Detroit River Monster Walleyes

The Detroit River is one of our favorite fisheries for gargantuan walleyes! There’s something inspiring about catching a 10-pound-plus walleye while gazing in awe at the shiny skyscrapers which line the banks of the Detroit River.

 

The Detroit River is a 28-mile-long river which stretches from Lake St. Clair to Lake Erie. It is one of the busiest waterways in the world and doubles as the international border between Canada and the United States along its entire stretch. There is a tremendous volume of large cargo ships that are always going with or against the current as they carry iron ore and other shipments to and from Lake Superior to New York City and beyond.

 

Factories give way to walleye factories

 

Much of the area around the Detroit River is heavily industrialized. For years, it caused extensive water pollution from the unregulated dumping of chemicals and factory waste. In 1970, the fishing industry had to be shut down due to the high levels of mercury which polluted the river. Since then, heavy conservation efforts have eliminated the majority of the pollutants, thus creating the incredible walleye factory that it is today.

 

Being one of the major spawning tributaries which flow into Lake Erie, the Detroit River is a major draw for avid walleye anglers in the spring as well as late fall/early winter. Thousands of walleye hounds invade the Detroit River for a chance at a true wall hanger. There is a realistic chance at a “teener”, which is a walleye 13 pounds and up! We’ve seen ‘em, but have never caught one of these brutes. That keeps us coming back.

 

Current slipping for bigger catches

 

One of the key tactics for catching walleyes on the Detroit River is to vertical jig while slipping with the current. The current is very swift due to the large volume of water that flows through it, so the key is to place your boat on a stretch of the river that has lesser flow. Allow the boat to drift and “pulse” your trolling motor, while keeping your jig straight below the boat, or “vertical”. Heavy jigs are typically the norm for this river and weights of ½ ounce to 1 ounce are pretty common. Walleyes in this river will be found near or right on the bottom.

 

Tip your jig with a river shiner, which is easily found at one of the many bait stores found at or near the numerous boat launches. I have found that the best spots to jig are behind islands or below sharp bends in the river. Other areas include spots where the river widens out and the current is slower.

 

Places to pick ‘em out

 

One of my all-time favorite spots is near the Trenton power plant. This area is right at the bottom of the river where it flows into Lake Erie. The current is slower there. There are just the right kind of rocks which are spread all over the flats. There’s also an island just below the power plant where many tournaments have been won.

 

Since the river dumps into Lake Erie, walleyes are able to move in an out of the river at will. Out on the lake, the best tactics are to slow-troll large crankbaits for suspended fish. Although these giant walleyes can be found tight to the bottom in addition to being suspended, the bigger ones are more likely to suspend out in the lake. Use Offshore in-line planer boards to spread your lines out and away from the boat. Keep your speed between 1.25 to 2 mph. Use “S” turns to speed up the outside boards and stall the inside ones. Keep track of which board is catching fish and try to replicate the speed that is triggering bites.

 

So, the next time you get an itch to catch a big walleye, give the Detroit River/Lake Erie a try. You’ll find out why this area is one of our favorites!

 

 

Ted Takasaki is an International Fishing Hall of Fame professional angler who has been featured in many national outdoor magazines and television shows. Takasaki has appeared in front of thousands of angling enthusiasts and is considered one of America’s top walleye and multispecies anglers. Follow him on his Facebook page.

 

Scott Richardson is a retired outdoor editor for a Central Illinois newspaper and longtime writer for magazines, a writing partner with popular writer and walleye pro Ted Takasaki for more than 30 years and a member of the Illini Muskies Hall of Fame. He’s also written two books with Wisconsin fishing guide Greg Bohn on bobber fishing for walleyes.