Jig bite is hot on Lake Erie

Sandusky, Ohio — The spring jig bite in the Western Basin is on fire, with quick limits being taken by many anglers.

Big lake veteran Dave Whitt said a boat with experienced anglers can easily pull 100 walleyes during a trip. He said plenty of walleyes have been netted, placed in live wells, then released a short time later for anglers “upgrading.”

“John Deere green does real good,” Whitt said. “So does purple and chartreuse.”

Whitt said weather is key when fishing the shallow reefs and that a few hours of three-footers can quickly turn 10- to 16-foot waters unfishable.

Whitt said he’s seen walleyes taken in as little as four feet of water.

Rick Ferguson, of Al Szuch Bait and Tackle in Curtice, said black and purple are the go-to colors for anglers aiming for early, cold water ‘eyes.

Heavy 3⁄4- and 1-ounce hair jigs are producing, he said.

“Here,” Ferguson said, “most are going out and fishing open water, 10 to 14 feet.”

He said the vast majority of anglers are tipping jigs with shiners. According to Ferguson, most of the fish caught on the lake in his area are jacks.

ODNR fisheries biologist Jeff Tyson said spring jigging produces fish with a combination of feeding and defensive strikes.

“That’s why some of the heavier blade baits are effective,” he said. “Sometimes you gotta’ club ‘em on the head.”

Tyson said despite the large number of walleyes coming out of the lake during the spawn, it doesn’t truly affect hatch numbers. Spring harvests are generally far lower than the remainder of the season, he explained, and there is no evidence that harvest is driving class success, or failure.

Tyson said males tend to spend far more time on reefs than females, who deposit eggs and then move to deeper water to rest and recuperate.

Like bait-sellers, Tyson too, cited green and purple, and said he uses both all year long.

Dave Miller, of Dreamcatcher Bait and Tackle in Carroll Township, said he’s been tying jigs all winter long. And, surpise, he’s been sticking mostly to green and purple.

“We got a small demand for 1⁄2-ounce jigs, but mostly 5⁄8 and 3⁄4,” Miller said.

According to Miller, about two-dozen charter boats were in the water in Carroll Township a week ago. By now, that number could be doubled, if not more.

Mark Cahlik, another veteran Lake Erie fisherman, said there’s one particular time of day that is better than others.

“The inside reefs have been good,” he said. “On the jig bite, it’s early in the morning.”

Cahlik said large jigs, purple and chartreuse, are the ticket, dropped to the bottom, then up one crank or so. A little chop on the lake helps out, he said.

According to Cahlik, few females are being taken on the reefs. Those that are, he said on April 17, were mostly post-spawn.  The previous week, he said, that was not the case.

In a nutshell, big purple, green, and charteuse jigs have been producing walleyes on or near reefs in the Western Basin.

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