It's happening again. Lake Erie walleye are ascending the Sandusky and Maumee rivers, following a migration pattern that hasn't changed for thousands of years.
And anglers are again standing on the shores of both rivers or wading green waters to cast and bring home some fine eating with minimum effort. It's important to note that while these thousands of fish are accessible to anglers along much of the length of both rivers, there are some special regulations that must be followed in certain areas.
One is that until May 1 fishing is allowed only from sunrise to sunset in the following areas when posted with signs: the Maumee River from the Ohio Turnpike to the Old Waterville interurban bridge at the end of Forst Road in Wood County, and from the Ohio 578 bridge to the Grand Rapids Providence Dam. In the Sandusky River fishing is allowed from sunrise to sunset from where the Toledo Edison power line, Old Ballville and Fifth Street Line crosses the river to the northern tip of Brady's Island.
Anglers can only fish with a line holding a single hook not larger than a half inch from shank to point, the limit is just four fish that must be at least 15 inches, and snagged fish must be released. You'd best do it, too, since plain clothes wildlife officers are always along the rivers, perhaps right beside you, and fines can be heavy.
It's traditional to work these rivers with quarter to half ounce jigs, usually with twister tails, in white, chartreuse, yellow, and red, standing on shore or wading. Anglers cast quartering upstream, allow the jigs to sink to bottom, then retrieve slowly, keeping the little lures bumping bottom occasionally. They catch some fish, too. But a better method is to do that casting with floating jigs, doing your throwing with a rig consisting of a half ounce sinker, a foot or so of leader beyond and a floating jig most often in chartreuse.
The sinker gives weight and keeps your offering near bottom, while the floating jig stays above that bottom at least a few inches and hopefully right in the face of any walleye swimming upstream or holding in small holes or behind current breaking obstructions. This simple rig has accounted for some serious sized walleyes so far this year, and will account for more before the season ends.
Keep in mind that walleye with spawning on their minds aren't particularly hungry, so any strikes that come are likely to be gentle, sometimes a light tug and sometimes just a bit of extra pressure, so strike at any difference as you retrieve. And if nothing at all produces, try working pools with a slip sinker, a foot of line, and a single hook holding a nightcrawler or minnow. On off days, this can sometimes make the difference.
Top places to fish don't vary much from year to year. On the Sandusky River, most anglers drive right into the downtown area, park near the bridge on either the west or east side, and do their casting upstream or down from the bridge. Some drive further upstream and seek out spots where there's more room.
On the Maumee, best results so far this year have been around Fort Meigs and Blue Grass or across from Orleans Park. Current catches in both rivers have been mostly smaller jacks (males) with some larger females among them, the biggest running close to 12 pounds. It's wise to check current conditions before you make a trip, and current information is available atwww.dnr.state.oh.us/wildlife/fis... or (888) HOOKFISH.
Dick Martin is a free-lance writer from Shelby. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org n Spring wild turkey hunting opens in all 88 counties April 23 with the season continuing through May 20. Hunters harvested 20,023 wild turkeys during last years season, and the ODNR anticipates that between 20,000 and 25,000 will be harvested this year. A special youth-only season turkey hunt for those aged 17 and younger will be held April 21 and 22.
The biggest casualty of the current fish virus scare on Lake Erie will likely be the bait dealers who do business on Ohio's north shore. With the spring season nearly here, concern over viral hemorrhagic septicemia is about to peak again. It was in the early spring last year that hundreds of thousands of freshwater drum began washing up on the shores of Lake Erie, and samples showed that the dead fish had succumbed to the organ attacking virus. Since most bait fish are shipped from other states and those shipments are now illegal bait dealers will be scrambling to find enough minnows to supply customers, with resulting higher costs.
Outdoorsmen who like to plan ahead should mark their calendar on Sept. 15 and plan to attend the 11th annual Sportsmen's Rally at the Aladdin Shrine Temple in Columbus. There will be games and auctions with prizes that include hunting trips and fishing charters. For tickets, contact the USSA headquarters at (614) 888-4868.