Fishing, Sightseeing & Fun Boat Cruise Adventure for a Windy Florida Day

Speckled Trout Fun near Captiva and Sanibel Islands in Lee County, Florida.

  • Big Boat Comfort and Capability Allows for an Unforgettable Cruise Adventure
  • Enjoy Watching Loggerhead Turtles, Dolphins, Pelicans, Eagles, Osprey and Nature at Work
  • Fishing Fun – Sea Trout, Barracuda, Hammerhead Shark and Stingray
Dolphins followed us out and the ladies enjoyed every second of this personal adventure at sea. Forrest Fisher Photo

By Forrest Fisher

Vacation time in Florida can be such fun! My better half discovered that we were not far from Sanibel and Captiva, the shell treasure chest of the world. So Rose started to search out the adventure trail and found there were charter boats for fishing that would conduct shelling and eco-tour trips too. We had a match! Love that woman.

One phone call later, the date was set and the plan was solid with friends from Michigan to join us aboard Southern Instinct Charters with Captain Ryan Kane (http://www.southerninstinct.com/).  The plan, according to my better half, was to compromise fishing and touring, weather permitting, but there is not much weather that can hold back the capability and comfort aboard Captain Kane’s 36-foot long Contender.  With triple engines, getting to wherever you want to go is not an issue and it doesn’t take long to get there at about a mile a minute.

The long boat gave the four of us plenty of room to move around and we enjoyed comfy seating while listening to the stereo tunes of golden oldies and country western music. While the boat doesn’t appear to have a rest room, it does! The ladies were thrilled. I thought to myself, “We can do this again and stay longer!”

Remote islands near Sanibel and Captiva offer secret shelling treasure adventures for those that approach by boat. Forrest Fisher Photo

Bob and Shirley Holzhei, from Michigan, met Rose and I at 7:00 a.m. at Port Sanibel Marina. Captain Kane had the ice chest coolers filled with chilled beverages, snacks and plenty of water.  Live bait was in the rear well and we had an access ladder just in case we needed to search the offshore beaches for pirate treasure. This charter boat was perfect in every way, I knew we were in for the time of our life on this day.

One sad thing was that while the sky was clear of storm clouds, the weather report offered that the invisible wind was sending waves five to seven feet on the outdoor gulf waters. It looked like we might be looking at a rescheduled trip. Not for Captain Kane, he said, “OK, let’s go kids! No planning calendar today! We’ll just go out and have some fun. We’ll see how it really looks and if it’s too rough, we’ll tour North Captiva and Cayo Costa islands to be safe. We’ll fish for speckled trout with popping bobbers and live shrimp. We’ll have a great day! We’ll do the deep sea fishing to waters less travelled on another day. Sound ok?” Who could say no?!

Captain Kane was so reassuring, we were thrilled to be heading out of the marina with a cast of pelicans and dolphins that had found their way in there.  But we were not in Disney, this was real. The ladies loved every second. They never stop talking about it, even months later

The three giant outboard engines hummed up from idle speed to flyaway throttle and we were getting somewhere fast. Yikes! This was fun. About 5 miles out (4 minute drive time, we were airborne), Captain Kane said, “Looks like we made a good call, it’s so rough out there.”

I thought, for sure, there was no better way to spend the day with friends and it turned out to be a trip we will never forget.

We toured deserted outer islands and watched dolphins chase the boat, Rose said they were talking to us, but I thought they were playing. We watched loggerhead sea turtles – some were nesting on the isolated beaches, we saw a mother and father eagle feeding their young with fresh fish, watched ospreys capture fish after a 300 foot nose-dive, and we enjoyed a slow ride along areas protected from heavy surf. This was an adventure like none other.

Bobbers and live bait fishing is productive when the Captain knows where to anchor the boat. Forrest Fisher Photo

Not long later, Captain Kane asked about fishing and we were all in. The fishing license is included with Captain Kane’s charter license, so everyone wanted a rod. We anchored in a protected inshore area near a sandy point and deserted natural island where the tide current was holding shrimp and baitfish not far from the boat. Good captains know these gentle weed lines, clam beds and secret spots from years of trial and error.

Using a slip bobber that created a popping sound when pulled with a circle hook just below, offered a live shrimp to a hungry trout attracted by the sound. It did not take long for Captain Kane to have all of our lines in the right place.

A few minutes later, Shirley hollered, “Hey, I think I have one, it’s pulling so hard. Bob, please come help me.” Bob said, “I can’t, I got one too!” Forrest, “I don’t want to lose the rod, can you come back here please, Bob has a fish on too.” I hollered back, “I do too!” Rose was the only one that had just reeled her line in to check the bait and shared, “I’m coming back there to help you Shirley, hang on.” Captain Kane was helping everyone at the same time. Fun?! Are you kidding?! This was incredible. Unforgettable! Not your ordinary fire drill. Memories are made of this. Shirley landed a small hammerhead shark and was ecstatic, and scared too. “I caught a shark! Can you believe it?” Captain Kane was careful, but sure-handed with the small shark and Shirley had a chance to touch the skin. “It feels like sandpaper!” She screamed a bit. I think they were happy tones.

Shirley Holzhei landed a small hammerhead shark and enjoyed the thrill of touching the sandpaper-like skin for the first time. Forrest Fisher Photo

We landed 25 trout in only an hour or so, a shark, caught some wonderful warm sunshine. We also hooked a giant barracuda and lost it, then hooked and landed a giant stingray that took us 45 minutes to bring in. What a battle that was! Bob and I had to switch places a few times and do the anchor dance, under the line, over the line, under the line…stretch, oooohhhh, aaaahhhhh, ouch, roll, turn, don’t lose the rod. Man, what a time! More than 50 pounds in size, we landed the nearly 4-1/2 foot long winged sea creature that resembled a spaceship shape from a TV space show.

Rose Barus caught trout after trout, I think she might have been the hot fishing line in the boat. Forrest Fisher Photo

Captain Kane removed the stinger to make the large critter safe while aboard while we prepared to release back to nature, then gave me the 5-inch long stinger with directions to placed it in a bottle for safe travel home and soak it for 2 days in bleach to sterilize the poison normally found on the stingray barbs. “The stingray will grow it back,” said Captain Kane, “And the stingray is not harmed in any way.”

Captain Kane uses Dan James Fishing Rods in his boat because they are durable, lifetime guaranteed and made locally in Fort Myers (http://danjamesrodcompany.com/). They are guaranteed for life.

The 7’ lightweight fishing rods we used were so light, so strong and so just right.  I had to ask, what pound test was on that rod? “10 pound braid,” said Captain Kane. “Some of these rods, like the one that you caught that big stingray with, are new fishing rods in the development stage. I use only Dan James Custom Fishing Rods made right here locally in Fort Myers (http://danjamesrodcompany.com/). They cost more, but they are guaranteed for life, and Dan is a disabled military veteran and close friend, we fish often. You would never know he is disabled, he is an example for all of us who might think we have troubles. We share ideas about how to make fishing better for clients, how to make better boat adventure tours, better fishing rods and how to enjoy every single day we live life with our family and friends. We both share that kind of passion for our families and the outdoors.”

