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Issue Date: July 2010 Issue

Go Fish

Want to know where they're biting along Lake Erie? We sought the wisdom of a 71-year-old who's been casting lines for almost six decades.
Erick Trickey
With a strong, casual flick over his shoulder, Solomon casts his hook. His orange-topped bobber and minnow fly — fssss — into the harbor's quiet water. On this summery mid-May afternoon, Lake Erie's temperature is 54 degrees, which Solomon hopes is just warm enough for the rock bass to bite.

"In springtime, when it's 55 to 60, that's when they come in from the deep water," says Solomon, one of five fishermen dipping hooks in Gordon Park's harbor at the end of East 72nd Street. "Otherwise the water's too cold, and it affects the gills of the fish."

At 71, he talks lazily, like a guy who's got all the time he could ever need. He's been fishing for 58 years.

I ask him his last name. "Solomon," he says. His full name? "King Solomon. One of the greatest fishermen in the world!"

Most every day in early summer, fall and spring, anglers cast their lures at Cleveland's lakefront parks. But knowing where and when is an art.

"A real good spot is down there where the boats go out into the lake," Solomon says, nodding toward the end of the long, rocky harbor pier. "You catch a lot of rock bass in there. I caught a walleye over there last year, over 5 pounds."

At East 55th Street, crappie bite in April, May and in fall. "I like the crappie better than I do a walleye," he says. "Crappie is a sweet meat — melt in your mouth."

Perch flock to the Gordon Park pier and the East 55th Street marina break wall in spring and from late August until the snow flies. In late June and early July, the fishing action shifts to Gordon Park's west end platform. "That's where the white bass come in," Solomon says. They swim east every summer from Sandusky past Avon, following minnows and shad, then plunge into the churning current from the Illuminating Co.'s electrical plant. Everyone with a line reels in a catch, Solomon says.

"In the dog days of summer, in August, you don't see nobody fishing over here," he adds. The fish flee the shore for cooler water.

When they return in fall, Solomon hits the road in search of big catfish in Sandusky and Gypsum, near Port Clinton, or escapes the bustle of his Fairfax neighborhood for a familiar spot at a lakefront park.

"It relaxes your mind," he says. "You come down here, your troubles just disappear."

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