Every year, we take a trip to Sandusky Bay on Lake Erie in Ohio. We started this tradition about 10 years ago to celebrate my daughter’s birthday and my anniversary. Through the years, we have really gotten to know the area: the best places to camp, eat and play.

Our favorite campground when we visit the Sandusky Bay area is East Harbor State Park. East Harbor has so much to offer: fishing, swimming, hiking, mushroom hunting, butterfly and bird observation, a game room, a camp store, an amphitheater, a playground, and an ice cream shop.

The thing that I find unique is the on-site, enclosed fish cleaning station, which is free to campers. There are a few ponds to fish and you can also fish the harbor.

After all that fish cleaning, you’ll need to wash your clothes, and the campground offers on-site laundry facilities along with clean modern bathrooms. While you’re cleaning up take note that East Harbor has a pet camping section and a non-pet camping area.

When we go to Sandusky Bay, we make it a point to eat at Jolly Roger Seafood House in Port Clinton, Ohio. Besides the delicious seafood, Jolly Roger’s customer service is outstanding. They make each person feel appreciated. Since the restaurant is well-known, they can get busy, but the long lines are worth the wait.

Finally, where to play at Sandusky Bay. There are two big attractions in this area: Cedar Point and the fishing industry. In 2016, 3.6 million visitors attended Cedar Point. The park is known as the Disneyland of the Midwest and features record-breaking roller coasters.

I don’t do roller coasters much in my older days, but I do love the water attractions. Cedar Point Shores Water Park offers everything from a wave pool to extreme water slides.

Looking for something scaled down? Check out Watering Hole Safari and Water Park. It offers gem mining, a raceway, and a water park.

While I enjoy amusement parks, dining out and safaris, I am all about the fishing. Lake Erie is known for its fishing and I make it my mission to fish the Sandusky Bay of Lake Erie.

I’m going to let you in on my favorite fishing spot: the Old Route 2 Bridge. It is owned by the division of wildlife and is used for fishing only; there is no day-to-day traffic and comes to a dead end.

It is a popular fishing spot, and I especially like it because there is a handicap dock. You can fish both sides of the bridge, and it offers easy access for shore fishing. Due to special regulations from sunset to sunrise you cannot fish this area during March and April. Please keep in mind that this area is known for storms and there is no shelter facility located on the bridge.

I have installed a weather alert app on my phone, seeing as I travel a lot and don’t want to get taken by surprise. However, one May we were there fishing on the dock and a hail storm hit. My mother, father, husband and our two daughters were fishing with me.

When it started to rain, everyone placed their fishing rods into the rod holders on the dock, then ran to their vehicles. I wasn’t far behind because the wind was fierce. We did not have time to vacate the area.

This is why it’s very important to install a weather alert app and know about incoming storms. My dad was not leaving his pole behind like the rest of us. He ran to his car, fishing pole in hand, yelled “woman, take this!” and threw his pole in the car window. He sat in his car holding his pole out the window.

By this time, everyone was soaked but safely situated in the vehicles. That’s when it happened! My fishing pole bent down, and the fight was on! I jumped out of my car, ran for my pole, set the hook, and battled that catfish like my life depended on it.

I ran up and down the dock. I’d make headway, then, sure enough, he’d take the line and you could hear the screaming drag and feel the pulse of his pull in the handle of my rod. The wind is blowing, rain is pouring, hail is falling, the sky is dark, and it felt like gravel was embedding into my legs, but I was not giving up.

My husband said it was probably the hail that was hitting my legs. Despite the chaotic weather, I landed my fish! I’m not known to be that adventurous, but I take my fishing seriously — maybe a little too seriously at times. Now, I can look back, laugh and take pride in my catch. It was a monster 30-inch channel catfish.

So, if you’re looking for the big one, head on over to the Old Route 2 Bridge. Just be sure to keep an eye on the weather.

There are other places to stay eat and play at Sandusky Bay; but, for me, these are the most memorable, enjoyable and fun.