Lake Erie and Mark 1 Sport Fishing: a Great way to Experience Big Water

Water is now calling us like a moth to a flame. We all have the itch to hit the open water and chase giant walleyes. Lake Erie’s walleyes should be on your bucket list and now is the time to start thinking about a trip.

We all know about monster walleyes in Lake Erie and how it’s not uncommon to catch fish averaging 7 pounds or more. The issue is many people are hesitant about making a trip where they don’t have much information about how to fish the lake.

The sport show season this year was exceptionally good, and I had the opportunity to talk with a Lake Erie captain that helped lay it all out on the line. I fish Lake Erie a couple weeks every year, but every day on that water I learn something new.

Learning is part of the game when it comes to fishing, and that is essential when you are on large bodies of water looking for walleyes. What worked for you one day might not work the next. And without some forethought or even years of knowledge, this lake can leave you broken and fishless. Trust me, there have been many occasions that I have come into the ramp without a fish in the livewell.

I had the pleasure to speak to a good acquaintance, Tommy Harris, who to some is the godfather of custom painting. Harris is well known for his “Spider web” pattern he puts on spinnerblades and other custom lures that come out of his shop. I tend to liken him to the “Jesse James” of the fishing world.

Harris has an old school, hot rod approach to his work and it certainly shows: Tough-looking paint jobs on spoons, crankbaits and walleye spinnerblades are commonplace in many boxes.

He introduced me to a Lake Erie charter captain who has taken a new approach to fishing the big water. Capt. Mark Cahlik is the owner of Mark 1 Sport Fishing and Lodging out of Port Clinton, Ohio. He has taken his charter business and expanded it into a turnkey adventure.

I get to speak to many charter captains, as well as resorts from around the country, and they all offer about the same thing—“Come fish with us and you will catch fish.” Well, that is certainly the intent of many of us that would spend money to take a charter.

And the Lake Erie charter captains are no different.

The main issue with fishing an area like Lake Erie’s Western Basin is that many times people will be coming from all over the country and finding a good place to stay, as well as lining up charters, can be a difficult endeavor. Capt. Chalik has come up with a solution to this by combining his charter business with a brand new condo development that even has its own stocked fishing pond.

On fishing trips, we have all probably stayed in a few motels that were a little less impressive than your average one-star facility. It honestly doesn’t take much to satisfy a fisherman, but we’re not all the same. How would you feel about having a place to stay that did nothing but cater to anglers?

This is what Mark 1 has developed with his condo complex, “The Bay’s Edge.” This is a complex that allows anglers to stay in comfort and have everything needed to complete a full Lake Erie experience. The condos sleep up to seven people and are all equipped with a full kitchen, spacious living quarters, private deck and dining area. They also offer washers and dryers, so you can clean up your clothing before another day out on the water.

One of the things that really intrigued me was the fact that the condos are built right onto a large man-made pond designed with fishing in mind. It’s loaded with large bluegills, smallmouth and largemouth bass, perch, walleyes and other species native to the area. The pond is catch and release, which offers you a quality fishing experience even when it’s windy or when other weather forces keep you off the big lake.

The operation also includes a fish-processing facility that actually cleans fish, not only for the charters that Cahlik runs, but also for just about every charter in the area around Port Clinton. This, along with an excellent bait and tackle shop, makes Mark I a one-stop facility. Cahlik has also teamed up with Tommy Harris to carry his custom blades and other items including harnesses and custom-painted crankbaits.

When I travel to the area, I trailer my own boat and prefer not to fish with a charter. Cahlik keeps this in mind and treats all of his customers the same. The parking lots are spacious with plenty of room to park your rig without worrying about shoehorning it in somewhere.

People are always asking me about fishing destinations—the top of my list is Lake Erie. In the past, I didn’t have any way of making specific recommendations, but now that I know what Cahlik has created, it’s an easy choice.

As I stated earlier, Lake Erie fishing can be a daunting challenge. But when you have places around that cater to the fisherman, it makes all the difference. And if you’re planning to fish Erie and want the whole experience, Cahlik’s new venture will not disappoint.