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Fall 2003 Issue
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Lake Erie Fall Trophy Walleyes
Capt. Phil Cadez

Overall 2003 has been a good year for walleye fishing.  After a tough April and early May the fish cooperated as the weather became friendlier. The 1999 hatch was the 4th best in the history of the lake.  These fish were 17 to 21 inches and made up most of the limit catches.

While most anglers filled their coolers with these great eating walleye a few fishermen are waiting till late September and October when the trophy walleye return to the Western Basin. This large school will head for the deeper water off the coast of Cleveland. They stay there until the water temperature begins to drop.  Last year was like a duck shoot when these big walleye returned. Many of these fish ranged from 4 to 11 pounds. They all were very well fed and fat.

There’s quite a few charters that secure temporary dockage in Huron, Ohio, approximately 10 miles east of Marblehead. This makes for shorter runs to the fish. The fish begin appearing about mid September and stayed till the ice was on the lake with charter and local fishermen sharing fishing information, it’s a sure bet the word will spread about their coming back.

Most of these big walleye move towards the west in either large schools or smaller packs. There’s lot’s of boats looking for these fish  and the trollers usually find them first. If you see a half dozen charters trolling in a formation you can bet they’ve found the schools. There’s no structure, the bottom is either clay or sand.  The fish will rise and fall as they feed on the schools of shad and minnows. The water depth of Huron is a little deeper than the Western Basin. You might be fishing in 40 foot of water or even deeper if you’re 10 miles off shore.

When it’s calm the trollers have a distinct advantage. They can keep moving in and out of the patches of walleye varying their depths till they find out what’s working the best.  When there’s a chop on the lake most anglers prefer casting for these fish.

The trollers prefer using dipsy divers and plainer boards. They’ll troll anywhere from 4 to 16 lines at once.  Different colored spoons from 3 to 4 inches are the most widely used lures. Some of the local fishermen also troll deep diver big lipped minnow shaped lures with lots of success.

The casters will drift and use the countdown method after they’ve found the right depth. If the fish are high they’ll use ½ or ¾ oz egg sinkers on their ‘walleye weapon’ casting rigs. As most of the locals use these casting harnesses they experiment with colors and size of blades. All summer we’ve used a No. 3 spinner a few beads and a small hook at the end. A few anglers go to a no. 4 Indiana or Colorado spinner.

Colors most widely used are gold, chartreuse, silver, white, and bi-colored spinners. The beads can also be gold, red, green, chartreuse, yellow or white. A few anglers use a little larger hook at this time of year.  They’ll go from a No. 4 to a 2 or even No. 1.  Regardless of the size we use only half a nightcrawler on these hooks.  It’s supposed to resemble a May Fly.  If you use a big or while worm without a stinger you’ll just be feeding them if they bit short.

A few of the guides have gone back to weight forward spinners at this time of year. They prefer 5/8 or better yet ¾ oz lures.  Favorite lures are Erie Dearies, Crooked Eye and Parrish ‘P’ lures.  Most popular colors are gold with gold blades, chartreuse, green and white, silver and green with large silver blades.

If you’re coming in your own good sized boat you can put in at Huron and go out the river mouth to the fish.  There’s also ramps in Sandusky Bay or Marblehead. It will all depend when you come and how close the Marblehead area the fish are.  In November you won’t need a boat you can catch these big fish at night casting crank bait that stay a feet from the surface.  The walleye push the schools toward the lighted docks all thru the nighttime hours. It’s strictly timing, they could be there at dusk or come at 4:00 AM.

 Since timing is everything call the area first to determine when to come. A few helpful numbers might be of the Erie County Chamber of Commerce, 419 625 6421;  the Huron Chamber of Commerce, 419 433 5700; and the Ottawa County Visitors Bureau at 1 800 441 1271.  The numbers can help you with hotels, charters, and local bait shops. If you don’t have a good sized boat, the best way to get in on this fantastic walleye fishing is to secure a local full time professional guide.  These charters are usually set up to accommodate up to 6 anglers. Get a few friends together and call or search the web at lakeeriecharters. You can also e mail me at [email protected] for information. GOOD FISHIN!