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Late season boat troller opens eyes

Mark Komo likes to fish with his boat whenever possible. "That's why I never winterize my boat," the East Amherst resident said after a Dec. 23 run up north.

Komo writes, "Walleye fishing was good on the 23rd. Made the run from Buffalo to the Bay of Quinte. We were the only boat out there. It didn't disappoint."

The fishing was so good that he penned a seasonal lyric to mark the occasion:

Well, the weather out there is frightful, but the walleye fishin's delightful, And since we've no place to go, Let us troll, let us troll, let us troll.

And it doesn't show signs of stopping, Reef Runner Ripsticks a poppin', Kicker motor turned way down low, Let us troll, let us troll, let us troll.

Komo recently made a work move to Western New York from the Midwest where he often fished nearby open waters throughout the winter. He has been hooking up with fishing partners Gavin Cameron and Rob Mortimer from Milton, Ont., for walleye runs to popular sites in New York and Ontario.

Area anglers know walleye often school close to shore in the fall as well as the spring post-spawning season; however, few anglers fish for them once fall hunting seasons start and the weather gets cold and nasty. Not Komo.

This late-fall stretch of early-autumn like weather had Komo on many late-season outings, including a Christmas Holiday run with Cameron and Mortimer to the open waters at the Bay of Quinte on the northeast corner of Lake Ontario with Komo's 21-foot Starcraft boat.

"We fished in some nasty winds for about eight hours and went six for seven fish on," Komo said of their trolling stint over 50- to 75-foot waters at the center of the bay. "Since we were the only boat on the water, we could run planer boards out 500 feet at times," he added.

"The water was 36 degrees and we had to troll very slow, at or just over one mph," he said of runs with Reef Runner Ripsticks, a lure that only goes about eight feet down when trolled on a long line. He let out about 100 feet per line and added a weight some 50 feet out to keep the lures running at the 15-foot level where the sonar was picking up fish movement.

Though slow, the movement was there. At day's end, the trio's six walleye caught included one 10.5 pounds, and two each at 9.5 and 8 pounds. "We let them all go unless they're too injured," Komo said. His previous late-fall trips have included walleye weighing in above 14 pounds.

"I think you could do the same thing off shore on Lake Erie," Komo speculated about trips off the Hamburg shoreline, Sturgeon Point, Cattaraugus Creek, and points west.

"We pulled up a lot of walleye in near-shore nets during shallow-water surveys west of Dunkirk this fall," said senior aquatic biologist Jim Markham at the DEC Lake Erie Unit.

Perhaps area anglers might consider a New Year's resolution to take Komo's lead and make 'eye runs as well as perch prospecting after next summer's warm-weather fishing season.

However, and whenever your lines hit the water in 2012, we wish you a Happy New (Fishing) Year.