I’m sure I don’t have to tell you I’ve been prefishing for the Open on Lake Erie for the past week or so. Sunday was an experience, a day I’ll not forget for a longtime. When I woke up, the wind was blowing fairly hard. There were small craft warnings up. Nevertheless, I decided to fish. I did launch were I could get back quickly if necessary, however.
First thing, I caught a giant smallmouth right in front of Perry’s Monument at Put-in-Bay. That, in and of itself, isn’t unusual. The area produces a lot of big fish and has for many years. It’s a well-known hotspot on the lake.
What makes the catch so special to me is that it’s the place where I caught my first Lake Erie smallmouth when I was just a kid. I smile every time I think back on those days. I can close my eyes and remember things like they happened yesterday.
I’m hoping my Sunday giant is a good omen for later in the week, something that tells me this is going to be my tournament. Now, to be truthful, I’m not sure about how much of that omen stuff I believe but it never hurts to think positive, just in case. I want to win one of these things and go to the Classic.
And speaking of winning, and the fishing up here, I’m going to go out on a limb and make a bold prediction. I’m saying there’ll be several 20-pound sacks on the first day — wind permitting — and they’ll all be smallmouths. Yes, Erie is that good. It is arguably the best smallmouth fishery in the world.
Anyway, after I caught my fish and reminisced a minute or two, the weather turned nasty. The horizon went black and I saw five waterspouts dropping out of the clouds. One of them was bigger than the other four combined. I ran to a sheltered area behind a breakwall for safety. And I didn’t waste any time doing it, either.
While I was waiting out the storm, a woman in another boat told me her husband and kids were stuck out in the middle of the lake. She didn’t seem to know what was wrong with their boat, only that it wouldn’t run. She asked if I could help.
Honestly, it was a dangerous situation but she was scared to death about her children. The waves were high enough that I wasn’t sure I could get to him. I finally did, though. And, after a lot of false starts and failed attempts, I finally got a line to him and was able to tow his boat to safety.
The experience reminded me that as much fun as you can have up here catching bass you can also get hurt if you are careless. The Great Lakes do not suffer disrespect lightly.