The stingray we landed took 45 minutes to bring aboard. Forest Fisher Photo

Captain Kane added, “Dan tests his rods with me and other charter captains, but in the shop too, you wouldn’t believe some of the abuse he wreaks on these blanks while testing them. He puts his rods together to be light and sensitive, yet uses a strong, high modulus blank so folks don’t get tired using the rods and can fish with confidence even when they hook a big fish like you did with that lightweight rod. You can push the limits with his rods.”

We headed back to the marina and all of us were happy to be on the water with such a knowledgeable captain. We explored and enjoyed some of the best that Southwest Florida has to offer. Captain said, “When you come back during summer, the winds are always lower in the warm months and we can run far without much trouble. We have natural and artificial reefs out here that hold giant gamefish like Tuna, Snapper, Grouper, Wahoo, Cobia, and more. We’ll do an offshore trip to have some fun with these, I’ll call you when it gets good! How’s that sound?”

Like music to my ears Captain Ryan. C’mon summer!

About Fort Myers: Our accommodations were nearby, but there are numerous choices. Visit this link for more info on charter fishing, lodging, beaches, hotels and Islandology (https://www.fortmyers-sanibel.com/islandology). 

Islandology, a new word for most of us. Very interesting video. Check it out. Click the picture.

Kids Today – Not Wired for Nature, FIND HELP HERE

  • Are Your Kids Part of the Keypad Generation?
  • If So, Find Suggestions for a Remedy Here
Click on the book to order one!

By Forrest Fisher

Worried about your kids or grandkids and their continuous attention to some sort of keypad?  You know you are, so am I.  They are growing up with something missing, but none of us know what to do.

While in Alaska recently, I had the pleasure to meet Richard Louv, a journalist, book author, radio, TV interview guest and fun-related speaker with a focus on bringing more kids and adults into the wonderful world of the outdoors.

Widely accepted as an authority on the outdoors, Louv created the expression “Nature Deficit Disorder,” as data provides evidence that both kids and adults spend less time in the outdoors than at any other me in our American history.  Louv cited that this translates an increasing fear of the unknown in nature.  Louv is the author of the book, Last Child in the Woods.

In this influential work, Louv cites barriers that impede people from identifying a path into nature.  He told me one thing that I think all of us must not forget, “the more high-tech our lives become, the more nature we need in nature.”

Louv explain details about the staggering divide between children and the outdoors.  He directly links the lack of nature in the lives of today’s wired generation—he calls it nature-deficit—to some of the most disturbing childhood trends, such as the rises in obesity, attention disorders, and depression.

Last Child in the Woods is the first book to bring together a new and growing body of research indicating that direct exposure to nature is essential for healthy childhood development and for the physical and emotional health of children and adults. More than just raising an alarm, Louv offers practical solutions and simple ways to heal the broken bond—and many are right in our own backyard.

The latest edition reflects the enormous changes that have taken place since the book was originally published. It includes:

  • 100 actions you can take to create change in your community, school, and family.
  • 35 discussion points to inspire people of all ages to talk about the importance of nature in their lives.
  • A new progress report by the author about the growing Leave No Child Inside movement.
  • New and updated research confirming that direct exposure to nature is essential for the physical and emotional health of children and adults.

Last Child in the Woods: Saving our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder has spurred a national dialogue among educators, health professionals, parents, developers and conservationists. This is a book that will change the way you think about your future and the future of your children.

Learn more here: http://richardlouv.com/books/last-child/.

 

A Girl’s First Deer

  • Learning about Nature, Patience, Heritage and Traditions
  • Hoping for Sweet Venison of my own
  • Using my Savage Axis 6.5 Creedmoor Deer Rifle

By Hanna Lucey w/Forrest Fisher (Hanna’s words are in italics)

One happy Hanna Lucey with her first deer, a beautiful doe taken near Ellicottville, NY. Terry Lucey Photo

Hunting is about sharing the heritage of our forefathers and conservation, and understanding it, about leaving the protection of home and finding new solace and a new undefined protection in the hunting woods.

For Hanna Lucey, a senior high school teenager from Amherst, NY, it was the time to discover deer hunting, something that she said, “I have always wanted to do.”

“This was my first year deer hunting, I was certified to hunt from a course in Rochester, New York, and I was so excited to be at hunting camp with my dad (Terry), mom (Joie), Uncle Danny, cousin Brendan, my sister Serena and Serena’s boyfriend, Fred.  We were hunting on 85 acres of private land near Ellicottville, New York, about 60 miles south of where we live. There are lots of deer where we live in Amherst, but we are not allowed to hunt there.”  

Hanna discovered that hunting teaches us about nature and each other, and about developing respect for wildlife. Hunting is about forming a new understanding with nature and with our outdoor hunting family, and it’s about tradition, mentoring, listening closely, and the unforgettable experience of new encounters in the wild. It is also about the discovery that deer hunting is a big challenge, but that hunting is also about fun too.

Deer hunting for younger hunters provides them with hands-on, life-long, learning experience, and it is about much more than big bucks. It is about learning patience.

Hanna was hunting for her first deer on the second weekend of the New York State southern zone big game hunting season. It was Nov. 25, 2017. She had spent much time prior to this learning from her hunter family and mentors.

 “I was excited, a little scared, but I wanted to be brave, cautious and accurate in case I did see a deer and could take a shot, so I was trying to stay calm. Nothing happened in the morning, but my afternoon hunt started just before 2:00 p.m. Uncle Danny and Brendan went behind the hill, I was going to hunt alone and was heading to our chairs in the ravine.   

Finding deer sign, a new buck rub, all part of the learning experience for new hunters. Joe Forma Photo

 

The weather was perfect and almost too warm, it was sunny and 45 degrees. As I walked above the ravine to get there, I stopped and looked around every few steps, like I was taught.

My plan was to sit and wait for a deer. Just then I heard a noise and watched three deer running away. They stopped and were around 20 yards away from our chairs.  I stayed quiet, just watching, and then I saw them. There they were, two deer through the trees.  The one right behind the other staring right at me. I was trembling a bit. I slowly lowered myself to a squat so I could aim steady, then I shot the deer that wasn’t looking at me.

It was 2:05 p.m., my sister texted me when she heard the shot asking if it was me. I was holding my Savage Axis 6.5 Creedmoor bolt-action rifle and I was trembling.

After I took that shot, I’ve felt feelings that I’ve never felt before, such as the biggest adrenaline rush of my life, especially when I walked up to the deer laying on the ground. 

I called my sister to tell her to come to me because I was so shaken up and clueless on what to do next. Then she called my uncle and all of them came down to me. We field dressed it and took it back to the cabin to hang. I felt so proud and so lucky!

 

Hanna is looking forward to the moment that she has a big buck in her sights, the things that dreams and lifelong hunters are made of. Joe Forma Photo

 

I’ve always loved venison and thought it would be great to be able to eat a deer of my own.  

I had plans to hunt the rest of the season to see if I could get myself a big buck.”   

Hunting encourages quality family time and can result in great table fare that can be shared together. When starting kids out in the world of hunting, the parents know when the time is right.  In this case, it took this young lady a few more years than when most kids start. Right now, it looks like she may become a lifelong hunter.

