Lake Erie Walleye fishing techniques
There’s no disputing the fact that Lake Erie is one of the best walleye fisheries in the world. Erie’s mix of numbers of fish and trophy potential are unmatched, but if you’re new to the system you could get overwhelmed trying to decide when and where your best chances are to catch numbers of big fish.
The reality of Lake Erie is that it’s a big lake and fish are constantly moving. If your boat is on a trailer and you can be mobile as the fish migrate, you certainly give yourself the best opportunity to consistently catch big fish. The large-scale migrations are mostly seasonal, so I will break down each season’s best trophy bite.
Spring is by far the most predictable opportunity, and in my opinion offers the best chance for the single biggest fish of the year. The spawning season puts all the largest females in predictable locations and even the slightest help from weather conditions makes them fairly easy to catch.
Many of Erie’s fish spawn on the western basin reefs contained within the Camp Perry firing range, and lots of the biggest pre-spawn fish will be staging within a few miles of the reefs. The first week or two after ice-out can be fantastic as long as the wind doesn’t pick up and the water doesn’t turn the color of chocolate pudding. All you have to do is find the best water color east or north of the reef complex, usually a greenish brown stain is best, and start trolling from 8 to 15 feet down with reef runners or deep husky jerks at speeds right around 1.0 mph.
Water color and temperature are essential. You need to find water that is a few degrees warmer than the rest, and many times you will need to push your water clarity comfort level to fish in the warmest water. I usually hope that I can at least barely make out my big engine’s cavitation plate, although in the spring I will tolerate not seeing it as long as there is at least a white or green tint to the mud stain. Make sure you’re marking big red or orange “hooks” on your sonar, and play around with lure depth and color until you hit the sweet spot. I honestly believe the Ohio state record will fall in the next three or four years, and it will probably be an early spring fish that does it.