Thanksgiving has come and gone and so has the 10th annual Lake Erie Fall Brawl.

Never heard of the Lake Erie Fall Brawl? The Lake Erie Fall Brawl is a month and half long fall tournament open to the entire waters of Lake Erie with the largest walleye taking the top prize. Anyone can enter by just paying the entry fee. The sponsorships and prizes awarded have grown to amazing numbers.

Here’s how the tournament works: Once an angler has paid the $30 entry fee, they have six weeks to fish as much as they want, anywhere in the Ohio waters of Lake Erie. The 2020 Fall Brawl began Friday, Oct. 16, and ended Sunday morning, Nov. 29. It’s a biggest fish takes all contest, determined strictly by weight. Anglers are allowed to weigh in as many walleyes as they’d like, but all the fish must be officially weighed at Erie Outfitters, a bait and tackle shop located along the south shore of Lake Erie, just west of Cleveland in Sheffield Lake.

Those anglers finishing in the top five spots must pass a polygraph test before collecting their winnings. This year’s prize list included: the winner got to choose between two different Lake Erie boats valued at $100,000. Second place got the boat that was not chosen by the winner. Third place was $75,000 cash. Fourth place, $65,000 cash and fifth place, $55,000 cash. Over 12,000 fishermen entered in this year’s contest.

The first 5 weeks of the contest provided many days of unfishable winds, which can be typical of November weather in Ohio. The opportunities to fish the lake were extremely limited. However, the last three days of the actual tournament, Thanksgiving weekend, provided near perfect late fall fishing conditions and the tournament anglers took advantage of it. All of the top prize winning fish were caught during that three day stretch.

Steven Mitchell Daugherty, a local guide who lives up at the lake in Catawba, skipped the turkey on Thanksgiving to fish and he won the grand prize, a Warrior boat, by catching a 12.85-pound, 30.75-inch fish that afternoon by the Avon Lake Power Plant. He reported later that his boat caught ten fish over the ten pound mark on their trip that day.

Rounding out the top five fish were 2. Bryan Beck, 12.54 pounds, 31.5 inches, caught Nov. 28, 3. Chris Morehouse, 12.37 pounds, 31.5 inches, caught Nov. 28, 4. Gavin Pongracz, 12.19 pounds, 30.75 inches, caught Nov. 27, and 5. Dan Houser, 12.01 pounds, 29.25 inches, caught Nov. 28. It is just absolutely amazing what Mother Erie gave up in terms of monster walleyes during that three day stretch. We are truly blessed to have such a premier fishery in the Buckeye state.

• The extra weekend of gun hunting for white tailed deer was a good one with hunters taking 15,203 deer. Over the last three years, hunters checked an average of 12,461 deer during the same two day period.

• Buckeye waterfowl hunters continue to remain frustrated by the lack of new migrating birds to hunt over the past month. Only one reason for the frustration and that is the overall lack of winter weather to push the birds south. With a few exceptions, it has been a mild fall and there is no real reason for the birds to leave Canada. Hopefully things will improve in the final weeks of the season but it will take some actual good old fashioned winter weather to make things change for the better.

Water and Wings by Ken Parrott

Until next time, Good Hunting and Good Fishing!