Black Friday proved to be a very special day for Streetsboro fisherman James Atkinson, who instead of shopping for big box deals chose to try his luck on Lake Erie. And a lucky day it was.
Atkinson, a small boat angler, and in only his second year of the Erie experience, braved a cold choppy day as he trolled a self-painted lure in the water off of East Cleveland. In slightly less than an hour, Atkinson hooked a fish, a big fish, a really big fish. The right kind too, a walleye, just what he was hoping for.
According to several news articles, press releases and online postings, Atkinson, fortunately, was entered in the annual Walleye Fall Brawl, the fastest-growing Lake Erie fishing contest ever seen. The brawl runs from mid-October through the end of November, and as anyone knows, Black Friday is just hours away from the end of the month.
Atkinson raced his big walleye to the official scale at Erie Outfitters, the brawl headquarters and walked out in the top spot. Talk about a walk-off home run! For the 2019 brawl, 7,954 walleye anglers registered and the interest continues to grow as the Lake Erie pre-winter feeding frenzy attracts attention across the nation.
Atkinson’s winning 31.5-inch walleye spun the dial to 12.395 pounds and won him a well-appointed Warrior fishing boat worth $100,000. Second place, with a walleye weighing 12.09 pounds, was David Troyer, who claimed a New Hewes Craft aluminum boat. Third place went to Michael Brady for his 12.045-pound walleye.
Interestingly, most of the top fish were caught towards the end of November. In fact, walleyes caught the day before Thanksgiving and the day after took first and third. The second spot was claimed by a fish boated just days before. Lake Erie’s fall walleye bite is a remarkable and wide-spread annual event. It belongs on every serious anglers bucket list.
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