What’s this I hear about a Walleye Run?

Every year, thousands of anglers from all over the country surge towards the Maumee River in search of the perfect walleye. Starting in March through April, anglers of all ages stand shoulder to shoulder casting lines into the 5 mile stretch of the river near Perrysburg and Maumee. One estimate said that 10,000 anglers take part in this annual ritual, hoping to catch a walleye during their spawning season.
Walleye spawn in response to multiple environmental cues, according to Ohio Department of Natural Resources. The highly prized game fish comes into the Maumee River when the water is about 42-52 degrees but the fish are also cued by the amount of daylight and river current. The Maumee River’s stream bed consisting of various sized rocks makes it an ideal breeding ground for the walleye. The fish also breed in rivers from eastern and central Lake Erie near Cleveland, Sandusky, and around the Great Lakes, but the Maumee River draws the biggest crowds of fish and anglers. According to the EPA, about 3 million walleye are harvested from western and central Lake Erie every year. It’s no wonder the Toledo hockey team is named after the famous fish!
While fishing is a defining part of our culture in the greater Toledo area, it effects more than just our fish populations. Many anglers unintentionally leave trash and unusable fishing gear in and around the river. This debris can harm wildlife including birds, snakes, and fish. It’s also an eye-sore and concern for recreational river users, including other anglers, boaters, kayakers, hikers and families (and their dogs). The good news is that this can be prevented with simple practices.
While you are out enjoying the river, help keep the river safe by adopting these simple practices:
1. Use lead-free or metal coated lures
2. Remove what tangled or cut line you can after a snag
3. Watch where you cast to avoid snagging on bushes, trees or grasses
4. Be “line conscious” and consider the age of your line and its strength
5. Recycle used fishing line in the recycling tubes along the river bank or take it to Bass Pro Shop’s fishing department or the PCS office, where the line will be recycled.
6. Deposit trash (all kinds) in the proper receptacles or carry a trash bag with you on your trip
7. Speak up! If you see someone littering, say something to them or park officials. Share your love of protecting the river with your fellow anglers.
Even through your valiant efforts, we understand there will still be left over debris in the river bank. Our Get the Lead Out program aims to clean up this leftover debris during the summer months when the river is much lower. So, after the walleye are no longer in the river, we invite you to come back out to clean up the fishing debris. Contact our office if you are interested. More information will be coming in May.
So, during the fishing season, be safe and enjoy the river, its wildlife and beauty. The Maumee River is a place of magic and life and we are blessed to be able to enjoy it every day.