Matthew Branigan shows off his 14.97-pound walleye, which won the Lake Erie Fall Brawl in 2017. (Craig Lewis, Erie Outfitters)

Lorain County is sweetening the pot for this year’s Lake Erie Fall Brawl walleye derby. Catches the heaviest walleye in Lorain County waters and win $1,000 — on top of a chance to win a $100,000 Warrior Boat.

“I think it’s going to be excellent,” says Craig Lewis, owner of Erie Outfitters in Sheffield Lake, where all Fall Brawl competitors must weigh their fish. “Honestly, I don’t think it will be long before other cities are doing it. It’s incredible when you have the opportunity to draw a few thousand people into your community at that time of the year.”

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. The heaviest fish wins.

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

This year, 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.

The $1,000 bounty is sponsored by Lorain County Commissioners, Visit Lorain County and Mike Bass Ford. The goal is to promote Lorain County as a great fishing destination.

“Fall Brawl always generates a lot of excitement, but we expect the buzz to be even bigger this year,” said Lorain County Commissioner Matt Lundy. “And that buzz will also result in a boost to our county’s present and future economy, as well as our reputation.”

The event runs from Oct. 19 to Dec. 2.

To qualify for the $1,000 Lorain County prize, anglers will have to submit the coordinates of where their fish was caught, as well as a photo that identifies where they were fishing.

Complete contest rules can be found at