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December’s Open Water Walleyes

 Can you believe that I was fishing Lake Erie the 7th of December for trophy walleyes ? Well’ I was and this weather which the upper Midwest has been experiencing is hard to imagine, but I’m not complaining because it enabled me and fishing partner, Tony Puccio, to take part in some fishing others only dream of in their best dreams.
    I had already been over to the Huron area of Ohio twice this fall for extended periods to fish for big walleyes and huge smallmouth bass.This is an annual affair now for those who spend their non-working hours and vacations pursuing the elusive walleye. Huron, Ohio which is located between Marblehead and Vermilion, Ohio on the shores of Lake Erie. For years,  Lake Erie has become the focus point for anyone who wants to catch numbers of the best eating fish there is and also have an honest chance of catching a fish of a lifetime.
     There are three distinct schools of walleyes that roam and migrate the rich waters of Lake Erie. There are; the Eastern Basin schools, the Central Basin schools, and the Western Basin school, which is the one I pursue. These schools all have certain migration routes that they follow during the year chasing the big schools of baitfish, be it smelt, emerald shiners,or shad. The Western Basin schools show up outside the mouth of the Huron River in October and stay till they move a little further west to spawn in Sandusky Bay, the Maumee River, and Portage River.

Tony Puccio of Bait rigs Company holding a beutiful December Walleye form Lake Erie
Tony Puccio of Bait rigs Company holding a beutiful December Walleye form Lake Erie
      There are other “ hot spots “ for fall walleyes, but this region of Ohio is the best in my opinion. From south-central Wisconsin, this is about an eight hour trip and all interstate highway except for ten miles. I’ve been lucky enough to fish the best waters in the United States and Canada and this is truly walleye heaven. Some guesstimates say there are over 40 million legal walleyes roaming these waters. I’ve even heard 70 million from reliable sources in the state D.N.R.
      Writers have spread the word and anglers like many and myself make the fall trek to central Ohio. But, this is not as simple as I make it sound.The fish will be there, but there are other factors that can prevent one from having the perfect trip. First, the wind can blow for days on end where it is impossible to get out into the lake. Sometimes, 5 to 7 foot waves are the norm and dirty the water so you can not even see your motor prop. This can make fishing extremely difficult when the fish cannot see your bait. North and east winds are the worst. I’ve been there for days and not be able to get out fishing. You spend the day staring out at the big lake and watching the Weather Channel.
     Those who fish walleyes for a living and the same guys you see on T.V., all seem to show up at Huron in October, November, and this year December to take part in this yearly ritual. Parsons, LaCourse, Brumbaugh, Puccio, Deshano, Takasaki, Lambert, and Horoky are all there to fish for there favorite fish without any money on the line and just for fun and the shear joy of catching big walleyes.
      So, when Tony Puccio asked if I wanted to go back to Huron again this year I jumped at the chance. We fished Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday the 4th, 5th, and 6th of December.The winds were out of the south ( off-shore ) and allowed us to fish comfortably everyday. Plus, by the pictures you can see the fish were co-operative.
    The pattern is the same: open water trolling using log rods ( Loomis 941’s 7’10” ), line-counter reels ( Daiwa ), Off Shore planer boards, plus the lures of Mann’s and Reef Runner. Colors can change everyday, so have a good supple of these hot lures. Trolling speed is slow and a tachometer can help. The Tr-1 trolling system can make big water trolling a breeze and allow you to spend more time catching fish and not steering.
Gary Engberg the author hoists a huge December Walleye out of Lake Erie
Gary Engberg the author hoists a huge December Walleye out of Lake Erie
     The really interesting fact is that the fish we caught were only 5 to 10 feet down over 35 to 40 feet of water. The water temperature was 47 degrees and the air temperature was 68 on Thursday. If things continue like this maybe I’ll make another trip east. Maybe, you should think of this trip to the “ Lake of Dreams “. The walleyes are there and if you hit it right you can get at them. You wouldn’t regret it!
     If thinking of this trip call me at (608) 795-4208 or e-mail at  gengberg@chorus.net. The other place to call is the Gull Motel in Huron at (419) 433-4855 and ask for Kathy Barnes. Best Fishes.

Gary Engberg hoists a fine early spring Winnebago Eye GARY ENGBERG OUTDOORS
10106 Hwy.  Y   Mazomanie,Wi.    53560
Phone & Fax    608 795-4208
E-mail    gengberg@chorus.net
website Gary Engberg Outdoors
Copyright Gary Engberg Outdoors

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