- WHO: Rush Outdoors TV & Barcelona Charters Teams Up to Catch Fish
- WHERE: Eastern Basin Lake Erie, Barcelona Harbor, Chautauqua County, New York
- WHAT: Catching Walleye and Lake Trout
- HOW: Troll Speed: 2.3-2.5mph; Water Depth: 130-135 feet; Fish Depth: 75-85 feet; Water Temp: 66 degrees
- GETTING TO THE FISH: Downriggers, Divers, 8-color and 10-color leadcore
- PROVOKING A STRIKE: Custom-painted Stickbaits, Homemade Spoons, Handmade Spinner/Worm Rigs
By Forrest Fisher
NY Outdoor News editor, Steve Piatt, (http://www.outdoornews.com/new-york/) gave me a ring last week and asked if I could fill in for him to do a Rush Outdoors TV Show taping with network outdoor stars, Tim Andrus and John Lenox. You know my answer! “Uh, let me think about it Steve.” ….clear the decks! “No I’m not busy, why?”
The next day, I received a phone call from John and we met yesterday at dockside at Barcelona Harbor in Chautauqua County, New York, and I was introduced to Captain Brad Smith and his wonderful wife and 1st Mate, Darcy, of Barcelona Charters (http://barcelonacharters.net/). Their 28-foot Marinette Fisherman boat is docked near Monroe Marina.
It was about 8AM, the winds were SSE at 8mph, the sky was clear and blue, the sun was coming up quick in the eastern horizon and there were 14 rod/reel rigs set to go aboard this comfortable, well-outfitted, boat.
Tim said, “I think we’re ready to go Captain Brad.” With a friendly and crisp response and a “welcome-to-my-boat” grin, Captain Brad answered, “Wait a minute, I gotta get my coffee cup and give the fish a chance to wake up. I’ll be right back.”
That’s how our day started. Very relaxed. The stage was set for a fun day with fun people aboard a big boat with a kitchen and rest room, built to find fish, catch them or release them, store the keepers in a cooler and bring everyone back to port safely with pictures and reality fish tales to share.
“Which way we going honey,” Darcy asked Captain Brad. “I think we’ll try east today, if that doesn’t work, we’ll swing back to west.” Captain Brad took the helm and we skirted the excavator rig barges still working on clearing the harbor-mouth after last winter’s storm seige. The storm opened the breakwall and after it was breached, the harbor filled with sand, stone and debris.
Action outdoor star of Rush Outdoors TV, Tim Andrus, was aboard and John Lenox, co-star, activated several camera’s throughout the day to capture the non-stop action we found fishing with Barcelona Charters.
With Captain Brad Smith setting and running 10 lines without a single tangle, and Darcy Smith running the boat to waypoints and adjusting the trolling speed, the twin 318 Chrysler engines came alive as we headed for a secret offshore shoal about 3 miles away in 78 feet of water. Slowing down a half-mile short of the waypoint, Captain Brad hopped down and started setting lines.
This guy should have a different name, perhaps “Flash.” That name would be more suitably correct for this elderly, young-minded, genius fisherman. By the time we arrived, the lines were all in and we were ready for action.
As the bottom came up, Darcy keep us all up to date with live reports. “There’s big fish at 75 feet, there’s a bait school at 55 feet, there’s two fish at…,” and so on. “The water temp is 66 degrees.” Tim and John and I were enjoying the live feed of all this data.
As Darcy read off depth, speed, water temp and fish sightings, Captain Brad would adjust the lines. He had three 10-color Sufix non-stop (very thin) 18-pound test lead core lines on the starboard side, three 8-color lead core on the port side, two wire-line diving planes on each side and two downriggers, with all the lines set to the fish depth that Darcy monitored. What a team.
“Berkley XT Fluorocarbon leaders are part of my fish attack,” says Captain Brad. “The leadcore lines, divers and riggers all use different leader lengths, but I think the nearly invisible line is important, and it has different flex to the lure too.”
As the water depth dropped off, we hooked up with our first fish, a small walleye, then another, then another. Double headers happened over the next three hours…SEVEN TIMES. Imagine that. “Hey Tim, can you slide to the right, I gotta net John’s fish,” Captain Brad would say. “Hey Forrest, can you slide to the left, I gotta net Tim’s fish.” What a day. We shared fish stories from times past – we all hunt, fish and share passion for the outdoors. There was not time for many stories. We were busy catching fish. Fun busy.
What makes a fun fishing day like this happen? The word is out that the “deep walleye bite” is pretty much over in eastern Lake Erie. Guess we know the deep bite is still VERY GOOD.
There were only two boat trailers at Barcelona Harbor this day, and these were bass boats.
A fish-filled day like this happens when you find a charter captain that understands how to use his gear to find the fish and can figure out a way to meet them half-way to provoke a strike. He knew which lures to switch to, colors to try. He understood the difference between tape flash differences underwater and sun angle relationships with the lures he used.
There is much to learn from this gentleman of a charter captain and his 1st mate who fish like this. The fine points of successful fishing are in the details.
Leader length, type of line, knots, terminal connection hardware, hook types and sizes, flash, glow tape, these things all matter.
The fish were DEEP, 75 down in 130 feet, but once we found them, running the lines over the fish produced big time. Have never witnessed a more efficient charter crew.
Amazing fun that ended with a cooler made to lift with not less than 4-people! We landed 31 fish in four hours, keeping 17 walleyes for the pan, 3 lake trout for the smoker and several giant, sweet-tasting, silver bass.
That’s a fun fishing day! If you plan to come visit, just click on http://www.tourchautauqua.com for lodging and general information about this area. Watch Rush Outdoors TV (http://www.rushoutdoors.com/ or https://www.facebook.com/rushoutdoors.uncut/) to note several more visual details I agreed not to disclose in writing. See you then.