Steve Chapman and his catch.
While most of us can agree this past winter was a real challenge to get through, because of the extreme cold temperatures brought on by the Polar Vortex, no one who has been fishing lately can disagree that is has helped with this years walleye and perch fishing.
I believe the last time Lake Superior froze over was in 2003, and if my memory of what the fishing was like during that season is correct, it was also an outstanding year for walleye fishing on Lake Erie. It was also the year of the largest walleye hatch the lake has seen in many years. My fingers are crossed that this year’s hatch will rival that of 2003, but we won’t know until the DNR does their creel surveys in the fall.
The reason the freeze over was helpful is that the water temperatures have stayed much cooler than normal, as the waters move down through the Great Lakes, helping to keep the bigger walleye from moving to the deeper waters to the east.
Walleye fishing reports on the social media websites have been phenomenal with happy anglers sharing pictures of their catches with all of their friends and families. Barely, if ever, do I see any complaints about how poor the fishing has been, even on the far west end, where typically at this time of year the waters are much warmer and the bite slows down, and finding pods of active fish is much harder.
Reports of anglers catching larger walleye in the 26-28 inch class to the west of the islands is as recent as yesterday, and there are even better reports of walleye catches to the east of the islands between Kelleys and Lorain.
I think one of the biggest factors, other than the water temperatures, is the fact that during a freeze over many shad are killed due to their intolerance to extreme temperature changes. They will not survive in water temperatures below 40 degrees, and when there is a complete freeze over like we had this past winter, there is no where on the lake for them to go to find water warmer than 39 degrees. Why is that good you might ask? Well, the simple answer is hungry walleye.
However, do not misunderstand and think that our walleye are starving and skinny, because that is not the case. The walleye that we have been so happily catching are fat and sassy critters, which have other food sources to prey on like perch, gobies, shiners, grubs, mayflies and other aquatic hatching flies to name a few. But, without the massive schools of shad to compete with, the walleye have been much more agreeable to chasing our baits instead.
If you don’t own a boat, there are plenty of walk on charters, head boats, or even many places to fish from shore in the area for you to enjoy some of this season fantastic fishing opportunities. Get out there and have some fun!
Good luck and be safe!