CLEVELAND, Ohio – Jim Holton, 71, of Millford, Michigan might have a lot to be thankful for Sunday afternoon. Both the Lake Erie Fall Brawl and Walleye Slam Walleye derbies that began in Lake Erie on Oct. 15 will end at noon Sunday, and Holton’s 13.62-pound, 31.5-inch walleye caught last Tuesday off Lorain is line to win both. derbies
Holton and his fishing buddy, Tim McKinney, 67, of Flint, Mich., are both deer hunters and walleye fishermen, so it’s been a pretty good week for Horton. Before the fishing pair headed to Lake Erie for one last stab at winning the walleye derbies earlier this week, they scored an excellent 10-pound buck in Michigan’s Oakland County.
“I’m going to have to dress my deer when we get home, then turn around and go back to Ohio to see if we won the Walleye Brawl and Walleye Slam derbies,” Holton said in a phone interview.
If Holton misses out, the prize money will add to his bank account enormously.
The couple almost failed to launch their boat last Tuesday after arriving from Michigan.
“We wanted to launch the boat at the Rocky River or Edgewater Park in the Cleveland area, but both ramps were covered in ice,” he said. “We asked around and learned that most of the walleye boats were launching in Lorain, so we towed the 2150 Crestliner out of McKinney there and launched around noon.”
It was a late start, but the bird they wanted was waiting.
“We started fishing south of the Lorain Harbor spillway, and just five minutes later one of the lines on an offshore flat board went off,” Holton said. “We’ve caught big walleye in the past, and this one was a dandy.”
In fact, it was the only gamey they hooked and landed on Tuesday. As the sun set, anglers headed to Erie Outfitters on Sheffield Lake, the Walleye Slam’s only check station, where the fish weighed 13.62 pounds, beating the 31.44-pounder caught Nov. 14 by Tammy Stanton.
Holton and his partner were well aware of the Lake Erie Walleye cheating scandals, including the 2021 walleye derbies and the Lake Erie Walleye Trail Tournament cheating scandal. The defendants were Jacob Runyan, 42, of the Cleveland area, and Chase Cominsky, 35, of Pennsylvania, after they allegedly put weights and fish fillets inside their tournament-winning catch.
“The Walleye Slam and Fall Brawl are fun fishing derbies. The entry fees are small and there’s a chance for great prizes. We wanted to go back this year, and I’m glad we did,” he said. Holton said.
Good weather through Sunday: Expect to see lots of small boats on Lake Erie during the final hours of the Walleye Slam and Fall Brawl fishing derbies today, but be extra careful Sunday morning when there’s a high risk of rain and fast towards the west winds
Steelheaders get a weather break: Warmer temperatures for the Thanksgiving holiday gave steelhead trout anglers a break in Northeast Ohio’s rivers and streams, but weekend rains could muddy the waters on Sunday and next week.
Anglers have recently been targeting rainbow trout and channel catfish in the Ohio and Erie Canal Fishing Area east of 49th Street down the road from the Canalway Visitor Center in Cleveland area.
Lakeside areas like the East 55th breakwater are also producing good numbers of walleye in the dark, with Perfect 10 and other shallow crankbaits working well.
The first winter stocking of rainbow trout in Cleveland Metroparks lakes and ponds is scheduled for mid-December.