I went up the day before, did some fishing from shore, and stayed the night at the Red Fern Inn at Rocky Point Winery in downtown Marblehead, a pleasant little town that I've visited many a time, usually to see the lighthouse there while my wife rummaged through quaint little shops. The Rocky Point Winery had a surprising selection of wines, seven of their own and 40 other labels, along with 25 different beers, and a cozy place to drink them. The Inn was upstairs, four suites with two bedrooms and cooking facilities, but I didn't spend much time there, because Lake Erie fishing was waiting.
I tried first Middle Harbor, which I reached by entering East Harbor State Park, and stopped at a nice little fishing pier with seats and a picnic table. It offers channel cats, sheepshead, and bullheads, but bottom fishing proved tough because of weeds. Visitors here will have better luck at the pier or by shore fishing using floats and nightcrawlers for largemouth bass, bluegills, and crappie. Next, I visited the Mazurik Fish Access just out of Marblehead which has plenty of parking, a launch ramp and both a short fishing pier and a long stone jetty that abuts the open lake. The short pier was useless because of dense weeds, but the long pier can produce cats, sheepshead, yellow perch and the occasional white perch.
For those who like comfort and a very short walk, the Portage River in Port Clinton is a good choice. You'll turn off at Fisherman's Wharf in the downtown area and right at the rivers edge find a nice little park with benches and parking just yards away. I've fished this area several times and found the usual cats, sheepshead, yellow perch and white perch. It's a good place to relax, listen to the lonely cries of herring gulls, and watch boats passing while you fish.
I also spent time the next day at Old Bay Bridge which parallels Ohio 2 across Sandusky Bay. To reach it, cross the bay on Ohio 2 heading toward Port Clinton, turn off at the first exit and swing around to reach the bridge. There's plenty of parking and you can fish either along shore or at a nice little wooden fishing pier with rod holders provided. Best fishing at any of these places will be early morning or late evening and night for channel cats and sheepshead.
The Fish Ohio Day traditionally begins at the Lake Erie Shores & Islands Welcome Center on Ohio 53, just north of Ohio 2. There are always dozens of press people, Division of Wildlife personnel, ODNR officials and lots of politicians. These were separated into six people to a boat and captain, and went off to fish. For readers planning to make a trip themselves, the top spots proved to be around Niagara Reef, and off C and G can. The successful offerings were Erie Dearies in gold and red, mayfly rigs since there had been huge mayfly hatches and worm harnesses. And not surprisingly, best action was at 10 to 15 foot depths, going much deeper as the day progressed.
What can you expect? Jim Zehringer, director of the ODNR said his boat caught over 100 fish, which was great, but produced only seven keepers over 15 inches. Another boat landed 30 fish and kept two. The most successful boat caught 30 fish and had 15 keepers. Lots of little walleye, but few big ones. There were speeches made too, one of which was particularly important. There have been persistent rumors that the Division of Wildlife would be joined to other divisions and sportsmen's money for licenses and permits spread out to needier divisions.
New Chief Mike Miller said "there will be no consolidation of divisions. I want to be very clear on that."
That made me happy.
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HOOKS & BULLETS
• Lake Erie fishing in the Western Basin might deteriorate again if algae take over that area again as predicted, but unless or until that happens, fishing for walleye and yellow perch should continue excellent. Area anglers are reminded that updated fishing reports are available at wildohio.gov or by calling 888-HOOKFISH. More information is available from Division of Wildlife staff from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays at the Fairport Harbor station (440-352-4199) for the Central Basin and at the Sandusky station (419-625-8062) for the western basin.
• What's the best bass fishing lake in the country? According to Bassmaster Magazine, it's Mille Lacs Lake in Minnesota. The hotspot is a 132,516 acre natural lake located 100 miles north of the Minneapolis-St. Paul area that is absolutely loaded with smallmouths. "This fishery really got our attention last September during the Toyota Bassmaster Championship when 94 limits of smallmouth bass were weighed in that topped 20 pounds each," said Magazine editor James Hall. It's worth a visit.
• Duck seasons are coming closer and the Division of Wildlife is already planning the first special drawings for controlled hunting opportunities. The Division will be holding drawings for Pipe Creek Wildlife Area Waterfowl Hunts at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 17 at Osborn Park. Registration is from 5 p.m. to 6:20 p.m. at the park, 3910 Perkins Ave., Huron. Participants are required to present proof of purchasing their current Ohio Wetlands Habitant Stamp or current hunting license to be eligible.
Dick Martin is a free-lance writer from Shelby. Reach him at [email protected] You can also visit his blog at outdoors withmartin.com.