Captains map strategy to fight
CATAWBA ISLAND -- The Lake Erie Charter Boat Association thinks
there's something fishy with new walleye limits proposed by state
biologists. So they're pitching their own plan. At a sizable LECBA
gathering recently at Holiday Village Motel and Charter Service, the
charter captains talked shop with Ohio Department of Natural Resources
Division of Wildlife personnel.
The controversy lies with ODNR's recommendation to
drop the Lake Erie walleye bag limit from four to three fish per day
during March and April, effective next year. Declining walleye numbers
are blamed for the change.
The daily walleye limit would remain at six fish
during the remainder of the year.
However, LECBA President Bob Collins said his group's
19-member board of directors favors a different strategy: Lower the bag
limit to four from September through April, while retaining the six-fish
limit during lucrative springtime months.
"(The charter captains) didn't see any evidence that
would indicate that that wouldn't be better than cutting the spring
limit to three for 60 days during the 'prime time' they'd be having
their spawn," Collins said.
He said fishing captains took a "percentage hit" on
profits a couple years ago when the state limit was lowered -- and one
way or the other, captains will incur another percentage hit this time
In fact, Good Time Charlie's Charters captain Charlie
Eulitt has said the proposed limit reduction has "got quite a few people
on the warpath."
"The burning issue now is, if the object is to
protect the females, then a majority of the board feels that they'd like
the possibility of closing the season, starting in fall and continuing
on through to spring."
Collins said the meeting was productive, and that
ODNR officials made a good presentation. He said both groups have vested
interest in preserving the Lake Erie fishery.
Other proposed ODNR fishing changes:
An all-year walleye size limit of 15 inches.
A moratorium on smallmouth bass fishing in May and
June, during spawning season. Biologists blame nest predation by round
gobis as a key reason.
The Ohio Wildlife Council is expected to vote on the
proposals Oct. 15.
Big fish escape, but anglers rescued
KELLEYS ISLAND (July ’03) -- When crashing waves
swamped angler Pat Byle's boat, his 20-foot Ranger filled with water up
to the instrument console. Soaking wet, he radioed for help, battling to
stay aboard amid 8- foot whitecaps near Gull Island Shoal.
Luckily, Byle and his passenger were rescued. But
when he tried to transfer his fish onto a competitor's boat, two beefy
walleye got loose and swam off into the depths -costing Byle $50,000, a
$35,000 boat and a Wal-Mart RCL Walleye Tour title.
Byle's boating accident -- and fish misfortunes --
capped a decisive day of Lake Erie walleye tournament action. Had the
Wisconsin man not lost control of his pair of fish in roiling waters
north of Kelleys Island, he said he would have returned with about 30
pounds of walleye. That would have defeated the other nine Wal-Mart RCL
finalists by a 10-ounce margin.
"I'm not 100 percent sure what happened," Byle said
afterward, visibly shaken. "It happened so fast."
The incident happened during a gale warning about
9:30 a.m., near a popular fishing site about two miles south of the
Canadian border. Northeast winds of up to 25 knots churned the lake,
spawning 6- to 8-foot waves.
Bob Domek, an Illinois pro fisherman, heard the
distress call and motored to the scene. He pulled Byle and his amateur
partner, Steve Anderson of Illinois, from the lake.
"We saw them yelling and screaming," Domek said. "It
took a while to get there because the waves were so big."
Domek said only about 4 inches of Byle's boat were
above water by the time he arrived.
"When we pulled up, I knew we only had a couple of
chances to do this. So I told them when they get the chance, to just
dive into the boat," Domek said.
The stranded men managed to board Domek's boat -- but
two of the five walleye didn't.
U.S. Coast Guard Station Marblehead dispatched a
47foot rescue vessel and a 27-foot boat to the area.
Boater's Emergency Service also sent out two boats to
join the search effort.
Coast Guard personnel eventually located the swamped
boat and floating debris, then towed the boat to shore.
Byle survived the day's winner-take-all, Wal-Mart RCL
fish-off with three walleye totaling 15 pounds, 15 ounces -- good for
sixth place out of the 10 finalists. David Kolb of Riverview, Mich., won
the event with five walleye totaling 29 pounds, 6 ounces.
After rescuing the anglers, Domek's boat was battered
by waves, shattering his windshield. The boat started to flood, but the
men were able to pump out the water and get back to shore.
Byle said Lake Erie conditions worsened in a matter
of minutes that morning.
"We went out to make another pass when a wave came over the back of
the boat. So we had to get water out of the boat," Byle said. "I
couldn't get the engine going when another wave came about 10 seconds
"I went to call for may day and another wave hit
before I could give my coordinates. I'm very happy to be alive. I'm very
proud of what Bob did."
The Wal-Mart RCL Walleye Tour also visited Port
Clinton in April 2001.
In April 2000, six competitors in a Port Clinton
InFisherman Professional Walleye Trail tournament rescued four swamped
amateur anglers during a storm near Niagara Reef, about nine miles north
of Camp Perry.