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Lake Erie walleye: A need for speed to catch your limit

By D'Arcy Egan • Jul 21, 2019 at 6:00 AM

The best advice for anglers heading out this weekend, whether they’re chasing Lake Erie’s plentiful walleye or casting for bass and catfish, is to beware of the blazing temperatures.

Don’t be a red neck. Slather on the sunscreen well before leave home. Wear light, long-sleeved shirts and stay hydrated. Take along a cooler filled with plenty of water.

Wait until you’re back on land to drink a beer, which can trigger dehydration.


The walleye are still biting, but anglers who are trolling the deeper 35- to 50-foot Central Basin waters of Lake Erie have to adjust their speed right now. Trolling speeds of 3.0 to 3.2 miles per hour are catching quick limits of walleye.

Slow down to the normal 2.0 to 2.3 miles per hour and you’ll be busy reeling in and released amazing numbers of sheepshead. The hottest areas seem to be from Huron to Rocky River.

Related: Lake Erie walleye boom’s cause is a mystery, but no one is complaining

Spoons of all sizes are working behind dipsy, jet and tru-trip divers, with Stinger and Silver Streak spoons with a splash of pink or purple getting the attention of walleye. The walleye are generally suspending at 17 to 25 feet, and few are roaming the deeper waters. The bottom 3 or 4 feet of water have already been reported as oxygen-starved by the fisheries experts.

A few yellow perch are being caught in 30 feet of water. The perch seem to be suspending about 10 feet off the bottom and feeding on water fleas and hatching mayflies, but they will nibble on emerald shiner minnows.

The smallmouth bass fishing has been excellent in 17 to 25 feet of water around the harbor areas in Cleveland, Fairport Harbor, Geneva, Ashtabula and Conneaut.


The walleye fishing around the western end of Lake Erie has been a bit slower as the water heats up and the mayflies hatch, chasing many of the trolling fishermen to the Cedar Point and Huron areas to fish around the dumping ground areas.

Fishermen are still finding walleye success, though, around Scott Point Shoal east of Mouse Island, west of Gull Shoal and west of West Reef and the Lake Erie Islands. Many are drifting and casting smaller spinner rigs tipped with half of a nightcrawler, and weight-forward spinners and nightcrawlers.

Some yellow perch have been reported in 30 to 35 feet of water east of Kelleys Island. The perch have been suspending, feeding on water fleas and mayflies.


Plan on fishing very early or late in the day for largemouth bass at the Northeast Ohio reservoirs to escape the sizzling temperatures in the forecast. Topwater lures, such as a Zara Spook, Pop R or plastic frogs should be a good choice around the Portage Lakes and West Branch, Mosquito and Pymatuning reservoirs.

Schools of small shad are popping up around the Portage Lakes. A good bet is to cast lipless rattle baits at the swirling shad and hope the bass are feeding. The panfish bite around the Portage Lakes and Mosquito Reservoir has been good, with excellent numbers of crappie, bluegills and yellow perch being caught.

The catfish and largemouth bass bite has been good around Sandusky Bay as well as East Harbor and West Harbor. Some largemouth bass have been moving out of the harbors and feeding around the Lake Erie weed beds along the shorelines. Cast diving plugs, spinnerbaits and plastic worms, jigs and creature baits.


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