Plan now for walleye tournaments

fishing rod
(Farm and Dairy file photo)

With boat show and outdoor/sports show season in full swing it becomes apparent that there is hope. Hope that is, that Punxsutawney Phil, the most dependable and sometimes accurate of four-legged weather forecasters, will indeed soon stir from his cozy Keystone den to announce that anglers might see open water sooner rather than later.

It has something to do with Phil’s shadow, and it has a lot to do with wishful thinking shared by all of North America. Silly perhaps, a Groundhog Day celebration is something invented long ago by the Pennsylvania Dutch community and gladly shared with all every Feb. 2.

So what do groundhogs, sport shows and open water have to do with a not-so-distant fishing season? Because late winter sport and boat shows always feature a raft of speakers who entertain with fishing stories, teach fishing methods and promote fishing techniques, destinations and gear that in sum give promise of the certain coming of open water. And too, come schedules and locations of local and regional fishing tournaments.

Walleye tournaments

Among them are 2020 contests set by the Ohio Walleye Federation, a popular walleye organization that continues to grow in interest and membership as area inland walleye chasers add reasons to go fishing.

Amanda Yackmack, president of the OWF, offers a quick look at the coming season with dates, locations and most popular fishing techniques for each tournament. Most events require OWF memberships while others are open to anyone.

April 19. The season kicks off at Trumbull County’s Mosquito Reservoir April 19, arguably the most consistent Ohio early-season walleye fishery. Yackmack said the most of the catching will be by anglers who stick to proven cold water producing methods such as jigging early shallow weed beds and rocks and trolling leadcore lines in deeper water.

May 17. The OWF trail then moves to Lake Milton on May 17, where jigging points and trolling deeper waters can be good, as well as the shallow flats south of the bridges, attract a lot of attention.

June 7. Next up will be a June 7 contest on Berlin Lake where the majority of action will be found on drop-off slopes, mid-lake humps, and traditional structure.

June 28. The final regular season tourney takes place June 28 on Pymatuning Reservoir, another year-around favorite for an always healthy population of walleyes. Yackmack suggested that larger fish will be taken in deeper water by trollers.

July 11-12. The big event of the season will be a two-day championship contest held July 11 at Pymatuning and July 12 at Mosquito. Again, it’s expected that the winning catches will be taken in deeper water, although dedicated jig fishers will hold their own.

Interested walleye fans can go to for information about membership, entry fees and benefits.


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Mike Tontimonia has been writing weekly columns and magazine features about the outdoors for over 25 years, a career that continues to hold the same excitement for him as it did at the beginning. Mike is a retired educator, a licensed auctioneer and marketing consultant. He lives in Ravenna, Ohio and enjoys spending time at his Carroll County cabin. Mike has hunted and fished in several states and Canada from the Carolinas to Alaska and from Idaho to Delaware. His readers have often commented that the stories about his adventures are about as close to being there as possible. He is past president of the Outdoor Writers of Ohio and a member of the Outdoor Writers Association of America. Mike is also very involved in his community as a school board member and a Rotarian.



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