Lake Erie Western Basin Walleye Report 4-19-04

Water Body

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!

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!


  1. Note to self… go with DeeZee & Koonce to Erie next year, no matter what!

    Very good photos guys and a well-written report, as always! I wish very much that I could have made it. I did get lots of packing done and I’m ready for the move (for the most part) at the end of the month.

    There’s no way I’m missing that trip next year.

  2. thanks Steve, very good report. really nice Walleyes. great pictures. sure may have to think about checking that out one of these years. Jack.

  3. It was a real blast getting to hit Lake Erie for the first time. I had no idea what to expect, just the info I have listened to form the guys. The wave action was way cool on Monday and even wilder on day two. With the one or two that I thought topped out at 10′ out to the side of our boat this ride gave Sandusky Amusement Park a run for her money!!

    Here is my first fish on Monday(day 1)and my first Lake Erie Walleye

  4. With the water/wave action rockin and rollin we still boated some real nice walleyes. Here is just another typical 27 inch walleye from day one

  5. And the Monsters just keep commin up to the boat…This is one ,,,just one of the many 29-30 inch walleyes that came to the boat. This was on day 4..Sweet deal Dee Zee !!

  6. For the most part it was a lot of work.Runnin and gunnin, working the areas that the fish were most active,but there was some down time, lull time in the day where you just needed to kick back and relax. Here is a picture showing just that,kickin back…man i get a smile on my face every time i look back on this trip…can’t wait till next year !!

  7. With a pic like that, I half expected to see empty beer cans rolling around the floor of the boat. Or is that cord DeeZee has ahold of, the tapper to the quarter barrel in the front live well.

    Everything aside, those are some beauty fish and wonderful pictures. Thanks so much for sharing. It looks like the trip was everything you expected it to be.

  8. I tried to get that tapper away from him but he kept telling me that it was his boat and his tapper..who am i to argue..

  9. Yeah…I guess I get a little touchy when someone tries to steal my breakfast, lunch and dinner all at once!

    Here is another beauty that made her way to the boat on the brand new smaller versioned Grappler Shad CD14 by Cotton Cordell.

  10. Here is one of several doubles that Dave and I hit throughout the trip. We had a active school about 1/4 mile long that was on the chew and we kept making pass and pass over them with fish just about every pass for nearly 2 hours. What a blast!

  11. This fish hit a shallow running crank in about 8 foot of water over 30+ feet behind the board!
    Its going to be a long year waiting until next year.

  12. Steve/Dave
    Awesome pic’s of your hogs!!
    Here is a few pic’s from my boat.
    I’ll post some pic’s from fly’s boat as soon as I get them.

    Good luck to Hooks group heading out to Erie tonight.

  13. Shaggy…those are some real nice fish too….looks like we all had a real good time…Love those pix !!!

    Here is a picture of one of the smallest fish we caught on our trip.. this was from day 5..

  14. Awesome fish guys!!! Those are trophies in anyone’s book.
    They all look like giants, but what was the biggest one?

  15. Dave,

    You look a little bit jolly faced in the pic

    This is another shot of Pat about 15 minutes after you and DeeZee stopped over for grilled steaks on the water. Talk
    about good times.

  16. The longer we stayed the nicer the weather got.I believe we all would have stayed an extra week if our real jobs would have let us. Here is another beautiful walleye around 28 inches that came to our boat on day 5….

  17. Excellent report, Steve. Everyone’s smiling and catching fish… Even the weather couldn’t stop you guys. Say Steve how is that ankle? You gotta be one tough dude…
    Tight lines…

  18. Great pics guys,looks like you had a awesome time.Dave,did you and Steve get into the Reef Runners crankbaits?
    Ryan Hale

  19. Travis,

    The New Grappler Shad CD14 is scheduled to hit the shelves soon in the Gander Stores. We did not run it as much as I had intially thought I would only because the bigger fish want the bigger profiles on this particular trip……or at least thats what I thought! I pulled it for a couple hours and pulled one big one!

    Good luck on your trip out there. Honestly, there was not one color that shined over the next for us during our weeks stay. If I had to pick one, it might be firetiger as the most versatile color for both overcast and cloudy conditions!

  20. The first picture in Dave’s Detroit river report is a pic of Ron Zimmerman and his buddy Butch. Ron had some trouble with his Envinrude 9.9hp 4 stroke kicker motor early in the morning when we got on the water. After just traveling 13 hours to fish in the Detroit river, the last thing you need is motor trouble. After some phone calls and several dealers claiming not to have anytime to look at the motor, he finally got ahold of David Zammit and Eric at Lockeman’s Hardware and Boats Inc. in Detroit. They not only got Ron and his rig back on the water immediately upon short notice but actually called the next day to make sure everything was running right! Now thats service!! I cannot say enough good things about a business as established as this one to take time off their busy spring schedule to get an angler back on the water at moments notice! Way to go guys and we all thank you as anglers on the water and appraciate this quality of service and personable business.

    If any of you that are in the Detroit, MI area and are looking for a top notch OMC dealer, take a serious look at Lockeman’s Hardware and Boats Inc.

    Lockeman’s Hardware and Boats Inc.
    7630 West Jefferson Avenue
    Detroit, MI 48209
    ph. 313-842-0268

    Thanks again guys!!

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