It’s time to hook some WalleyeWritten by Lew Horn | | email@example.com
As the water temperature reaches the mid forties, thousands of walleye head up the Maumee River for their annual spawning run, and thousands of anglers from all over the Midwest follow them. They line the banks of the river for a shot at landing a trophy fish, or better yet a stringer of tasty “eaters”.
Now I’ve fished the river for many years starting back in the day when we used doll flies. I’d like to portray myself as an expert, but I’m not. But, here are a few basics. Use a floating jig head tipped with a twister tail on a Carolina rig. Many people swear by a certain color, but I think anything bright works well. The key is getting just enough weight to bounce gently off the bottom.
Simple right? If only it were so. Let me illustrate a few pit falls you might encounter.
First you must wade into the river. The bottom is covered with slippery rocks, and the current is moving swiftly. This can lead to falls – in very cold water. I think there are two kinds of anglers on the river: those who have experienced a cold dunking and those who are going to. Put me in the former category.
My initiation came many years ago. I had on an old pair of hip boots, so I couldn’t get too far from shore, a good thing as it turned out. Of course, I got out as far into the current as I could. I felt a cold sensation in my left boot. I thought it was just a small leak right before a seam gave way, immersing my leg in near freezing water. It seems rubber boots are susceptible to a problem called dry rot. So first tip-check those waders.
At this point let me get serious. Most of the river is rather shallow in areas where people fish, but a rainstorm can change that in a heartbeat. Be safe. Wear a cinch belt on your waders. A life vest is also a good idea. I use both. Treat the river with respect and never wade in an area where you don’t feel safe.
Remember how I said to gently bounce your weight on the bottom? That bottom is made up of rocks, and you will catch a lot more of those than you do walleye. I like to use a leader that’s a little lighter than my regular line. That way I can break off a snag, but the problem is retying. Remember, you’re standing in three feet of fast moving water. You could wade to shore, but that takes time, and the possibility exists that when you get back, a guy who looks like he just got through winning a WWF match will be in your spot.
I do try to have a few pre-tied leaders in a little box that I keep in one of my life jacket pockets, but they always seem to tangle.
Another solution is to use fairly heavy line so you can straighten the hook with some serious pressure. Warning, if you apply that pressure with your rod, sometimes you’ll have a three-piece outfit. And when the lure comes loose, it often rockets back at your head, or worse, the head of that WWF guy.
You will meet some characters too. One trip I was fishing with a buddy. The crowd was elbow to elbow. I turned to talk to Scott, and found another angler somehow had squeezed between us. Picture Gollum in waders. He kind of looked sideways at us and asked if we had caught anything. We hadn’t been. He cackled then flipped out a short cast and hauled in a nice fish from the same hole we’d been fishing. After his second fish, we called it a day.
Like most fishing, the Maumee walleye run is so much more than just catching fish. It’s really a carnival atmosphere and even if you don’t fish, it’s worth a trip to watch the action.
By the way, Maumee Tackle Company has a great website with up-to-the minute water conditions and plenty of helpful tips too.