Most anglers use spinning tackle, but bait cast will work just as well. Preferred rod actions and lengths vary from 5′ 6” to 6′ in medium to medium-heavy. A longer rod 6’6” – 7′ can give you more casting distance and quicker hook set. When the river level is low, fishing with medium-light tackle can be fun and more productive. Line weight 8 lb to 10 lb test is most popular.
Wading in the river can be quite cold. Wearing a good pair of neoprene waders will make all the difference. It is a good idea to bring along an extra set of clothes in case you trip and fall in. One nice thing about neoprene besides their warmth is that if you do fall in, they won’t fill up with water like rubber waders.
With the single hook law in effect, you are limited to what you can use. The most popular lure choice is a Carolina Rig with a floating jig and grub combo. Using smaller lead head jigs with a single tail grub is also productive. On the Carolina rig leaders are 18” -24”. Occasionally longer leaders will do the job. Favorite colors are white, clear chartreuse sparkle, chartreuse, hot pink, chartreuse body/orange tail, and white body/pink or red tail.
It is my opinion that the lighter weight you use the better you are going to do. Keep in mind that you must keep in contact with the bottom. This is very important being walleyes, for the most part, are on the bottom. I prefer a little lighter tackle than most. During high water, I will use a 6′ medium action rod with 8 lb test. Thinner line diameter will cut the current better allowing my jig to get to the bottom easier. During low water, I use a 6′ 6” medium-light action rod with 6 to 8 lb test. When a walleye draws a lighter bait into its mouth it will result in a better hook up. Using no stretch lines may result in the opposite, not letting the jig go in its mouth as far. People say with a no stretch line you can feel the bottom and your bites better. This is true, but the fish can feel lure resistance sooner ejecting your lure from its mouth. No stretch lines (super-braids) also can create a nasty snag in the river bottom if you break off.
As you’re standing in the river facing cross current cast your rig up stream just slightly allowing your bait to hit bottom directly in front of you. If it hits the river bottom upstream of you, it will result in an instant snag. As your jig hits bottom in front of you let the current carry it down stream keeping it in contact with the bottom. Jig your rod up slightly as your bait comes in contact with bigger feeling rocks. Reeling in only to keep the slack out of your line. Your rod is like your eyes to the bottom. As your drifting your bait filling it bounce off the bottom, and then lose contact with the bottom, you have just drifted over a hole. When you feel this happening reach forward with your rod to allow your jig to fall into the hole. Key in on these types of depressions, working them repeatedly. As your jig starts to swing in toward shore, jig it slowly back to you, keeping in contact with the bottom.
Bites can be very light at times. Developing the feel for those light bites will make you a successful angler. Watch your rod tip for bites. You won’t always feel them. Bites can be very light. If your rod tip goes down a little farther than the normal bouncing from the bottom, it could be a bite. When in doubt, set the hook.
Another area where you will find fish is current breaks. Look for where slow current lays next to the fast water. Fish will come just out of the fast water and rest in the slower current. One more tip I can give you is during high water a lot of fish will be close to the bank out of the fast current.
Jig size will depend on how high and fast the current is. I will normally start with a 1/4 oz jig. If I’m dragging the bottom too much and losing too many jigs, I will go lighter. Get used to losing jigs, it’s part of fishing the river. But if I’m not in contact with the bottom enough, I prefer to add split shot 15” or so up my line rather than going to a heavier jig. In this case, I might have a total weight of 3/8 oz or more, whatever it takes to get that right feel on the bottom. Adjust your Carolina rig the same way.
When using a Carolina rig you work it basically the same. To tie a Carolina rig, slide an egg sinker or a worm weight up to your main line, then tie a barrel swivel to the end of it to act as a stopper. Tie a leader line 18” – 24” on to the other end of your barrel swivel, then your floating jig head to the end of your leader. Some anglers will use the next size test smaller from their main line for their leader line so that when you snag the bottom you will only loose your leader and jig.
WHERE TO FISH:
During the walleye run the vast majority of the fishing takes place along a four-mile stretch of river. Starting from Orleans Park located in the town of Perrysburg, upstream to Jerome Rd. at Side Cut Metro Park. Let’s start at the lower end of the river. Orleans Park is good during high water (583 +) from below the Maumee-Perrysburg bridge, downstream to the boat ramp. During really high water fishing directly downstream from the Orleans, boat ramp is best. The reason this area is good during high water is the slower current due to the river being wider at that point. The White St. access can be productive during high water and is one of the most popular areas for bank fishing. The White St. access is located across the river from Orleans park on the Maumee side of the river and is good at all water levels. During high water Side Cut Park would have to fast of current and dangerous to wade. As the water recedes fish will start working their way up the river. Up stream from Orleans park on the Perrysburg side of the river is Fort Meigs.
This park is good during slightly high water to near low water. Wading directly in front of the parking lot is a good place to fish. Across the river from Fort Meigs is the Tow Path which is part of Side Cut Park. This area is good from slightly high water to low water. Mid-way from the Maumee-Perrysburg bridge to the downstream end of Blue Grass Island and is another good area to fish from the bank or wading. This whole stretch of river is known as the Tow Path and is good for wading (NOT DURING HIGH WATER). Upstream from the Tow Path is Blue Grass Island, a very popular area to fish. To fish the island you must wade across a small part of the river (581 feet above sea level is safe to cross over to the island ). There are two area’s to cross. One crossing is located at Island View parking lot. The other is located at the upstream end of the island. Wading across is easy with only a few bigger rocks that may cause tripping. Take your time crossing and you will find it easy.
After crossing the river you will take one of the paths to the main river. There you will find many good places to fish. You must keep track of the river level while fishing off the island. If the water rises while you’re fishing you may not be able to cross back safely. This is no laughing matter. If you get caught in this situation don’t put your life at risk. Wait for help. Floating down the river and not being able to touch bottom is terrifying and deadly with low water temperatures. Hypothermia can set in less than five minutes. If high water is expected, the park rangers will post a danger sign at both crossings. If the fire department is called out and you are rescued, you will also receive a fine. Fishing Blue Grass is great, but only during low water (581 – ) for obvious reasons. Use good judgment. Directly across from Blue Grass Island you will see another mob of fishermen. They are fishing at Buttonwood. Buttonwood is a very popular access on the Perrysburg side of the river. There is plenty of parking and there is also a campground (primitive) run by Perrysburg Twp. At this access, you will find lots of room to fish. Buttonwood is good fishing from low to normal water levels. Upstream from Blue Grass Island, in Side Cut Park, all the way to Jerome Rd. is excellent fishing from low water to normal water levels.
I hope this information is helpful to you.