April in northern Michigan means spring steelhead. It also means that there’s something brewing to our south in southeast Michigan. The spring walleye run on the Detroit River.
Known as a world-class walleye fishery, the Detroit River spawning run boasts an estimated 3-4 million walleyes through the system in a 2-month period. That’s roughly the size of the city of Atlanta making its way through the Detroit River.
Vertical jigging is the preferred technique by most of the anglers fishing this prolific fishery. Big jigs in the 3/4 -1 ounce sizes are the norm, tipped with what locals call the Detroit Wonder Worm. Technically speaking, vertical jigging is a simple, straightforward technique. However, there’s more to it, especially on waters that sport a current approaching 4 mph. Once anglers get the feel for the proper technique, it’s a tremendously fun way to catch fish, and can be truly addictive waiting for that next bite.
Bites can just be dead weight on the lift, or a sharp tick on the line as the jig falls. And what makes this so addicting is that on any particular lift and drop of the jig, a walleye can take the jig. And not just any walleye—these waters regularly give up big walleyes, such that a 5-pound walleye hardly gets a look at the boat ramp. 10 pounders are not at all uncommon, and fish pushing 12 and 14 pounds are taken annually. Sturgeon, musky and smallmouth also cruise these waters and are also not an uncommon “by catch.” Oh, bummer!
I’m counting down the days until launch my boat and fish these productive waters.