Spring Run Maumee River Walleyes
by Scott Carpenter


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Thereís a pretty good crowd for a Wednesday afternoon at Daleís, a "Cheers"-like sports bar next to City Hall in Maumee, Ohio. Daleís is the kind of place where everyone might know your name, but today almost everyone is from out of town.

Thatís because Daleís is also the kind of place a fisherman longs for after standing all morning waste deep in the 50-degree water of the Maumee River, which is what about 400 people were doing just up the road earlier on this nippy April day.

When itís Spring Run time on the muddy Maumee up to 50,000 people, maybe more, arrive in this busy Toledo suburb to participate in a seasonal ritual unparalleled on the Great Lakes.

Between late March and mid-April the Maumee swells from snowmelt and rain, opening the way for a half-million walleye to swim upriver to spread their eggs among the protective gravel and cobblestone just below the Fallen Timbers Rapids.

Not surprisingly, thatís exactly where youíll find the fishermen wading and waiting, rods clenched in their hands, landing nets tucked in the back of their waders. After a few hours of standing on the small rocks in the cool, moving water, perhaps catching a fish or two - maybe even a limit - the fishermen get tired and hungry and head for a place like Daleís. Itís the natural order of things.

To the uninitiated, the Spring Run is a strange spectacle. On West River Road, a scenic drive through Side Cut Metropark, vendors hawk jigs made of lead balls attached to hooks with colorful plastic tails. Cars ó mostly trucks, actually ó line both sides of the road, the overflow spilling into the surrounding neighborhoods. Bystanders stop to gawk at the anglers spaced an armís length apart in each direction.

Early walleye are typically caught after the first of March, with the spawn generally peaking in early April and tapering off by the end of the month. White bass then move into the river to spawn in May.

Last year, temperatures in the mid- and upper-70s warmed the low river early. As of March 10, it was already 54 degrees. By then, dozens of anglers were already easily crossing to Blue Grass Island, where they were catching the first of the fish to move up the river. Then came the sleet and snow to cool things off a bit. This sort of start, stop, start pattern is common during the spring run

because of the ever-changing nature of spring in northwest Ohio.

Most spring run walleye anglers wade into the river and cast upstream using lead-head jigs with colored twister-tail bodies. Some cast from shore and still others fish from boats further downstream... ...........................

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