Our group just returned back from our 5th annual trip to Lake Erie’s Western Basin from some planer board and crankbait trolling for monster walleyes. We left Easter Sunday late afternoon and returned the following Sunday for a 7 day journey to the walleye capital of the world. Joining me on this year’s trip was Dave Koonce (aka. ecnook), Ron Zimmermann, his friend Butch, Shawn Johnson and his brother Pat, Steve Flygstad and his buddy Zeek! After an all night drive from Minneapolis, we arrived in Port Clinton, OH about 6:00am on Monday morning. Without much hesitation, we all hit the lake with the eagerness of getting that first big walleye in the boat, but with howling winds at 20+mph out of the NE, it made travel to some of our more desired locations a little more tedious to get to.
Monday and Tuesday the wind blew pretty steady at 20-30mph out of the NE to rile up the water a bit and disturbed the water’s clarity to a point of 1-foot visibility in some areas and 6 inches in others. When this takes place, it seems to take a good day or two for the sediments to settle back down in the water column. We still managed to put some good fish in the boat during these conditions, but it made boat control and trolling speeds much more difficult to maintain. With water temps in the low 40’s in most areas of the Western Basin early in the week, we opted to slow things down and put the lures right in their faces for best results. These days were long and tedious out there baring the elements all day each day, but were rewarded with a few nice fish each day. Wednesday’s forecast brought a little lighter winds and warming day time temps, Dave Koonce and I and Ron Zimmerman and his buddy Butch all headed to the Detroit river to give the lake a day to rest a bit with hopes of the water quality settling back down. Look for Dave Koonce’s Detroit river report right here on In-depthangling.com!
Thursday brought us back to the lake again with lighter 10-15mph winds and mild daytime temps of 70+ degrees! With calmer winds, all 4 of the boats were able to spread out and cover water with a search team of locating the fishiest water available. After a bit of travel we found strips of clean and dirty water in various areas, which we call mud lines. The walleyes use these lowlight opportunities inside the mud lines to ambush vulnerable prey, hence this is where we started our search. After about a half hour of pulling various colors of cranks at various depths, we got bit right away. Most of the active fish were showing up on the Lowrance X-15 any where from 6-16 foot down over 30+ foot of water. These are ideal conditions for running inline planer boards to get the lures away from the boat to prevent spooking the fish. Trolling speeds appeared to be best in the 1.4-1.6 mph for our boat on Thursday. We ended the day with about 9 fish that we boated and nearly 10 fish that hit and were lost either right off the boards or after a few minute fight closer to the boat side. The smallest fish on this particular day was about 25 inches with the majority going 27”-29” beauties.
Friday and Saturday brought near dead calm winds and mostly sunny skies, which really seem to help the bite each day warming up the water temps. After getting on the water bright and early each day we discovered that the mud lines have shifted about 1 mile each day from the slight under water great lake’s current. These walleyes move right along with these mud lines each and every day to target their prey as well. Every day seemed to bring us further and further south to make contact with the bulk of the large schools of walleyes that we were into the day’s prior. By each days end we tallied up 20+ fish with nearly half of those fish over the 27-1/2” mark and several fish in the 30”+ mark making their way to the boat for some quick picture taking and back in the water to swim another day. With quite a bit of traveling to different areas to scope out fishier waters, we all seem to end up in the same 3 mile area each day with the largest schools of active fish that we had found all week long.
Saturday about mid morning we found that slowing the troll speeds down to 1.1-1.4 mph for the best response from the fish. Overall, many different colors and styles of crankbaits proved to have their time and place for peak periods of activity throughout the day in early cloudy or sunny conditions.
Thanks to all the guys that showed up on the water from In-depthangling .com and all of the guys in my group. I had a great time as always and look forward to doing it again next year!
Good luck to all the RCL competitors this year at the end of the month as the timing looks to be real good for producing some hefty bags of big fish!
Keep checking back to this post as Dave Koonce and I as well as the rest of our group’s photos that we took during out stay to Ohio’s walleye factory!