CLEVELAND - The Lake Erie Walleye bonanza has started. Runs on the Sandusky and Maumee Rivers are going strong, with plenty of fish in the rivers to spawn.
Anglers are taking limit numbers on both rivers. Water temperatures in the streams are in the low 50s, and rains this week should warm the water to optimum conditions.
Most anglers are tossing floating or lead head jigs dressed with twister tails. The top producing colors are chartreuse, yellow, white, and pink. Some fishermen have had success with varied color combinations, using a pink lead head with a chartreuse or yellow body. Other anglers are using a jig head dressed with a live minnow.
While some fish are being foul hooked, many are being fair-caught. The walleyes are looking for a quick meal right after spawning, and are eagerly taking jigs and bait. Most fish are in the three to five pound range with some larger walleyes being taken.
Most people fishing the streams are wading, but a fair number of fish are being taken from shore. The key is getting a bait or jig into the pools where the fish are congregating.
The walleye bite is also picking up on the reefs of Lake Erie's Western Basin. Charters and headboats running out of Port Clinton are reporting fair numbers of fish being caught by jigging. While the numbers are not quite there yet, the size certainly is. Many of the walleyes being caught off the reefs are trophy fish.
Remember, there is an early season limit of four Walleyes on Lake Erie. That is in effect until April 30. The year-round minimum harvest length is 18 inches.
The fishing for walleyes will start to taper off in the next 10 days in the rivers. They will be replaced by White Bass, which will begin their annual spawning runs toward the end of April. The Walleye bite will continue to pick up in Lake Erie. The fish should move to their familiar late spring/early summer patterns by the start of May. That means a change of strategy to crankbaits, nightcrawler harnesses, and weight forward spinners.
More updates on Lake Erie and northeast Ohio fishing conditions will continue throughout the year.