At the end of the day, after shooting her first deer, when you hear this young lady hunter say, “I can’t wait for next week,” you know that Hanna’s dad and uncle, all her mentors, have done their job of teaching responsible hunting very well.

 

 

New Year 2018, Venue for Outdoor Review, Much Change and Much To Learn

  • Moms Take to the Woods and Streams with Their Kids
  • More Industry is heading to Preserves and Protected Areas
  • Global Warming, Invasive Species…More

By Forrest Fisher

A grandmother of six from New York State, Rose Barus says, “Alaska is beautiful, but if we talk with folks that have lived there for generations, they acknowledge that change is taking place. Let’s all work to understand much more.”  Forrest Fisher Photo

In the lives of sportsmen and sportswomen, the outdoors is about fishing, hunting, hiking, camping, boating, safe shooting, all that and more. Today we know that many things are subject to change and are scientifically measurable. One of the largest trends (change) is that there are many more ladies than ever before taking hunter safety training, learning to fish and becoming certified all across the country to carry a handgun. Modern moms want their kids to eat organic, untainted food, like venison from deer and to be safe. More moms in the woods will take their kids with them.  More kids in the outdoors, a very good change.

If we talk to folks in Alaska, they acknowledge things are changing. There are fewer halibut to catch, Chinook (king) salmon are part of a variable up and down population swing more often and there are plans for new copper mines (at Bristol Bay) that may contaminate a myriad of pure water rivers with their process discharge effluents.

Is our increasing population to blame for many of the changes we read and hear about? Is world industry to blame? Is our world receding? Global warming, is it for real?

Many college-oriented experts say so, despite certain science that appears to still be quite uncertain to measure long term trends. Some experts say we do have measurable evidence of shrinking ice caps.  We all might agree that our weather is certainly changing, that’s for sure, but is it a natural cycle or man-caused?

Birds are a serious part of the storyteller tale of evidence about our planet ecosystem. There are more than 10,000 bird species in the world, but in the last 100 years, about 200 of those species have gone extinct. Should we be concerned? Yes, of course, but we should work to understand why these birds have disappeared. Those reasons might include poaching, polluted waterways, contaminated air currents, inadequate garbage disposal and a long list of manageable people issues that until now, were not considered important.

Birds, fish, seals, beluga whales, walruses, polar bears, many other animals, arctic ice and people like you and me, all seem affected.  So, believe it, we are certainly in the process of change. To the untrained among us (like me), we accept that most people are not climate scientists, biologists or environmental science engineers, but we do need to rely on the science and studies, and understanding, of these experts who do know.

With communication e-networks on the increase, it you live your life at work and at home from your smartphone and laptop, like a majority of working people today, where do we draw the line on false facts and untruths that can seem to affect lives? We can only combat the fold between falsity and truth by asking questions and trying to get involved so we can all understand more about our changing environment and actual reality.

The fact about all that is, for the bulk of us, the outdoors is something we do for recreation. It’s not our life. Maybe we need to make the outdoors and understanding it a larger part of our lives. Ecosystems worldwide are changing. Ships, planes and global industry are a big part of the management issue for world eco-health. Invasive species have come to us from these sources and more.

We have killer bees in much of America, Burmese pythons in the two million acres of the Everglades, snakehead fish that can breathe air or water in the Potomac River, and many more invasive critters that most of us sportsmen have little or no concern about. We should. These invasives are changing things, many have NO predators. Get involved.

Overall, we read there are something like 50,000 invasive plants and animal species in America alone. In Lake Erie, there are 186 invasive species at last count. There are non-native fish and mussels in that mix, too. These things affect you and me, and us all.  America offers many great places to enjoy the outdoors in all its splendor, but yes, it is changing.

As sportsmen, let’s help our neighbors all around America by keeping an eye on things that can change our ecosystem. Let’s keep our national parks and monument trails intact. Let’s prevent industry from moving to capture minerals, oil and precious ore from areas that are now protected. They have been protected for a reason: to prevent change.

Many industries want to mine copper in the border waters of Minnesota, or drill for oil and mine in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in the name of new energy development. I think these and many other areas should consider continued protection from industrial exploitation well into the future.

It’s important to let your legislators know how you feel about such change. Please join me in one resolution for the new year, to get more involved in these issues that affect our future.

It’s a Happy New Year for learning and sharing.

 

 

 

Outdoor Adventure is No Coincidence – Get the Kids, Pack Up the Car

  • Define a New Resolution Milepost for this New Year! 
  • Outdoor Adventure for your Family ONLY BEGINS WITH YOU
  • Teach your Kids to Find Clear Skies and Share Real Outdoor Tales
  • Cast a Line, Pitch a Tent, Pan-Fry Dinner, Hunt, Shoot or Watch for Shooting Stars…Here’s How

By Forrest Fisher

The littlest fish can provide the greatest thrill when you’re 3-years old! She screamed and said, “Help! I have a giant fish! Help!” Unforgettable moments that will last a lifetime – for both of us.  

If you are a wanna-be outdoorsman, no matter where you live, you might or might not already know that there is no end to the fun to be found outdoors through all 12 months of the year.  You sense the need for new outdoor discovery, but what to do, where to go, who to call?

You can fish from shore or boat or ice – and score on fun and food for the family.  You can hunt for small game, big game or many game birds and enjoy in the sacred traditions of our forefathers.  You can camp in any of hundreds, maybe thousands, of wildlife management areas.  You can hike to your heart’s content for miles along your favorite trails, a lake shore, around your favorite pond, along a mountain stream or in any of many state and national parks.  There many places to find the roads less travelled.

You can keep up with seasonal changes and best places to do all these “outdoor things” by joining a local outdoor club where you live.  Find a phonebook to look them up to find them, but these outdoor club groups abound all across the country.  Nationally, look for Trout Unlimited, the Safari Club, Ducks Unlimited, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Back Country Hunters and Anglers, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership,  the National Wildlife Federation, the National Rifle Association or the National Shooting Sports Foundation.  Experts share their innermost outdoor secrets in many of these groups.

If you would rather “see” to learn, visually, you can take a side-seat to recorded adventure and excitement outdoors.  You can absorb and learn from that one moment of  truth that only occurs in the wilds – setting the hook, taking the shot – there is outdoor television.  We have today, a choice of outdoor channels that cater to the wonderful specialized outdoor interests of fishing, hunting, camping and capturing to share that special spirit to be discovered in the wild outdoors.

Bowhunting with my grandson started when he was 6-years old, we hiked, scouted the woods and made sure we had enough face camo to blend in – the most fun part at that age.

For myself, I was so fortunate to have had parents that understood just how important starting kids off in the outdoors was, teaching us three kids to fish from when we were very young – I was four years old.  My mom and dad have both passed on now, I so miss them, but their lessons of living an honest life and their lessons for functional simplicity live on with me each day. They kept things easy for us kids to understand. Starting a fire, baiting a hook, stopping to listen to the water run through the rocks of a stream or over a waterfall.  They would stop and say, “Isn’t that beautiful? We would watch deer from a distance all summer, then hunt in fall. We learned to love every season.

