Early spring can be a great time for fishing walleye, sauger, and saugeye. These members of the perch family may not put up an incredible reel-screeching fight when captured on hook and line, but they sure taste great! To improve your chances of a successful outing, check out these tips and tricks from our fish biologists.
March and April provide some of the best walleye fishing of the year when the weather conditions cooperate. Walleye can be caught in the Maumee and Sandusky Rivers and in the western basin of Lake Erie. On the main lake, the best March and April locations are around the Bass Islands and the Camp Perry reefs. The two main techniques are jigging on the reefs for actively spawning fish (mostly males) or trolling in open water areas where fish stage before they spawn. Spring open water pre-spawn females provide the best trophy opportunity of the year. The females are most efficiently caught by trolling minnow-imitating crankbaits in the top 15’ of the water column with planer boards to spread the lures from the boat. Lures such as Rapala husky jerks, Smithwick rogues, and Reef Runner ripsticks are popular spring choices when the water temperature is less than 45 degrees.
The bite is on for sauger in the Ohio River, with good fishing expected through April. Anglers casting spoons, jigs, or jig and minnow combinations below any of the major dams can expect fast action from these tailwater fisheries. One of the hottest bites can be counted on in Greenup Tailwaters, near Wheelersburg. The limit for sauger from the Ohio shore is 10 fish singly, or in combination with saugeye along the Kentucky/Ohio border, or in combination with saugeye and walleye, along the West Virginia/Ohio border. Anglers fishing Ohio River tailwaters for sauger should keep in mind that fantastic hybrid striped bass fishing begins just as the sauger fishing starts to slow down, and similar fishing tactics will provide good hybrid striped bass fishing through May.
Ice-out begins the annual quest for the new state record saugeye. Saugeye fishermen gather below the dams of stocked saugeye lakes to fish the tailwaters, even before the last ice fishermen leave the ice. Evening will also find anglers lining the rocks on the face of the dam casting their suspending minnow crankbaits with the popular slow “stop and go” retrieve. Saugeye are stocked in 55 lakes around the state but not in the Lake Erie watershed. Anglers who have access to boats can be seen fishing the deep water close to dams with a vertical presentation using: jigs tipped with a “twister” and fathead minnow, blade baits or “rattletraps”. Saugeye normally hold deep during the day and can move extremely shallow at sunset.
>> 2008-2009 Fishing Regulations
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