2 giant walleyes signal big-time fishing
Written by Toledo Blade   
Tuesday, 28 March 2006 14:21

It's big-fish time - big-time - on western Lake Erie and the Maumee River. The fish of interest, in case you just landed on the planet, are walleyes, and this time of year some of the largest specimens have moved into spawning zones where anglers can try to catch them.

Charter skippers Dwayne Wallace, of the Walleye Wiz, and Dale Hartford, of the Jan L, took two mammoth 'eyes Sunday while trolling north of Niagara Reef in the western lake basin. One fish was 31 inches and weighed 14.4 pounds, and the other was 30 1/2 inches and 14 pounds.

The fishermen weighed the big 'eyes, and two others - 26 inches and 8 1/2 pounds, and 22 1/2 inches and 5.1 pounds - at Butch and Denny's Bait Shop on Corduroy Road in Jerusalem Township.

"I've never seen fish so fat for this time of the year,'' said Wallace, who explained that he and Hartford were scouting ahead of a Western Basin Sportfishing Association tournament set for Sunday. They pulled their fish in 31 feet of water, trolling Reef Runners.

Travis Hartman, a state fish biologist at Sandusky when on duty, also was out pre-tournament fishing - off-duty - ahead of the WBSA season kickoff. He landed a nine-pounder on Saturday. "We marked quite a few fish,'' he added, noting he also was trolling near D and F Cans off the Camp Perry Firing Zone.

Hartman was using Rapala Deep Husky Jerk and Reef Runner crankbaits. He said he also marked a lot of fish in South Passage, the slot between Catawba Island peninsula on the mainland and South Bass Island.

Vince Lamberjack, at Lamberjack Marina on Turtle Creek, just west of Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station, said he checked five anglers who took a limit of 20 fish by drifting jigs tipped with minnows in 14 feet of water toward K-Can off the Camp Perry zone. The near-shore zone produced some fish between the mouth of Crane Creek and K-Can, Lamberjack said.

That said, know that lake action still is a mite slow because of the coolish conditions and fish are not exactly jumping in the boat. Wallace and Hartford, for example, took just four fish, although each was hefty.

Rick Ferguson, at Al Szuch Live Bait on Corduroy Road, noted that surface temperatures on the lake Sunday were just 38 degrees, for example, and the water in many nearshore areas still was muddy and unsettled.

"It's just starting,'' he said of the popular early-spring jig-and-minnow action.

On the rivers, fishing action was rated fair to good over the weekend, depending on your locale, luck, and capabilities.

Gary Lowry at Maumee Tackle posted a photograph of a dandy 10 1/4-pound, spawned-out 30 1/2-inch female walleye on his Web site, www.maumeetackle.net. "The next warming trend [later this week] will really set things off," he predicted.

The Maumee water temperature yesterday was about 42 degrees, still in the ideal spawning range, and the water level was readily wadable at slightly below elevation 580, as measured by the gauge at the I-475 bridge.

Chris Martin, at River Lures at Grand Rapids, said he has not seen any walleye brought in by fishermen there so far, but he did weigh a 30-inch, five-pound northern pike. Crappie in the 9-to-12-inch range also are being taken around the docks at Mary Jane Thurston State Park, which lies west of Grand Rapids along the river along State Rt. 65.

On the Sandusky River at Fremont, the water level is fairly low and action was slow, according to Bernie Whitt at Angler Supply there. However, he expects action to pick up this week with warmer weather and some rain forecast

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