In January, my oldest granddaughter and I would tap the maple trees in our nearby woods to make a few gallons of delicious maple syrup. Today, this young lady is in her last year of college studying to be an environmental scientist. 

Now, especially during the holiday season and with the joy of Christmas, I think of the delicious family recipes they passed on that always included the bounty of the outdoors.  Our Christmas dinner included the whole family sitting around the table.  At first, there was just my mom and dad, my brother, sister and me.  We quickly grew to more than 20 people bonded by our love of family, the outdoors and an understanding of our supreme Creator, who we thanked before the grand meal at every Christmas dinner.  There were specialty dishes mom would make and these included old-fashioned, handmade delicacies.  Potato soup, fish dinner, homemade sweet bread and honey, a side salad of garden vegetables that included lettuce, carrots, radishes, tomatoes and ground salt and pepper.  As we slurped the soup, my dad would pass out four walnuts to each of us. We passed the nutcracker around and broke these open to eat with the salad, each nut reflected the forecast for your health through each quarter of the following year.  A good nut meant good health, a crumbly nut meant you better be careful in that quarter. Mystical? Maybe, but you know, it was just something they passed on from their parents and, as kids, we believed every word.  If we received a bad nut, mom would hold us to eat more fruits and vegetables in that quarter to “make sure” we did not get sick. It worked too. There were no magical pills, of course, we were all “good nuts.”

Fishing for Lake Erie smallmouth bass is fun when you’re 7-years old and grandpa says, “Set the hook!” When the drag starts screaming and your grandkids are screaming louder…special moments for all time.

We lived in Western New York, the fish dinner included walleye from Lake Erie, perch and crappie came from Silver Lake and Chautauqua Lake, and bass from Buffalo Creek near Blossom, New York.  I rode my bike to that creek about three or four days each week in summer, met my cousin there who came from the other direction, and we would fish all day to catch our limit of smallmouth bass.  On most days, we used small crayfish (freshwater crabs) we caught by hand, they lived under the rocks in the creek. Fun? It was unforgettable! The big crabs would often be faster than we were, they would pinch our fingers. Yep, we yelped like little babies that needed a diaper change. Learned some new words too.

Dessert followed the Christmas meal, warm homemade apple pie topped with French vanilla ice cream. Ten minutes later, most of us were dozing off as we watched TV in legendary satisfaction, right before we started to sing our famous off-tune Christmas carols. No one slept through that.

Our tradition of sharing the bounty of the outdoors with family started nearly 70 years ago for me and is a keepsake that my wife and I try to maintain each year with our kids and grandkids.  In hindsight, there is not much I would ever change.

If there is one thing to share it is this: Get your kids started in the outdoors early.

They’ll find peace, joy, confidence in themselves and fun, and love of life and nature, and when you’re old and gray, if you are lucky enough, they will never stop thanking you. My better half and I smile to each other quite a lot these days.

Start the new year off this way and next year at Christmas time, you may find that the best wishes for the happiest holiday and adventure season of sharing love in the outdoors started last year…right after New Years Day.

 

 

Fish-Catching Fun in Comfort on Lake Ontario

  • Lower Niagara River, Wilson Harbor and Olcott Harbor ALL Provide Easy Access to Big Ocean-sized Fish
  • Boat Trollers and Pier Casters both SCORE on Fall King Salmon
  • Charter Fishing from a Boat is FUN, Affordable and Comfortable

By Forrest Fisher

Whopper steelhead are among usual late summer catches when your lure and feeding time for the fish are in-sync, as they were for Rick Updegrove the last week of August. Forrest Fisher Photo

With water levels slowly returning to normal, late summer on Lake Ontario means fishing fun at nearly every port of angler access, from shore and boat. 

The end of August is the start of peak fishing for King Salmon, but steelhead, lake trout and other cold water species also add to the reel-sizzling, fish-catching fun.

Fishing out of Wilson Harbor with Charter Captain Bob Cinelli aboard his aptly named “White Mule,” a 36-foot Tiara – ask him how that name came to be, was a simple day of fishing pleasure.  The boat is big, bold and beautiful.  Rest room below decks, sleeping compartments…nice.

The fishing rigs aboard “White Mule” are brand new models of time-tested rods, reels, lines and lures.  Cinelli only uses the best and he should know after more than 30 years of fishing experience on the “Big-O.”  Daiwa 4011 hi-speed reels, Heartland rods, Big Jon downriggers, 20-pound test Ande monofilament lines on the downriggers – tipped with Seaguar fluorocarbon leaders, copper line for use with the giant “Otter” planer boards, and the sharpest hooks on his select set of favored spoons. 

Fishing with friends Mike Norris, Rick Updegrove and John Syracuse, we all took turns landing King salmon and steelhead.  Our trip started early at sunrise and we were back to port at noon or so, with plenty of fillets for the smoker. 

The big question for many anglers is how to fish and with what. What color? What spoon? How Deep? Charter captains often have ALL THOSE ANSWERS.  Forrest Fisher Photo

North winds over the previous few days had started a small turnover offshore, but that did not hold up the fishing action with Captain Bob, as he revised the fishing program to find the winning combination to find King Salmon and steelhead.

We started out running lines at 30, 40 and 50 feet down using downriggers with 8-foot sliders, diving planes off copper out 100 feet, all with some variation of green-colored spoons in 125 feet of water.  To find the hot fish, we slowly trolled out to 300 feet and then back shallower, looking for active fish on the feed.  Back and forth Captain Bob moved us around, then we found active steelhead off the planer boards and riggers.

Just like fishing for marlin in the ocean, steelhead in Lake Ontario fly out of the water.  Up, up and away. The fish not only soar above the water, they swim fast to the left, to the right, and then right at you.  When that happens, you need to test your shoulder and arms for durability, and turn the reel handle very fast.

I had a nice steelhead on, it was my turn when the port side Otter board with the copper line jerked free with a jolting, rod-throbbing pulse as it exited the line release.  We all thought it was a King as John hollered, “Forrest, you’re up!”  I vaulted from my seat to take the rod from first mate, Nick, and moved to the padded rear railing on the boat.  A very safe and adequate spot to lean on as the fish was battled back to the boat.

“How much line is out Nick?” I asked. “About 400 feet, just keep reeling, you’re doing just fine.”  Rick joined in the verbal fun, “Feel that burn Forrest?!”  How did he know?  Indeed, my shoulders were on fire.  How could this be? I was being worn out by a less-than-monster fish.  Mike shared, “Hang on to him, it looks like the biggest one so far.”  Easy for him to say.  Then John added, “If you’re tired, I can take the rod.”  I didn’t say anything, but was thinking, “No way John,”…I’m not sure I even heard that. 

Maybe I was just hearing voices in my subconscious state of fish-fighting mindset? 

Nope, on the other hand, these are what fishing friends are for.  Heckling.  Bantering.  Funning.  A few minutes later, my arms really were actually getting numb – 400 feet of copper is a LONG WAY, but we landed the fish just fine.  I turned to grin at “my friends” not saying a word about my frozen arm joints.  It was 65 degrees out and I was forming sweat on my brow.  

Love this fishing!

