Walleye are this young man’s business on the lake


The Gribble gang may be Lake Erie’s hottest walleye fishing crew, knocking down approximately 600 charter trips last summer, a carefully planned and orchestrated summer assault on the fish that put some 9,500 walleyes in client coolers.

If those numbers sound big, they are.

Indeed, John Gribble and his skilled guides who make up the DB Sport Fishing team get more fish in the boat than most other charters only dream about.

Young man

Gribble, the son of parents who skillfully fished and guided walleye hunters for years, was practically raised on a boat. He shipped out on his own at 17 and now at 30, Gribble is probably still the youngest and certainly one of the most successful full-time charter guides on the lake. His charter business has grown to a fleet of seven boats operating with a team of fish-smart captions, many of whom were already successful guides before signing on with Gribble.

Attracting walleyes

Gribble’s fleet works the early spring season in the shadow of the Perry nuclear plant west of Port Clinton, but when spring becomes summer he opens shop at Geneva where is close to what has become Lake Erie’s summer time honey hole.

According to Gribble, the deep waters off Geneva and nearby Ashtabula offer everything a walleye could like. Gribble said that the deep water attracts huge schools of bait fish which in turn attract feeding walleyes.
The water temperature is right, the food source is right, and it’s all just a few miles off shore, he said.
But don’t let thousands of walleye sound like a very lucky few months. It’s a job, one that Gribble takes very seriously and one that he thrives on.

Tackle makers

Gribble is often involved in field testing tackle and designing even more lures and gear, something he’s proud of.
And why not, tackle makers like professional endorsements, especially when they come as a result of perfected success. “

I’m constantly working on new colors and new finishes that attract more fish,” Gribble said, demonstrating his latest hue that appears one color in bright sun light and another on dark days.

Gribble is tech smart and fish savvy thus he relies on the very latest in electronics. Too many old school guides do it today because it worked yesterday, a practice that has soured too many clients, paying customers who have written off Lake Erie.

Underwater information

Gribble has never leaned on guesses when he can get real-time, factual underwater information. It’s a rare day on the water when he can’t recite every detail about a lure’s depth, water speed, and well, everything else.
He’s always in touch with changing water currents, and conditions and how to play them effectively. That kind of detail, plus a team of equally tuned-in guides, equals a ton or two of walleyes caught.

Next generation

Hopefully, Gribble is an example of a new generation of Lake Erie captions, professionals who take their chosen tasks seriously and with vigor.


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Mike Tontimonia has been writing weekly columns and magazine features about the outdoors for over 25 years, a career that continues to hold the same excitement for him as it did at the beginning. Mike is a retired educator, a licensed auctioneer and marketing consultant. He lives in Ravenna, Ohio and enjoys spending time at his Carroll County cabin. Mike has hunted and fished in several states and Canada from the Carolinas to Alaska and from Idaho to Delaware. His readers have often commented that the stories about his adventures are about as close to being there as possible. He is past president of the Outdoor Writers of Ohio and a member of the Outdoor Writers Association of America. Mike is also very involved in his community as a school board member and a Rotarian.



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