Fish Ohio proves casting for walleyes in August still works

8 29 Walleyes Blog
Steve Pollick was one of the lucky anglers who came home with at least one walleye, drifting and casting, on Governor’s Fish Ohio Day. (Photo courtesy of Steve Pollick)

Port Clinton, Ohio — Standard chapter and verse holds that you cannot catch walleyes by drifting and casting on western Lake Erie in mid August. That would be wrong.

The results of the latest Governor’s Fish Ohio Day, the 42nd edition, prove otherwise.  About 20 boats, supplied by skippers belonging to the Lake Erie Charter Boat Association, plied the western basin waters for half a day, most of them targeting and casting walleye – with success.

Mind you, most of the crews only came back to the day’s headquarters, Ohio Shores and Islands tourism enter at Port Clinton, with catches of maybe 5 to 15 walleyes each. But consider: Most of the 70 or 80 folks participating were not veteran, skilled anglers. Most were public officials, politicians, and business people whose lives include promotion and tourism on the great lake. But they caught fish – catfish, sheepshead, white perch, yellow perch, even pesky little gobies in addition to walleyes.

The real story laid between the lines, so to say, as I found out from Roger Butcher, skipper of the Fish Butcher, out of Port Clinton’s Lakefront Marina. I fished with him, and Mary Mertz, director of the Ohio DNR, and her party.

Several days prior to Fish Ohio, Butcher and five friends had cast their worm harnesses at the dumping grounds off Cedar Point at Sandusky. They found walleyes suspended in 10 to 18 feet in water 38 feet deep, and they took 28 fish. A good day’s work.

Dick Chernus, of Rocky River, Butcher’s mate and a 40-year Erie fishing veteran, fished alone off Watkins Reef on the east side of Kelleys Island a day later. “I had my limit of ‘eyes by 10:30 a.m.,” he said.

Butcher had a simple explanation for the late-summer casting success he and Chernus had experienced: “Good sticks.” Indeed, veteran fishing experience (and good tackle) is the difference between a lightning bug and lightning when it comes to all angling.

Some further evidence: Travis Hartman, Great Lakes program administrator for the Ohio Division of Wildlife and a veteran walleye competitor, took three walleyes on Fish Ohio Day’s short trips. He missed a fourth fish that hit “right at the boat” while they were fishing just six feet of water atop Gull Shoal north of Kelleys. Good sticks indeed.

It is true that fabulous catches of bigger walleyes are occurring “down east” in the deeper, cooler central basin. Some boats are fishing off Lake and Ashtabula counties, running 15 miles out or so to 70 to 75 feet of water. They are trolling braided lines and even wire, deep rigging to raise limits of big ‘eyes in less time that it takes to run out from the marinas. But that is an entirely different kind of fishing, a worthy technical wizardry. But winding in a walleye that the boat and rig has caught is a different story from casting and hooking up with your own hands. Different strokes for different folks.

Of course, knowing the water and fish movements through the seasons is part and parcel of it all, in any case. But the point is made. You don’t have to quit drift-and-cast walleye fishing in the western basin after the April-to-July flurry and wait till waters cool in mid September. Just don’t quit.

Categories: Blog Content, Ohio – Steve Pollick, Walleye

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