I've had decent days of fishing Quinte in the past, and seen some monster walleye during those trips. 5 years ago we managed at least one in excess of 12 lbs on the boat each trip, and we knew there was no better place to mark your personal best walleye then with a black back Quinte pig.
This fall I was talked into trying something different - trip that would take me in a completely different direction. Travel west, travel in US, travel to opposite end of another Great Great Lake - Lake Erie western basin with sights on Huron, Ohio.
Before I explain why I have Huron, Ohio as my new #1 pick for fall walleye, let me provide the trip results first.
November 1 we were wired for sound at 1 am. We could partly blame our enthusiasm to load up and travel overnight, on the aftermath of eating all that Halloween candy bars only collected by the kids hours before. But the honest truth was the eagerness to begin our weekend of fishing.
The weather overnight was horrible. Winds gusted to 90 km/hour and rain was pouring down in sheets. Our drive was a 6 hour night time white knuckler with Gavin (Get-Bit Sportfishing) Ranger 621 pulled behind the truck. Rob, a good friend from Grimsby also joined us for our trek to Erie Walleye waters.
We pulled into Erie Outfitters in Ohio just outside Cleveland to pick-up our fishing license and any recent reports. Craig said- Night fishing is on fire, but numbers are still available throughout the day. "Reefers in White patterns are doing well during the day, Rapala F18's in Clown or Black and Silver are taking night-time eyes.
We rolled into Huron, Ohio at about 8am and checked into our room at the Riverside Comfort Inn. We grabbed a bite to eat, stretch our legs with a walk out to the end of the pier and then we loaded up the boat and launched at 1:30 pm while the winds blew 30- 40 km/hr offshore.
We ran halfway down Cedar Point (amusement park at the end of the point) and the winds were directly off that shoreline. We trolled with the winds coming from the Southwest and started in 25 FOW and finished our pass 2 miles downwind in 32 FOW. The winds were pumping, and we had our drift-sock to help slow us down and steady our troll. It was totally fishable since we were so close to shore. We started with one side of the boat running #12 Deep Diving Rapala Husky Jerks and the other side running Reef Runners with 3 on either side - all on boards using 15 lbs test mono. The best baits began to show a pattern - deeper sets with Reef runners in white patterns were taking our fish. 4 of our 6 walleye in 4 hours of fishing were managed on using 20 ft lead, clip on 2 oz snapweight and then let out 60 more feet of line (80 in total). We estimated that would take the bait down to 27 feet trolling at 1.5-1.7 mph. We fished until 5:00 pm and boated our first 6 walleye of the weekend.
We were up for more than 36 hrs so after dinner and a few drinks, we were snoozing away with the alarm set to get on the water Saturday before daybreak.
Saturday the winds were still 30 km but throughout the day turned from west southwest to northwest by noon. Throughout the morning we strengthened our spread and targeted from 18 ft down to just above bottom, and it was evident that the deeper sets down past 25 ft were the stud rods. They also were set to the board closest to the boat for efficiency and maintaining the v pattern of deepest inside. By 5:00 we were with 14 walleyes in the box biggest was 9 lbs and 3 others over 8 lbs. The other were averaging 6-7 lbs. At 9 lbs it is hard for me to suggest its a trophy, but guys we chatted with took two 12 lbs walleyes on Thursday amoungst thier 31 other walleyes they boated. The last two fall trips to Quinte seen a few decent fish around the 10 lbs mark, but a 6 fish day was considered a good day on Quinte and 6 fish on Huron is SLOOOWWWW day. After 8 hours of trolling we were looking to fill our bellies and get back out for an evening bite to finish our 18 daily fish limit and possibly find one of those double digit fish.
The winds then switched out of the North and blew strong while we watched out the Brass Pelican Restaurant window. We were about to launch after dinner and then choose not to after talking to a few guys coming off the lake. Night fishing in 6 foot waves would not be cool.
While at the Brass Pelican for the openning celebration of the Great Lakes Brewery "Christmas Ale", we chatted with a group from Chicago that fishing Friday afternoon (when we were out there) but continued to fish into the night all the way to 1 am. They boated 4 in the afternoon, but at nightfall rolled into less than 16 FOW close to the peir and managed 14 more walleye. They never weighed the fish only meassured thier length. 2 were 28 inches and the biggest was 30 inches long. These walleyes are fat. That fish is over 10 lbs.
Sunday morning the winds were still out of the North and we decided to make our way home.
Why is Huron, Ohio jumped over Quinte for number one spot?...
Here are the cons to Huron, Ohio;-If the winds blow out of the North - to- North East you will be stuck watching the waves
-It’s an extra 1 1/2 hour drive from Beamsville, Niagara to Huron, Ohio over the driving time to Quinte.
-purchase a non-res license 3 day is $20 US
-unlikely you will catch a 13 lbs + walleye
Pros to Huron, Ohio;-$3.19 gallon for gas in Ohio (that's 84 c a liter Canadian then add your exchange you are looking at 92c conservatively)
-cost of beer lol. Food is great at the Brass Pelican and you watch the guys rolling in the channel outside the window.
-$69 a night for Comfort Inn with Continental Breakfast starting at 6 am for the fisherman
-The ramp is a true marvel- It puts Mississauga’s renowned “Promenade ramp” to shame - It is absolutely beautiful. Only thing missing-fish cleaning station - which is the next planned build at the town!
-easy to pull into gas station between the short 2 minute drive from Comfort Inn to the ramp.
-6 fish per person per day - no possession limit if you are looking for a few fillets in the freezer over the winter.
-Day fishing is awesome, Night fishing is even better.
-Easy way of fishing in less than 35 feet of water with short lines and running boards close to the boat.
-Usually fishing inside of 3 miles from shore.
-Hospitality is incredible. They are so happy to have fisherman in town - Local tackle shop and local anglers are all chatting up what's hot and where.
-Its likely you will catch more fish per rod hour than Quinte. Comparison - Like fishing Blue Zone vs staggers on Lake O Salmon/Trout.
There you have it, a clear winner with all factors considered. Quinte might have your personal best waiting for you, but Huron has your personal best fishing trip waiting for you.