Lake Erie 4-1-1


Lake Erie Walleye Fishing Tips

Starting in April, we catch fish two different ways. The first is jigging, most often on the reefs a few miles off the Davis Besse Nuclear Power Station. Early morning is prime time for jigging. The fish are usually in 6 to 12 feet of water. As the day progresses, they move off into 15 to 25 feet. Best jigs when the wind is up are 3/4- or 1-ounce jigs in purple or chartreuse. Tipping jigs with minnows is optional, depending on the bite. The heavy weights keep baits vertical, though if winds are light you’ll want to lighten up.


Spring Jigging Lake Erie Walleyes Techniques

Drifting and anchoring are the two methods to use jigging. Most of the time you’ll want to drift because of the amount of boats. With many boats fishing on the reefs, anchoring in the middle of them is not ideal. A little basic courtesy on Lake Erie goes a long way.

Don’t be afraid to move from reef to reef. Boat pressure will affect the fishing. Look at your chart, then look at boats and watch for slower boat traffic. Lake Erie is at an all-time high for fish population, which is great for spring fishing. Most reef fish are “jacks,” young males 16 to 22 inches in length. The higher fish numbers are in spring, the more methods can get them hooked.


Searching Deep-How to Catch Walleye on Lake Erie

Normally midday is a slower bite. One of my favorite techniques is anchoring on a reef’s deep side, about 26 to 29 feet. You won’t be in the way of most “drifters” because they’ll concentrate in 15 feet and shallower. Since you’ll be anchored, go to a lighter, minnow-tipped bait when large numbers of fish are present. These tips are a good bet for success.

A last word on jigging. Some fisheries biologists believe we’ve had great hatches for the last 6 years because fish are spawning in new areas. Try jigging close to the new shorelines early and late in the day, in 6 to 10 feet, when walleyes are chasing baitfish close to shore.

Trolling for the big ones–Spring Walleye Trolling Tips Lake Erie

Second method up: trolling. This will catch the biggest fish, both pre-spawn and post-spawn. Early in the morning will be pre-spawn. This month relates to water temperature. Once we get to midsummer, it won’t matter as much as it does in April. It can change a few degrees during a day with a hot sun. Most of the fish during this time are in the upper end of the water column. What I mean by that is the top 10 to 15 feet of water. You mainly want to troll in 26 to 30 feet.

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Winning tip #1

Each month as we discuss our tactics, I’ll give you a couple extra-strong tips. We’ll call these Captain Mark’s “winning tips.” Winning tip #1 is don’t get caught up too much with your fish finder for these fish. For the most part, they’re up too high to mark, so I do one of two things: I either fish the area because of the time of the year or mark some fish even deeper. Just so you know there are some around, run your baits high and trust yourself. Fish that are high in the water column will be looking to eat.

Winning tip #2

Follow contour lines. I’ll normally get started trolling and mark my first fish. Look at depth, look at charts and you’ll see contour lines on your chart. Try to stay in the same depth by following the contour lines on the chart. If fishing isn’t strong, try different contour lines in different depths. Work it until you get a pattern. Next things to consider are speed and lure choice. All very important. As a guide, your speed should be 1.3 to 1.6 miles per hour.

For water temps that are 47 degrees and up, go to 1.6 to 1.8 and up. Some baits good for 47 degrees and colder are slow-roll baits. They’re Husky Jerks, P-10, 700 series Reef Runners, little-lip baits. Generally these are run at 1.3 to 1.6 miles per hour. Once water hits 47 degrees or higher, your speed should be 1.6 and up and Bandits are a great bait. Speed is super-important this time of year. Change it up until you start to catch. The slightest change can make a difference. Later in the year, it will be easier to catch during the summer. Fish will be smaller and more active and you’ll have to beat them off your lines. These early fish are usually big and they didn’t get that way being dumb.

Can lines

This summer will be unbelievable with the fish we have in Lake Erie. I can’t wait. Last two things for this month are area and color. Let’s save color for last and call it another of Captain Mark’s winning tips.

Your areas are “can lines,” north of the reefs. Those are F, D, Niagara, C, B and A are the cans. You’ll see them on a chart. Remember to look for contour lines. Other spots are the edges of West Reef of North bass, North of Kelly’s Island by Gull Reef. Use the principles of what we talked about and apply to that area.

Captain Mark’s last winning tip of the month is color. When fishing in early summer it’s not as important, but early in the season in spring—with big fish—pay special attention to your colors. Write down where you caught your first fish, then put more of them out. Custom painting has become a big hit. JT Custom Baits are one of the best. They listen to fishermen, so ask when you get to Lake Erie to find the right color combos.

I hope you enjoyed my first column and I want to help you as much as I can. Remember, have fun fishing, take a kid with you and enjoy the beautiful days on the lake.