Ask The Captain

Q: Iíve seen Fisheries Reports that indicate the average size of walleyes caught in the central and eastern basins of Lake Erie are larger than those caught in the western basin. What are the reasons for this fact?

Captain Bob Brown, Jr. responds:

The main Walleye spawning areas are in the western basin of Lake Erie. As the eggs hatch and turn into small Walleyes, they tend to hang together in schools for protection purposes. The Walleye "fry" tend to hang out fairly close to the area they were hatched. When the fish reach two years old (about 14"), they become very aggressive in their feeding habits and are sometimes caught in large numbers. Usually this happens in Late May through July. As these two year old are normally about 40-60% of the total Walleye population, they usually make up the largest part of the total catch of Walleye per year. Since these fish havenít ventured too far from home yet

(they will when they get older and larger), they are concentrated in the western basin. Having fished the western basin and island area for the past 25 years, I can assure you that there are plenty of larger Walleye in the western basin. Just more small ones than the rest of the lake!

: I know that the zebra mussel has helped improve water quality in the lake. How has this affected fishing for walleyes? Can you suggest any special techniques for fishing for clear water walleyes?

Captain Joe Holly responds:

By the increase water clarity due to the zebra mussels, expect the walleyes to be more light sensitive and spooked more easily by boat traffic. Expect your fishing success to increase on more windy days or when rough lake conditions exist, compared to calmer days. This is due to the waves breaking up any light penetration through the clean water. Also expect walleyes to generally move off into deeper water adjacent to the reefs earlier in the season that in years past.

Early morning or late afternoon fishing trips can be more productive when the sun is at a lower angle. Trolling with dipsy divers that allows for a more wide presentation can also increase your success. Night fishing can be very productive as walleyes are very active at night.


Q: In the Eastern Basin of Lake Erie, when is the best time of year to fish for walleyes? Iíve heard that walleyes are generally greater in size in the Eastern Basin than in the Western Basin. Is this true?

Captain Phil Swiatkowski responds:

The Eastern Basin of Lake Erie offers both shallow and deep water fishing opportunities. A variety of depths and bottom structures (reasonably close to each other) hold walleyes throughout all seasons and weather conditions. Fish donít have to travel very far to find favorable conditions. These combinations also attract forage fish and other species of fish that walleyes feed on easily. This just might be the reason for the exceptional size of Eastern Basin walleyes.

Q: What is the typical diet of walleyes in the western and central basin during the summer season? Is there a particular time of day thatís best for catching them or can you catch walleyes anytime?

Captain Bryce Seymour responds:

Walleyes typically eat anything they want to, but shad and alewife are probably the most common things we find when we check the stomach contents. Worms are effective at catching them even though I doubt there are many earthworms swimming around 20 miles off shore in 76 feet of water.

I like to fish low light conditions and you will see more captains leaving the docks earlier and earlier because for a good part of the season the fishing slows when the sun gets higher and this is usually around 11am when the fish are up higher in the water column. The other advantage is these fish are caught with shorter leads so you can catch more fish faster. The other thing that will have the captains leaving earlier is that we only have so many fishing days and we are starting to see more captains fish two trips a day so they can accommodate all their clientele.

Thank you Captains for responding to our reader's questions

Captain Bob Brown Jr.
Sundance Sportfishing Adventures
(419) 734-9426
[email protected]

Captain Joe Holly
Badman Charters
(800) 266-2520
[email protected]

Capt. Bryce Seymour
Hooker Charter
(440) 417-0101

Captain Phil Swiatkowski
Take 5 Charters
(716) 934-7266