John added, “Imagine how that guy felt yesterday that caught that 51-inch King, 39 pounds – 3 ounces, to take the lead in the LOC Derby?” He was not making me feel any better.  “Honestly,” I returned, “I cannot imagine that.  I think you might need to share the rod with your friends in that case.”  John grinned and said, “Hey, that’s what fishing friends are for.”  

We were having a great day.

O

Success is a double header with some high-flying steelhead.  L-R: Mike Norris, John Syracuse, Rick Updegrove.  Forrest Fisher Photo

Over the course of the morning trip, we had 12 releases and this was a “SLOW DAY” according to Captain Bob.  My sore shoulders did not agree.  I gotta start working out harder.   We caught lots of “shakers,” the term for young-of-the-year King Salmon that weigh 2-3 pounds.  The future fishery. All were released unharmed.

This fishing trip was fun.  Maybe the best part of such a trip is that when four guys head out to fish this way in total comfort with the latest gear, hottest lures, a captain that can navigate and a first mate that coaches you along the way, and it’s affordable.  

“Leave the dock at sunrise and back by about 12-12:30 with four guys,” Captain Bob said, “Our usual pricing is not expensive at $150 apiece.  $25 more each and you can fish the whole day.”  Unreal.  Affordable fun.  We all chipped in to tip the first mate.

A lot of us spend that much on just one good fishing reel (I do). 

My new view, I’m getting older – save time, save money, fish with a charter.  Not only do you get to fish with the best gear and fish with friends, you go the hottest fishing places at the best times and someone else cleans your catch! Then you  just head home for the freezer with all of your healthy dinner meals for the next few months.  

Need the right sensor gear to catch fish? Sonar, radar, surface water temp, water temp at the ball, boat speed, and a radiotelephone to phone home are all part of the half-day fish trip.  Forrest Fisher Photo

If you’re looking to do this, you can contact Captain Bob Cinelli Sportfishing directly by calling 716-860-5774.  You might also learn a lot about the lake, the fishery, the forage, the predator fish, invasive species, why the fish are able to be caught on certain lures and bait, the Lake Ontario water level, issues and more. 

Captain Cinelli is the chairman of the Niagara County Fishery Advisory Board.  He has the inside line on what’s happening on Lake Ontario and the Lower Niagara River.  And with the hottest fishing.

Fish on! Who’s up?!

I Met a Polar Bear, Face-to-Face! Thanks to Johnny Morris, YOU CAN TOO

  • Johnny Morris’ Wonders of Wildlife National Museum & Aquarium OPENS Sep, 21, 2017
  • Will be Largest, most interactive, dynamic Fish and Wildlife “Experience” in the World.
  • Located next to Bass Pro Shops National Headquarters in Springfield, Missouri.
  • Will also be the New Home for BASS FISHING HALL OF FAME

By Forrest Fisher

The hair on my arm shot up as if I had just walked into a static field of electricity. My heart rate quickened.  The face of the bear was powerful and profound. The moment was unforgettable. It was extraordinary.  It was sacred and it was full of Polar Bear ambition.  It was striking.

Image is courtesy of Johnny Morris’ Wonders of Wildlife National Museum & Aquarium

The largest, most immersive fish and wildlife attraction in the world offers a video that did that to me! Visit: https://youtu.be/QnG5tf_Pp3I.

 

The Wonders of Wildlife Museum and Aquarium will celebrate its grand opening on Sep. 21, 2017.  Located in Springfield, Missouri, the 320,000 square foot structure will feature exhibits that manage to create new moments of introduction to conservation, with a focus on providing education and knowledge of wildlife, fish and sea creatures for all that visit.

Wonders of Wildlife will feature a 1.5-million-gallon aquarium adventure and will showcase 35,000 live fish, mammals, reptiles, amphibians and birds, as well as more than 70,000 square feet of immersive wildlife galleries and dioramas.  Plus, more than a mile of immersive trails and exhibits.

Wonders of Wildlife will also offer another giant reason to visit.  Officials from the Bass Fishing Hall of Fame and noted conservationist, Johnny Morris, recently announced that Wonders of Wildlife will also provide a new, permanent home for the Bass Fishing Hall of Fame.

The Bass Fishing Hall of Fame will honor bass fishing legends and was developed in partnership with the Bass Anglers Sportsman Society (B.A.S.S.), the exhibit includes a fascinating collection of artifacts and memorabilia, including authentic rods and reels, antique lures and historical photos.  More than 60 Hall of Fame members will be featured including Bill Dance, Jimmy Houston, Roland Martin, Johnny Morris, Ray Scott, President George H.W. Bush and many others. Several artifacts date back to the early days of B.A.S.S. tournaments in the 1960s, including the scale used to weigh record catches and the first BASSMASTER Classic victory trophy.

Image is courtesy of Johnny Morris’ Wonders of Wildlife National Museum & Aquarium

“To be part of a transformational project like Wonders of Wildlife and share the story of bass fishing with generations of future visitors is a dream come true,” said Donald Howell, president of the Bass Fishing Hall of Fame board of directors. “There is no better location to honor the individuals that have played a crucial role in bass fishing. Visitors will be blown away by all that Wonders of Wildlife encompasses, and we’re grateful to Johnny Morris for his partnership and bringing this vision to life in such compelling fashion.”

The site will offer extraordinary experience for visitors with a collection of exhibits and galleries that showcase national conservation organizations within a single “must-see” destination experience, sharing the story of hunters and anglers conserving wildlife and the outdoors.

Other partner galleries include The International Game Fish Association (IGFA) Fishing Hall of Fame, the Boone and Crockett Club’s National Collection of Heads and Horns, the NRA National Sporting Arms Museum, the National Archery Hall of Fame and many others.

“Our mission is to establish a world-class destination that celebrates people who hunt, fish, and act as stewards of the land and water,” said Johnny Morris, founder and CEO of Bass Pro Shops, a conservationist and the visionary behind the Wonders of Wildlife. “There are so many notable hunters and anglers that have played an important role in the conservation of our precious natural resources and habitats.  We are honored to welcome the Bass Fishing Hall of Fame to help further enrich that story for our visitors.”

Founded in 2000, the Bass Fishing Hall of Fame is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to all anglers, manufacturers and members of the media who further the sport of bass fishing.  Honorees include notable contributors to the sport who elevate it to the professional level and lesser-known supporters that have and continue to sustain bass fishing, both honoring the past and looking to the future.

While previous plans called for a stand-alone location in Alabama, organizers recognized the opportunity to reach a far larger audience by partnering with Wonders of Wildlife.

For more information, visit www.wondersofwildlife.org.  For information about the Bass Fishing Hall of Fame, visit www.bassfishinghof.com.

 

Walk the Dog with a Frog!

