Gone fishing

Gone fishing

If you’re an angler, at least once during your lifetime you must experience the unique, majestic beauty of a Lake Erie sunrise. No, not from shore, but rather from on the water — and preferably while skimming across the waves in a fast boat on your way to the latest fishing hot spot, anticipating a limit catch. 

There is no better way to check that item off your piscatorial bucket list than fishing with Captain Julia “Juls” Davis, one of only a handful of women among the 800 licensed captains working as charter-fishing guides on Ohio’s great lake. She’s been fishing nearly all her life — she started when she was 4 — and professionally for the past 20 years. The first 10 of those pro years, Juls spent on the walleye tournament circuit; during the last decade, she’s been guiding full time.

The 'Lake Lady'

Captain Juls Davis displays a trophy Lake Erie walleye she caught during a springtime trip (photo courtesy Juls Davis).

“I enjoy teaching people, male or female, young or old, the sport of walleye and yellow perch fishing on Lake Erie’s Western Basin,” she says. “I probably average about 100 guiding trips per year, from the islands east to Huron, depending on where the fish are biting.”

A typical guiding day for Juls begins well before dawn. “I usually go to bed when most people are just sitting down to supper, so on a fishing day I’m up in the wee hours of the morning. That gives me plenty of time to drink a cup of coffee and shower, then gas up the boat and grab ice, bait, or other supplies before meeting my clients at the dock or picking them up at their motel before sunrise.”

Juls specializes in one-, two-, or three-person charters, estimating that about 75% of her clients are men. “The others are their wives or girlfriends, or sometimes a daughter,” she says. “The men usually want to learn a specific walleye trolling technique, whereas the families just want to be on the lake, have fun, and catch a few fish. Regardless, I put them all to work setting lines, reeling, and netting fish. Fishing with me is definitely a learn-by-doing participation sport.”             

Every fishing guide has war stories, both humorous and not so much; Juls is no exception. “When I have three people on board with me, I have them take turns sitting near the bow of the boat and opening the fish cooler when we catch a fish so I can toss it in. One particular time when we caught a fish, I turned to throw it into the open cooler and for some reason the client inadvertently closed the lid just as the fish arrived. The walleye sailed through the air and back into the lake, probably wondering what just happened.”   

How long does Juls plan to continue guiding? “As long as I’m physically able,” she says. “I’m somewhat of a recluse, so fishing is my social life. I enjoy the interaction with people, many of whom have become my friends through the years. Besides, I don’t think I’m qualified to do anything else except fish.”   

To book a Lake Erie fishing trip with Juls Davis, visit www.julswalleyefishingadventures.com or call 419-835-7347. Her calendar books quickly; contact her soon to reserve your preferred date.

Juls' tools

Captain Julia “Juls” Davis has all the latest in fishing equipment, gear, and technology to make Lake Erie fishing trips safe, enjoyable, and productive:

  • 21-foot Ranger model 621 FS tournament-style fiberglass boat   
  • 400-horsepower Mercury Verado outboard motor
  • 15-horsepower Evinrude trolling motor
  • Minn Kota electric motor
  • Humminbird electronics