The Walleye Run— an annual event rite of spring— brings fishing enthusiasts from across the nation to wade into the Maumee River, cast a line with hopes to walk away with a big catch… or at least a good story.
During the months of March and April, several hundred thousand Walleye begin swimming upstream in the River in order to lay their eggs. “It’s governed by the water temperature,” said Mario Campos, proprietor of Maumee Tackle Fishing Outfitters, a locally owned haven for fishing equipment, gear, bait, and information. “Once the water hits 40 to 46 degrees, that triggers the spawning instinct in the walleye.”
According to Campos, the run was more of a local venture in the ‘60s and ‘70s, though in recent decades, it has turned into a national phenomenon.
“We’ll sell a license to someone from every state in the country. We’ll see people from Europe. We’ve had a family from the Ukraine.” With its popularity, the River can see between three and four thousand people fishing.
“A lot of locals call it ‘combat fishing,’ you’re shoulder to shoulder sometimes, but it’s a big river, you can spread out.” He reports some of the more popular areas are near Side Cut Metropark, as well as Jerome and River Roads.
What’s the Catch?
For the aspiring angler, Campos said there are some things to consider, like wearing insulated waders, and going with a friend or two if you plan on actually entering the river.
“It’s different than lake fishing. It’s not sitting in your boat with a bobber. The Maumee River has a pretty good current.” He also jokes that you’re guaranteed to catch a fish for every thousand casts. “You’re casting your line and a sinker out, it’s bouncing along the bottom, you wait for the drift to end, steady retrieve, cast again. It’s a very aggressive form of fishing.”
Mario also has some words of inspiration for the younger crowd: “The last two years, the biggest fish we’ve seen come in have all been caught by kids under twelve years old. There’s something to that beginner’s luck.”
Hook, Line and Sinker
The Walleye Run typically takes place from the first week of March through the end of April with fishing allowed from sunrise to sunset with a keeper limit of four Walleye per day.
For tips, a fishing license or equipment, visit Maumee Tackle Fishing Outfitters in Maumee, or on Facebook by searching for Maumee Tackle. Check out their website maumeetackle.net for daily updated reports on the river conditions, weekly competitions, their annual Walleye tournament, as well as safety tips and guidelines.
Contact Side Cut Metropark’s Walleye Hotline at (419) 407-9731. If you love the outdoors, enjoy fishing, and want to experience a part of Toledo’s history, don’t let this be ‘the one that got away’.