I’m no expert, but I do believe that the heavy ice we had this past winter resulted in a very big shad kill. In turn, that removed a large portion of the walleye forage base. What does this mean? It means that walleye have been more eager to taste our offerings of painted metal, plastics, and live bait selections in an almost suicidal fashion.
Everywhere we have fished this season we have caught fish much easier than we did last year when the forage base of shad was extremely high from several winters of little to no ice on Lake Erie. Last year, huge schools of shad appeared on our sonar screens with the tell tale “hooks” of the elusive walleye chasing them for an easy meal. When that happens, it’s just tough fishing all the way around, because it’s tough to compete with their natural food source when it’s plentiful.
Lucky for us though, that isn’t the case this year. All the charters I know, and follow on the social media sights, are having banner trips with full limit catches for their clients. I too, have been having a grand time entertaining and teaching my clients how to troll with the cooperation of the walleye.
Right now the fish are scattered all over the Western Basin of Lake Erie, and can be found anywhere from the Michigan waters all the way over to the east, out in front of Lorain, Cleveland, Geneva, and Ashtabula where the largest grade of fish are hanging out in the cooler deeper waters. That doesn’t mean we don’t have some very large walleye still hanging around near the islands though. They are still being caught here and there; just not in the numbers they are being caught over to the east right now.
There’s really nothing new in the presentations being used this time of year. The drift-casters are still using “Weapons” with crawlers, and also bottom bouncers with crawler harnesses. The trollers are using either colorfully painted spoons behind Tru-Trip Jet Divers and Dipsies, or crawler harnesses, both single or double bladed, behind inline weights, diving weights, snap weights, and bottom bouncers.
With the holiday coming up this week, it’s important to remember boating safety, because the lake will be very busy with pleasure boaters and anglers alike. Please have a designated driver while operating a boat, because it could save yours or someone else’s life. Learning the “Rules of the Road” on the water for new boat owners can give them confidence too. There are several online boating safety courses to help you achieve that goal.
Stay safe out there and enjoy the celebration of the Fourth of July this year!