The clouds and colors of autumn finally arrive: our oaks and maples and sweetgums transformed into seas of gold and red and yellow. Chilled air awakens our senses in the morning. Acorns and buckeyes accumulate on the ground. I long to celebrate the first snowflakes! Some of our workers to the east have already scraped their windows in preparation for the daily commute.
Rain, sleet, frozen soil covered with the brief fragile artistry of frost; the way the blackbirds undulate across drab sheets of grey sky in curving arrows toward the recent past…this is November.
For me, autumn is perch season. I love to anchor on the hump and fish for jumbos in my 1989 bow-rider while studying the headlands shoreline …a tapestry of yellows and reds… the harbor breakwater with legions of fishermen leaning over the edge awaiting the strike of a river-bound steelhead…Fairport and an ocean of long-lost childhood memories… Little Mountain rising in the distance full of wisdom and history.
The Cat Nation of Erie Indians fished this Lake five centuries ago. The Iroquois defeated them in the ‘Beaver Wars’ but maintained a reverence for the fishery and the bubbling disturbance in the waters at the end of present-day Antioch Road. General Moses Cleaveland and his team camped nearby on their way back from surveying the Western Reserve and Cleveland Public Square in 1796. He held an inverted glass over the disturbance and lit the natural gas captured within. During the 1860s a newfound commercial fishing industry in Fairport sold lake sturgeon to Storrs & Harrison Nursery as fertilizer.
In the Lake Erie of my youth armadas of wooden boats with Johnson outboards and Coleman lanterns headed out at dusk from Perry and Madison for blue pike, now extinct. But their close cousin, the Walleye, still remain in large numbers. Once the storms and cold waters of November restrict our perch fishing, we’ll join with the Walleye for near-shore trolling in this fabled fishery of old.