Detroit River Walleye Fishing Tips and Tricks



Are you a fishing enthusiast chasing the thrill of landing a big walleye in the Detroit River? Known as a haven for high-quality walleye, this river teems with opportunities for an unforgettable catch.

In our detailed guide, we will unlock the secrets behind successful shore angling in Detroit’s raw watersports playground. Stay tuned; your monster walleye awaits!

Key Takeaways

  • The Detroit River is a prime location for walleye fishing, particularly during the spring spawning season in April and May.
  • Anglers can increase their chances of a successful catch by targeting specific locations such as near islands, drop-offs, points, and areas near the mouth of the river.
  • Essential tackle and bait include a medium-action spinning rod, 6-8 lb monofilament line, jigs with stinger hooks, live minnows or worms as bait, and a GPS system to mark hotspots.
  • Successful techniques for shore anglers include jigging, drift fishing, casting jigs with live minnows or soft plastic worms as bait, trolling with swim-style jigheads or high-visibility lures, and utilizing GPS to mark fish-holding spots.

Best Time for Walleye Fishing in the Detroit River

The Detroit River, renowned for its bountiful and high-quality walleyes, sees the peak fishing season kick off in spring. Typically occurring in April and May is the much-awaited spawn where walleye move into shallower water to lay their eggs.

As such, this time frame offers anglers an excellent opportunity to land a catch more easily. Notably, early mornings are ideal since walleye tend to be more active in cooler waters.

Therefore, if you’re planning a productive fishing trip on the Detroit River during the prolific spring spawning period, setting out at dawn will often yield rewarding results.

Ideal Locations for Shore Anglers

Finding the perfect fishing spot requires a keen understanding of the Detroit River landscape. Here are some prime locations that promise rich walleye populations:

  1. Near Islands: These zones attract abundant marine life, providing a plentiful food source for walleye.
  2. Drop-offs: Quick transitions from shallow to deep waters make these areas hotspots for walleye fishing.
  3. Points: These features often have strong currants and abundant food supply attracting schools of walleye.
  4. Area near the mouth of the river: A meeting point for different water bodies, which often presents higher fish populations, especially during spring spawn.
  5. Area just south of the Ambassador Bridge: This location has been recognized by local anglers as an excellent spot due to its currents and water depth.
  6. McKee Park: Its free public boat launch provides easy access for shore fishing enthusiasts.

Essential Tackle and Bait for Walleye Fishing

Ensuring that you’re fully equipped with the right tackle and bait can make a significant difference to your success rate when fishing for high-quality walleye in the Detroit River. Here are some essentials to include in your kit:

  1. medium-action spinning rod: This is ideally suited for the aggressive headshake of the walleye, providing enough flexibility but also strength for a successful catch.
  2. Length of rod: Aim for 6-7 feet in length as it provides the perfect balance between casting distance and control.
  3. Line type: Opt for a 6-8 lb monofilament line, which has just enough weight to maintain constant contact with the bottom where walleyes typically hang out.
  4. Jigs: These are particularly effective, especially oversized jigs and swim style jigheads that allow you to cast further into the deep waters of Detroit River.
  5. Lures: Consider diversifying your lure selection with various color combinations, bearing in mind that natural colors often work best in clear waters.
  6. Bait: Live minnows and worms are highly recommended, as they are known favorites of the walleye population in this area.
  7. Hooks: Don’t forget to pack stinger hooks which can significantly increase your hook-up ratio when jigging for walleye.
  8. GPS System: Although not technically considered tackle, having a Global Positioning Satellite system can help mark hotspots, making it easier for you to find prime fishing locations next time around.

Successful Techniques for Walleye Fishing

To ensure a successful walleye fishing trip on the Detroit River, it is important to utilize effective techniques. Here are five techniques that will increase your chances of landing some high-quality walleye:

  1. Jigging: Jigging is a widely popular technique for catching walleye/pickerel in the Detroit River. Use oversized jigs with stinger hooks to entice the fish to bite. Experiment with different colors and cadences to find what works best on any given day.
  2. Drift Fishing: Drifting along with the current while dragging a bait along the bottom is another effective technique for targeting walleye/pickerel. Pay close attention to your line as they often hit the bait when it’s in the right spot.
  3. Casting Jigs: Casting jigs can be incredibly productive when you’re targeting walleye/pickerel from either a boat or shore. These jigs can be tipped with live minnows or soft plastic worms, giving you versatility and options depending on what the fish are biting on.
  4. Trolling: If you’re fishing from a boat, trolling is an excellent method for covering more water and locating active fish. Use lures like swim-style jigheads or high-visibility colors to attract walleye/pickerel.
  5. Marking Fish with GPS: Utilize your GPS system to mark areas where you’ve spotted fish or caught them previously. This will help you target those spots during future trips and increase your chances of success.

