 10 was a 40-inch, 20-pound northern pike. It was quickly photographed and released. The state northern pike record is 22.78 pounds.