Home Columns & Editorials Outdoors With Skip First Fishing Trip: First Boat Ramp Frackas

First Fishing Trip: First Boat Ramp Frackas


It was the best of days; it was the worst of days. It was a day that we had been looking forward to since last September. This was the first time we could get out fishing this spring, and it was long overdue! Because of our cold spring the fish have been slow to begin to bite. And probably more due to the prolonged cold weather, I have been slow to get out and see if they are biting. But finally we seem to have broken winter’s back and have had a run of warm days. Because Lake Erie is indeed very slow to warm up—little is biting around Cleveland and east– we went to Mosquito Reservoir where, if you follow the fishing blogs, and the Plain Dealer accounts, the walleye and crappie are reported to be very active. And because it was a very warm, sunny weekend many, many other people evidently felt the same way. As bad luck would have it there was a two-day bass tournament going on as well. We didn’t know that! We thought it would be over on Saturday.

In all the times I have been fishing at Mosquito Lake I have never seen the parking lot at the State Park full. But it was mostly full today. About 70% of the trucks and trailers were bass tournament entries.  Now, let me clarify; I have nothing against bass tournaments and bass fishermen. I occasionally fish for bass myself. And while I have never entered a fishing tournament I have reported on them, sat in the stands at weigh-ins, and enjoyed all the Sports TV network hoopla. But if the tournaments are being staged on a small inland lake I try to avoid fishing on the days they are being conducted.  Why, you ask? Let’s take today for instance!

Today was a nice day to fish; it was clear, warm, and not too windy. We got to the lake at about 8:30 A.M. As we arrived we noted the parking lot was by then, over half full.  As we put our boat into the water there was only one other fisherman likewise using the ramp. Obviously these bass fishermen had long been out on the water, probably at the crack of dawn. The birds were chirping, some fishermen on the break wall were chatting…..and there was this overwhelming drone of what sounded like several massive chain saws hovering over the lake. It put me in mind of the auto races. You can hear them long before you see them. When you looked out over the lake there were these low slung boats rocketing about, back and forth, up and down, north and south, east and west, all at breakneck speeds. Though Mosquito Lake is one of our bigger inland lakes it is really not that big in the scheme of things. Which is to say that 50-100 or more rocketing boats going 40-60 mph do create wakes that travel every which way causing quite a chopped up lake.  This is unpleasant enough. But what is most maddening is when these rocket boats cut right through a flock of small boats drift fishing and trolling in a good fishing spot. Most seasoned fishermen call it common courtesy to not blast through a pack of fishing boats that are on the fish, catching fish, (obviously not bass), and having a fishing good time.  A rocket boat cutting through, well, it sort of scatters the fish, creates waves in unusual directions, and causes everybody to bounce about precariously. Big wakes can swamp small fishing boats.  I noticed many one- fingered salutes by these fishermen to the rocket men on multiple occasions. And I heard some words and phrases uttered loudly and with great emphasis that I haven’t heard since I was in the Navy. One can only hope that there is a special hell for these rocket boat boys wherein they spend eternity with chain saws strapped to each ear as they fish a good bass hole while depth charges are thrown at them just as a bass is taking their bait.  But I digress.

So we went north, about half way up the lake on the east side where there seems to be a good bit of structure.  We started trolling in the old riverbed, the deepest part of the lake –about 20 feet deep. I caught a spike walleye (juvenile) within a few minutes, which hopefully portended better things to come. We fished that area for a good hour and a half, picked up several crappies, but no walleye.  So we motored up to the north end of the lake on the other side of the causeway. Last year this was a good area to fish but after an hour or so of not even a bite we motored back south to the structured area. The fish evidently weren’t up north today.  Over the five hours we fished we picked up ten nice crappie and a five-pound catfish that we threw back. It was not the greatest of fishing days, but certainly not the worst. Those crappies filleted out to about a pound and a half of meat- a nice fish fry for my son and his family.

About 2 P.M. we headed back to the ramps. By then the sun had sufficiently baked us and the fish had taken a break from eating.  When we got to the ramps, we found quite a crowd there with some boats going into the water for an afternoon cruise, and many boats—bass boats mostly– trying to get out of the water. There are 6 ramps, but today there needed to be 18 ramps. So there were boats tied up at the ramp docks and boats cruising about in circles waiting for someone to bring their trailer rigs to the ramp so they could load their boats.  Many people have mastered driving their boats onto the trailer and thus they can vacate the ramp in short order.  Others, not so much!  They have to wade into the water, position the boat, crank it up, back it off, re-position the boat, and start again—maybe two and three times.  This is all well and good, a typical occurrence at most boat ramps that I’ve ever been to!  Today there was a line ten cars long endeavoring to either put in or pull out boats.  This resulted in gridlock at the ramps. Each ramp was clogged with boats trying to get into or out of the water. Because of the gridlock no one could do anything because their trailer rigs couldn’t get to the ramps. Not surprisingly, tempers flared. Unpleasant gestures flew about. More Navy words were exchanged.   What good old American fun it is on a Sunday afternoon to sit and watch the drama unfold at your local boat ramp.


Do you fish, hunt, trap, camp, go for nature walks? What else do you do outdoors? Drop me a line at THE VILLAGER, P.O. Box 331 Garrettsville 44231. E-mail me at Skipstaxidermy@yahoo.com or give me a call at 330-562-9801. I’d like to hear from you.

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Skip Schweitzer, of Mantua, can be described from early on in life as an avid outdoorsman and old car restorer and aficionado. He comes from a long line of great lakes fishermen and hunters. He is a taxidermist and a retired psychologist. His grandfather Charles, a machinist and fisherman who fed his family with fish during the Great Depression, was one of the original auto restorers at the Thompson Auto Museum, now the Crawford Auto Aviation Museum. Skip learned to hunt, fish and restore cars from his father Roy and learned the value and appreciation of antique automobiles from his grandfather. Skip has, over the years, restored upwards of 25 automobiles including many Fords, Studebakers, Buicks, Jeeps and VWs. Skip has written extensively on automobiles and outdoors for several newspapers, magazines and auto publications this past 20 years. His current antique automobiles include a 1930 Ford Model “A”, and a 1970 Volkswagen Cabriolet. Skip’s most frequent bylines are, Outdoors With Skip, and The Old Road.