What to Bring for a Successful Fishing Trip

Pack these essential items for a successful fishing trip on the Detroit River:

  • Safety equipment: Don’t forget to bring a life jacket and a safety horn in emergencies.
  • Cooler: Keep your catch fresh by bringing a cooler with ice.
  • Rain gear: Be prepared for changing weather conditions with waterproof clothing.
  • Sunscreen, hat, and sunglasses: Protect yourself from the sun’s harmful rays while on the water.
  • Polarized lenses: Enhance your visibility in the water and spot fish more easily.
  • First aid kit: Be ready for minor injuries during your fishing adventure.
  • Camera: Capture memories of your catches and beautiful scenery along the Detroit River.

Understanding Fishing Regulations and Licensing in Detroit

To ensure a successful and legal fishing trip on the Detroit River, anglers must understand and adhere to the fishing regulations and licensing requirements. Fishing licenses are mandatory in Canada and the United States, as the Detroit River straddles the international border.

Anglers should familiarize themselves with Ontario’s fishing regulations and obtain a valid fishing license from either country before casting their lines.

The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry oversees fishing regulations for the Canadian side of the river. Anglers can choose between short-term licenses or annual licenses, depending on their needs.

A conservation license is also available for those who wish to practice catch-and-release. It’s important to note that specific seasonal limits may apply, so it’s crucial to stay informed about any changes or updates.

On the American side of the river, Michigan residents require a valid state fishing license. At the same time, non-residents need a temporary boaters’ permit if they plan on using a boat during their angling excursion.

Additionally, renting a boat from one of several local boat rental services may require an extra fee or proof of proper licensing.

By following these regulations and obtaining appropriate licenses, anglers can enjoy an exciting day out on the Detroit River while ensuring sustainable fishing practices are maintained for future generations.


In conclusion, the Detroit River offers excellent opportunities for shore anglers to catch high-quality walleye/pickerel. By understanding the best time to fishideal locationsessential tackle and baitsuccessful techniques, and necessary gear for a fishing trip, anglers can increase their chances of a successful day on the water.

With proper preparation and knowledge of fishing regulations and licensing in Detroit, enthusiasts can enjoy an exciting and rewarding experience while preserving this incredible fishery for future generations.

Happy fishing!


1. What are the best times of year to fish for walleye in the Detroit River from shore?

The best times of year to fish for walleye in the Detroit River from shore are typical during the spring and fall seasons when these fish are more active and tend to congregate near river structures.

2. What types of bait or lures should I use when fishing for walleye in the Detroit River?

Popular bait options for walleye fishing in the Detroit River include live minnows and nightcrawlers and artificial lures like jigs, crankbaits, and soft plastics that mimic their preferred prey.

3. Are there any specific techniques or strategies I should employ when fishing for walleye from shore in the Detroit River?

When targeting walleye from shore on the Detroit River, it can be effective to cast your line parallel to current breaks or structure areas where these fish often hold. Slowly retrieving your bait or lure with occasional pauses can entice strikes from lurking walleyes.

4. Are there any legal requirements or regulations I need to be aware of when fishing for walleye in the Detroit River?

Yes, it is important to familiarize yourself with local fishing regulations and licensing requirements before heading out on a walleye fishing trip in the Detroit River. This includes knowing size limits, possession limits, and any special rules about certain stretches of water within the river system.


Hi, I’m Kurt and I’m the author of walleyemania. I’ve been fishing for Walleye since I was a kid and I love sharing my tips, tricks, and stories with other anglers. Whether you’re a beginner or a pro, you’ll find something useful and entertaining on my site. I cover everything from the best gear, baits, and techniques to the best spots, seasons, and recipes for Walleye fishing. Join me on my journey to catch more and bigger Walleye!

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