It should be prime time for walleye spawning runs

By Al Smith - Guest Columnist

A lot can change in a week’s time, especially during the early walleye spawning runs on the Maumee and Sandusky Rivers.

Prime catching time should be happening with predicted temperatures in the 60s and 70s the next several days. That means increased water temperatures and with the high flow subsiding, anglers wading both rivers should be taking some six-fish limits.

Both rivers were high at midweek, but began falling. With no more rain they should be good for wading as the new week begins. The visibility on both was poor. Water temperature was 43 degrees on the Maumee and 51 degrees on the Sandusky at midweek.

The fishing pressure had been medium to high on the Maumee before colder weather moved in while fishing pressure on the Sandusky had been low. Anglers were taking some limits on the Maumee.

Good news for anglers is that the Ohio Division of Wildlife (DOW) reported the first big push of walleye is taking place in the Maumee. The wildlife agency reported the run is in full swing on the Sandusky. Depending on the weather, there should be good numbers of fish in the river and fishing should be good for a few weeks.

The best areas to fish are the the spots that have been good for years. In the Maumee that includes Orleans Park, Buttonwood Metro Park and along Jerome Road. When the river is at normal depth, the Blue Grass Island area is good, too.

On the Sandusky, fish have been caught through the downtown Fremont area and also in the park and cliffs areas. Anglers are reminded they may fish the section of the Sandusky from public access site that used to be restricted. That includes the zone between Rodger Young Park and the old Ballville Dam. The DOW stressed anglers should not enter the river through private property.

Anglers should practice safe distancing recommendations in the water and parking areas.

Medium-weight spinning gear has long been the preferred equipment for fishing the runs. And the method most used over the past several years has been fishing a Carolina rig. Some anglers still use the decades-old method of a lead head jig and twister tail or grub.

The Carolina rig is a method bass anglers have been using for decades. For catching walleye during the run, rig a floating jig head on an 18-24 inch or 18-36 inch leader with a 1/4 to 5/8 ounce weight depending upon the water flow. The floating jig head serves two purposes: it keeps the jig from getting caught in rocks and also maintains a consistent strike zone depth. The jig is tipped with a soft plastic 3-inch twister tail or grub. Chartreuse is the preferred color in turbid or muddy water. Green has proven to be a good choice along with bright colors.

Anglers are reminded that during April they may use only one hook. Anglers must immediately release any fish not caught in the mouth. The daily limit on walleye and sauger is six with a 15-inch minimum size limit.

Toward the end of the month, the white bass run should pick up. Anglers fishing for white bass use a number of lures and live bait. Among them are small jigs and inline spinners and jigs tipped with minnows. Brightly colored lures and twister tails are the most productive.

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Currently the DOW is collecting walleye eggs from the Maumee River and Mosquito Lake, which will be fertilized by mature male sauger taken from the Ohio River to produce a hybrid called a saugeye.

Millions of these saugeye are then stocked in Ohio’s reservoirs including several in the Lima area. They are every bit as tasty as a walleye.

One problem with this hybrid is that it does not live long. The DOW reports saugeye grow fast and die young. According to the wildlife agency, 90% of saugeye captured during standard gill net surveys are younger than three.

Fisheries biologists sample fish populations throughout the state’s waters. They do age and growth surveys. These surveys help them when considering regulations or stocking strategies to improve the state’s fisheries.

Otoliths, which are the inner ear bones of a fish, are used to determine a fish’s age. They produce growth rings, similar to those found in trees. Thus, biologists can count these rings to determine the fish’s age.

There are saugeye that live more than three years. One collected in a gill net survey from O’Shaughnessy Reservoir, located on the Scioto River near Dublin, was determined to be 11 years old. The 8-pound, 26-inch fish is the oldest saugeye ever aged in central Ohio. According to the DOW, it is one of only a handful of saugeye statewide over the age of 10.

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Fun fish facts: Fish are the oldest animal families to live on Earth. They were here long before the dinosaurs - about 500 million years ago - and they still thrive.

Fish can communicate with each other through the use of acoustic communication. Acoustic communication includes the transmission of acoustic signals in fish from one individual species to another.

By Al Smith

Guest Columnist

Al Smith is a freelance outdoor writer. You may contact him at and follow him on Twitter @alsmithFL

Al Smith is a freelance outdoor writer. You may contact him at and follow him on Twitter @alsmithFL

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