- Secrets to Finding Out Where Summer Walleye Live?
- Color is a Factor, Pearlescent Coatings Improve Attraction Rates
- Check Terminal Tackle and Leaders to Assure Hooked Fish come to Net
By Forrest Fisher
Captain Brad Smith had an ear to ear grin as we walked up to his dock at Monroe Marina on Barcelona Harbor in Westfield, New York. “Good morning guys!” He greeted us. His sweetheart 1st mate, Darcy Smith, was right by his side and shared, “It’s going to be a great day.” John Lenox and Tim Andrus, stars of Rush Outdoors TV, and myself, couldn’t agree more. It was so good to be on the water at sunrise with a calm wind and a fishing crew that understood the changing moods of the megapixel walleye (see them on your sonar) that migrate to eastern basin Lake Erie during summer. Summer walleye can be tricky to catch. I had a feeling today would not be one of those days. The big smiles when we arrived were way too happy!
Captain Brad said, “Let’s get on board and ready up guys.” The 28’ Marionette was so big and solid with a large deck area out back, rest room down below and state of the art electronics, there was no doubt about safety, comfort and fun for everyone aboard. The rig can accommodate seating a fishing party of 6 guests.
As we shared conversation, coffee and Tim Horton donuts, Captain Brad explained that the area had sustained some extended north wind and the stable water layers that had been setting up may have moved. He pointed to the dashboard sonar, “Look there, the water temp fell about 8 degrees overnight to 66, so we may have to search a bit, but I have a good idea on where to start.” Being a curious fisherman, I asked, “How do you figure that out?” Captain Brad replied, “You make sure you have friends that are scuba divers and share your fillets once in a while. It’s easy after that!” Everyone laughed a bit.
Captain Brad pointed over to the boat moored right alongside his common dock, it was the giant scuba diving boat of Barcelona. “My friend runs that one over there and he shares where the fish are with wind changes, I’ll share some of that with you all as gear up.”
After checking the leaders on the 12 rods set to fish, then helping us understand the secrets to good line terminations with top notch snap and swivel hardware, and good knots, he looked up at Darcy and said, “Are you ready honey?” Darcy smiled back,”Just waiting on you dear.” The inboard engine exhaust fans had already been on for a few minutes. Captain Brad gave the all clear with a circle wave with his thumb up. “Let’s start ‘em up!” The sheer power and growl sound from the twin 418 Chrysler engines roared to life. It was satisfying to be here.
Tim didn’t miss a word on the plan for where we might find fish, John was double-checking the camera gear. We slowly backed out of the dock and headed for open water along the Chautauqua County shoreline toward Pennsylvania (southwest). Boat speed was slow at first, checking sonar and probes, the water temp was coming up. When we reached the “right zone” about 8 miles out, the temp had quickly changed to 74 degrees, Captain Brad started to set lines. Nothing more exciting than fish-catching expectations when those reel clickers start sounding off.
The pro that he was, Captain Brad dropped two very large planer boards in the water, one on each side of the boat, two sea anchors, also one on each side. When the boards reached about 150 feet out, he set three 4-color leadcore lines on one side and three 7-color lines on the other. “It’s a school effect thing, it works,” He shared. Then two dipsey lines were set on each side and one downrigger line on each side. A total of 12 lines! He made that all look so easy. In between line deployments, Darcy was reading off sonar observations, “Four fish at 40, two fish at 35, one lone fish at 90 – probably a lake trout. We are in 115 feet of water.” “What’s our speed dear?” Captain Brad asked. “2.2 miles per hour, changing a bit from 2.0 to 2.4 with the quartering chop,” Darcy replied.” “That’s a good start for now,” Brad shared with his usual ear to ear confidence grin, sunshine gleaming a bright, self-assurance flash off his white teeth.
The dive boat that was next to us at the dock passed us as we slowly went looking for those occasionally elusive walleye, but no sooner did the distant wake reach us, when one of the planer lines soared backward. “There’s one! Who’s up?!” Brad said. We all shared on the hookups to bring the fish in. Just a few minutes later, a nice 4-pound walleye was aboard. Tim held up the healthy fish for a film shot and another line popped. It was going to be a great day indeed.
Captain Brad had deployed an array of spoons, stickbaits and spinner/worm rigs, most of them non-commercial homemade lures with homemade colors that he had learned to use through the years, mostly from his mentor, Captain Mike Cochran. Additionally, Captain Brad’s son is also innovative with colors and unique lure designs, stickbaits and spoons, that complement catching fish aboard Barcelona Charters. “Born here, built here, I like the way my kid makes lures, especially the colors,” Captain Brad added. “Renosky lures work too,” Captain Brad added.
Many of the lures had a sort of clear pearlescent attraction film color on them, all handmade at home. Many wish the lures were for sale, but they’re not. They work, maybe that’s what counts.
The first fish came aboard at 7:50 a.m., after that, we caught one fish on an average of every 6 to 10 minutes through 11:16 a.m., it was busy fun! The longest stint of no fish through that time was 19 minutes. Quite amazing. John tossed a quarter in the drink one time, after 15 minutes of no releases, with Tim quipping, “It’s a tradition when it slows down, a toast to Odin.” TV star, Tim Andrus, was taking abuse from John too, as John said, “Captain Brad, don’t know how you did it, but you got Tim to work today!” Tim was helping out with setting and resetting lines to the boards. Actually, it was a busy time, a good busy time.
Tim responded, “Hey Forrest, what’s that sound, can you hear that snap, crackle, pop? Oh, oh, sorry, that’s John’s bones, it happens every time he is landing another fish.” We laughed and joked the whole trip. Tim was helping net and stow the fish after catching and caught a fin on the thumb. John didn’t let that pass, “Don’t worry Tim. Pain heals, chicks dig big scars and glory lasts forever!” We all laughed again.
Not to allow any silence to sneak in between reel drag sounds, Brad chided in, “Know what’s the best part of a trip out here with Barcelona Charters? It’s Brad and Darcy!” Saturday Night Live would be proud this group. Hardy fun! Laughing all the way.
Lots of camera footage was recorded and my camera shutter made history, frequent click and shoot mode in action. Already, more than 30 fish had entertained us through the morning, 26 of them came to the boat net. That tally included one steelhead, one lake trout and one Coho salmon! The rest were mostly walleye, some to 7 pounds, but we also caught yellow perch, silver bass and white bass. Seven species! A great day of fun and fish-catching.
How do you spell fun? W-A-L-L-E-Y-E! Especially if you ask Tim or John, as our catch rate may have exceeded expectations. The bottom line? We forgot life for a moment, we had so much fun. The viewers will too, when they see this show. John wasted no time in booking another charter for his family a few weeks down the road.
One thing to remember when you fish with a charter captain and first mate that understand their job, they like to share. We all learned a lot, including new ways to fillet fish, as we watched Captain Brad after returning to the dock.
If you’re out this way, contact Captain Brad of Barcelona Charters at 814-602-9899 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Look for the fishing TV show by checking on-line at http://www.rushoutdoors.com/.