plentiful on the river
Dave Richey / The Detroit News
Detroit River: This river separates Michigan from
Ontario, and it has the largest run of walleyes in the country.
The big question is when it will kick off, and that depends
on weather and water temperature.
The river from Peche Island downstream to Lake Erie begins
to hit its walleye spawning stride in mid-May. Early catches
are predominantly male fish but in mid- to late-April, ripe
hens (female walleyes) move into the river to spawn. Males
seldom weigh over three pounds but an egg-laden hen can
weigh 10 pounds.
The major hotspot is the Trenton Channel along the Michigan
shoreline, and just
upstream from Lake Erie and downstream n are good spots.
Try fishing off Celeron Island as well. from Elizabeth Park
Marina in Trenton.
The water depth ranges from four to 30 feet, and early morning
action can be found in very shallow water, but as soon as
angling boat traffic arrives, the fish move into deeper
water and hug bottom.
Walleyes relate to rocks and rubble on bottom, and anglers
can troll with a hand-line and pencil plugs or vertical
jig with roundhead jigs. Vertical jigging requires a medium-action
spinning rod, a reel stocked with six-pound monofilament,
and a leadhead jig weighing ?, 1/3, 3/8, ? or 5/8 ounces,
depending on water depth and current speed. Top colors are
chartreuse, Kelly green, pink, white, yellow or any other
color combination. Add a grub or twister tail body and shiner
minnow to the hook. Some anglers use a stinger hook to nail
short striking fish, and it can produce a few more walleyes
Vertical jigging means drifting downstream at the same speed
as the current, and using just enough power from an electric
trolling motor or small outboard motor, to bounce the lure
against bottom directly under the boat. This vertical jigging
allows better lure presentation and a better feel of the
jig when a walleye hits. A sonar unit is needed.
Other hotspots are around Grosse Ile, along the Ontario
shoreline (an Ontario fishing license is required), and
near the bridge to Windsor. It's a wise thing to carry at
least one pound of jigs every day because the rocky river
bottom grabs jigs and seldom gives them back.
Don't expect hard strikes from walleyes. Set the hook at
any hesitation, and jig the lure just a few inches off bottom.
Lift the jig six inches up, hesitate for a second, lower
the jig back to bottom on a tight line, and repeat the process.
And remember: small walleyes may not fight hard but big
Walleye fishing on Detroit River
When: The peak of the spawning run should
occur during Late March and extent through Mid-May.
Where to fish: Separate Michigan and Ontario
fishing licenses are required on each side of the international
boundary. Anglers commonly fish various spots along each
shoreline and it pays to have both licenses when fishing
the river. The Trenton Channel near Lake Erie is a solid
bet and fishing off Celeron Island at the downstream end
of the river is good. The Hiram Walker whisky plant on the
Ontario side can be productive. The water on both sides
of the river above and below the Ambassador Bridge is noted
for producing fish. The Canadian shoreline near the Windsor
Casino produces plenty of walleyes.
Jigs: The river bottom is loaded with rocks
and rubble, and it's not uncommon to lose a dozen jigs daily.
The best jigs have a round head and will weigh 1/3 and 5/8
ounces. Many anglers use a Fuzz-E Grub or Twister Tail body,
and as is true with jig heads, it pays to have an assortment
Favorite colors: Black, chartreuse, kelly
green, orange, pink, white and yellow are good colors and
many people prefer two-tone leadhead jigs.
Jig strokes: Several methods work and a
favorite is a slow three- to four-inch upward lift of the
rod tip followed by lowering it and allowing the jig to
hit bottom. Another is a variation of the up-and-down movement
but has a snappier lift on the upstroke. One that pays off
is to raise the rod tip three or four inches, pause for
a moment and lower the jig to bottom on a tight line.
Times to fish: Many anglers like to be
fishing by dawn and it can produce strikes from undisturbed
fish. There are days (especially when overcast), however,
when walleye action can be great all day. The best tip is
to cover the water and keep trying new spots.