The key to bigger walleyes for Dennis Sharrone is paying attention to the little things and working hard.
It's not surprising that Sharrone, of Hiram, would be a stickler for detail.
It's a trait he learned as a jet engine inspector for General Electric subsidiary Aviation Products Support in Mentor, and it pays off in handsome walleyes.
Sharrone is known in regional walleye circles as a troller. He fishes lead-core line and works hard at making pinpoint presentations with his 10-hp outboard pushing his 16-foot Princecraft.
"I found that trollers caught bigger quality fish overall, so I figured I'd better get in the game," Sharrone said.
Starts shallow: He typically starts fishing shallow right after ice-out, working No. 5 Rapalas and 200 series A.C. Shiners, as well as Baby Thundersticks and Ohio-made Rip Sticks.
A competitor in the Western Reserve Walleye Association and past champion in the N.A.W.A. Cabela circuit's amateur division, Sharrone said the smaller baits work best for him early in the season.
"As the water warms up, I start using baits with more wobble, like Hot-N-Tots," he said.
In the spring, Sharrone hums along at 1.2 to 1.3 mph, gradually working the boat speed to 1.5 to 2 mph in the summer.
Critical factors: "Speed and depth control are critical and you need to experiment to find what the fish want." He combines boat speed with lure selection to put the bait in the strike zone.
"The biggest mistake people make when trolling is they don't work hard enough," he said. "They'll just put the outboard in gear and take off. You've got to figure out the right speed and change depths until you find the fish.
"Also don't get stuck on one bait or color. Change combinations to find the right set-up to interest the fish." Boat speed is especially important in the summer, he said. "I'll kick it up pretty good. Watch the Amish fishermen and you'll see how fast they troll. They fly."
Preferred approach: Trolling is Sharrone's preferred approach to local walleyes, but it isn't always the ticket. "Last year, for instance, the trolling bite was not on at Mosquito due to the weeds," he said.
Used effectively, however, trolling produces big fish. Sharrone noted the 8-pound walleye he caught at LaDue Reservoir west of Parkman hit a No. 7 perch-colored Shad Rap in 17 feet of water.
"LaDue is a good lake," he said. "It's great in the summer, with deep water, weed beds and humps." He has trolled up walleyes in the 4.5-pound class at Berlin.
"I like Berlin in early June. I check the sharp drops, the humps out in front of Dutch Harbor and the area south of the railroad trestle. I also like the flats between Route 224 and the trestle." For Berlin, he recommends crawfish red Hot-N-Tots and Shad Raps and stickbaits.
Soap star angler: Spectators at the weigh-ins at last week's CITGO BASSMASTER Tour event on Lake Guntersville in Alabama did a double take as they recognized one of the competitors. Soap opera star Real Andrews, of television's General Hospital, was among the amateur entrants.
"This has been a dream of mine for as long as I can remember," Andrews said. "It might sound clich & eacute;, but I literally eat, sleep and dream fishing."