  • Built-in “Walk-the-Dog” Action
  • 2-1/2 inches, 9/16 oz, 16 colors
  • Extra-wide Premium VMC® double hook
The Terminator Popping Frog is one topwater frog lure finally made to cast well, endure vicious strikes with strong design in the hook tie and extra-wide VMC hook, to bring the big bass to your live well. Forrest Fisher Photo

By Forrest Fisher

YOUR TOPWATER FROG CHECKLIST:

  1. Like to fish for bass in the summertime?  Topwater action can be the most exciting! CHECK
  2. The Terminator Popping Frog is designed for flawless, big, fish-catching fun.  Many crankbaits have their action built in by design of the lip and weight placement, why not the same on a frog.  Now, YES, we have built-in action on a topwater frog too.  The Terminator Popping Frog provides a cupped face to create a loud, strong pop, it will drive fish crazy, even from deep below. CHECK

                                                                               Bass-catching happiness! Forrest Fisher Photo
  3. The weight is positioned to allow long, perfect casts and the extra-wide hook gap converts strikes into hook sets.  The extra-soft body compresses easily to expose those hooks.  CHECK
  4. The round rubber lug tentacles articulate life-like action.  Even the line tie is extra-duty and is welded for no line-wiggle escapes during the hook set.  The Terminator Popping Frog is a unique bass-catching tool for all serious Bass anglers.  CHECK
  5. The Model 25 is the only model made at this time, but it is a perfect size at 2-1/2” in length and 9/16 oz. Perfect.  CHECK
  6. The color on the right is my favorite “Lime Leopard” color, but there are 16 colors.  The lure is a topwater fish killer that allows every angler to fish effectively with the effortless walking and/or popping action built into this topwater frog lure. CHECK
  7. The premium VMC® double hook allows you to hook up with new bass friends as you “Walk the dog with a frog!” FISH-ON!

Get one. CHECK!

Cost?  Under $10. Check colors and supply: http://www.tacklewarehouse.com/Terminator_Walking_Frog/descpage-TWFG.html?gclid=CIzzjd6egdUCFcKKswodEigFdw.

 

 

Smiley Sakakawea Walleye – Fishing a Canyon Reservoir

Captain Jeremy Olsen shares secrets for fast walleye fun on Lake Sakakawea in early July.

  • SLOW-TROLL Tricks are Deadly on Walleye Waters
  • Lake Sakakawea, North Dakota, offers Hands-On Learning
  • Bring a Camera: Canyon Colors and Walleye Go Good Together
Delicious, tasty walleye are a top goal for anglers fishing everywhere, but on Lake Sakakawea, the pristine clean water is chilly all year long and the walleye taste better than most anywhere. Forrest Fisher Photo.

By Forrest Fisher

Wanna catch walleye?  Know the two rules that apply everywhere.  Rule #1: Catching fish is fun.  Rule #2: Fishing with a professional guide that understands fish movement helps to make Rule #1 possible.  You can do it on your own later.

No matter where you go, catching quality walleye as a target species fish is the primary objective for many anglers.  This story is proof that Rule #2 is a good money-saving idea.

Coincidentally, my wife and I were vacationing in North Dakota near Teddy Roosevelt National Park and my better half whispered in my ear, “You should go fishing at least one day while we are here – Lake Sakakawea is just up the road, I’ll go souvenir shopping.” Such a deal.  I could not say no.

So I asked Kelly Sorge what people fish for.  The “always cheerful” proprietor at Indian Hills Resort (http://www.fishindianhills.com/) said, “Crappie, northern pike, bass, trout and walleye – we have all those species here, but most folks fish for walleye.  They like to eat them cooked over a campfire here.  The walleye are so pure and so tasty from Sakakawea.”  That settled it.

I rushed for my cellphone to make the call to Liebel’s Guide Service.  Capt. Jeremy Olsen called me back a short while later to set up time and departure to fish this beautiful Little Missouri River reservoir – it is pristine, with millions of years of erosion providing colorful rocky backdrops on the canyon walls.

Capt. Jeremy Olsen is a top fishing guide that will teach you how to have fun catching fish. Imagine catching 17 walleye in less than 90 minutes! Forrest Fisher Photo

Lake Sakakawea in central North Dakota was created for flood control on the Missouri River by the Garrison Dam.  The average width of the lake is 2-3 miles, but it is about 14 miles wide at the widest point, heavy with clean, deep water, shallow water, many undulating bay backwaters, drop-offs, flats, and a beautiful view of colorful mountain walls – hundreds of millions of years old, that form the gorge that creates this waterway.  In short, it is breathtaking!

We met at 7 a.m. and when I saw his new boat, I was thrilled, motivated and EAGER to set foot on the 21-foot Lund, 219-Pro-V, with a 350 horsepower Mercury Verado.  Cost: $81,000, I asked.  Cost of my Charter: $350.  A win-win for any angler.  The new Lund Pro-V fishing boats are special: quiet, safe, powerful, live well, many other features.  It’s all there on this boat.

We left the dock at 7:15 a.m., took 15 minutes to motor 10 miles to a chosen fishing spot (it didn’t take long at 62 mph), set up our lines on lightweight Phenix casting rods (http://www.tacklewarehouse.com/Phenix_Rods/catpage-PHENIX.html).  At 7:40 a.m., Capt. Jeremy had the fish figured out and we landed our first walleye.   By 9:15 a.m., we had landed 17 walleye!  Could we call this a great day?  No way, it was an insurmountable day!

It will be a day that I would never forget as a walleye angler.  Indeed, vacations and special fishing moments are about making special memories.   I have no doubt that Capt. Jeremy could do this again.

While I’ll admit, my standards are higher than the average – I expect to catch lots of walleye and often, to beat the usual catch rate, but who would have ever guessed this catch rate of walleye could even occur in wild waters in the middle of summer?  Not me.

Capt. Jeremy is an expert.  He knows the secrets to understanding how fish move, when they move, forage location, wind and eddy current effects, and how to attract fish to invoke a strike.  For this day, he choose Smiley Blade attractors and worms.  The Smiley Blades offer slow rotating action when tied in front of a 3-foot fluorocarbon leader that has two to four beads in front of a single 1/0 hook.  In actual use, this action is death to walleye on Lake Sakakawea.  I discovered after getting home to Lake Erie, it is deadly anywhere else that walleye swim too.  The blades turn with as little as 0.4 mph forward speed because they are made from lightweight Mylar.  Capt. Jeremy buys the blades separate and custom-makes the Smiley Blade rigs with his kids, adding a dash of special magic, I’m sure.

We attached the Smiley Rig leaders to a 1-1/4 ounce wire/bottom-bouncer and set the MinnKota Ulterra bow motor to troll at about 0.6 mph.  Three or four minutes later, presto!  Fish on!  Walleye after walleye came into the boat.  We released all the smaller fish as they were caught.

If you’re out that way, you can contact Capt. Jeremy through Lieber’s Guide Service at http://www.liebelsguideservice.com/.  He will travel to many other waters too, including Montana.

Of course, understanding where to drop lines (location), why to drop where we did (bait movement and water clarity), and how fast to go, are among reasons why we ask a charter captain to take us fishing when we go to a new lake.  A charter captain fishes many more times than we do and it is always a learning experience.

This was new water for me, I’m a Lake Erie walleye fisherman, fishing Lake Sakakawea was quite different.  To do it again, I think I’d contact Capt. Jeremy again and leave my boat home.  The trip was safe, fast, affordable and fun.  It doesn’t get any better than that.

To learn more about Smiley Blades, a video with details about rigging, design, styles and colors is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FoO7MxmD-rA.

