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Walleye In The Net
Wanted Lake Erie Walleye

Mighty Maumee Walleye
By James Chamberlin


Anticipated by thousands of anglers each year, the Maumee River Walleye Run offers beautiful scenery, abundant wildlife, and a sense of camaraderie among fishermen whose only goal is to catch that perfect 10-pound-plus walleye. As I have done each of the last 6 years, I made the trip down to the Maumee River to see if I could score a limit of 4 walleyes for dinner. As I was walking to my secluded spot down stream from the crowd I noticed 4 fish caught. My first hook up of the year in non-solid water came on my third drift; it was a walleye about 20 inches. The run traditionally starts in early March and continues through early May and thousands of fishermen from across the country flock to get a piece of the action.

When Walleye migrate up the river from Maumee Bay, the vast majority will gather at the first few miles of rapids, which provide the well-aerated water and rocks and gravel that are ideal for walleye spawning. At peak spawning, thousands of anglers crowd the spawning area, which stretches, from Orleans Park in the town of Perrysburg, Ohio, to Side Cut Metro Park in the city of Maumee. Water temperature and current are the determining factors for good fishing: warmer temperatures and swifter current favor larger catches. I prefer the river to be at 582 ft above sea level. Fishing is done from boats, while wading, and from the shore, and is allowed only from sunrise to sunset. Anglers harvest well over 50,000 walleye yearly during this 6-week period.

Techniques for catching these fish vary. Some anglers prefer small lead jigs with twister tails and some prefer the Carolina Rigged floating jig with a twister tail. Everyone has his or her favorite color and size. I solely use the Carolina Rig; it just seems to work better. Most anglers’ use 6 – 7ft medium action rods with braided line and a monofilament leader to the floating jig. I like to modify this a bit, by using my 9’ noodle rod. It can make longer cast, and keeps the bait in the water longer, while staying out of other anglers’ way. To learn how to set the Maumee Carolina rig up contact Gary at Maumee Tackle (419-893-FISH).

The presentation of this bait is critical to getting hooked up. Cast your line out directly in front of you, not up stream or downstream. Let the line drift down stream to about a 45-degree angle while keeping it tight, with no slack. This is why I use the noodle rod, to keep the slack out. I am able to crank up the slack and put a bend in the rod. Some anglers that were using the shorter rods would retrieve slowly. Both work equally well! It may take 10 – 15 drifts to find where the fish are sitting. If you snag a fish observe where the fish is hooked. This will be a clue as to how the fish are suspended in the river and enable you to make adjustments to your presentation. If the fish is hooked in the back, shorten your leader; this will place the bait in front of the fish instead of over its back. The same is true if you hook a fish in the belly. Increase your leader length. Remember, it is not legal to keep fish that are not hooked in the mouth.

This river is dangerous, so be careful! Boat anglers should alter their anchor, instead of using a traditional one use a cinder block or a heavy weight. This way if the river should rise unexpectedly you can get your boat off the river. Also you should never anchor from the stern of the boat. In current let the bow of the boat do what it was intended to do. Wade fisherman, you should never fish in the river without a wade-buddy (friend). If you cannot find anyone to go, fish the crowds, it only takes one step to fall in and get swept downstream. Finally, using the right boots, felt bottom, and a wade staff will also help you stay safe.