- Big Sky
Because the goal for the Big Country Big Venture trip is to go to a location that NONE of us have been, we were not sure we could make it happen in 2023. In fact Mom and Dad had silently decided that would be the case. But then one day Mom came home from work and said words to Dad that caused him to question what she was sniffing at work: "What do you think about going Walleye fishing on Lake Erie next weekend?" What? Can you repeat that please? YES, of course we want to go walleye fishing!
Mom had a patient that day who had just returned from a visit to Lake Erie. He had gone multiple times with the same captain and had limited out every time! Mom wanted a meat haul, made the phone call, and found out there was an opening on that Sunday July 23rd.
So on Saturday we packed-up the car and headed north towards Sandusky, OH to fish with Captain Jim Kramer from Champion Charters.
We stopped for lunch at a place called Sweet Dreams, in Napoleon, OH with a great outdoor backyard we had to ourselves.
As mentioned at the start, this trip was very much a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants trip. Not the way Dad is generally comfortable rolling....but, hey, Mom was taking us walleye fishing so he was rolling-with-it! One of the items that had not be finalized as we drove north was....where to stay that night. We soon learned that there was a number of large summer events happening locally and almost all the lodging was gone! But Mom called around and found a compelling option. Camp Perry, the National Guard training facility, and one of the top public shooting ranges in the US, had an opening despite the National shooting event taking place.
We had to get there quick to get checked-in before dark, get the key (a real one), and locate our.....concrete barracks. When we found rows of barracks open to the public, it reminded us of the vibe at the Indy 500 tailgate. The shooting events for the day were long over, and every barracks had a jolly group of souls circled up in lawn chairs, with a grill and cooler of good'ol American beer stationed in the middle (sadly, no pics).
We quickly unloaded and headed to Cedar Point so the kids could hit the amusement park and Mom and Dad could do some exploring on their bikes.
Mom and Dad had dinner at the "Bait House Brewery"
One of the big events taking place on Sunday was IRONMAN Ohio. Dad made the realization while there that one of our good friends was completing in it the next day. They checked out the start and finish area, and called him with good luck wishes since it was doubtful we'd be done fishing in team to cheer him on.
When we returned to our barrack, it was well after dark and the lawn chairs and coolers were empty.
Waking up at 5am wasn't tough. God bless all those who serve in our military. Hopefully the money Uncle Sam is saving with those blue plastic coated mattresses, is going to their health and wellness....
We packed up and headed to the marina to meet our captain.
This was our second Great Lakes family fishing trip. The first one was out of South Haven, MI (which Dad had organized 'cough') involved a captain who had a bad temper and smoked like a chimney, a mate who showed up an hour late with blood shot eyes, everyone seasick, and almost no fish to show for it.
So the bar was low. But when we met Captain, his first mate Sean, and a bonus guest mate, his Dad, we immediately knew Mom should arrange all future fishing trips;)
We snapped a couple pics and settled in for the 1-2 hour ride out to the walleye grounds in Lake Erie as the sun crested the horizon.
This is the part Dad gets to talk about his passion regarding the US conservation efforts. The restoration of the walleye population in Lake Erie is a significant environmental success story. While specific populations studies are obviously not available pre and early 20th century, there is good evidence the walleye of Lake Erie were abundant and a key source of food for indigenous peoples and us new comers from the east and north.