Walleyes biting better than the norm
Written by Detroit Free Press   
Thursday, 08 June 2006 15:36

From Saginaw Bay to Lake Erie, Michigan anglers are experiencing some of the best walleye fishing in decades, and if the numbers of fish are any indication, they can expect it to continue for the rest of the season.

That's great news for Doug Deming, who owns Fish Point Lodge on the south shore of Saginaw Bay. The duck hunting business that he started here 20 years ago has boomed, and now his summer walleye fishing charters promise to do the same.

"You can't do this in front of a television set," Deming said, lifting a rod out of a holder after he saw a planer board drop back as he trolled for walleyes a couple of miles offshore on Saginaw Bay.

He reeled in a 16- 1/2 inch walleye, one of millions of fish from the 2003 year class that have now reached keeper size and make up the bulk of the catch on Saginaw Bay, the Huron corridor and Lake Erie.

"That's typical of what we're getting today," Deming said. "Most of the fish are 16-18-inch eaters, and we can usually get a limit pretty quickly. Ten years ago the average fish was about four pounds, but there were nowhere near as many of them. With the number of walleyes out there, the next three years should be just incredible."

Deming said that Saginaw Bay walleyes are still taking nightcrawlers on harnesses and bottom bouncers, although he expects they will soon move to deeper water where he will troll Hot-n-Tots and spoons.

"Pink (beads and spinners) has been the hot color," he said. "If you put out four rods with different colors on them, the fish will tell you what they want."

Good to excellent walleye fishing also has been the norm for the waters of the Huron corridor -- the St. Clair River, Lake St. Clair and the Detroit River -- and for Lake Erie, especially in Ohio waters.

"We've been getting limits just about every time we go out," said Mike Wilson, who guides on the St. Clair River out of Algonac. "Normally, it's slowing down at this time of year, but not this season. I think we're going to have walleyes around all summer."

Alan Trudeau lives in Windsor and has been fishing the lower Detroit River three or four days a week since April. He said it has been the most consistent and productive year he can remember.

On Saginaw Bay, Deming said he would probably concentrate on the inner bay for another week or two, then he'll start running a bigger boat to deeper water as the walleyes start to spread out and seek cool water. He also rents boats to anglers who want to do self-guided trips.

"I like to make my charter trips education sessions," he said. "I see people trolling for five miles in the same direction, without turning or changing speeds or changing lures, and they wonder why they aren't catching any fish.

"If you're making turns, and you're catching all the fish on the outside rod, that should tell you that you should speed up a little. If you get the hits on the inside rod, slow down. We go out there to have fun, and what I want is for people to get off my boat and be able to go on their own boats with the knowledge of how to catch fish."

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