Lake Erie Walleye Fishing Charters
We would like to review a few of the walleye fishing techniques and discuss a few thoughts for the 2010 fishing season in our area. Lake Erie fishing for this year in the central basin is going to be one of the boxes of very large walleyes if you do a few things right.
The majority of the fish this year will be from the 2003 year class which will average 6-8 pounds. These larger fish will be hanging out in our cooler, deeper waters for the summer months. Many large trophy walleye (10 pound plus) are also from the good hatches of the 80's and 90's. We should catch some of the 2001 and 2005 hatch fish weighing in around the area of 2-4 pounds.
Our spring fishing will begin in late April as we fish the shallow shore lines. At the end of April these fish have spawned and are ready to replenish their lost energy of the spawn. We will troll and cast early in the year with trolling being by far the most productive.
We will use planer boards, dipsy divers and down riggers while trolling in early spring. We use crank baits for trolling the shore line in May and early June. Our favorite baits are Smithwick deep rogues, Rappala deep divers, and reef runners. The bait sizes are from 4-6 inches. Popular colors are clown, silver and blue, purple, and perch. We troll these off of our planer boards; 5 on each side. Shakespeare ugly sticks in 7 foot lengths do the work on these.
We carry 22 of these rods outfitted with Daiwa and Okuma line counting reels with 30 pound power pro braided line with an 8 pound diameter. This line gets deep fast and has virtually no stretch. We attach 6 foot leaders of Seaguar 20 pound fluorocarbon to the end of these. Keep in mind that you need to use a polamer knot when tying the slippery braided lines. Different lead lengths are used to target the fish at various depths.
Typically 100 feet back will get you 20 feet plus. A little later during the spring season, we will switch to 10 jet divers with 6 feet leaders and Michigan stinger spoons and worm harnesses. This time of year we are trolling very slow, at speeds of 1.0 to 1.5 mph. When trolling the shore lines of Lake Erie, we run 40 feet leads in 20 feet of water putting these lures approximately 16 feet down.
As the water warms in June, we start to troll in deeper water up to 70 feet. We begin to use longer length with up to 50 size jets and dipsy divers and down riggers. As we troll the deeper water for these big old marble-eyes, we go back 100-150 feet on the leads with 50 jets to get to the thermolcline which will begin to set up in 50 feet over 70 plus depths.
Our trolling speeds pick up to 1.5 to 2.0 mph. Trolling an S pattern really helps to trigger these fish this time of year. The bait fish out here in the deeper waters are larger alewifes, smelt, and emeralds. This is the time to use larger spoons in the 4-6 inch range.
We run up to 16 rods at one time in these deeper waters. On the boards we run 8 rods, 6 dips divers and 2 down riggers. The dipsy divers are set on different settings of 1, 2. and 3. The down riggers use 10 pound balls with leads of 25 feet.
We hope this has given you an idea on how we fish the central basin of Lake Erie for walleye.
Other Names: Sander vitreus
Walleyes have a long, roundish body, a forked tail and sharp canine teeth in their jaws. The dorsal fin is separated into two parts, the front portion with 12 to 16 spines, the rear portion with one or two short spines and the rest, soft rays. The anal fin has one or two spines. Walleyes vary in color, ranging from a bluish gray to olive-brown to golden-yellow, with dark-on-light mottling. Side scales may be flecked with gold. Irregular spots on the sides can join to make a vague barred pattern. The belly is light-colored or white.
Walleye are the biggest member of the perch family, and females are usually bigger than males of the same age. In the premiere walleye lakes like Lake Erie, this species can grow to 36 in, and catches in the 18-24 in. range are common. Walleye in Lake Erie often weigh 10 lbs, with the rare fish reaching 15 lb. The record walleye for Pennsylvania is over 17 pounds.
Since walleyes have excellent visual acuity under low illumination levels, they tend to feed more extensively at dawn and dusk, on cloudy or overcast days and under choppy conditions when light penetration into the water column is disrupted. Although anglers interpret this as light avoidance, it is merely an expression of the walleye's competitive advantage over its prey under those conditions.
Similarly, in darkly stained or turbid waters, walleye tend to feed throughout the day. "Walleye chop" is a term used by walleye anglers for rough water typically with winds of 5 to 15 mph, and is one of the indicators for good walleye fishing due to the walleye's increased feeding activity during such conditions. Because walleyes are popular with anglers, fishing for walleyes is regulated by most natural resource agencies. Management may include the use of quotas and length limits to ensure that populations are not over-exploited.
As Food / Table Fare:
The walleye is often considered to have the best tasting meat of any freshwater fish, and, consequently, is fished recreationally and commercially. Because of its nocturnal feeding habits, it is most easily caught at night using live minnows or lures that mimic small fish. Most commercial fisheries for walleye are situated in the Canadian waters of the Great Lakes, but there are other locations as well.
In springtime walleye will take almost any bait or lure, but may be more challenging to catch through the summer months. Fall often brings another peak of walleye feeding activity. Walleye are readily caught through the ice in winter, usually on jigs, jigging spoons or minnows.
Casting or trolling with spinners or minnow-imitating plugs is a good bet. Special worm harness rigs of spinners and beads are often trolled. Jigs, either traditional bucktails, or tipped with any of the modern plastics, a piece of worm or minnow are walleye angling favorites. Live baits are often still-fished, drifted or trolled on slip-sinker or "bottom-bouncing" rigs. Excellent live bait includes leeches, minnows, earthworms, crayfish and the occasional frog.
When ice fishing walleye are caught jigging or on tip-ups. Tip-ups are generally set up with a dacron backing and a clear synthetic leader. For bait, the most common minnows are Fatheads and shiners.