Reports are filtering in from two of Michigan’s best walleye hotspots: Saginaw Bay and Lake Erie; that the fishing is red hot. Limit catches are the norm rather than the exception and some big fish are mixed in too. Lower Detroit River and Trenton Channel are still producing walleyes, some say due to the cool water temperatures. Erie Charter Captains are having a fantastic fishing this year and the action should last well into July.
Boats going out of Linwood Beach Marina and the DNR launch at the mouth of the Saginaw River are taking limits of walleyes in 18-20 feet of water on Saginaw Bay. Crawler harness fishing has been a top producer this spring with plenty of walleyes falling prey to metallic Colorado blades pulled inches from bottom.
“We fished three days out from Linwood Beach (989) 697-4415 and caught our limit every outing using gold and chartreuse blades on crawler harnesses”, reported Rusty Streblow from Montague.
“Those marble eyes wanted big juicy crawlers trolled behind 1 oz. weights at around .8 mph. A down-wind trolling direction helped us to keep lines in the strike zone and detect any light bites. Bigger fish were coming from the Candlestick and Buoy #1 found in 30 feet of water at the end of the shipping channel. A few 6-8 pound fish were caught by trollers using holographic spinner blades”, says Rusty.
Limit catches are also coming from Nayanquing point at the famous Black Hole, Pinconning Bar, Point AuGres, Calihan Reef and Charity Islands. Some trollers are using cranks pulled behind in-line boards. Others are slow trolling crawler harness rigs with flashing blades to draw savage strikes from hungry walleyes. Harnesses are tipped with large crawlers and pulled just fast enough to make the blade on the harness slowly rotate to draw the attention of walleyes. Unlike fishing inland lakes, Saginaw Bay walleye schools are huge by most standards; the average school is ½ mile wide by 2 miles long and contains hundreds, if not thousands of fish. Some boats are reporting limit catches in less than 60 minutes of fishing time.
Streblow represents a growing army of west Michigan anglers that are trailering boats to Saginaw Bay or Lake Erie in search of good fishing. Lake Michigan coho fishermen are crying the blues because the spectacular Great Lakes salmon fishery was almost non-existent this spring. The DNR is reporting record low catches and following two months of poor fishing many big water anglers are making the move to walleye country.
“Lake Erie fishing has been much better than expected, with limit catches from Michigan’s Luna Pier to Lake Erie Metro park launch”, says Jim Spaulding, who is a well know area fisherman. ” We expected fewer fish this year because the main body of fish is getting older and older walleyes tend to congregate from Pelee Island east, in deeper water. But east winds and cooling temperatures have brought easterly winds that pushed baitfish into the western basin and Michigan waters have been alive with walleyes”.
“All our charter boats are limiting out on dandy walleyes,” reports Mary Briskey, owner of Luna Pier Harbour Club which has the largest Lake Erie charter fleet along Michigan’s coast. “They are catching a lot of fish on crawlers, spoons behind small Jon’s divers and on crank baits. If the weather stays perfect and we have calm seas, this could be one of the best fishing years for walleyes on Erie in over a decade”.
My phone has been ringing off the hook with outstanding reports from Saginaw Bay and Lake Erie. Since the fish are averaging larger on Erie, I made the decision to give it a try. My daughter, Sarah is home for the summer after graduating from Denison in Ohio. We packed lunch, grabbed cold drinks and pulled the Lund to Luna Pier. One reason I prefer to fish out of Luna Pier is because the Briskey’s have a first class operation with screened-in fish cleaning facility, bathrooms, launch, tackle store, boat slips and a shower. Call (734)848-8777.
The day was humid, extra hot and the lake was flat calm. Sarah wore her bikini swim suit and all the fishing boys at the launch gave her the nod. Our first fish came on a Stinger spoon behind a Jon’s mini diver; the next two slammed silver crank bait with blue back. Once my trolling speed was set at 2mph and lures were running about 16 ft. down, we started slamming fish and had our 10-fish limit in less time than it took to drive from East Lansing.
I was impressed with the fast-paced walleye action. But something was missing. Oh yes, where were all the boats? There were no waiting hordes of fishermen at the party store buying beer, few at the launch and even fewer boats were out on the super calm seas. Where are they? Could it be that rising gas prices are having an effect on fishing? All I can is you better take advantage of the productive walleye fishing while it is hot. Who knows how future fish disease or State economic disasters will lead to the demise of splendid fisheries?