AP NEWS

Catch the biggest walleye, win a $100,000 boat in the Lake Erie Fall Brawl

September 28, 2018

Catch the biggest walleye, win a $100,000 boat in the Lake Erie Fall Brawl

CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Catch the biggest walleye in the Ohio waters of Lake Erie in the Fall Brawl and win a $100,000 boat.

That’s just one of the prizes. For the first time in the fishing derby’s eight years, the winner of the kids division, 16 years old and younger, will also get a new boat. Top finishers will receive tens of thousands of dollars in cash.

“What could be better? Let’s give the winning kid a boat,” said Craig Lewis, whose store, Erie Outfitters, in Sheffield Lake, weighs all the fish for the Brawl.

The brawl began in 2010 with 50 guys who threw a couple bucks in a pot. Now it’s a massive endeavor, running Oct. 19 through Dec. 2, with dozens of sponsors, events and a food drive.

The premise is simple. Pay $30 to register in the Brawl and fish any time in the Ohio waters of Lake Erie -- off the shore or a boat -- during the contest. Bring any walleye you catch to Erie Outfitters to weigh. The biggest fish wins.

“That’s the cool thing about the Brawl,” Lewis said. “It only takes one.”

And the more anglers who enter, the biggest the pot of prize money, since aside from overhead costs, whatever is paid in is paid out.

Nearly 4,000 anglers entered last year, and organizers expect at least 6,000 this year.

Entrants come from more than a dozen states, filling up hotel rooms, cramming marina trailer parking lots and lighting up Lake Erie harbors after sunset. People take full weeks off work to fish, as the water cools and sends fish swimming toward the warmer shallows of the lake. 

See the Facebook video below with Erie Outfitters owner Craig Lewis, Brawl founder Frank Murphy and Erie Marine Sales representative Brian Zarembski.

 

Lake Erie is known as the Walleye Capital of the World. The fish -- which anglers like for the thrill of catching and the taste for eating -- in Lake Erie is healthy and will be for decades, thanks to bumper hatches in 2003, 2015 and this year (though those are still too small to keep).

Last year, Strongsville resident Matthew Branigan won with a 14.97-pound catch, in the Cleveland harbor, near the end of the Brawl.

This year, who knows?

Whoever catches the biggest fish wins a glimmering Warrior V21-21 DC boat, decked out with custom green fishing rod holders, a matching Evinrude motor and all sorts of bells and whistles; the next four finishers walk away with tens of thousands of dollars in prizes.

The top angler 16 years and younger will win a 16-foot Hewescraft boat, also with a trailer, rod holders and motor.

The competition is full of fanfare, as anglers post photos of their catches on the Fall Brawl Facebook page. Whole families fish together and bring their catches t be weighed and measured at Erie Outfitters, where everyone gets a photo with their fish in front of a giant photo backdrop.

In the final hours of the competition, the store is open all night.

So what do you need to know?

To join the competition, you must register by Oct. 17All participants must have a valid Ohio fishing license.Fish must be weighed by 8 a.m. Dec. 2.If fishing from a boat, only registered Brawl participants may be on board.

Want more Lake Erie news? Follow RocktheLake on Facebook or on Twitter and Instagram @rockthelakecle.

AP RADIO
Update hourly