CLEVELAND, Ohio – As November arrives, the shores of Lake Erie become a fishing haven for anglers who understand the migration patterns of their walleye, yellow perch and rainbow trout. -in sky.
Jeff Burdick of Avon Lake has hunted walleye for four decades, and while he often scores while drifting and casting in his 19-foot Yamaha Center Console or kayak, in November he’s prowling the piers and break walls to cast walleye decoys that head into shallow water to feast on gizzard shad.
This week Burdick was awarded a trophy, an 11.07-pound, 30.5-inch walleye who ranks second in this year’s B’laster Fall Brawl and Walleye Slam fishing derbies on Lake Erie, which run until Sunday, November 28 and allow entries to be caught from the shore, from a kayak or from a fishing boat.
âIt’s a bit early for the Big Walleye, but the numbers are increasing and I expect to see some really Big Walleye captured before the derbies are over,” said Burdick, RIDGID Factory Service Center Supervisor in Elyria.
Burdick’s wife, Sherri, is very understanding of his passion for fishing, which typically includes two or three nights a week to go out after dark. That’s when the piercing-eyed walleye invade the shore, their night vision making them a leading predator.
Burdick’s award this week was a memorable experience.
âI was fishing alone in a small private place on the shore that I had permission to fish,â he said. âIt was my fifth throw of the night, and she stopped my Long A Bomber lure like I caught a rock. They started to run, removing the line from my reel.
The battle was on, and Burdick finally got him in his headlamp beam and lowered his net.
“I missed her with the net and she came away,” he said. âWhen I got a second chance, I didn’t miss it. When I finally got her in the net, the lure came out of her mouth.
âNow it was a fun night,â he said.
Burdick often catches a limit of six walleye fish when he casts from shore after dark, but never puts that sixth fish on the spar until he’s ready to go home. He still wants a spot in his bag limit if that walleye trophy bites.
Northern Ohio is a very democratic place for anglers in November. Even if a fisherman does not have a boat, night time walleye fishing can be spectacular. Daytime rainbow trout fishing is world-class in the rivers and streams of northeastern Ohio, and port areas are currently abandoning the perch limits. This is a little misleading in the central basin of Lake Erie, now that the daily bag limit has been reduced to just 10 fish. It is still 30 yellow perch per day in the western and eastern basins.
Reports this week indicate that the giant yellow perch has arrived in coastal waters off Lorain and Cleveland, and the 14-inch perch is quite common.
Burdick typically walks the Lake Erie shore from Lake Avon to Catawba State Park to fish for walleye, and time rarely slows down.
âThe night I grabbed the trophy, I started fishing around 10pm. A north wind was blowing, and it was raining and it was pretty nasty, âsaid Burdick. âIt’s the best time to be successful, in my opinion. The wind pushes the baitfish against the shore and the walleye approach to feed on them.
Burdick’s top three lure picks are a Smithwick Perfect 10 blue-chrome; a JT Custom Lures Seyka Shad in blue-black with transparent sides and yellow stripe; and the Long A Bomber in natural colors.
âWalleye fishing is still a bit inconsistent,â he said. âBut if you’re in the right place on any given night, you can get going. From experience, I know that walleye fishing will improve in the coming weeks if the weather permits.
Rainbow trout need rain: Rivers in northeast Ohio are low and clear right now with lots of noxious leaves in the water, but Friday’s rains could attract more spawning trout to the streams. The lower reaches of the rivers were the most productive for rainbow trout, and excellent catches were reported in Conneaut Harbor this week.
Beware of boaters on Lake Erie: Strong winds are forecast for the next few days, with a possibility of 9 foot waves. With the large number of small trailer boats chasing walleye in the fall brawl and walleye breakdown, extra caution must be exercised. If the winds start to pick up, immediately head to a safe harbor.