Buckets Charters Fishing TeamBuckets Charters operates out of the Port of Erie, (Presque Isle Bay) Pennsylvania with two boats, Buckets 5 – a 30-ft Penn Yan Predator and Buckets 3 – a 27-ft Sportcraft Fishmaster.
A captain and first mate's level of experience, among other factors, directly impacts the success of your fishing charter. Captain Dan and Captain Ken, along with their first mates, Kurt Hotchkiss and Doug (Helmut) Straub, know where, when and how to catch fish. They use old and new tactics and draw on their collective years of Lake Erie fishing knowledge and experience.
Buckets Charters is committed to making your day of fishing on Lake Erie safe and memorable. The captains have a combined experience of more than 50 years of fishing in the Lake Erie region. As a testament to their success, year after year, regular guests come back to Lake Erie with their family and friends to go fishing for walleye, steelhead, bass and perch with the Buckets Charters team.
Dan Kelly - Lake Erie Charter CaptainCaptain Dan Kelly started fishing in Pennsylvania with his Uncle Vic when he was old enough to hold a fishing rod. He fished various Pennsylvania hotspots like the Allegheny, Monongahela and Ohio Rivers and other local lakes and streams throughout the state. Captain Dan started fishing on Lake Erie in 1988 and founded Buckets Charters in 1997. Captain Dan is a mechanic by trade, but is employed as a home inspector, when he's not at the helm of his Penn Yan. In January of 2011, Captain Dan sold his 27-ft Sportcraft to Captain Ken and both businesses continue to operate under the Buckets Charters name.
Noteworthy Accomplishments and Affiliations:
- Former President of the Port Erie Captains Association
- President and former Vice President of the Pittsburgh Downriggers Association
- Member of the EPSFA
- Fourth place in the 2011 Fall Trout Challenge
- First place in the 2009 EPSFA Walleye Challenge
- Thirteenth place in the 2007 EPSFA Walleye Pro-Am
- Fourth place in the 2006 EPSFA Walleye Pro-Am
- First place in the 2002 Steelhead LOC Derby
Fine Italian cuisine, hunting, mechanical work and picking on his first mate Kurt
"Watching a kid boat a big walleye for the first time is probably the most rewarding thing for me as a Captain. We have a blast! We're all friends outside of Buckets Charters. So we have great camaraderie, which makes our guests feel welcome and comfortable with us and our first mates." – Captain Dan
Ken Nulph - Lake Erie Charter CaptainAlthough Captain Ken has been fishing since he was a kid, his professional fishing career began in 1998 when he obtained his Captain's License and took a summer job guiding on the freshwater rivers of western Alaska. He worked for Alagnak Lodge on Bristol Bay's famed Alagnak River for 3 summers, where he took his customers fly fishing for salmon, trout, pike and grayling. When he's not at the helm of his Sportcraft, he is a heavy equipment operator with I.U.O.E. Local 66.
In 1998, Captain Ken started his own fly fishing guide business, Ironhed Fishing Expeditions, where he guided his guests in fishing for steelhead on the tributaries of Lake Erie in Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York. Having fished on Lake Erie for many years recreationally, he was sometimes called upon to fill in as a first mate for other area captains.
In 2006, Captain Ken upgraded his license to a 25-ton Masters, was hired by Captain Dan to run his second boat, and did so for 4 years. In January of 2011, he purchased that boat, the 27-ft Sportcraft, and continues to operate under Buckets Charters name with his long-time friend, Captain Dan.
Noteworthy Accomplishments and Affiliations:
- Former Vice President and Board of Director of the PA Steelhead Association
- Member of the Pittsburgh Downriggers Association
- Member of the EPSFA
- Fly tying and casting instructor
- Second place in the 2012 EPSFA Walleye Challenge
- First place in the 2011 EPSFA Fall Trout Challenge
- First place in the 2011 EPSFA Summer Slam
- Fourth place in the 2010 EPSFA Walleye Challenge
- Fifth place in the 2010 EPSFA Summer Slam
- Second place in the 2009 EPSFA Walleye Challenge
- Fourth place in the 2009 EPSFA Pro-Am
- Fourth place in the 2008 EPSFA Pro-Am
- Third place in the 2007 EPSFA Pro-Am
- Fourth place in the 2006 EPSFA Pro-Am
Archery hunting, lure design and music
"When you have a passion for fishing like we do, it is actually more fun to see people catch fish than it is to catch them yourself. I enjoy taking people fishing. When rods are going off 3 or 4 at a time and all hell is breaking loose, I know we're doing a good job." – Captain Ken
Kurt Hotchkiss - Lake Erie Charter First MateKurt has been fishing on Lake Erie for more than fifteen years. Ten of them were with Captain Dan, as his first mate. Kurt also maintains both of the Buckets Charters boats and keeps them running smoothly throughout the fishing season. When Kurt isn't maintaining boats, fishing or sitting in a tree with his bow, he is employed at Plastek Industries, as a Facilities Technician.
Kurt and Captain Dan have been good friends for many years and have experienced many different fishing conditions on Lake Erie together. They work as at team to adjust and reset their programs to catch fish, regardless of the condition.
Spring turkey hunting, archery hunting and pestering Capt. Dan
"I've had the opportunity to do what I love with some great people. We know how to catch fish and we have fun doing it. We get our guest involved. We don't just hand them a rod and tell them to reel in the fish. We strive to create the complete experience for our guests."
Doug (Helmut) Straub - Lake Erie Charter First MateDoug, also known as Helmut, is a life-long Erie resident and a graduate of Pennsylvania State University, where he earned a Bachelors degree in Wildlife and Fisheries Science.
Doug has been Captain Ken's first mate and good friend for the past four years. When he isn't fishing, he is either sleeping or working at FishUSA, where he is their Product Specialist. Like the rest of the Buckets Charters team, Doug has a passion for fishing and enjoys providing memorable Lake Erie fishing trips for Buckets Charters guests.
Spring turkey hunting, archery hunting, lure designing and picking on Capt. Ken
"I am fortunate to be surrounded by some of Lake Erie's finest fisherman. The fishing knowledge passed on by them has enabled me to be where I am today. It is my first priority that our customers receive a safe, enjoyable, and memorable trip aboard Buckets Fishing Charters. I invite you to come join us for a day of fishing so I can pass the knowledge I have gained on to you."