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3 Man limit on Eclipse Day

A couple months back when I became aware of the coming eclipse and the fact that the total eclipse would be coming through the south side of Erie, I made the decision that, weather permitting, I wanted to be there to experience this unique event on the Lake that I have come to appreciate so much over the past few years.

About a week before the event, I asked two of my nephews, that love fishing, if they would want to take a day off work to go with me to experience this epic event and they both said they would love to if they could get off of work. Their employers graciously allowed them to take off, so plans were made and, thanks to God, the weather cooperated as well for a beautiful day on the lake.

We left home at 3:45 in order to make it to Mazurik’s by 6:30. When we arrived, there was already about a dozen others at the launch, which reminded me more of a weekend day rather than a Monday morning. I knew we would experienced some east winds early, which certainly was the case, there were 3 to 4 feet rollers from the wind overnight, but I knew that the winds were supposed to keep calming down as the day went on. We headed to the NW corner of Kelley’s to do some scouting and weren’t getting a lot of marks in that area but noticed some other guys headed towards Kelley’s shoal, so we decided to head that way as well and we first set up on the SW tip of the shoal and trolled west with the wind.

Our set-up was 3 boards on each side and 2 lines without boards off the corners of the boat. We ran our high lines on the outside set at 35 to 42 back, middle boards were 50 to 60 back and the inside were 50 feet then a 2 oz. weight and another 15 to 20 feet. The corner rods were 75′ then 2 oz. weight and another 25 to 30 ft. I was running mostly bandits and Bill Lewis PWC. I had one DDHJ12 and one P10, but didn’t get any hits so I traded them out for PWC’s. The PWC Sunspot and white based bandits with green produced the best early on when there was more cloud cover, but as the clouds rolled back and the sun shone through later in the morning we switched over to more chrome based lures which did very well. Our best sets were higher in the water column 35-42′ back or the ones that were deeper, 50′ w/2oz then 15 feet putting them 22 to 23 feet down. We made 2 passes trolling at 1.4 to 1.8 most of the time in 40 to 45 fow. Had our 3 man limit a little before 2 o’clock. Average size was around 24 to 25 inches with one just under 27. Almost all were spawned out females, had just a couple males and one female that hadn’t dropped her eggs yet. I think those females were looking to fill up their empty baggy bellies again. Water temp was about 44 degrees.

As we were fishing, my nephews and I were talking about if would we rather keep trolling through the eclipse or head down to the Mouse reef area and try our hand at jigging. Since we already had our limit of nice size eyes and the winds had totally calmed down as well, we decided to head towards the northeast side of Catawba. There were a few other boats in the area when we arrived at about 2:30. The water was quite stained with only about 6 inches visibility, so I moved over to the north side of Scott Point shoal and it improved a bit. We started jigging about a half hour before the total eclipse happened. We started catching some drum which was a lot of fun just for the sport of it even though we didn’t keep them, but we did also catch a few eyes that were smaller but ranged from 17 to 20 inches. Being on the water when the eclipse happened was like a dream come true. It was amazing how light it stayed even with nearly all the sun covered. At the point just before the full eclipse and when the full eclipse was just ending, my nephew commented that it reminded him of the light you get in a Wal-Mart parking lot, sort of a halogen or fluorescent looking white light. As we looked around us during the eclipse, it looked like you were seeing the pre-dawn orangish light all around the horizon. It was the sight of a lifetime and we all agreed it was well worth taking a day off of work to have a great day of fishing and then topped off with this amazing eclipse!

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