Ian Jones (@profishermanjones) has been fishing the rivers and lakes of Southern Ontario since he was boy. The Chatham, Ontario native grew up pulling out whatever fish the Thames River would give up.
And then he focused.
Now a guide, Jones puts his clients on fat, Detroit River walleye in April and May — as well as Lake St. Clair muskie and smallmouth the rest of the season. His attraction to walleye is almost as apparent as his love of the fishery.
“Lake St. Clair and the Detroit River are always changing. Every day is different and presents a new set of challenges,” Jones says. “ The lake is shallow and has minimal structure. You’re looking for different colors of water. Little things like rain, wind, or even a foot of contour can make a huge difference. The patterns are always changing.”
The spring months see huge runs of Lake Erie walleye as they head up the Detroit River to spawn. According to Jones, during April and May, you can fish the entire length of the river, from Lake St. Clair to Lake Erie, and be on the walleye.
And he should know: In April, he will book as many as 45 walleye charters. Jones feels the pressure to make sure his clients get the fish. And, fortunately, he rarely gets skunked.
Hunting walleye on the Detroit, Jones exclusively jigs. He likes to use a big jig with an Angler’s Choice Wally Min’R or a bluegrass worm from Bondy Bait. The bluegrass color, Jones says, works really well in any water conditions. Because the river can muddy up pretty easily if there’s any wind on Lake St. Clair, it’s important to have a go-to that works in both clear and murky water.
When he can avoid doing so, though, Jones doesn’t fish in the murky water. The walleye prefer clear water.
So, he looks for clear patches of water with steep drops and heavy current — this is where the big jigs come in handy. Then Jones bounces the jigs six inches to a foot off the bottom. In the spring, he can catch as many as 20 walleye in a day, with some topping out well over 30 inches.
As good as last season was, he expects 2018 to be a banner year.
“We we’re seeing so many fish in the 16 to 18-inch slot, that after a year or two of growing, we’ll be catching some good size fish,” Jones says.
For his part, Jones always releases bigger walleye and encourages his clients to do so, as well. They usually heed his advice.
“I love my job,” he says. “It doesn’t get boring. Seeing someone g from ‘I don’t know to do this’ to catching 20 fish… well, it’s pretty spectacular.”
That’s what keeps Jones guiding. But what keeps him going out there, day after day? Even after guiding season is over, he’ll ice fish the Thames for panfish or walleye, or hit Lake St. Clair for its awesome winter perch season.
“The chase. You know you can go out there and you know they’re hitting somewhere. The challenge of finding them and producing fish every day. The chase is what I love.”