A spelling bee contestant would probably spell Ashtabula with a capital A, but it might make more sense to start the name of Lake Erie’s top summer walleye fishing spot with a capital H, maybe even three capital H’s as in Hot, Hot, Hot.
Indeed, walleye fishing success in the deep central basin water off the Port of Ashtabula is well ahead of the usual late summer action.
Right now, the catches are fast and furious most days, especially for those anglers who venture out at first light or before. And too, the walleyes are big, real big.
Deep water trollers plying Ashtabula area waters are hooking remaining walleyes from the record spawn of 2003, fish that often weigh in excess of 10 pounds. A few of those monsters mixed with younger, but still hefty, walleyes can put a strain on an ice-filled cooler.
In the past three or four years, Ashtabula has outpaced the rest of Lake Erie ports by a sizable margin, gaining a reputation that it well deserves. Sure, ports from Cleveland to Conneaut have their own successes to brag on but it’s Ashtabula by a knockout.
Normally, Ashtabula eases into full stride by mid-July, but the walleyes have been stacked up off shore now since late June and it appears that they are perfectly happy to stick around, lunching on plentiful bait fish and fishermen’s lures.
Ashtabula harbor and river dock areas feature plenty of recreational boats and a relatively large contingency of charter boats. Casual fishers and those new to the area are always best served by hiring a knowledgeable charter captain. Charters are well equipped and comfortable. That plus charter captains keep constant tabs on the most active fish.
There is a launch ramp upriver from the draw bridge and another right on the shoreline on the east side of the harbor.
Although Lake Erie walleyes are the target fish, steelhead trout often hit the same lures and offer twice the thrill. It’s common for a cooler full of chunky walleyes to be sharing ice with a few steelhead and on some days it’s one for one.
Expect Ashtabula to stay ahead of the pack right into August.