The Maumee and Sandusky River Walleye Runs

Maumee River Blue grass Island

Every spring thousands of walleye make their way to the western basin of Lake Erie for the Maumee River walleye run and Sandusky River walleye run.  There they will spawn on the reefs, basins, and rivers.  River fishing for spawning walleye has become quite popular and a pastime for a lot of anglers.


The Maumee River Walleye Run


The Maumee River walleye run is the more popular river to target spawning walleye.  The walleye come into the river and spawn on the gravel in the fast water.  Anglers use floating jigs to catch the fish.  This jig setup must have a single hook and not have an opening greater than 1/2 inch.  Braid fishing line to a fluorocarbon leader is what most use.  The light invisible leader is needed not only to catch more fish but to break off easily and not snag other lines. 


Maumee River Fishing


Some more popular areas include Buttonwood Park and the surrounding areas.  Sometimes the water is too high to wade to the islands, but if you can get there it is good fishing.  ODNR puts strict regulations on spawning walleye that include:  Dropping the limit to 4 per person, single hook with no more than 1/2 inch opening, and area restrictions.  In addition, any walleye that the hook is outside the mouth when caught is considered snagged and must be returned immediately.


The Sandusky River Walleye Run


The Sandusky River located in Sandusky, OH, and Fremont, OH is a good alternative to the Maumee River.  It gets less pressure but can be just as productive at times.  There are a lot of walleye that move through the bay to get to the river.  Some stay and spawn in the bay, but most move on to the river.  The same Ohio laws apply to the Sandusky River that apply to the Maumee River.  Some of the more popular areas are in Fremont below the main bridge.  There is nice parking and plenty of room.


Check the Water Level and Temp Report


It is important to check the water level and temperature of the each river before going.  The water level may be too high to cross and wade certain sections.  Some of the fish holding areas on the Maumee River are only accessible by wading to them.  Also, during high water periods the turbidity goes up.  This causes visibility to decline. 


Walleye River Fishing Tackle


Fishing for walleye in a river can be challenging for a beginner.  A floating jig is the primary bait being used.  Rig the floating jig with a 1/2 – 1 ounce slip sinker about 12″ – 24″ above the jig using a swivel.  This will ensure the jig maintains bottom contact while drifting. 


How to Fish Rivers During the Walleye Run


The object is to drift your bait with the river current while making bottom contact.  You can add jigging action as well to trigger a bite.  Some days the fish will bite a natural drift and other days they want more action.  If elevated, let the bait drift with the current while mending the line.  This will ensure a good hook set after the bite. 


Tips Before Fishing the Rivers


I would suggest before you just dive in do some research with Google Maps.  Find the areas you would like to fish before you head out.  Check out the fishing regulations in place for the spring runs.  Call the area bait shops and they will give you the latest reports of any walleye being caught.  Also, check the USGS river flows regularly.  There is nothing worse than showing up and the river being high and muddy.  You will be wasting your time.  The time to start fishing is from mid-February into Mid-April.  Also, get a nice set of waders, if you show up in sneakers you will be turning around and going home.  Most importantly have fun.