As temperatures increase over the next two weeks, thousands of fishermen will again visit the Maumee and Sandusky river shores participating in the annual "Walleye Run." Considered by many to be the best fishing event of the year, the walleye run is expected to be in full swing the first week of April, when schools of walleye swim up Lake Eries tributaries to spawn in rivers where their lives began.
"I look for April 5-15 to be the peak spawning period in the Sandusky and Maumee rivers," said Doug Johnson, an aquatic biologist with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Wildlife. "With air temperatures expected to reach the 50s and 60s soon, spawning walleyes will move from deep river pools into warmer riffles upstream."
The ODNR Division of Wildlife says this year's walleye run should please anglers, as long as Mother Nature cooperates. Most walleyes will be 16 to 20 inches in length, though anglers can expect to see a number of 22 to 26-inch fish. In past years, some streamside anglers have caught walleye as large as 14 pounds.
Peak spawning traditionally occurs when water temperatures reach the 46 to 48 degree range, usually between the first and second week of April. After May 1, spawning activity gradually tapers off, though many fish are still in the rivers feeding before moving back to Lake Erie.
According to Johnson, walleye caught along rivers will not affect the big lakes walleye population because only a very small percentage of walleye are harvested during that time period.
Anglers generally favor using _ ounce lead-head jigs tipped with white, yellow or florescent-colored twister tails. Increasingly popular are floating jigs located 10 to 18 inches above a _ to _ ounce barrel sinker.
During this spring ritual, most fishing occurs from shore or by wading into the stream, though small boats are sometimes used. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources urges those fishing to be very cautious when wading in water, as water levels in both rivers are often high in the spring and can be dangerous.
Additionally, anglers should note changes effective this year for the daily limit of walleye on Lake Erie and its tributaries. Between March 1 and April 30 the daily bag limit is four and after that date, anglers can harvest up to six walleye a day.
Remember, too, snagging is illegal meaning only fish hooked in the mouth may be kept. Fishing on the rivers must be done during daylight hours, and those fishing are prohibited from using more than one hook. Detailed information about these and other rules can be obtained when you purchase your fishing license.
"The modern walleye run has been a popular activity in Ohio for many years, with thousands of anglers dotting the river shores " said Johnson. "In fact, its not uncommon to see cars in parking lots from all across the Midwest."
In addition to great fishing, this highly anticipated annual event provides anglers some added bonuses: an opportunity to view some of Ohios beautiful scenery, abundant wildlife, and the chance to make some new fishing buddies.
Current information on the walleye run is available by calling 1-800-BUCKEYE or
1-888-HOOKFISH. Information is also available by calling 419-893-9740. To view the ODNR fishing report online go to www.dnr.state.oh.us and click on the fish.