A four-man team representing Oregon business Artistic Touch Taxidermy won the Ohio Waterfowler.com-hosted walleye fishing contest in rainy weather on Lake Erie.
The team of Matt Schimming, Mark Lodzinski, John Pollauf, and Greg Pollauf, who are all either Clay or Cardinal Stritch Catholic High School graduates, hauled in 29.6 pounds to best 19 other fishing boats. The Oregon-based team also had the three biggest fish at 6.6, 6.4, and 6.2 pounds.
Lodzinski was happy with the results, which led to a small cash prize he estimated at $100.
“We were fortunate to (win it). We did great. It was a fun trip — first time I got paid to go fishing,” Lodzinski, owner of the Bayshore Road taxidermy shop, said. “For me, that’s a rarity. Normally I pay about $100 to go fishing. Too bad the weather wasn’t better, or there would have been more boats and the payoff would have been more.”
|Fishing Contest winners from Artistic Touch Taxidermy-Matt Schimming,
John Pollauf, Mark Lodzinski and Greg Pollauf with their 29.6 pound catch.
(Press photo by Russ Lytle)
The event was scheduled for a Saturday, but was moved to Sunday because of high winds and poor conditions. Conditions were not much better on Sunday, leading to a lower turnout.
‘The weather was just poor, but there was a lot of fish caught that day,” Lodzinski said. “But it spread out, and we were fortunate enough that we went farther out to a little cleaner water and we got some bigger fish. We found a small pocket of fish and stayed with it, so we stayed on big fish in the morning before the boat traffic showed up. Everybody else caught fish, but the quality was a little bit smaller than ours.”
The tournament was headquartered at Magee East Marina, owned by Millbury home improvement remodeler Ted Thomas
“They had a great day,” Thomas said. “There was actually quite a few more, but it got blown off the day before because there was so much wind. Having the blow-off, it kind of subsided a few guys who couldn’t make it.”
Thomas believed it was a great opportunity to show off his marina, located by Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station on Route 2 near Oak Harbor. Since purchasing, the former Inland Marina has been through an extensive renovation process and is getting strong reviews on outdoor website forums.
“Honestly, I was just at the right place at the right time,” Thomas said. “We were looking at doing something else besides renovating homes, and I’m a big outdoorsman, so I got involved with it.
“We’ve cleaned it up a lot. We’re filling the boat docks and the campground pretty steadily, and rebuilding everything. We tore out the docks and are rehabbing everything.
“We expanded the bait and tackle store and we’ve got a little bar there and carry-out, and expanded that considerably, and put in a propane tank. We’re actually filling propane out there now. We rebuilt the ramps to whatever is necessary to get them up and running better. We’re open every day, and that’s a huge plus, and we have weekend camping and day to day camping.”
The tournament director, charter boat captain Randy Eyre of Swanton-based Hot Rod Sports Fishing, said the fishing tournament was originally an opportunity for outdoorsmen who are members of OhioWaterfowler.com, a website forum, to meet.
“It was just a small event — it wasn’t intended to be a really big tournament or anything like that,” Eyre said. “It was really to go out and fish, throw a couple dollars in the pot for the tournament, and come back and have a fish fry.”
Eyre, who competes in professional walleye contests, put the event together for one other reason — to educate.
“I do educational fishing charters where I teach people techniques, and I wanted to kind of see how people do. Tournament boats aren’t like the big Lake Erie boats that you see, but the fishing tactic and gear are very similar, so I’m trying to educate guys on how to catch walleye.
“Plus, I like ‘Waterfowler’ and I frequent that website quite a bit, and I know the owner, so if you are on these forums of any kind you get to know some of these screen names but you can’t put a face with the name, so we put something together so everybody can kind of hang out and get to know some guys,” Eyre continued.
The forum was founded in 2002 by Captain Mark Budnick as a way for water fowling friends to stay in touch and discuss their passion. OhioWaterfowler.com quickly became a popular cyberspace gathering place for duck and goose hunters.
In March of 2006, Budnick decided to pursue other ventures and handed over the reins to DeWayne Knight, the current owner.
When Budnick started out, the website had just a handful of members. The number swelled to about 1,700 members when in March of 2006, Budnick decided to pursue other interests and sold OhioWaterfowler.com to Knight, and the website has since grown to include over 6,800 members.
In addition, OhioWaterfowler.com has grown to be so much more than just a duck hunting-oriented message board. Today's message board includes forums covering a wide range of topics, including subjects related to duck and goose hunting from decoys, to calls, to boats, to shotguns and shells. Other popular forums include deer, turkey, predator, and upland hunting oriented forums, as well as sporting dog forums and even forums to discuss fishing inland lakes, rivers, as well as Lake Erie and beyond.
Knight got his start hunting over 40 years ago, and first waterfowl hunted over 30 years ago. Water fowling is not just a hobby to Knight; it has also been his vocation. He got started, "in the industry" by becoming involved with guiding as a sideline pursuit. Being in sales as a profession for most of his adult life, Knight put those sales skills to use for companies in the industry and became a pro-staffer for Avery Outdoors and Zink Calls, where he became the company’s first-ever national sales manager.