Catching Toothy Walleye! Limits on the Niagara River

My biggest walleye said, “Here’s looking at ya!”

By Bob Holzhei

Although I fished for walleye in the lower Niagara River before, this incredible fishing adventure provided pin-ball action, landing one walleye after another and yes, a limit of walleye was cleaned to take home for meals.

Fishing with Charter Captain Joe Marra who operates Niagara Rainbow Charters out of Lewiston, New York, I not only boated several 6-pound walleyes, but I lost count. When the 16th walleye was netted (yes, number 16), over two dozen walleye had been hooked.

My arms had actually become tired after fighting one walleye after another. Well, I’m 74 but I try to be a tough guy when it comes to fishing, like all my older friends too, because I just want to be fishing. Life is too short. Following each cast, the rod tip began to bounce as hungry walleye awaited the arrival of the nightcrawler tailing the homemade spinner baits which Marra creates. He rigs with a 1-ounce sinker to take the presentation to the bottom and off we go using the current and his motor for position control.

The Marra grew up in the Niagara Falls area fishing the river and has been chartering for over 20 years. He knows the area so well and likes to drop lines upstream of the two power plants in an area known as Devil’s Hole. The water depth ranges from 20-30 feet. We’d drift downstream, hook and land walleyes with a net, then boat back upstream to begin again. Exciting!

A limit of walleye and a brand new Gill Tackle backpack made for a perfect day. The Gill backpack allowed selecting only the best spoons for the day.

“I like seeing the smile on kid’s faces and adults when a walleye takes the bait,” stated Marra.

On this trip, I looked forward to using a new, custom, seven-foot-long fishing rod built for me by Tom Marks of Hamburg, NY. My Abu Garcia STX reel was loaded with 20-pound test braid and had a 15-pound fluorocarbon leader at the end. Marra’s 20-foot Lund boat was powered by a brand new 200 horsepower Yamaha outboard.

We stayed at Niagara Crossing in Lewiston, NY, where…in history, a house near this property served as a midway crossing for people escaping slavery and heading to enter Canada on the other side of the river. “I had a client once who chartered the boat to see the home where slaves were housed,” added Marra.

The fishing trip did not end at the Niagara River, it will remain with me for all time.

The sound of the rushing water in the Niagara River, just awesome. Just then, I heard some music, “The Sound of Silence,” it was playing in the background, “…and the vision was planted in my brain,” and it played on. A new forever role for me from Paul Simon, the song means so much more to me now.

Oops, “Fish on!”

Don’t let the old man in!