Fishing season begins with Maumee walleye runWritten by Liz Yaslik | | email@example.com
For those anglers frustrated by the winter blues, the
fishing season truly begins with the annual walleye run up the Maumee River.
This tasty game fish returns to its spawning ground every spring. When the run
is at its peak in mid-April, the riverbanks from Maumee upstream to Waterville
are dotted with anglers on both sides, and in boats, in pursuit of the walleye.
When spawning, walleye rarely feed. However, they will feed
prior to the actual spawn, and, especially the males, will feed voraciously
post-spawn before they return to Lake Erie.
So the question is, why bother fishing for them if they
don’t eat at the height of the spawn? The answer is the walleye do not head
upstream en masse, and the spawning urge comes at different times to different
fish. Thus, at any one point in time not only spawning fish, but also those in
pre-spawn and post-spawn modes will populate the river.
At its height, the run is such that there are literally tens
of thousands of fish in the prime spawning grounds. They are so thick that it
is not uncommon to accidentally foul hook a fish just by casting and retrieving
a lure. This tendency has led to special enforcement regulations in specified
areas of the river. In these areas, fishing is pretty much limited to daylight
hours, and the use of anything other than a lure with a single hook is
Any fish accidentally foul hooked (i.e. not clearly in the
fish’s mouth) must be released. These rules are rigidly enforced, and
plain-clothes enforcement officers regularly patrol the river and are not shy
about writing tickets to wrongdoers.
Some are not crazy about this tactic, but it is necessary to
protect the future fishery. Anyone remembering the Maumee River, and Lake Erie,
prior to the early ‘70s knows how bad the fishery in general, and walleye in
particular, had become.
The run brings out anglers in droves. It is not uncommon to
drive along River Road out of Maumee and see license plates from many Midwest
states. Anglers will literally be elbow to elbow in some of the more popular
spots from Sidecut Park to Jerome Road.
Such crowds bring out both the best, and the worst in
people. There can be witnessed much camaraderie, with good natured bantering
and assisting of each other in netting a fish hooked by someone else. There are
also those that bring plastic garbage bags in which to deposit litter left by
others not so interested in the venue’s appearance. Others will gladly share
with you their successful lure and color recommendations and even hold your
spot if you have to take a break.
On the other hand, I have witnessed poor sportsmanship up to
and including fisticuffs over the rights to a prime spot. Good spots are prized
and guarded. One serious walleye fisherman once told me that he valued his own
special spot so much that he waded out to it before dawn and staked it out
before the sun rose and fishing was legal. He then remained in that spot the
entire day, only leaving it when he was done for the day or darkness had set
In response to my question regarding food and having to
relieve one’s self, he replied he put a sandwich and can of pop in his chest
pack for sustenance, and used the holding capacity of his waders for the other
I no longer fish the run the way I used to. I used to darn
near live in the Maumee every weekend from mid-March until early May. I used to
fish so early in the year that we would regularly hook large pieces of
submerged ice flows and eventually lose all of our jigs.
Also, on weekdays during my working career, I would rush to
the river after work, take off my tie, put my waders on over my suit and hit
the river while fishing was still allowed. I think I spent as much in dry
cleaning these times as I did on tackle.
A combination of things finally led to only infrequent trips
during the run in later years. However, I recently retired, and with more time
on my hands, I am getting the old Maumee River urges back. I’ve been driving
along the river by Sidecut Park since mid-February. I rejoiced when the ice
broke and moved out to the lake recently. I just bought my license, dug out the
waders and am sorting through my now aging supply of jigs.
Who knows, I might even break out my fly rod late in the run
and see if I can tempt one of those post-spawn males with a streamer.
See you out there.