Early-Season Lake Erie Walleye

lake erie walleye
IMGP2693 (CC BY 2.0) by John Beagle

Fishing Lake Erie for walleye should be on the bucket list of any serious angler. The fishing is unquestionably some of the best I have found anywhere, and the area is inviting to anyone seeking an affordable sporting adventure. Plus, your chances are real good of leaving with a cooler full of walleye filets for the freezer.

Captain Bob Witt is owner of Sea Breeze Charters, the largest fishing charter operating on Lake Erie. We met a few years back at the Indianapolis Boat, Sport and Travel Show, when I set a date to for him to introduce to me to what he called, “The greatest walleye fishing anywhere.”

As I pulled into Wild Wings Marina around six o’clock on a Sunday night, the wonderful, misty smell of a Great Lake greeted me as I walked from my vehicle into the bait shop to buy a license. I asked the woman behind the counter how the fishing had been and she said “real good.” Good news I thought, but it still hadn’t registered what good mean on Lake Erie. I bought a pizza from the small restaurant behind the gas station and retired to my lodging for a much needed night of sleep.

Six o’clock came early, and the chill of the pre-dawn winds sank in as we motored out of the marina. Just about the time I thought Capt. Bob was going to let the horses run, he shut down the motor and handed me a rod.

‘We’re fishing here?” I questioned.

“There’s no reason to go far this time of year,” Bob explained.

I dropped my jig overboard and began to pop it off the bottom. Within 30 seconds, Bob netted my first Lake Erie walleye. A half an hour later, our group of four had limited out, for a boat total of sixteen. Bob’s first mate, “Richo”, caught four walleye in four casts. I could not believe what I was experiencing. I don’t think I‘ve ever caught bluegill as fast as we were catching good-sized walleyes.

Let me tell you, there’s nothing wrong with catching the 3-pound walleye all day long. The technique we were using was jigging right over the side of the boat. We used six-foot, medium-action rods with eight-pound test line. The jigs we used consisted of a purple lead-head, with purple and chartreuse hair, and a stinger-hook. We fished in 12 to 15 feet of water, always drifting towards the shore. I wish I could tell you there was more skill to my success, but after dropping my jig to the bottom, I would simply reel up the slack; pop, pop, pop the jig a few times, and catch another walleye!

Captain Bob Witt founded Sea Breeze Charters over 30 years ago. He was born in the area and has been fishing Erie since he was a kid. Now the owner of the largest fishing fleet on Western Lake Erie, Bob proudly reminisces on much simpler days. “I bought two boats before I was ever old enough to buy a car,” he explained.

To book your trip, call Captain Bob Witt at 1-877-616-7780 or by visit the Sea Breeze website at www.seabreezecharters.com. Lodging is available on location and all tackle is included. To hopefully experience the best walleye fishing of your life, all you have to do is make the easy drive to western Lake Erie.

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Brandon Butler
Long-time outdoor writer and native Hoosier Brandon Butler lives in Missouri and serves as the Executive Director of the Conservation Federation of Missouri. Previously, he worked with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources as Governor Mitch Daniels’ liaison to the department, Director of Sales and Marketing for Dominator365 and as the Marketing Manager Battenfeld Technologies, Inc.

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