The 2nd Annual Walleye Central Get-Together November 3-7, 1999
and the 1999 Lake Erie Bionic Walleye Challenge
By Sheila Ryan
Rules, rules, and “didn’t you read the rules?” So it went the first couple days this year in Huron, Ohio. I simply had to laugh. All you had to do was use 4-rods, Bionic Minnows, Offshore Tackle Planer Boards, throw in a dash of Rick LaCourse walleye techniques, a Mark Romanack trolling book, and you too might have gotten lucky or even pocketed a wad of cash during the tourneys on Nov. 6th and 7th. Lights, cameras, action, and what a challenge it was!
As usual, prefishing was great. That is, if and when you could get out there on Lake Erie. Weather was wonderful, but there were a couple “iffy” days, high winds and rough waves. Always the risk you take this time of year. A risk that many hot fishermen will take, no matter what, just to come to Huron in November to catch the big one. Boat too small? Well, time to hop on a huge seaworthy charter boat. “Thumper” Ron Johnson was quite the popular guy this year. And boy can he catch ‘em…
Our favorite Walleye Central girl “Juls” Julia Davis didn’t let a little wind or muddy lake stop her or “Bigfoot” Rick LaCourse from fishing a couple hours on Thursday. They caught two and lost four on Offshore boards running Reef Runners and Ripsticks 90-140’ back. I’m sure they were thinking about the fish fry on Friday.
I fished Thursday with “Just Look’n” Bob Keeney, Bob Kuehn, and “Eyeman” Rick Simison. We worked every lure under the sun including spoons, reefs, rips, thunders, bionics - the whole gambit. Bob had the tackle baby! We ate, drank, ate more, and just had the best time fishing and talking - landing only a couple during the whole day.
Friday was a wild one. “Thumper” (affectionately known as Rabbit) Capt. Ron Johnson landed a crowd at breakfast for his 31’ charter boat including Scott & Cindy Golden and lucky Juls. They added seven more fish to the fish fry cause. “Reefer” Rick Cole, Roger & I were dry-docked for awhile that day (a battery thing), but Capt. Ronnie Rhodes made me feel good back at the dock on our cell phone call. “Honey, you don’t want to be out here today it’s so rough. We’ll see at the dock in a ½ hour.” Ok, I’ll wait for you Ronnie!
“FreeByrd” Steve Carlson managed to land three pigs trolling dipseys at the 29N 29W fishing with “GetReel” Chris Songer and his Uncle Rod. Steve said he was glad he got to meet and thank “Den” for all his great fish reports.
I must say, the biggest walleye I saw was laid out on the fillet table at the Gull Motel. My gosh, someone ate that at the fish fry Friday! It was caught by George Fredin and weighed 11lb-8oz. George and Rocco just slay them every year now. Saw “Bull” and “Swat1” busy filleting fish at the Gull too. We were bound to have a feast.
The Fish Fry
Friday, 6:00 p.m. - don’t be late or you won’t get a table. At least, that’s what I discovered when I showed up only 15 or so minutes late. The place was jam packed. What a blast! Everyone ate well, and had a great time. There were so many people that pitched in. Out back behind the hall, it looked like a giant fryer production line complete with tons of joking volunteer cooks, only lacking in adequate lighting - small detail they overcame.
Good fishermen, good times. Best fry I’ve been to all year. You too? Wonderful fresh walleye. So many great people. Nice to meet you all!
Finally, Cindy and Scott Golden come to the Great Lakes on their honeymoon no less. Way to go, and what a gas. How can you ever forget dining, fishing, partying, and laughing with so many admirable people that admired you too! Just don’t ever let me trim your mustache again after cocktails, only before.
And speaking of admirable, how about that “Chairman” Bruce DeShano! We must commend you, your life, exploits, talents, and entertaining energy. You are a true sportsman even without your hat!
The Bionic Challenge
Saturday turned out to be a beautiful calm day. Weather good, bite bad. Were they out far, in close, up high, down low? Maybe only the Bionic Minnow knows. Don’t quote me, but out of some 65 team boats, maybe only 25 or so weighed in. Many just stayed out past the weigh-in time, since they hadn’t caught any in time.
Despite the off bite, it was still a great tourney. Lots of fun. Thank you Renosky Lures for sponsoring, and giving us all nice Bionic Minnow kits. And much thanks as well to everyone’s favorite Rick LaCourse who worked so darn hard to make it a great tournament. Stay pro dude. And Dave Kidd - you too!
Congratulations to “Airwave” Brion Combs and his wife (right) for catching the big fish - a 10 pounder. What a team.
And as for “Boatnut” Mike Justus, they all about shut off the cameras when you held up that walleye. (But not Cindy Golden - she kept the camcorder rolling!) I could not get over that one for days. You see, Mike bled his fish (slit its throat no less) and had a tough little time displaying the big thing when certain parts started slipping out. Announcer Jim O’Rourke covered your situation with his usual sportsmen’s finesse.
That’s Capt. Ron Johnson (below) telling us his walleye secrets. The Renosky film crew piled on his boat on Saturday for action. No, Jim is not asking him “how many rods” were used - got that?
Bearded "Bull" Ron Bullock (above) was our Gull walleye expert. You “did good Bull!”
And there’s Boatnut with a hog.
“Reefer” Rick Cole and partner Roger (right) came in to defend title. There’s always next year, eh? Thank you Rick for the walleye pins, key chains, & Lund hats. You are the fisher “man”. Tip to other guys: always bring little gifts for the girls, take us fishing, and we’ll let others know if you’re a worthy fisherman (as long as you really are of course). Food is nice touch too.
BusyB Capt. Ric Smith teamed up with Ronnie, but opted not to weigh their two fish of the day. Cindy Golden and I (official reelers of their team) were a little taken back when they claimed it was their worst day of the whole year on Lake Erie. You know what? We’d fish with these guys any day, any time, or any year.
Scott fished with Mark Brumbaugh Saturday - which I’m sure he wished later was more like Sunday. Mark won the St. Jude Tourney on Sunday. Just for reference, I heard he was catching them quite shallow that day running lures only 40’ back off boards! Who’d have guessed that? And we thought 90’ back was short.
Another party at the hotel? Nah, let’s go out to dinner! I’d say we ought to reserve the Angry Bull Steak House to ourselves next year. And when you go, try to sit next to Tony Puccio (not just for free Bait Rigs lures), but so you can see the true size of their roast beef. When his 2lb. house specialty “slab” came, we all literally lost ourselves including Tony. Order one yourself, and feed the whole boat roast beef sandwiches the next day fishing!
Whew, that was a good time! Rick LaCourse and Joe Renosky (above), and Dave Kidd - thanks again. It was a success! I hope to be fortunate enough to hear, read, and see more stories from others who experienced this year’s outing and the challenging fishing adventures it provided us all.
Dave (and me left), finally glad to meet you, since I heard so much about you. Or was that the other way around? Let’s fish.
Thanks to all the wild Walleye Central buddies for another great outing! Hope to see you all again next year.