By Richard Hines
After a short ride out of the harbor, my long-time friend and fishing partner John Phillips said, “We should be about 2 miles offshore by now.”
All this water and it was still only 14 feet deep! This always surprises me, especially having fished Superior and Michigan, but the discussion of water depth changed for me as the sun finally came up. Everyone was amazed at this sunrise and even today, it ranks as one of the most beautiful sunrises I have seen on any fishing trip.
This section of Lake Erie is highly productive and if you are an avid walleye angler, you have no doubt heard of Lake Erie and specificity Oak Harbor, Ohio. It’s hard not to miss reading about one of the top locations in the country.
Numerous towns located along the south shore of Lake Erie are prime locations to start a trip into this big water. Big water means bigger boats. The best way to fish Erie is by charter boat. I made my first trip to Oak Harbor in the 1980’s to fish with Captain Bob Witt, owner of Sea Breeze Charters. Since that time, John Phillips and I, along with other friends, have made at least semi-annual trips ranging from spring and summer into early fall.
Captain Witt said, “We catch walleye throughout most of the season, but it seems fall is good for picking up some larger fish.” Witt added that their fishing was outstanding last year and there’s no reason to believe the fall of 2019 should not be any different.
Most anglers fish spring and early summer but Witt said, “One thing about the spring, the fish are more friendly to anglers. They will take a cold front or a change in water conditions and come back biting the next day.”
In other words, spring fish just seem more resistant and are generally easier to catch.
In the fall this is sometimes not the case because weather can affect how they feed. During weather changes, fish may take a couple of days to bounce back to begin biting again.
Regardless of this fact, Witt said that over the past thirty years some of their best trips he remembers were in October.
So why fish Lake Erie this coming October? Witt said, “The best three hatches we have ever had on walleye has occurred over the past five years. Not only will you get a chance for walleye, but you may be able to catch one of the older fish that have been hanging around awhile. Plus you may take home some eaters.”
Walleye are not stocked in these lakes and the large number of fish has been due to good reproduction. Witt added, “Even if we don’t have a good hatch this coming spring, there are still plenty of walleye for years to come.”
While sometimes unpredictable, fall fishing can produce some big fish. It seems these larger fish begin getting a little more aggressive as days grow shorter.
Witt said, “These big fish are up feeding to build up their reserves in preparation for winter.”
My personal goal is to hang a 30-inch walleye on the wall and our last October trip I boated a 29-inch. This was almost a wall hanger for me, but he went to the freezer instead!
Fishing out of Sea Breeze boats consists of primarily drifting and casting spinners rigged with a nightcrawler. You will also find Sea Breeze Charter guides are also set up to troll.
Witt pointed out, “Every method we use depends entirely on the weather conditions that day, so we are continually changing up gear so folks can catch fish.”
Sea Breeze Guides are very accommodating with one thing in mind, it’s your trip.
Witt explained, “If you like a certain type of fishing, we can do it that way.”
Having fished with Sea Breeze over the past thirty years, I generally let the guides decide.
When you are fishing with Sea Breeze you will notice all the boat captains are continually communicating on what is working and where they are biting. Every guide we have fished with has put out a fabulous effort to make sure everyone gets some fish.
When asked how scheduling was for October, Witt indicated there were plenty of openings and they have package deals that include lodging, guide, boat, and gear. Lodging for 6 people runs $180 per night and the boat which also holds 6 anglers is $600 per day. In other words, it comes out to $130 per day to fish and spend the night. Also, don’t forget to tip your guide.
The housing also has kitchens and we always cook either on the stove or outside on the grill. Since walleye are for our freezers at home, we generally divide and freeze the fillets for the trip home.
We also keep secondary fish to clean and cook at least one night. It seems we always catch enough yellow perch and other fish to have a nice fish fry.
If you have never tried fall walleye fishing, give it a try this October. Going with a reliable and top-notch charter such as Sea Breeze Charters will make the trip easy and fun, not to mention walleye fillets for the freezer.
For more detailed information and contact numbers go to http://seabreezecharters.com.