Accommodations: You can camp at Indian Hills for just $20/night.  There is a boat launch, convenience store, fish-cleaning station and running potable water at several spots.  If regular tenting is too primitive for you, there is one cabin there called “Peacepipe” that accommodates 6 people with bunks, A/C, sink and kitchen for $90/night.  At Peacepipe, you and your family can camp in comfort, and while this style camping cabin has no shower or toilet inside of it, the conveniences are an easy 200’ walk to the shower house.  There is a built-in, sit-down table that seats four, the kitchen counter includes a 2-burner hot plate, small refrigerator and wash basin (potable water is just outside) with drain.  You only need to provide your own sleeping bag or bedding.  Outside you’ll find a picnic table and fire ring, and exterior electrical outlets.  We stayed here and it was great.  Above that, they offer condo’s and lodge rooms too.  Choices are what life in the outdoor lane is all about.  The degree of “outdoorism” that you choose is available here.  My kind of place (http://www.fishindianhills.com/).

For additional general information on Lake Sakakawea and other North Dakota sites to see, visit http://www.ndtourism.com/blog/lesson-about-lake-sakakawea.

This may have been one of the most fun, most learning trips I have ever had the pleasure to experience. One last word, I love North Dakota!  My sweetheart of 48 years and I will be back soon.

Mount Rushmore – Independence Day Glory!

The entrance to the Mount Rushmore National Memorial offers clear signage and directions during an initial view of the grandeur of this sacred place.  Forrest Fisher Photo

By Forrest Fisher
Mount Rushmore is no ordinary mountain.  Visiting this sacred place in the Black Hills of South Dakota has been on our “bucket list” for a long time.  As we approached from the north driving down Highway 85, the illusion of darkness rising on the horizon – the Black Hills in the distance, was clear and beautiful. “There they are,” said my excited best friend and wife of 48 years. “They’re so awesome, aren’t they?” Added my granddaughter, Kiley Rose, a college student of environmental science and forestry, and our mentor for all things nature, especially trees and birds.

“They say the Black Hills look dark because of all the tall pine trees that grow here in this part of South Dakota,” Kiley shared. “And this area is rich in birds and animals too.” As we travelled through Rapid City and up Highway 16 (Mount Rushmore Road) on the mountain toward Mount Rushmore, there were large signs on the roadway directing where to turn, park and enjoy the view.

The views from just about anywhere on this National Monument Memorial property are spectacular. The scenes are permanently imprinted to memory, though I also took hundreds of pictures to share with family and friends back home in western New York.

The “Avenue of Flags” offers a lofted flag of every state in the United States, a symbol for freedom and citizenship as a democratic government representing the freedom of all people in this country. Forrest Fisher Photo

The sculptured faces of four of our former great presidents are carved high above in the granite stone of this majestic mountain.  Chosen by sculptor, Gutzon Borglum, visitors have a clear, spectacular image of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln as viewed left to right. For several of the people I spoke with, many simply gazing with a prolonged stare at the figures – the predominant feature of these four American leaders seems to be their eyes.

One man from Texas said, “You know something, I think their eyes offer us understanding and humility.” Another visitor overheard the onset of our discussion and shared, “I agree, their eyes draw my attention almost immediately, as if to invite discussion among each of them.” Another nearby person, a foreign lady visitor from Japan, smiled and leaned our way to say, “I think their eyes create a sense of trust, so I agree with you both, but I also think their noses are predominant.” Instantly, we all smiled at that and I brought up a short story about “smell and scent” to share with this amicable threesome.

I added, “When my family initially came up to visit the monument, we drove past the official entrance and down the hill toward the presidential “side view” of George Washington. My granddaughter and I decided to hike around the parking area access paths and with her knowledge of trees, she went directly to one of the pine trees, put her nose to the tree, smiled, and called me over.” She said, “Can you smell this and tell me what you think this bark smells like, Dziadz?” So I did and said, “It smells like vanilla.” “Yes!” She exclaimed. “This is a Ponderosa Pine tree, this odor is their distinguishing element!”

When you get up close to the bark itself, Ponderosa Pines smell like vanilla extract – something I learned from my granddaughter who is majoring in environmental science.  We never stop learning! Forrest Fisher Photo

So I returned to the group conversation and said, “Have you visited the Grand View Terrace eating area? Some people we met had been raving about Thomas Jefferson’s homemade ice cream recipe – which they serve here.  About the nose, maybe you are right – the ice cream is vanilla flavor.  You can smell it just by standing next to someone with a cone or dish of the tasty dessert.  It was crowded.”  Smiling a bit, I added, “So maybe you are right, the nose is the champion feature of these carved presidential figures!”  Everyone returned a happy face grin and we all moved on, satisfied to share a moment of observation with each other.

Though the Ponderosa pines offer the scent of vanilla and the Thomas Jefferson homemade ice cream recipe is vanilla flavor – and it is delicious, our visit to this incredible place was not ordinary vanilla.

Every visitor, there were 1000’s, appeared to be in reverent awe of the monument.  There was a soft-spoken drone of conversation in the air that hovered above the sound of the breeze, with these flags proudly waffling a soft message of freedom in the wind.  Every single state in the country has their flag displayed here.  It felt so very good to walk among the cascade of flags aptly named, the “Avenue of Flags.”

Mount Rushmore associate, Jane Zwetzig, had provided us with early advice about making sure we test the delicious ice cream.  The vanilla flavor and sweet taste is like the monument, unforgettable.

The information center is a “must-see stop” to insure you understand what to see during your day visit. Forrest Fisher Photo

A stop to the Information Center provided details about current day activities, with informational brochures and details of exhibits, they helped to plan hiking trail and exhibit visits for the day.  There are guided walks down the Presidential Trail and tours, Ranger programs, amphitheater programs, the Sculptor’s Studio, the bookstore, the gift shop and also, an audio tour.  There is also an audio tour device, a handheld wand, that can be rented for $5 and is available in four languages.

The food court is a great food stop, complete with bison burgers, bison hotdogs and a long list of other, non-meat, healthy foods and beverages.

Toward evening, the sculpture is illuminated for one hour, starting 30 minutes after sunset, and that marks the onset of the “Evening Lighting Ceremony.” The Mount Rushmore National Memorial is open year-round, except on Christmas Day (Dec. 25), from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. in the summer, and through 5 p.m. in the winter. The cost is FREE, except there is an $11 parking fee for cars.

At the end of the “Avenue of Flags,” there is a balcony where families gather for pictures to be cherished long into the future.

Hotel accommodations are plentiful in Rapid City, Hill City, Keystone and several other small towns nearby, including infamous Deadwood (Wild Bill Hickok – Saloon No. 10), about 45 minutes to the north.  We spent the overnight at the Gold Dust hotel in Deadwood (http://golddustdeadwood.com/), recently renovated in this former western outlaw town – such a great place to visit.

For more information about the Black Hills, Badlands, Mount Rushmore, the Crazy Horse monument and other local sites, visit: http://www.blackhillsbadlands.com/business/black-hills-visitor-information-center.

The busiest day of the year for Mount Rushmore? You might have guessed, is July 4th. According to manager, Lloyd Shelton, Independence Day will usually see a little more than 10,000 visitors per hour. The good news is that the park services can handle that volume and there is plenty of room.

