Anglers changing tactics for Central Basin walleyes
Mentor, Ohio — With the Dog Days of August barking at the door, Lake Erie Central Basin walleye anglers are finding the fishing lacks the zing of May, June, and early July.
That means anglers like Bob Ashley of Mentor are changing tactics while kayak-anglers like Paul Palagyi of Kirtland Hills will wait for cooler evenings.
Still other walleye anglers are becoming night owls, turning out after the sun goes down.
“The fish aren’t coming as easily as they once were so you have to work for them a little more” Ashley said. “Actually, I like it that way.”
On a recent outing, Ashley said his troupe had to go out to 74 feet to catch the party’s 16 walleyes plus four steelhead.
Ashley typically does not fish that deep off his fishing haunts north of the Mentor Lagoons Park where the city maintains a public boat launch. But being a guest on this outing, he was obliged to take the long-distance ride.
“Our thermal probe showed that the water temperature above 50 feet was 65 degrees but was 50 degrees below that mark. The walleye were in the warmer water and the steelhead were right along the thermocline,” Ashley said.
Typically the fish are found in the 70-foot water depth range, Ashley says, which is why the owner of the boat wanted to make the long haul from the Mentor Lagoons. There, the anglers often line up the twin cooling towers of the Perry Nuclear Power Plant in a northwest direction.
However, Ashley says “there’s still lots of walleye” in the 50-foot to 63-foot range, though the large “balls” of schooled baitfish remain elusive.
“What is different now is the color of lures I’m finding productive,” Ashley said. “Last year purple and black were the dominant colors for lures the walleye preferred. Not this year.”
Instead, says Ashley, the walleye off the central part of the lake’s Central Basin have demonstrated a pronounced taste for lure – especially spoons – flavored in either pink or orange. Or both.
“Find a lure with both of these colors together and the fish really like it, though I don’t know why,” Ashley says.
For Palagyi, taking his home-built wooden one-person kayak out in the evening for a paddle troll for walleyes was an almost daily ritual. Yet the unseasonably warm temperatures have kept the angler cooling his heels, waiting for more agreeable weather.
“But, yes, it’s been harder to find them in shallow in concentrated numbers,” Palagyi said.
Which could explain why more anglers are turning to fishing after the sun goes down. On a recent evening to view the now-departed Comet Neowise in the darkened night sky, my wife and I were at another Mentor City lakefront park located a mile or two west of the Mentor Lagoons.
From the park’s bluff we saw the lights of several boats out one-quarter to one mile from shore. A glance with binoculars showed the boats were slowly moving parallel to the shore.
“They’re probably flat-line trolling for the walleye that come in or else rise up from the bottom,” Ashley said.