06-06-03: Fishing and friendship lure
anglers to Grand Lake
|By SHELLEY GRIESHOP
The Daily Standard
The hood on Redman's jacket rests tightly atop his head as he gives his
fishing line one more toss back into the chilly water.
There's a mist in the air that makes the wrinkles above his brow
glisten. The temperature along Celina's Lakeshore Drive barely breaks 50 on Wednesday and
his fingertips are cold.
Is he nuts?
"I fish just about every day," said the towering figure as he
sat at a picnic table near the blue-green water of the hot water hole. "What else is
there to do?"
At 85, Redman, who refuses to give his real name to anyone, is a
familiar face along the lake and considered by many to be an expert angler.
He shakes his head in disagreement.
"Some people think I know all about it ... ," he said.
"It's just dumb blind luck if you throw your pole in and catch something right
On any given day - even in the dead of winter - you can find Redman and
a handful of other retired men (women, too) moving from bank to shoreline to pier.
Casting, line dragging, reeling.
Each angler has their own method, their own rules of the water, so to
"I have three poles, but only use one at a time," said
Redman, who moved to Celina from Eaton about six years ago, although he's been drawn to
the lake for decades.
The retired exterminator demonstrated how it's better to hold your pole
"and do it right" than lay it down and wait.
"If you leave your pole down like this," he said, as he
placed the pole on a nearby rock, "you'll almost always miss him (the fish) unless he
hooks himself. I like to hold it and work it. Anything that moves, they think is
Fishing in Grand Lake St. Marys has not changed much over the years,
said area anglers. Some believe the quality of the water has improved, perhaps enhancing
the taste of the fish a bit.
Mort Pugh, superintendent at the St. Marys State Fish Hatchery on East
Bank, said the stocking of fish during the last few years has helped widen the variety.
Currently, fishermen can reel in yellow perch, large mouth bass, bluegill, white and blue
crappie, flathead and channel catfish, walleye, northern pike and striped bass.
Non-game fish also found in the lake include shad, carp and freshwater
drum, Pugh added.
This year, nearly 258,000 walleye fry and more than 938,000 walleye
fingerlings were added to the lake's fish population. The hatchery has been stocking the
young walleye every year since 1999.
The "big ones" in the lake are likely the flathead catfish,
which can weigh up to 40 pounds, said Pugh, hatchery superintendent for 22 years.
"Probably the next biggest is the striped bass. They can grow to
30 pounds," he said, adding that record size walleye are around 16 pounds.
Eugene Flohre loves to find a bluegill dangling on his line, but is
also partial to crappie. The 75-year-old Celina man has been fishing Grand Lake St. Marys
since 1940 and likes to keep many of his "tips" to himself.
"You know I'm not going to tell you my favorite spots," he
Flohre is a familiar site to the lake crowd - he and the yellow Honda
motorcycle he tools around town on.
"Some guy told me once he won't go fishing unless he sees my
motorcycle out," chuckled Flohre.
A retired construction worker, he worries lately about a diminished
crappie population that he and other fishermen have noticed around the lake the last two
Mercer County Wildlife Officer Ryan Garrison agreed the crappie have
been somewhat scarce in recent months. There could be several reasons for the specie
shortage, he said.
"It could have been a bad hatch (reproduction year) four to five
years ago that is just showing up now. Could be climate, low water depth from drought. But
all types of fish experience these cycles," Garrison explained.
Both Redman and Flohre periodically eat the fish they catch. Redman's
fish preparation is a bit unusual. He doesn't bother with tedious filleting.
"I bring them home, scale 'em, clean 'em and cook 'em with the
bones in," he said matter-of-factly.
Redman considers bluegill to be the easiest fish to catch. They are by
far his favorite. "I'd rather have them than any other that swims in fresh
Both men use colorful plastic jigs of all kinds to lure the fish,
sometimes with a fake wax worm for added appeal. "Bait is important," said
Flohre. "You have to make it look real."
Rarely do either use live bait.
"You have to worry about keeping it alive," Flohre said.
The pole itself is only for "presentation," said Flohre as he
waved at a car going by. "It just has to be comfortable."
Goose poop and a rare fall into the lake are Flohre's only fishing
woes. What he loves most is the social aspect of the sport.
"If you came out here and didn't know how to fish, there'd be 10
guys here ready to help you out," he said.
The guys and the atmosphere keep him coming back.
"You know, you don't even have to fish. Just being near the water,
there's something peaceful about it. It's relaxing.
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