Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Wicked weather could hurt weekend's PerchFest participation and catch

Several day's worth of nasty weather is almost certain to negatively impact this weekend’s up-coming Lake County PerchFest.

This annual event is hosted by the Lake County Visitors Bureau and the venue is Lake Metroparks’ Fairport Harbor Lakefront Park.

Coupled with the land-based entertainment and food serving is a two-day Lake Erie yellow perch-fishing derby.

When the weather is tame and the fish are biting the contest can attract upwards of 300 participants.

That may not be the case this year as the winds have howled over Lake Erie’s surface since Sunday and won’t relent until possibly Thursday. Rain is also in the forecast through Sunday: The final day of the two-day PerchFest contest.

“We’re going to have to go out and use the fish finder for sure,” said Marv DeGreen of Huntsburg Township and a Lake Erie charter captain. “I just wish these fish finders could tell us which fish are hungry.”

At least, says DeGreen, the “perch didn’t jump out of the water” when the storm front pushed through and kicked up the waves to six feet.

Following a blow of this kind, DeGreen says also, it is an angler’s chief aim to avoid the inshore muddy water, likely locating the boat north of the region’s fabled “hump,” off the Mentor Lagoons.

“The perch should be in deeper water, maybe 60 to 62 feet, but I don’t have any idea how bad it’s going to be since the lake has been rolling for several days now,” DeGreen said.

A tip, DeGreen says, is to utilize a new web site that forecasts in near real time the wind speeds on Lake Erie. It is located at

“At least this gets you thinking about bow hunting,” DeGreen said of this week’s autumn-like weather.

Kevin Kayle, manager of the Ohio Division of Wildlife’s Fairport Harbor Fisheries Research Station, says also that PerchFest participants will have their work cut out for them.

“Some of the low oxygen levels have gotten more oxygen so the fish may have come up in the water column while the winds could set up currents that move water masses and possibly contribute to scattering the fish,” Kayle said. "It’s not a fun time to look for fish.”

Keeping his fingers crossed is Bob Ulas, the Lake County Visitor Bureau’s executive director.

Recent PerchFest’s have been plagued with poor weather - that while has done little to stymie sales of perch dinners - has hampered sales of fishing derby permits.

They claim it may blow out and even dry out,” Ulas said, who remains optimistic.

“I’ve seen different reports but sometimes they are not on the mark. It is a challenge that we run through every year,” he said.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

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