Hook & Drag Experts Test Lake Erie Walleye: Northeast Ohio Fishing Report

CLEVELAND, Ohio – It was a simpler time in the 1950s and 1960s when schools of walleye in Lake Erie finally began to grow and grow. With a few dozen chosen night owls in the backyard, a few red and white Erie Dearie line spinners, and a medium-weight fishing rod and reel, anglers of all stripes were armed for a day on Lake Erie.

It was rare for a Lake Erie walleye fisherman to fire up his boat engine and fire up a dive catch—usually a Storm Hot ‘N Tot—to slowly scan a few likely spots around Lake Erie’s islands.

Over the years, especially during major national walleye fishing tournaments, trolling with sinking catches and spinning rigs on the end of a fishing line has become the most effective way to catch walleye. Some local fishermen and Lake Erie card fishermen have resisted, and some still rely on traditional drifting and casting techniques.

But the quest for the trophy walleye and incredible technical advances in boating electronics and fishing tackle made trolling popular and produced coolers full of fish and many record walleyes.

Some anglers fondly remember those low-key walleye fishing days, when packs of boats drifted over large schools of spawning walleye around the reefs of Lake Erie in the spring.

“Trolling for walleye can be like a fire drill, while drifting and casting leaves plenty of time for fishing buddies to visit and brag about their big walleye,” said Captain Mark Cahlik, whose charter guides at Bay’s Edge Bait & Tackle in Port Clinton always offer guests the option of trolling or drift fishing.

Working with Lake Erie Walleye Trail Tournament Director Jason Fischer, Cahlik decided to host the LEWT Hook & Drag Open for drift and spin angler teams with a nine rod limit. It’s an old-timers dream and the chance to see if these low-key, old-school techniques can still be productive – and a whole lot of fun.

The LEWT Hook & Drag Open, a fun tournament headquartered at Bay’s Edge Bait & Tackle, 5359 E. Bayshore Rd., Port Clinton, will be held on Saturday, April 16. Its spacious car park will allow tournament teams to register from 5-7 a.m. on the day of the tournament, and attend the weigh-ins from 2:30 p.m. to 3:45 p.m. For more information, contact Fischer at www.lakeeriewalleyetrail.com or 330-351-8689.

Rainbow trout fishing on fire: Many anglers hooked rainbow trout on the rivers and streams of northeast Ohio this week. A surprising number of feisty trout traveled the waterways to spawn, with more trout to come.

“Rainbow trout fishing is just awesome right now,” said Dan Pribanic of Chagrin River Outfitters. “Look for it to stay warm as more and more fish continue to enter the system. The nymph patterns killed it, as did the old fashioned thread eggs. If you’re swinging flies, then you know that was also exceptional.

The first fishery resulted in a limited availability of guides, Pribanic said.

“Don’t be afraid to fish the slightly higher flows,” Pribanic said. “The rivers are clear and the fishing has been excellent in water flows as high as 100 cubic feet per second.”

LEWT launches the first tournament of the season: David Kraut and Sam Downing weighed in at a 35.96-pound five walleye limit while dragging Bandit lures around the Lake Erie shooting range to win the postponed Magee East event on the Lake Erie Walleye Trail. Ryan Yonkers and Cole Carlson (34.79 lbs) were second and James Balog and Corey Francis (33.02 lbs) were third.

The husband and wife combo of Edgar and Vicky Trent captured the Big Fish Side Pot with a 10.53 pound walleye.

Next up is a two-day Golden LEWT Challenge on April 22-23 at Sandusky.

Rocky River rangers warn anglers against parking: Crowding is becoming a major problem along the Rocky River in Cleveland Metroparks. Due to the reluctance of many anglers to walk even a short distance to set a line, park rangers report that rainbow trout anglers on the Rocky River have parked where they shouldn’t, in especially on the sodden grass lining the roads, and leaving hard -to repair ruts.

The answer is for anglers to park their vehicles in designated parking lots and parking areas, so park crews don’t have to constantly repair costly damage.