Big Water, Big Walleye.
This past Tuesday I had the pleasure of riding along with Walleye Pro and Guide (Walleye Capital Charters), Captain Andrew Oleksiak. Capt. Andrew has been fishing Lake St. Clair, Detroit River and Lake Erie all his life, and now makes a living as a full-time professional angler. You can catch him mixing it up with the top walleye fishermen in the country on the FLW Walleye Tour, the Masters Walleye Circuit, and the Michigan Walleye Tour.
This whole trip was planned and thrown together fairly quickly. We both just happened to have last minute schedule changes that allowed us to get out on Lake Erie. The day was going to be a hot one with temps in the nineties! The winds were coming from the south, and that meant a mud line would be forming out into the lake.
We decided to start our day where Andrew had caught fish the day before. With a quick meet up at Jeff’s Bait and Tackle off exit 15 on I-75, we grabbed drinks and signed up for the daily big walleye contest; then it was off to Sterling State Park just down the road to launch the boat. Capt Andrew and I hopped in the boat as his buddy Matt Ptaszynski backed us into the water. After a quick motor out the channel, Andrew laid the hammer down on his 250 HP Mercury Optimax. Nearly halfway to his waypoint from the day before he had to back off so that he could dodge the large debris field that was made up of everything from telephone pole sized trees down to glass bottles and other trash. The reason for all the debris is due to all the rain we have gotten this year. The rivers are flushing out and the water is up 3 to 4 feet higher than normal in all the channels and beaches, so everything that is on the shore line is getting washed into the lake.
After doing some fancy footwork on the steering wheel of his Ranger 621, we arrived on his waypoint. Andrew then turned his eyes to his Lowrance and started looking for fish. After scanning a few hundred yards, he cranked the motor back up and headed south to set up the first pass of the day.
It didn’t take long to have all 6 rods in the water and fishing. The program we started with was 1 ounce inline weights dropped 16 to 20 feet back on the outside boards. The middle boards had the same weights and were put 35 to 45 feet back, and the inside boards were run out to 55 feet back. All six lines were rigged with crawler harnesses and large number 6 Colorado blades.
After setting lines Andrew made the comment that the water was not as clear as the previous day, so the mud must be moving north at a pretty good clip.
It didn’t take long though for us to have our first pull back on the boards. The bites where light so Capt. Andrew had to get on the rod and feed it to them a bit more before handing the rod off to Matt or me. Within the first 20 minutes we had 5 of the 6 rods hooked up. It all happened pretty much at the same time, as soon as we got a fish to the boat another rod was on its way in. We took turns helping each other out netting fish and taking boards off. When it was all said and done we had walleye flopping around on the floor, and both nets tangled with harnesses. It was one of those chaotic moments that as a fishermen you love to happen sometimes.
After getting all the fish in the box and the nets de-hooked it was time to get the lines back into the water. Lines set again, we started getting some more pull backs, only one of which was a walleye. The fish was short at 13 inches, so a quick release and it was time to make the turn and another pass.
The second and third passes yielded nothing but freshwater drum and a few white perch. It was time to make a move and find some better fish with less of the drum and white perch around. We spent thirty minutes checking out areas in Michigan waters and just couldn’t find what Capt. Andrew was looking for. After a quick look at some of his older waypoints, it was off to the races again this time we headed east towards the West Sister Island area. About half way there we started to see the flash of windshields in the distance and we could also make out a mud line.
Capt. Andrew is not one to head straight for a pack of boats and fish, but the pack was right on top his waypoints. So we motored around a bit in the pack checking things out, after a quick look around we turned into the wind and started setting lines. The water was much cleaner, with lots of baitfish being marked up high. We adjusted our trolling program a bit and set things a bit higher. While reeling in one of the five master angler freshwater drum I looked down by the motor and saw thousands of emerald shiners in the slick of the boat. After letting that big drum go we soon hooked up again, but this time it was nice 5 to 6 pound walleye. Towards the end of the first pass the wind started to pick up, so we had to re-adjust and get the kicker motor running to help keep the boat running straight.
We had been trolling all morning with his 101 pound thrust bow-mounted Minn Kota Terrova. If you are in the market for a new bow-mount take a look at this bad boy. The remote control is sweet, and you can run the bow-mount from the back of the boat with just a push of the button.
Once we got the boat tracking straight it was time to start another pass, so we motored back to the edge of the mud line. We set lines in the muddy water and headed back north. Just as we got to the edge of the mud line we got a tug on one of the boards. It was another nice 5 to 6 pound eye; continuing the pass we pretty much alternated between healthy walleye and large drum hooked up.
We made a total of three more passes to finish up our three man limit of 18 fish. The key we found to getting the fish was chasing the mud line, and every time we came out of it we caught fish. Speed was also a huge factor for us. If we got over 1.7 mph we got zero bites, so we ran the kicker motor in reverse to slow us down while the electric motor pulled and steered with the help of the wind. We did end up changing up 4 of the 6 inline weights to 1/2 oz. once we saw all the baitfish and marks on the fish finder super high in the water column. Keeping the baits near that top 5 feet produced the most bites, but we didn’t sell out, and we kept half of the lines running deeper. We did pick up two nice walleye on the deeper rods.
After getting everything packed up it was time to hightail it in back to Sterling State Park. This run is roughly 15 miles one way from the park, but Andrew’s Ranger and Mercury outboard made quick work of that trip and the 3 foot waves.
After snapping a few quick pictures back on land, it was time to drop the fish off at Mathews Bait and Tackle at Bolles Harbor to be cleaned. When I picked up my fillets I had a little over 10 pounds of meat there. Roughly, you get 1/3 of the fish’s weight in the fillets… so if you do the math, I had dropped off 30-35 pounds of fish for my day’s limit.
It was a real pleasure fishing with Andrew, and watching a Professional Fisherman fish is like watching a machine. Everything seems automatic and simple. He was able to digest all the information around him and put together a trolling program that produced fish quickly. If you are looking for a guide that will teach you how to fish and have you catching fish, give Capt. Andrew a call or visit his site: Walleye Capital Charters. He offers trips on Lake St. Clair, Detroit River and Lake Erie for bass, walleye and even yellow perch.
Tell him Justin sent you.
Please visit Capt. Andrew site.
Walleye Capital Charter
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