A simple approach to Lake Erie walleyes
It’s summer and Lake Erie water temperatures are already 76 degrees. The easterly migration of western walleyes has arrived, joining local fish population numbers to give New York walleye anglers a variety of options and areas to fish.
One technique that’s working right now is one of the easiest to rig up and you don’t need any fancy equipment. It’s also proving to be very effective this year.
It’s a three-way rig.
A three-way rig is simply a three-way swivel that has one eye connected to the main line, one line off the bottom eyelet for some type of a weight and the final eyelet for your trailing bait, whatever that might be. For walleye, worm harnesses are the preferred food source right now, according to Capt. John DeLorenzo of Niagara Falls (716-998-9680, www.NiagaraFishing.com).
DeLorenzo has been pounding fish for a few weeks using this tactic he perfected on the Lower Niagara River with trout and salmon since the early 1980s – I remember catching an 18-pound steelhead with him in Devil’s Hole back then. A killer fishing method that is still as effective today as it was back then.
Lake Erie walleye action is good right now. Next year, it should be even better based on the excellent year classes of fish that are going to be coming through the system. Anglers have been catching quite a few 15- to 18-inch ‘eyes.
“It helps to find the right structure or a small school of fish you can pick apart,” DeLorenzo said.
Off Buffalo, DeLorenzo motors out toward the Canadian line until he hits 50-plus feet of water. He’s found fish as deep at 58 feet. He then turns around and starts to work his way back toward Buffalo using four rods set up with bottom bouncers. His speed is 1.2 to 1.4 mph, using his electric trolling motor on the bow to provide the speed and boat control. His leader with the worm harness is three feet of 15-pound fluorocarbon, attached to a ball-bearing swivel he attaches to the three-way to prevent line twist.
Two rods off the front of the boat are using 5- to 6-ounce weights off the three-way rig. Two rods off the back of the boat have 3-ounce weights. All of his three-ways are rigged with worm harnesses. He really likes the Three-D harnesses, with his favorite being the Nuclear Green blades. Silver, green stripe, gold and copper blades also work for him. He also adds in different combinations of red, green and/or orange beads. He takes extra care to make sure his offerings are on the bottom.
“When we are moving, the baits come up off the bottom so I let a little more line out to compensate for the speed,” DeLorenzo said. Paying attention to detail really makes a difference.
When you hit a fish, mark the spot. You may find a pod of fish relating to some structure or to a pod of bait. Most of his fish are 3 to 5 pounds, but he will pick up an occasional fish that’s twice that size.
“That size of fish is perfect for eating,” he says of the 3- to 5-pounders.
Yes it is.