River Walleye in the Maumee
We’d spent a lot of time fishing in the Maumee, hitting the catfish hole and, of course, the Spring walleye run. We even fished the salmon run in late Fall, something that, until we saw a chinook in our landing net, we didn’t think existed.
If there’s anything we learned, it was that the Maumee was never short of surprises. One day, as we walked along a park on the river, Dad and I spied two people fishing with bobbers along the bank. Naturally, we asked them how they were doing what they were fishing for.
“Walleye,” they said. Which amused us at first. It was June. They walleye run was long over. But then they lifted a stringer with two jacks on it.
It wasn’t something we’d really considered, walleye that actually lived in the river. For all we knew, they were bound to the waters of Lake Erie when they weren’t on their spawn run. It was something worth investigating. It was, after all, walleye.
We’d seen boats anchored near the tip of an island off the park, just before a series of rapids. This seemed strange to us at first, but in light of our new-found information, it started to make sense. So, we went home, packed up the aluminum boat and headed back to the park.
After a quarter-mile trip from the boat ramp, we rounded the bend off the tip of the island. After struggling to get the anchors just right, we cast out or bobbers and waited. It wasn’t long until we had our first strike, the bobber disappearing below the waterline. Then we tried to set the hook. Nothing. Another hit, another nothing. This went on for a while before we discovered the tactic to land what was hitting our bait. Then we started to catch, lo and behold, river walleye.
And not just a few. As we discovered, there were a lot of river walleye. On one expedition, three of us caught a total of fifty-something walleye (it boiled down to catch-and-release when we hit our limits–just fishing and having a hell of a time) in the matter of a few hours.
This went on all summer, and well into the next year. Then, as all good things, it came to and end. As quiet as we tried to keep this newfound secret, more boats started to appear. Maybe it was because the fishing spot was so visible from the highway. But word spread, and eventually the honey hole dried up.
It was fun while it lasted. And part of the fun was the learning curve of this type of walleye fishing. Here’s some of the things we l;earned.
Fish That Hole
One of the reasons that that particular fishing spot was so effective, was it was he perfect storm of locations. First off, it was at the base of the rapids. Secondly, it was in a hole with a sharp drop, or shelf, that walleye like so much. Make sure you position yourself upstream from the hole and let the bobbers drift above it.
Anchoring the Boat
You just couldn’t toss out and anchor and fish. Being near the rapids, the current was rather strong. And in order to have more than one person fish with a bobber comfortably, you should use two anchors–one off the bow and one off the stern–so that you can sit perpendicular to the current.
Go upstream from the area you want to fish and drop anchor, the bow tip still pointed upstream. The current will then do its job and start sweeping your bow downstream. Immediately drop another anchor off the bow and control the bow movement by releasing rope by hand until you are perpendicular to the current. Then tie it off.
Sometimes this takes more than one attempt. Especially if you are trying to get aligned with a specific hole. And even more so if you’re in a strong current. The anchor won’t always catch when you want it to.
Disclaimer: DON’T do this if the current is too strong. Throwing out an anchor in a strong current is never a good idea if you value keeping your boat afloat.
Catching Walleye on a Bobber Rig with Nightcrawlers
Yes it is possible. And effective under the right conditions. When we fished for the river walleye, this is the main method we used. But is a bit different than normal bobber fishing.
When you bait the hook, leave a fairly good tail of nightcrawler that’s not on the hook. The walleye find this more enticing.
When the bobber goes down, wait. We missed fish after fish until we learned that we were just jerking the bait right out of the walleyes’ mouths. When walleyes go after the bait in this manner, they have a tendency to be non-committal at taking the bait right off the bat. Resist that instinct to set the hook right after the bobber goes under the surface. Wait. Hold the pole in your hand, and feel for when they’ve decided they like the bait.