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Friday, 25 April 2014 00:00

Walleye Fest On The Detroit River

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The winter that would never end is over, and the walleye have entered the river. For the past week or so, anglers have been landing trophy walleye - males and females - in sizes and numbers not seen in years. The 2003 hatch have matured to double-figure weights and 30”. The water temperatures are in the mid to low forties and the walleye have started to feed.

The weather cooperated, and Good Friday and Saturday of the Easter weekend saw hundreds of boats take to the mid Detroit River near LaSalle, ON around Fighting Island, where the hottest bite anywhere in the USA or Canada for monster walleye was happening. I saw boats from Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and Michigan outnumber the Ontario boats in their home waters.

Kayaks squeeze in with the power boats

These weren’t the best conditions for kayak anglers to compete with hundreds of boats for fish. At times they were close enough that you could reach out and shake hands with the boat next to you, in fast current. On Saturday a stronger northeast wind made fishing even more difficult. A half-dozen of us made an attempt to join the walleye party. Only one was a paddler, and he quickly decided to stay out of the traffic and take his chances on a less congested area of the river. That left five of us, all in Mirage Drive Hobies, to take on the pack of boats for our place jigging for Walleye in their massive drift. If you wanted to really test your skills at boat control and vertical jigging with 1/2oz to 3/4oz jigs tipped with plastic, this was the place to do it. On Good Friday, the current and wind conditions were perfect to drift naturally, with very little correction, to keep our lines vertical using our Mirage Drives.

Saturday was a different story. The brisk northeast wind blowing with the current flow forced us to pedal aggressively to keep our lines straight up and down through each drift. As you would pedal back to start another drift, at times the current was so fast that it was tough to gain more than 1mph, and it only took what seemed like seconds to drift back. Add to that trying to stay close to a buoy that became the hot spot everyone was trying to drift by. I saw many large walleye hooked, including a nice 6lb fish for my first one of the day.

A big male I caught right in front of launch

It was interesting to watch the boats move from spot to spot as the bite slowed, and anglers moved to the two or three areas that seemed to be the popular drifts. We saw hundreds of fish caught on Friday, though for us it was tough fishing; between us we caught three walleye in seven hours of hard fishing, covering almost 12mi of pedaling and drifting over three different areas. There was no lack of bites and hook ups. In the four years I have been fishing for spring walleye on the river, it has never been this difficult to land a fish. Once again, Saturday was a different story, with three of us landing nine fish in only a few hours. Seven of the nine fish were over 24”. Ironically, four were caught directly in front of our launch where there was no other boat pressure at all.

Rick Beauchamp (Boknows) catches first walleye from his new Hobie Outback

Mixed in with the hundreds of weekend anglers, the Detroit River was shared both days with 114 boats from the Cabela's Master Walleye Circuit Event. The two-day winning bag of fish broke a long standing record, with an 87lbs 3oz total.

It was quite an experience to be out there among the mass of boats and anglers, not to mention a freighter that though I was getting too close to his path. It was my first time on local waters this year, and reminded me once again what a great area I live in, to experience some of the best freshwater fishing on the continent.

Read 6744 times Last modified on Friday, 25 April 2014 08:28
Richard Ofner

Richard Ofner started fishing in the fall of 2008 from a kayak, targeting all freshwater species. He has fished all over the Great Lakes Region from Lake Michigan, Lake Superior to the French River,  and Bay of Quinte in Eastern Ontario. Taking advantage of all the opportunities Southwestern Ontario has to offer, Richard seeks out trophy Muskie, Walleye and Bass which can all be caught minutes away from where he lives.  The last few years Richard has ventured into Kentucky, Louisiana, and Texas participating in several Kayak Fishing Tournaments.

He has organized the Border City Classic, in Windsor, Ontario which has grown to become one of  the Great Lakes Region’s largest Kayak Fishing Events. It is also one of the Hobie World Qualifiers since 2014. 

During the winter months where he can't get on the water he will do seminars, work fishing and boat shows, and write for blogs to help promote the areas vast resource of fishing opportunities and helping others to discover the sport of kayak fishing. Taking videos and pictures on the water of other people fishing in kayaks has also expanded into his kayak fishing experience.  
As a Hobie Fishing Team Member you may see Richard out in one of his Mirage Driven Kayaks mainly targeting Walleye, Bass, and Muskie, and will travel a few hours to target Salmon, Trout, and Sturgeon.

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