Western Lake Erie has joined the Maumee and Sandusky rivers in the spring walleye fishing parade, with jig-and-minnow action getting under way in earnest the last few days.
Much of the Erie action has focused on Maumee Bay, where crews are picking up seven to 10 fish or so per trip, said Chris Mill- iron at Al Szuch Live Bait in Jerusalem Township. Early spring action on the lake usually revolves around jigging with minnows, using leadhead jigs or ice-fishing lures, such as Swedish Pimples, all jigged vertically.
At the same time, the Maumee and Sandusky rivers are very high and muddy, though receding, after weekend rain and snowmelt swelled both streams.
A few fish were taken on the Maumee over the weekend, with anglers working mostly downstream around Orleans Park on the Perrysburg side and the foot of White Street on the Maumee side. Both locales are typical high-water fishing spots.
The Maumee's flow was measured yesterday at 589 feet above sea level at the I-475 bridge. That is about eight feet higher than levels considered safe for wading to such popular sites as Blue Grass Island, off Side Cut Metropark, and Buttonwood Access. Water temperature was about 42 degrees, still in the acceptable range for walleye spawning.
Most females in the river still are in firm, unspawned condition, said Jan and Gary Lowry at Maumee River Bait and Tackle. Good numbers of fish are present.
“It's definitely muddy and high,” said Bernie Whitt about the Sandusky River at Fremont. “But the big fish are in. They're rolling on the surface.” Some anglers continue to risk arrest by keeping foul-hooked, or snagged, fish, he added.
Back on Lake Erie, some walleye also are being taken around the inshore reefs off the Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station, according to Vince Lamberjack, at Lamberjack's Marine on Turtle Creek there. He said that fishing action seems to be improving daily, with boats operating as shallow as six feet off the beaches out to the reefs.
The fish are not yet aggressive, Lamberjack said, and anglers using larger shiners seem to be more successful. In addition to standard leadhead jigs, some anglers there are using jigging spoons and blade baits, he said.
Vern Zunk, at Zunk's Bait on State Rt. 2, said that walleye also are being taken around the Sandusky Bay bridge and in the bay itself. Crappies also are being taken in good numbers in area marinas, he added. Anglers are reminded that they must obtain permission to fish in private marinas.
In related walleye news, the $2.9 million Wal-Mart RCL Walleye Circuit will kick off the 2002 season tomorrow through Saturday on the Detroit River, with 300 pros and co-anglers vying for a pot of $346,000.
The competition is open only to pros who own Ranger, Crestliner and Lund boats, while the 150 co-anglers who fish with them apply from the public at large. After a two-day opening round, the field is cut to the top 20 pros and 20 co-anglers for a one-day round. The top 10 semifinalists in each division go to the finals.
Top pro prize is $50,000 and a boat-motor rig. Top co-angler prize is $15,000. Weigh-ins the first two days will be at 3 p.m. at Lake Erie Metropark, east of I-75 at Brownstown, Mich. The last two days weigh-ins will be at the Taylor, Mich., Wal-Mart, 7555 Telegraph Rd., 4 p.m.
The pro field includes three area anglers: Rick LaCourse of Oregon, Joe Whitten of Toledo and Julia Davis of Port Clinton.
The show is scheduled for 11 a.m. Wednesday and 9:25 a.m. Saturday. Lewis is a hunting and fishing guide in addition to being pastor of Harvest Baptist Temple in Clyde.
Lewis also guides in the spring snow-goose season and fall duck season in North Dakota. He guided Bill Miller of North American Hunter in the cornfield goose shoot being aired this week.
TODAY-Sand dunes hike, 1 to 3 p.m., Oak Openings Preserve Metropark, Mallard Lake Area, 1.7-mile walk for youths ages 7 to 14, parents welcome, call for reservations, 419-535-3058 ext. 101; also, Friday, frog songs, 6:30 p.m., Oak Openings, Girdham Road at Wabash-Cannonball Trail; also, Saturday, wildlife rendezvous, 6 to 7:30 p.m., a hike, campfire, and hot-dog roast, Oak Openings, lodge parking lot, call ext. 101 for reservations.
TONIGHT-Public trap and skeet shooting, 6 to 11 p.m., Camp Perry Shooting Club, Camp Perry, State Rt. 2 west of Port Clinton, call the club, 419-635-2682; repeats Thursday 6 to 11 p.m. and Sunday noon to 6 p.m.
TONIGHT-Sandusky County Sportsmen's Club, 8 p.m., clubhouse, State Rt. 600 east of Gibsonburg; also, Thursday, trapshoot, 6 p.m., club field.
THURSDAY-Public trapshoot, 6 to 9 p.m., Ottawa County Conservation League, Martin-Moline Road, Martin, call Rick Temple, 419-666-1399.
THURSDAY-Public trap and skeet shooting, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., Monroe Rod and Gun Club, 6280 Lighthouse Rd., Monroe, Mich., call Jim Warren, 734-243-9774.
THURSDAY and FRIDAY-Public trap and skeet shooting, 6 to 1 p.m., United Conservation and Outdoor Association of Hancock County, Township Road 243 north of U.S. 224 east of Findlay; call Don Borkosky, 419-427-4236.
THURSDAY-Track and trails for teens, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., meet at Sandusky County Park District headquarters, Countryside Drive off U.S. 20 bypass east of Fremont, for ages 12 through 17, hiking, canoeing, and open-fire pizzas; call the park district for reservations, 419-334-4495 or 1-888-200-5577; also Monday, learning about beach ecology, 3 to 5 p.m., White Star Park quarry, State Rt. 300 south of Gibsonburg; call the park district to register.
FRIDAY and MONDAY-Public trapshoots, 6:30 p.m., Wolf Creek Sportsmen's Association, 349 Teachout Rd. north of State Rt. 2, Curtice; call Frank Schaffer, 419-691-2769.
FRIDAY-30th annual fund-raising dinner, Ohio Chapter, Ruffed Grouse Society, Villa Milano, 1630 Schrock Rd., Columbus, social hour 5:30 p.m., dinner 7:30 p.m. followed by raffles and auction; call Doug Rellick, 614-471-5982.
Steve Pollick is The Blade's outdoor writer. E-mail him at email@example.com.