You will find inspiration from the presidential presence with a wonderful sense of opportunity to share and absorb the energy and leadership provided from these mountain-top carvings at the memorial monument.  These elements of Mount Rushmore are unchanged, regardless of the number of visitors.  We enjoyed every moment of our visit – the people, the property, the outdoor elements of unique grandeur.  This is a great summer stop.  Upon arrival, the mystique of this special place is clearly apparent.

We drove all the way from New York State (two fun days), a long trip, and we are already planning a return visit!

 

Big Cash for Eastern Lake Erie Walleye Anglers – Southtowns Walleye Association Tournament

  • Hot Walleye Bites, is it YOUR TURN?
  • CHANGE Lures, Speed, Turn Radius, Time of Day You Fish
  • CHECK Colors, Leaders, Hooks – Control Hand Odor Scent
Catching big walleye during tournament time is about making changes to adapt your style to the fishery of the day. Learn from what the lake offers each day.

By Forrest Fisher

Many anglers in the Northeast USA and especially in Western New York, have a preference for Lake Erie walleye fishing.  Many of them are ready for Southtowns Walleye Association (SWA) Tournament action that will begin very soon. 

Walleye fishing is center-stage over the first few weeks of June, especially June 10-18, when many anglers will be entered in the 33rd annual Southtowns Walleye Association Walleye Tournament.  This is a 9-day/1-fish tournament where the single biggest fish wins. That means any lucky angler can win.

BIG CASH PRIZES: SWA offers cash awards for the top 200 places, with the top 10 places winning big money.  The top prize can be as much as $8,000 in cash plus prizes.  Last year, Jim Horbett took 1st place with his 11.63 pound walleye.  See Bob Fessler or Don Mullen for info, or call 716-462-9576, or visit www.southtownswalleye.org to enter, but do it soon, as registration is closed after the tournament begins.    

The Lake Erie eastern basin walleye resource is healthy and getting bigger with local spawning stocks that can also include migratory western basin fish, which may begin to arrive when summertime is imminent.  We’ll have to wait and see if the area will receive some hot weather to make that west to east migration happen before the tournament ends.

Moving around, making changes, searching the shallow water, the mid-depths and deep water – out there, look for suspended fish in the top 25 feet, these changes can be the key to finding an isolated school of walleye whoppers.

POST-SPAWN WALLEYE:  Local walleye anglers already know that the fish are around and are here in good numbers after the last few weeks of spring fishing. The males that have been caught at night are beautiful fish in the 3 to 7 pound range, not prize winners, but freezer fillers, or are perfect for pictures and catch and release fishing fun.  As the season evolves after the area experienced a very rainy May, the larger females will be recovering from their post-spawn doldrum period and will be hungry. 

The fish will be deeper during the day, but at night, will be feeding in the shallow upper water layer offshore, and also, some fish will be very near to shore during the early part of the tournament (at night).  This fishing can be hit or miss, but if you don’t try it, you’ll never know.

EARLY START:  If you have been fishing like many do, early riser at 330AM, trailer hook-up, travel and launch before sunrise, lights on, lines in, great bite and then suddenly, NO BITE.  What happened?  Simple to figure out if you think about it.  Most of the fish have been on the feed all night, especially during full moon or bright moon periods.  They’re done eating! 

Notice I said, “most of the fish.”  So don’t give up, there will be isolated schools that have yet to feed, but think about night fishing once or twice during the tourney.

Spinner-Worm Rigs are often a top choice for local area anglers, but color, blade shape, bead size and boat speed can make a sound (noise) difference that matters. Willow leaf? Colorado? Indiana blade? Copper? Nickel? Brass? Pick on and vary from there.

LURE OFFERINGS:  What about your lure offerings?  Well you never know what will work until you try, but most anglers use shallow running sticks or spinner-worm rigs and weight the lines to reach the fish at whatever their level, usually 15 to 25 feet from the top.

COLOR & LIGHT PENETRATION: Colors matter for some of us, though not sure the fish care much of the time, but the variable with color is light penetration. If the fish are on the feed, wham!  There will be fish on your line no matter what you are using.  If not, check your lure for action, assure your leaders are healthy, hooks too, then get out there.

The rest of the time when the goggle eyes are not on the feed, you may have to provoke them.  By nature, walleye are night predators, but most anglers in SWA fish daytime. Maybe some anglers are getting old?  Nahhhh!  We just like to see the hooks and jawbones we need to avoid burying in our hand with natural light.

Matching bait offerings to forage options can produce instant fish on the line. Color matters in shallow line sets.  Don’t be afraid to change to something nobody else is using! Old lures can work today too.

BIG FISH CONSISTENCY:  Anglers that win the prize for most fish and biggest fish are often the same anglers year after year.  Reasons why may be widely varied, but not for them. Winning anglers are adaptive.  They change lure style, lure size, color, shape, and they consider all their tackle box options.  Get creative, know what you have in your tackle box.  Know to change your boat travel orientation with wind direction.  Turn more, turn less, swing wide and slow, or wide and fast, but change.

AVOID NO-CHANGE: Be careful not to get into that same “catch-no-fish” pigeon hole that happened once or twice last year or that last time that you never told anyone about.  If you are fishing with the same lure and using the same technique at the same speed and wondering what’s going on, you know it’s time to consider CHANGE.  Explore a bit. Get creative. In your heart of hearts, you know when something needs to change, so do it.   

THINK ABOUT CHANGE: Should you change WHEN you go fishing?  Start at 3PM instead of 3AM?  That’s your call, but what you change is up to you when you’re not catching fish.  Fish move, water temperatures swing with wind shifts, eddy currents push forage to new locations, creek outflows can attract or repel forage and predators, take advantage of these things. Talk with others.  After all that, there is one more thing, keep it simple so you can do it again.  Write it down if you have to, add it to your logbook.  Keep a logbook. Update after every trip.  You will not believe what you learn from your own notes a week from today.

The Rainbow Smelt Banana Bait from LiveTarget Lures offers another option for lure selection.  It made some novice anglers feel like old pro’s last year. It has wiggle, wobble and a sound-making shake.  When it’s time to CHANGE, you will know.

MAKE YOUR OWN CHANGE: Look at a lake map, study your sonar map, evolve to get smarter with each trip on the water and rationalize what is going on, or you can call a best friend that seems to be catching fish!  It’s really up to you to discover the new methods that will work for you. 

After each tourney, I’ve always shared what was working for me and my friends in the boat with others.  It’s what every fishing club is all about.  It’s why some friends share their secrets during the tournament.  It’s how many anglers invent their next new change, by combining what they do with others that have shared to create a new approach.

WALLEYE TRACKING STUDY: Lastly, a new research initiative on Lake Erie – east to west and USA to Canada, that started in 2015 uses acoustic telemetry to track walleye movement. Researchers are studying the west-to-east and east-west fish migration that affects the New York walleye fishery.  A $100 reward can be yours if you catch one of the walleye that have a tracking device, just call DEC (716-366-0228) and report each tagged fish along with returning the internal acoustic tag.

Good luck on the water!