Blade Fishing Report: Lake Erie walleye fishing hits the hot button

Matt Markey, The Blade, Toledo, Ohio
·4 min read

Apr. 7—The best angling information from area experts.

—Lake Erie: Don't call 911, but there appears to be quite a conflagration ablaze out on the big lake — the walleye fishing is on fire. After a wind-hindered and somewhat slow start, the spring bite exploded over the weekend and that trend has continued throughout this week. Captain Mike McCroskey aboard Hawg Hanger reported a one-hour, six-fish limit on Easter morning, while vertical fishing with traditional spring jig bite rigs. He said stinger hooks are a must to pick up the short bites, and the fish in that limit catch of his averaged about three pounds. First mate DJ Goralske aboard Crazy Lady Charters, skippered by his grandfather Rich Turturice, reported that many boats in the charter fleet were seeing limit catches for their clients by 11 a.m. on their morning runs, with the best jig fishing found in 9 to 14 feet of water in the general area of Maumee Bay. He said purple jigs again did the trick, and he added that the fish appear to be holding in fairly tight pockets. "So if you start catching, stay on the location," Goralske said. Veteran Lake Erie anglers Chip Gross and John Hageman pulled in a limit of 19-24 inch walleye on Tuesday while trolling pink Husky Jerks outside of the Camp Perry firing zone. Similar robust walleye catches have been reported from the Michigan waters of Erie off Luna Pier, and from the reef complex.

—Maumee River: The weather was better than the bite earlier this week, so the warm temperatures had throngs of anglers working the usual haunts around Bluegrass Island, Buttonwood, and the Jerome Road rapids. The hot areas seem to change from day to day, or morning to evening, so the fishermen are moving around quite a bit. Most of the catch in recent days has been made up of smaller jacks in the 16-18-inch length. The pros at Netcraft report that anglers predominantly are using Carolina rigs with brightly colored floating jig heads, in-line or egg weights of one-half ounce or lighter, and dressing the jigs with plastic tails or swirl-tail grubs.

—Sandusky River: Bernie Whitt at Angler's Supplies in downtown Fremont reports steady catches of walleye continue, with the park access areas providing the most consistent action. "Walleyes appear to be at the height of the spawn now in the river," Whitt said while adding that a good dose of rain dumping fresh flow into the river could bring another surge of fish in from the bay. The best baits have been 1/8 - and 1/4 -ounce jig heads tipped with black or chartreuse tails. Some anglers are also having success utilizing the Carolina rigs with floating jig heads. Not many fishermen have explored the river beyond the former site of the Ballville Dam, but biologists theorize that with the low water level there could be walleye further upstream in search of suitable spawning habitat.

—Detroit River: Guide Spencer Berman reports that the flow is clearing and the American side of the waterway is producing plenty of walleye for the table, while the bigger fish seem to be concentrated on the Canadian side. The Sylvania native said that as the water continues to clear anglers should seek out the most stained water available and focus on the low-light hours. Berman said tipping jigs with minnows has been "hit or miss" but minnows are advised in case the fish are in a more selective mood.

—Maumee monitoring: The Fallen Timbers Trout Unlimited chapter is inviting its members to take part in an upcoming training session related to the Stream Quality Monitoring (SQM) program that is available through the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. Interested parties are asked to contact Kevin Nemer at the email address. A training session is expected to take place later this month or in early May. The stream samplings take place three times a year. "This is a great opportunity for us to engage in a clean water conservation activity, learn something about the aquatic critters in the area, and maybe have a little fun doing it," chapter president Paul Justen said.

First Published April 7, 2021, 2:18pm