March madness of fishing
Many of my past fishing seasons began with me knee-deep in cold water and casting a jig to walleye nosing into the shallows to seek suitable spawning areas.
My first casts almost every year since I became a fishing nut were for walleye. It just made sense. Walleyes are one of the first inland Ohio species to get busy and they live around Youngstown in prodigious numbers.
Walleyes are the March madness of the fishing world.
Fishermen go to extremes to catch them, bundling up to ward off blizzards, cold rains and icy currents and lining up sometimes shoulder to shoulder for a chance to catch a few walleyes.
It’s almost as though Mother Nature makes walleyes accessible this time of year to fill dinner plates during the season of Lent. Fish fries featuring fillets of walleye are pretty much as good as it gets.
With walleyes, the only thing better than eating them, is catching them. My first fishing trips after ice out have been for walleyes most years. They always involve a medium-action spinning rod spooled with 10-pound fluorocarbon line and a pocket-sized box with 1/8-ounce jigs and twister tails.
Walleyes love moving water and they go to great lengths to seek it out once the calendar flips to March.
Moving water can be the headwaters of lakes such as Berlin and Milton, the streams that flow into the main lakes. Moving water also can be the tailraces below dams, whether at Berlin, Milton or the Ohio River.
But moving water also can be the ebb and flow of lakes lapping on sandy banks and gravel bars. Lots of such spots exist in our local lakes, particularly Mosquito Creek Reservoir, where dozens of anglers don chest waders each spring. They wade out from shoreline access areas and pitch jigs to incoming walleyes.
The spring walleye run has begun. The Ohio Division of Wildlife nets are up at several local reservoirs to gather female and male walleyes to help bolster the natural reproduction process.
Each spring I dedicate at least a few fishing trips to capitalizing on the walleye run and recall outstanding days of fishing the dam spillways and runs immediately downstream.
I always took more jigs than one might think necessary, because it’s easy to snag them in the rivers’ bottoms. But with the right amount of touch and finesse, it is possible to guide the jig so it glides just off the bottom where snooping walleye can see them.
Bites in the swift water can be difficult to detect, so it’s advisable to pull whenever the jig reverberates with a tell-tale “tick” or a heavy sensation.
Spring walleyes fight hard and it’s always a treat when they first roll at the surface within your field of view. Landing them and adding them to the stringer is a fine reward for a fight well fought.
March anglers also stalk walleyes along the rip-rap areas at local reservoir. The dam and Ohio 88 causeway at Mosquito is a very popular spring walleye destination, as are the U.S. 224 and Ohio 14 causeways at Berlin. Milton anglers also catch a bunch of walleyes each spring from the Mahoning Avenue causeway.
Wading anglers are well advised to tread carefully, whether they are poking around the sand flats and gravel bars at Mosquito or working the Mahoning River runs below Berlin and Milton. A misstep can end with a serious dunking in frigid water.
Shorebound anglers also must watch their steps. Sturdy boots provide good foot and ankle protection in the unsteady stone rip-rap formations along the causeways and wing walls.
Walleyes are a great way to start the 2017 fishing season. I’ll take mine rolled in panko and fried with a side of coleslaw.
Originally posted on Saturday, March 11th, 2017 by Jack Wollitz – The Vindicator