Detroit River Walleye Fishing
Walleye fishing is more than just a pastime in Michigan, it's a way of life. With their striking appearance and unique features, walleye are easily recognizable and are at the top of the food web in the Detroit River and western Lake Erie. One of the most fascinating features of these fish is their large, glowing eyes, caused by a reflective layer of pigment that allows them to see prey in low-light conditions and deep waters. They're also an extremely important part of the aquatic ecosystem. In the late 70s, the walleye population in Lake Erie was in crisis, but thanks to the coordinated efforts of the Great Lakes Fishery Commission, the population has recovered and is now thriving.
Today, Lake Erie and the Detroit River are considered the "Walleye Capital of the World," with the walleye, perch, and bass fishing industry estimated to be worth over $1 billion annually in Ohio alone.
The Detroit River, a waterway that connects Lake St. Clair
with Lake Erie, offers a fantastic fishing experience for
anglers looking to catch walleye, lake sturgeon, whitefish,
and others. Nine spawning reefs have been constructed in
the river to sustain the fisheries of the Detroit River and
Lake Erie. These reefs have been successful and monitored
by fishery biologists. They estimate that 10% of Lake Erie
walleye run through the Detroit River. During the spring
walleye migration, and there are an estimated 2.4 million
walleyes moving through. The walleye fishing begins as
soon as the winter ice clears the river and continues until
June, tapering off as the white bass run gets so thick you
can hardly catch a walleye. Good walleye fishing is a safe
bet through May most years.
The lower Detroit River on the Michigan side is particularly
popular among walleye anglers, especially during the spring
spawning run. The river is filled with boats during the major
spring walleye fishing tournaments, with prizes of over $500,000 from FLW Outdoors attracting top anglers from around the world. These tournaments generate millions of dollars in revenue for local communities each year, showcasing the importance of walleye fishing to the region's economy.
Belle Isle State Park, Bishop Park, and the recently opened Refuge Gateway to the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge in Trenton are great parks where Anglers can fish on piers.
The Refuge Gateway Pier is one of the premier shore fishing facilities in all the Great Lakes, extending 775 feet into the Detroit River. It is free, universally accessible, and open seven days a week during daylight hours. Anglers should choose a jig, tip it with something, and bounce it off the bottom to catch walleye. Minnows are the most popular bait, though plenty of guys say any plastic trailer will work just as well. The trick is staying vertical; there's a stiff current in the river, and controlling the boat so that the jig isn't swept downstream is crucial.
lake saint clair michigan
Maintaining contact with both the jig and the riverbed is crucial. Start by dropping your line to the bottom, then tighten it up before jigging with short, consistent strokes. Avoid lifting the jig more than a foot and instead follow the bait back down with the rod tip.