- How To Choose a Lake Erie Walleye Fishing Guide & Why to Fish Lake Erie
How To Choose a Lake Erie Walleye Fishing Guide & Why to Fish Lake Erie
Choosing Your Walleye Charter
Lake Erie is home to the greatest walleye fishing in the world. With 2.25 million acres of water, Lake Erie’s walleye fishery has become a destination for professional anglers, weekend warriors, and the casual angler looking for a change of scenery.
I grew up on the shores of Lake Erie, and still go home to visit mom and dad throughout the year. Anybody that has spent much time in any of the towns along the lake, knows that fishing is a mainstay for summer activities. Walleye have always been a prized possession, but in the past few years, the numbers of walleye in the lake have grown enormously. Hatches are boasting record numbers, and now it’s estimated that 2022 and 2023 will be some of the best years ever for fishing in Lake Erie.
Reasons Why The Walleye Numbers Are At Record Highs Right Now:
2021 hatch survey was 90 fish/hectare
The 20 year average is 34 fish/hectare
It generally takes 2 years for fish to grow to harvestable size
Do the math. Oh yeah, the lake has had above average hatches since 2015. Bottom line, there are a lot of fish in the lake.
Okay, so we know there are fish there, but if you didn’t grow up on the shores of the lake, how does somebody go about finding a good charter or guide to get them out to those Walleye? Here are a few ways to land a keeper when it comes to a charter guide.
Ask a Friend
When talking with Chris Clemmons, a charter captain for Lakeland Charters, his first recommendation for finding a charter guide was to talk to your friends. You will be amazed at how many people have taken a trip on the lake over the past few years, and of course the best review comes from somebody you trust. See if any of your friends have had a good (or bad) experience with a given company or captain and start there.
In being completely transparent, this is how I find my charter captains most often. It helps that I have years of history in that part of the world, so I get it, not everybody can just pick up the phone and call buddies from back home for that recommendation. However, there are places out there where you can find recommendations. Using a community like GoWild, and asking a question, will often elicit many responses. Other platforms such as Powderhook's Lake Erie Planner can also be useful. If you find a few charter boats, take a look at their recent posts to see how successful they have been.
Walleye Fishing Charter Booking Websites
Think of them like Airbnb but for walleye trips! Many sites have a collection of charter captains across Lake Erie and most are extremely easy to use. It’s literally like scheduling a hotel on one of those vacation sites. Choose your location, date, number of days fishing, and group size; pages of options show up. If you aren’t familiar with Lake Erie, the western basin has historically been a fantastic area for walleye. Popular docking locations for these charters will be in the Port Clinton, Lakeside and Marblehead areas. But don’t limit yourself to that, as there are many great Captains ready to take you out all along the lake. The site you choose can be your guide, to your guide. Most charters have many reviews, so don’t take my word for it, check out what the former anglers have to say!
What To Expect on a Walleye Chartered Fishing Trip
Of course nothing is guaranteed when dealing with Mother nature, but if you select your charter and plan for the trip ahead, here are a few things to consider.
You will need your fishing license. Non-residents can acquire a license for $14 for 1 day, $25 for 3 day, or $50.96 for 1 year. Resident costs are $14 for 1 day or $25 for 1 year. You will also need to find out if your captain plans to venture into Canadian waters during your trip. If so you will want to pick up the correct license for that.
Check with your captain about departure times, length of trip, snacks, drinks, etc.
Don’t forget sun protection!
You’re probably going to catch some fish, and given the recent hatches, you will probably catch a lot of fish, so bring a cooler. The current daily bag limit is 6 walleye. Most of your charters will have a fish cleaning service in-house, or nearby if you desire that. If not, you will want to check with the Captain to discuss post trip preparations.
I want to fish, but my family doesn’t, so I can’t go, or can I?
Lake Erie is kind of a hidden gem, that is hidden in plain sight. The shallowest of the Great Lakes, it packs a mighty punch when it comes to outdoor activities in the area. I’m not just saying this because I grew up there, but there is a ton of stuff to do along the lake’s shore. If you happen to be on a family vacation to the area, and perhaps the rest of your crew isn’t the fishing type, there are more than enough things for them to do while you are out on the boat.
The Lake Erie Islands
Put-in-Bay and Kelly’s Island are great stops on a trip to the lake. Both islands have great restaurants, golf courses, and other cool attractions. A personal favorite of mine is Perry’s Monument on Put-in-Bay.
Hands down, the greatest collection of roller coasters in the world. Along with many other family-friendly activities like Camp Snoopy, Lemmy’s Lagoon, the Lake Erie Railroad, and more. Cedar Point has numerous areas to stay the night and other family-friendly activities.
Lake Erie Beaches
Miles of them and I get it, Lake Erie isn’t the white sand beaches of the Bahamas, but it’s also a lot closer than St. Thomas for most of us. Municipalities up and down the lake have many lakefront parks with beaches for the families to enjoy.
When you are thinking about your next fishing trip, family vacation, or trip to the great outdoors, make sure to consider taking advantage of the historical populations of Walleye in Lake Erie. There is no better time than now to take advantage of that delicious fresh water delicacy!