The Detroit River’s “Big Honkin Mamma” Walleyes
The Detroit River stretches for the lower end of Lake St. Clair to the
northern tip of Lake Erie
These big walleyes in turn entice hardy walleye fisherman to brave early
spring rain, wind and, yes, snow,
(John Phillips with a fine Detroit river walleye caught during prefishing.) The city of Trenton, Michigan sees this turquoise-blue fishery not only as a natural resource, but also as an opportunity for a Walleye Week Celebration. Festivities include a parade, seminars (Ever heard of hand line fishing?), a chili cook-off, and various other family activities.
Last week, April 14, 15, & 16, the In-Fisherman’s Professional Walleye Trail (PWT) Bass Pro Shops Eastern Pro-Am Walleye Tournament was the centerpiece of Trenton’s Walleye Week Celebration. The tournament launched out of Trenton’s Erie Metro Park was also the first event of the 1999 PWT season offering 240 professional and amateur anglers $203,000 in cash and prizes.
Though my pre-fishing trip to Trenton over Easter week-end found calm skies and 4 to 5 feet of water clarity, the 5 days of official PWT pre-fishing was marked by wind-driven rain and murky muddy water. Where my Genetron marked the much-promised big walleyes, (I’d hooked a 7-pounder the week before), I was hard-pressed to land much of anything. The mud had driven the bite out of range of all the electronics on my 620 boat.
Despite the disappointment of pre-fishing, my desire for a piece (or all) of the $50,000 pro pot kept me going. Even the weather settled down for day 1. As the conditions improved Andy Buffer of Fair Haven, Michigan, brought a 5 fish, 26.98-pound basket to the scales. Dave Kid of Salem, Ohio, found a 9.46 pounder to capture day 1 big fish honors.
Weather conditions deteriorated on day 2. Regardless Bill St. Peter of Bay City, Michigan, took the lead with a 33.93-pound total for the two days.
Over the course of the day three, the wind blew a cold snow-tinged rain from the east, then southeast and, finally, from the north pounding the 120 pros and their amateur partners. Undaunted, John Campbell, an Illinois boy out of Dundee, captured first place with a 3-day total of 73.83 pounds beating out the rest of the field by almost 5 pounds.
Though the bite was tough and the weather a fisherman’s nightmare, the lure of boating a trophy walleye make you look past all that. I’m already making plans to go back to Trenton’s Detroit River to jig up a big honkin momma walleye.
If you are interested in more information about this fishery, call Lake Erie Metro Park at (800)477-3189 (or www.metroparks.com) or the city of Trenton at (734)675-7300. For fishing and weather reports, call the nice folks at Bottom Line Bait and Tackle (734)379-9762.
The PWT tournaments are Pro/Am events. Partners are matched by a random draw allowing each contestant to fish with a different person each day of the event. Each contestant’s daily weight is totaled and the pro and amateur with the highest 3-day total. The pro pot is $50,000, and the amateur pot is $12,500.
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