2015-05-07 / Outdoors

Walleyes on the bite in Lake Leelanau

by Jay Bushen Of The Enterprise Staff


MARK DAVID of Grand Rapids, holds up a walleye he caught while fishing on south Lake Leelanau. The walleye fishing season began on April 25. MARK DAVID of Grand Rapids, holds up a walleye he caught while fishing on south Lake Leelanau. The walleye fishing season began on April 25. When it comes to walleye fishing, there’s no place Mark David would rather be than on south Lake Leelanau.

“When you put together the aesthetics, the views, the beauty and clarity of the water and the number of walleye — it’s my favorite place to fish for walleye,” David said. “There’s no doubt.”

The Grand Rapids resident joined two long-time fishing buddies for a long weekend on the water.

The trio enjoyed solid fishing all weekend, keeping 11 walleye on Friday and another eight on Saturday. They fished during the day in full sunlight, although most walleye fishermen prefer low light.

“On Sunday morning before we left we got eight before 10:30,” David said. Most walleye varied in length between 18 and 20 inches. The crew also netted and released several mature smallmouth bass.


JACK VULPETTI and Scott Devries present 10 fish after a successful day on the lake. JACK VULPETTI and Scott Devries present 10 fish after a successful day on the lake. They mostly used jigs bounced off the bottom with no live bait attached.

He said he found most of walleye in warmer water near the narrows, about 9 feet deep on the northern part of the south lake. A year ago, a very cold winter delayed the spawn and kept walleye near spawning grounds in the Narrows well into the walleye season.

Others found success farther north.

Heather Hettinger, a fisheries biologist for the Department of Natural Resources, said she’s received mixed reviews from those seeking walleye on the south Lake Leelanau — and brighter report from the north basin.

“The past couple years we’ve seen more and more of them showing up at the north lake — and that’s a little bit out of the ordinary,” Hettinger said. “It’s been the past four or five years where we’ve really noticed it.”

It may depend where you look on the south lake.

Alex Garvin of Solon Township said one hot spot was just a little east and north of the Cedar River mouth, between 7 to 10 feet deep near the weed beds.

“We done real well after dark,” Garvin said. “A friend of mine was out there (Sunday) evening, and on Saturday night there were five boats after dark. They done pretty well. Two of the people that I spoke with I ... observed their limits.”

Despite success with walleye fishing, Garvin said he didn’t reel in any perch.

“That’s really unusual,” he said. “I think the water temperature was 47 degrees on the surface and that’s still pretty cool.”

He said he may head to big Glen Lake to expand his search for perch.

As for David, future walleye fishing endeavors include more of the same: trips to Leelanau County.

“It’s just a beautiful environment,” he said.

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