The best lake and stream walleye fishing of the spring kept area anglers busy over the weekend, and expectations are high for more of the same if the weather moderates by midweek.
Even the strong northeast winds Sunday and yesterday did not stop the fine catches in the Maumee River, and anglers who collected limits on western Lake Erie over the weekend were hoping for a return to fishable wave and wind conditions.
"Fishing was phenomenal, and still is,'' said Gary Lowry at Maumee Valley Bait and Tackle. Last week's rain runoff pulled a major run of spawning fish into the streams, and since Thursday Lowry has weighed walleyes as heavy as 12 pounds, 12 ounces.
He thinks the current run of females will stay in the river another week to 10 days, feeding in the post-spawn period. Then the popular "jack run,'' when the younger male walleye go on a feeding frenzy, should take over.
Lowry's shop held a team tournament Sunday and an individual derby Saturday. Derby winner was Derrick McDevitt, Maumee, who entered a limit five fish measuring 1101/4 inches.
The top tournament team among 16 entries, winning by weight for six fish, was the twosome of Carl Freeman and Tabitha Mixon, both of Toledo, with a total weight of 29.81 pounds. They won $400. Two teams tied for second place and $160 each with 28.11 pounds apiece. The teams included Dave Brugh and Mike Andruch, both of Perrysburg, and Rich Taylor and Norm Jacobs, both of Jackson, Mich.
Some white bass also have entered the angling mix in the Maumee River, but the schools of bass are in so heavy in the Sandusky River that they left a fish odor on the river yesterday, said Bernie Whitt at Anglers Supply in downtown Fremont.
On western Lake Erie, Maumee Bay waters of 10 to 15 feet produced good catches of walleye, using vertical jigging with minnows, said Rick Ferguson at Al Szuch Live Bait in Jerusalem Township.
The Bass Pro Shops Eastern Pro-Am walleye tournament is set to begin a three-day run tomorrow, with public weigh-ins daily beginning at 3 p.m., through 6 p.m., at Water Works Park on the Port Clinton lakefront. The public can meet the professional competitors then.
The pros each were allowed to spend four practice days on the water, beginning last Friday. "A lot of guys are taking the day off today,'' Sally Simpson, a Pro-Am spokesman, said yesterday. The northeaster was the reason, she added, but the pros' practice catches over the weekend were "two thumbs up,'' she added.
The Pro-Am event is the first of up to six on the In-Fisherman Professional Walleye Trail for 2000. The season championship will be in mid-September on the Missouri River at Bismarck, N.D. The circuit this year is paying out $1.5 million in cash and prizes overall.
This week's Pro-Am has a total purse of $211,000 in cash and prizes. The top pro takes home a $50,000 payout including a boat and motor, and the top amateur takes home a $12,000 boat-motor package. This year's expanded field has 135 pros and a matching number of amateurs.
Daily tournament results are to be posted on the PWT website. Go to www.in-fisherman.com, then click on the tournament links.
Elsewhere on the fishing front, crappie fishermen have had excellent results, said Vern Zunk at Zunk's Bait in Jerusalem Township. Hot spots include both private lakefront marinas, where fishing is allowed by permission only, and in area creeks, especially the lower tributaries to Lake Erie.
Many of these same sites also are producing good catches of bluegills, Zunk said.
Anglers aged 14 and under will be eligible for special trout fishing Friday and Saturday at the Pearson Metropark pond.
The Ohio Division of Wildlife is set to stock some 1,200 rainbow trout from its Castalia hatchery on Friday, with fishing reserved for youths only until Sunday, when the pond will be open to all anglers.
Fishing is permitted from 7 a.m. to dark. All state fishing regulations, including limuits, apply.
Tonight - Full-moon walk, 8:30 to 10:30 p.m., Oak Openings Preserve Metropark, Mallard Lake area, groups call for reservations, 535-3058 extension 101; also, Thursday, program and evening hike about frogs, 7:30 to 9:30 p.m., Secor Metropark Nature Discovery Center; also, Friday, dawn walk, 7:30 a.m., Wildwood Preserve Metropark, Metz Visitor Center, call for reservations; also, Saturday, Earth Day hike of The Andersons' parcel, 10 a.m. to noon, call for reservations.
Tonight - Program on herbal lore, 7 p.m., Sandusky County Park District headquarters, Countryside Drive off U.S. 20 bypass, Fremont; also, Saturday, park district field trip to Back to the Wild rehabilitation center in Castalia, 9:15 a.m., park headquarters, or 10 a.m. at the rehab center; call the park district, 419-334-4495 or 1-888-200-5577.
Tomorrow - Earth Week lecture, 7:30 p.m., Bowling Green State University, Room 1007, Business Administration Building; Thomas McNamee, author of The Return of the Wolf to Yellowstone, on the future of nature conservation.
Tomorrow - Erie Shores Birding Association, 7:30 p.m., Monroe County Community College, Life Science Building, Room 201, program by Karl Overman on Australia birding; call Janet Volker, 734-243-6965.
Thursday - American Society of Mechanical Engineers, Northwest Ohio Section, annual awards dinner, 6 p.m., Kaufman's Restaurant, East Wooster Street, Bowling Green; open to public attendance; program, Steve Pollick, on the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race 2000; call Tom Names, 843-8200, extension 247.
Saturday - Wildflower walk, 10:30 a.m., Lawrence Woods State Nature Preserve, Hardin County; also, Sunday, wildflower walk, Goll Woods State Nature Preserve, 2 p.m., Fulton County, includes hike with Toledo Naturalists' Association, call Bob Sanford, 419-445-1775.
Monday - Public trapshoot, 6:30 p.m., Wolf Creek Sportsmen's Association, 349 Teachout Rd., north of State Rt. 2, Curtice, call Jeff Raczkowski, 836-2033.