Great Open Water Walleye Fishing Still Here

Great Open Water Walleye Fishing Still Here

Summers over, pleasure boats are on the rack, fair weather fisherman are on the couch, and monster Lake Erie walleye are converging on the western basin to put their feed bag on prior to winter.  These fish are easy to find, and Huron or Vermillion are favorite places of mine to begin the search.   Good electronics are a key to success.  I simply cruise around the basin in 25-45 feet of water at 20-30mph and let my Lowrance HDS unit scan for pockets of bait and walleyes looming.

The trolling set ups I use are Abu Garcia Vendetta Line Counter Rods 7’10” Medium Action paired with the Alphamar size 16 line counter reels.  It is critical to have a reliable and accurate line counter reel so that you can be precise in how far back your baits are and hence how deep they are running.   The line is important too.  The thicker the diameter of the line, the less your baits will dive.   The thinner the diameter, the weaker your line is and the more likely you will have a break off.  You also want to have good abrasion resistance as clipping planner boards on and off all day can take its toll on a line.  The perfect line for me is Berkley Trilene 10lb XT, it’s plenty strong, abrasion resistant, and very affordable.  I would avoid braided lines as there is no stretch to them, which is a lot less forgiving when fighting these big fish, and you will lose a lot more fish.

Once you find a good pod of fish, set up trolling a spread of various crankbaits throughout the water column.  I use the precision trolling app on my phone which tells me exactly how deep the baits are running at various distances back behind my planer boards.  This way I can stack the baits just above the fish I am marking on my electronics.  My go too baits are #9 or #11 Berkley Flicker Minnows, 800 series Reef Runners, Smithwick Perfect 10s, and the Walleye Bandits.  You can go crazy with colors, but the important thing is start with a variety, and let the fish tell you what colors to narrow it down too.  Make sure you have some pink, purple, and green varieties, with green being a favorite of mine in the fall.  If the fish are deeper than you can get with just the crankbait alone, try putting a 2 oz snap weight 20’ in front of your crank bait.

Ohio regulations allow 2 rods per angler, so if you have multiple people fishing, spread out your lines with planner boards.  Off Shore Tackle boards are reliable and easy to use.  And don’t be afraid of the dark!  At night, you can rubber band a glow stick to the boards and keep fishing. Typically the fish are feeding just under the surface at night, so shorter leads and shallow diving crankbaits are the way to go after dark.

Earlier this fall, I suggested a November trip to a charter client and they responded “Will we be the only boat on the water that time of year?”  I laughed, and said “Yeah right, last year I could hardly find a spot in the 300 slip parking lot at the Huron Boat Ramp on December 5th”.   That’s how good the fishing was and it shows how many people are cashing in with their trailer-able boats late in the year.  It is not uncommon for your AVERAGE fish to be 7-8lbs with monsters in the 11-12lb range a great possibility.  Be safe, dress warm, and don’t miss out on the last and maybe best open water walleye fishing of the year!