Eastlake's Roger Merin led an all-Lake County field to take the top three positions in the annual weekend-long PerchFest fishing derby.
The contest concluded today with Marin's five fish averaging 12.71 inches each and a squeaker of enough length to win first place over Mentor's Don Wank. Wank's five yellow perch averaged 12.68 inches each.
Third place was claimed by Matt Reid of Perry and whose five fish were right behind at 12.5 inches each.
Tournament organizers said they were "thrilled" that the winning catches were all captured in Lake Erie waters off Lake County.
For the past several contests the top winners largely caught their fish off Ashtabula County.
"We may change the rules for next year to say that fishing has to be done between (FirstEnergy's)Eastlake plant and the Perry Nuclear Power Plant," said Bob Ulas, executive director of the hosting Lake County Visitors Bureau. "I'm still very happy that the fish were caught here; that shows we have quality perch, too."
Marin said he focused his fishing off the Chagrin River, though trying to pin-point a consistant water depth was challenging.
"We bounced around like a ping-pong ball; we were everywhere," Marin said. "We started in 49 feet of water, went to 62 feet but didn't do any good so we came back and fished in 35 feet of water."
Joining Marin on his perch-fishing venture were fellow Chagrin River Salmon Association members Barry Butera, Ray Koeth, and Mike Flynn, whose 14 7/8-inch yellow perch earned the fishing derby's Big Fish award.
"Mike was our point man," Marin said.
Both Marin and Flynn said the reason the fishing proved so "tough" was due in large measure to the previous week's extensive heavy seas and high winds.
"That scattered the fish," Marin said.
Second place winner Wank said he did his fishing a few miles east of Marin and off the Mentor Lagoons in 45 feet of water.
"The fishing today was better than it was Saturday," Wank said. "I did, though, have a 13 1/2 inch perch that I caught Saturday but didn't check it in until today. It shrank one-half inch. I'd have won had I measured it on Saturday instead."
Though charter captain Mike Langer finished out of the money at forth place he was in the running up until very near the end of the judging, done by the Salmon Association at the Fairport Harbor Port Authority's boat ramp.
Langer didn't enter any fish on Saturday but rather caught his near miss today. All of his fish were caught on the fabled "hump," located northwest of the Grand River.
"It's still nice to see that all of the winning catches came from Lake County instead of Conneaut," Langer said.
Besides the adult division the PerchFest contest included a youth division. Here, first place was won by Madison Becker of Solon, second place by Cheryl Lallmand of Streetsboro, and third place by McKenzie Pilny of Mentor.
Madison also caught her division's longest perch, a 11.69 inch fish.
- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn