fisherman walleye run metroparks smallEvery year, thousands of fishermen from all over the country swamp the Maumee River in search of the perfect walleye. About mid-March, fisherman can be seen standing shoulder to shoulder casting lines in the Maumee River near Perrysburg and Maumee. One estimate was that 100,000 fishermen take part in this annual ritual. The flood of fishermen is due to the spawning habits of the walleye. Walleye spawn in response to multiple environmental cues, according to Ohio Department of Natural Resources. The highly prized game fish come into the river when the water is about 42-52 degrees but the fish are cued also by amounts of daylight and river currents. The Maumee River’s bottom of large and small rocks and gravel make ideal breeding grounds for the walleye. Walleye also breed in rivers in the eastern and central Lake Erie near Cleveland and around the Great Lakes but the Maumee River has the highest abundance of the fish.  About 3 million walleye are harvested from Western and Central Lake Erie every year, according to the EPA.

What is so great about the famous walleye? Walleyes are one of the most commonly eaten fresh water fish in the Midwest. They are olive and gold colored and can grow to be 30 inches long, weighing about 15 pounds on average.  They can live to be 20 years old and can swim 50 miles in one night.  In the late ‘80s and early ‘90s there was a population decline in Lake Erie. In an attempt to control the decline, a Coordinated Period Management Strategy was developed in early 2000s to set the year’s “Total Allowable Catch” to be 3.4 million fish. Since then, that number has decreased. Each fisherman is allowed to catch a certain number of fish based on the “Total Allowable Catch,” which changes based on the population of fish in the Lake.  Last year, there was a daily limit of 4 walleye from March 1st until April 30th for each fisherman. 

While fishing is a defining part of our culture in the greater Toledo area, we must understand how fishing affects our waterways. Many fishermen, unintentionally, often leave trash and unusable fishing gear in and around the river. This pollution can harm wildlife including birds, snakes, fish and humans that share the river.  It’s an eye-sore and another concern for other recreational river users, like kayakers and people (and their dogs) just enjoying the shallow wading areas of the river. Our Get the Lead Out program aims to clean up this left over debris. While you are catching your limit for the day and snagging your next meal or just enjoying the river as part of the famous Walleye Run, please remember to appreciate and protect the amazing fish and their habitat. Look for non-lead lures and jigs, and remove what tangled or cut line that you can. Deposit trash in the proper receptacles. In addition, look for the monofilament line recycling stations along the river in Sidecut Metropark or at Orleans Park. PCS is working to gear up a program to install more of these along the popular fishing areas over the next few years. And don’t forget, as a local fisherman (or women) you and your family and friends can return to the river with us in the summer to remove the fishing debris as part of our Get the Lead Out program. Just contact our office.