A three-day total of almost 64 pounds. A one-day bag of 26-plus. Wow, those guys caught them pretty good on Lake Erie in the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Northern Open over the weekend.
But don’t let those big weights fool you, Erie is anything but easy! It’s huge and intimidating, and if the wind blows, it’s just straight up nasty. Here’s why I know that.
I have only had one experience with Lake Erie and it wasn’t very pretty to say the least. Actually, my brother and I both rank it No. 1 on our terrible fishing trip list. There’s something to be said about that because we have a long list.
It was in summer of 2005 when Jordan and I got the itch to catch some big Lake Erie smallmouth. Since we knew nothing about fishing on the Great Lakes, we decided to sign up as a non-boater in a big pro-am tournament so we could learn the ways to fish the “big water.” Sounded like a good idea at the time … Ha.
A huge storm rolled through the night before the first day of the tournament. I didn’t think anything about it until I got to the ramp to meet my partner. The lake looked like the ocean times two … pretty scary. I’ve never seen waves that big in my life.
No joke, they were 8-10 feet high. As I loaded my gear in my partner’s boat, he lets me know that his spot is only 11 miles away. I thought to myself, “This guy is nuts!”
The beat-down began after we left the harbor and we tried to take on the 10-footers. It was the craziest thing that I have ever seen.
There was a boat right in front of us, but we couldn’t see him because we would be so far down in a swale that you couldn’t see out. When we would get to the top of the wave, the other boat would be down in the bottom of a swale. It was like we were in a giant wave pool or something. The waves kept coming, and we really didn’t go anywhere except up and down.
We would spear a wave ever couple of minutes, and I was soaked to my core. At one point we had to stop because the water in the boat was level with our seats. It took 10 minutes to bilge it out of the boat.
After about an hour, we had only gotten halfway to his spot. He stopped the boat, and told me that it was too rough and we had to go back in. I’m glad it only took him an hour to realize this.
We got back to the protected harbor after another hour, and we fished behind rip rap seawalls the rest of the day. My partner caught two little bass, and I caught around 10 drum. I was disappointed that I zeroed, but I was also glad that I didn’t have to stay out in the waves all day.
My brother wasn’t so lucky (if you can call it that). When I met up with him at the weigh-in, he looked like he was on his death bed. He was white as a ghost, and could hardly walk. His partner kept him out in the waves all day.
For the first time in his life, he got sea sick. He said that he sat in the driver’s seat leaning over the boat puking all day and didn’t catch a fish. It was all I could do to not crack up because he really did take a beat down.
Day Two wasn’t much better. The waves were much smaller, dying down to 3-4 footers. The only problem was that both of our partners liked to go fast. Erie looked much calmer and it gave our partners a misconception about how fast you should go.
On any other lake, when you have 3-4 feet waves, you tend to go slow. Not our guys, they wanted to go 60 mph. They were trying to make up for the lack of speed on the previous day or something.
My partner thought he was KVD and he employed the run and gun approach and beat me to death in the process. I actually broke the handle off his boat as I was trying to brace myself for the 60 mph impact of every wave. We finished the day with one bass a piece, and jacked-up backs.
Jordan got the short end of the stick for the second consecutive day. His partner randomly decided to go to Canada. He told Jordan that he heard that the fishing was good up there and he wanted to go check it out. The guy had a Gambler bass boat and he was a certifiable speed demon.
My brother said that he yelled for him to slow down the whole way up there. He said that it was twice as rough of a ride as the previous day. It took them a couple of hours to get to Canada, and a couple hours to get back. They never boated a fish, and Jordan’s back was sore for a week.
So when you see what those guys weighed in the Northern Open, you have appreciate what they did. Lake Erie is a big scary place, but if the weather cooperates like it did this weekend, it can be one of the best fisheries in the country.
If the weather doesn’t cooperate, you may just have yourself a terrible fishing trip story to tell to all your friends.
Remember to chase your dreams!