Book a Lake Erie Spring walleye trip and catch the walleye of a lifetime!
Spring walleye fishing on Lake Erie is the best time for a chance to catch the walleye of a lifetime. Fish 30+ inches and 10-14 lbs. aren't uncommon. This time of year walleye have migrated back to the western basin of Lake Erie. The western basin is home to their spawning grounds. Many fish travel up the Maumee River to carry out their spawning process while others opt to spawn on the many reefs located off Port Clinton, Oak Harbor, Toledo, and the Lake Erie Islands. The shallow water with rocky structure is what these walleye are seeking. Males will roam the shoals during the day and night but the females only come in at night to lay their eggs. The spawning process typically begins around dusk and can last from 2-6 hours each night. After laying her eggs the female will drop back out to deeper water and wait until the next night.
Jigging the reefs and surrounding areas can produce a lot of fish and can be a really fun way to put a limit in the cooler. Go-to jigging baits are bucktail hair jigs and blade baits.
Bucktail Jigs- When fishing with bucktail jigs on the Lake Erie reef complex start with 1/2-3/4 oz purple jigs. Venom High Dollar, Erie Dearie Gamefish Killers, or any jig with some feathers or fur sticking out of the jig head will work. These lures come with a stinger hook (a small treble hook that trails the jig about 2-3" below it) and this time of year they are a big advantage to increasing hookups. You will typically want to drift, and because Erie can get a bit sporty, drift socks may be necessary to slow your drift down. Let the jig hit the bottom and slowly jig off the bottom. Make sure to always keep tension on the line because a majority of the hits occur will the jig is on the drop. A 6-7' medium action spinning rod rigged with 10-15lb braid and a 18-24" flourocarbon leader is the preferred setup for its sensitivity and ability to detect light strikes. Tip your jig with a minnow to increase flash and add some scent to your presentation.
Blade Baits- Fish the blade bait near the bottom like the jigs but you can be a little more aggressive with your jigging technique. This helps the blade vibrate and attract fish. Like the jigs the walleye will typically hit on the fall or when the jig hits the bottom. Go to blade baits are Reef Runner Cicadas and Captain Jay's Blade Baits.
Trolling for Monster Walleye
The most productive way to catch big Lake Erie spring walleye is trolling the deeper water that surrounds the reefs. The females are hanging out waiting for nighttime to go lay their eggs. Typical trolling setups include 7-8' trolling rods equipped with inline planer boards and shad or minnow style crankbaits. Go-to crankbaits for Lake Erie Walleye are Smithwick Perfect-10 Rogues and, Top 20 Rogues Rapala Husky Jerks (12-14 in size) Bandit Walleye Deep, Reef Runner 800 series, Bomber Long A's, and Walleye Nation Creation Reapers. This lures can be pulled unassisted or with a snap weight system. A good spread would be shallow crank 50' behind the board, shallow crank with a 1 oz snap 20' in front of it then another 30' to the board, and then a 2 oz snap 20' in front of the crank and another 30' to the board. It pays off to start with different depths and lure styles until a pattern emerges and can be replicated.