Jim Robey's OUTDOORS Corner


Dennis Bryant Welcomes Maumee Fishing Fete


April and May are the months thousands of anglers gather along the Maumee River for the annual run of walleyes and white bass.

Walleye fishing generally peaks around the middle of April and the white bass run, that follows close behind, peaks around the middle of May.

Depending on weather and river conditions, fishing can be fast, or slow.

They are all good days for Dennis Bryant of Toledo.

"This is how I spend my vacation every spring," Bryant says.

Bryant has one of the portable tackle stores set up along the Maumee River in Sidecut Park south of Toledo. He sells jigs, plastic twisters, sinkers and other items.

Although phone numbers can be called to check on fishing reports and river conditions, one never knows exactly when the fish will be hitting. So day after day, fishermen come to fish the river and buy more tackle if they need it.

"There are a lot of places to buy tackle, but Iím the only licensed manufacturer of tackle on the river," Bryant says.

Tackle salesmen on the west side of the river in Sidecut Park are required to obtain a permit to set up a portable stand, but thatís no guarantee of getting the same spot each year.

"Thatís sort of decided by seniority of who has been here the longest," Bryant said.

Bryant sells his floating or sinking jigs, plus all of his other products under the Zap name.

One might think the name came about because fish see a Bryant jig and zap it. They often do, but thatís not how Zap was named.

Bryant was a lineman for Toledo Edison for 25 years. Like every electrician working on high voltage lines he was aware of the danger of being zapped by a hot line.

"That why I called my line of baits Zap lures," Bryant explained.

The linemanís career as an electrician ended when he slipped and fell from a pole and broke his knees during an ice storm.

Bryant, a former tournament angler, had been making and selling fishing lures. He expanded his tackle business after the injury and it has grown yearly since then.

Always a fisherman, Bryant will take the time to explain how to rig his baits for best results.

When Jake Jacobs, a walleye fisherman from West Carrollton talked to Bryant, the Zap maker was recommending a floating jig tied on an 18-inch leader behind a swivel. A bead and sliding sinker was placed above the swivel.

Jeff Murray and his son, Shaun, of Hilliard, camp on the east side of the river at Schroeder Farm when they fish the Maumee, as do a number of anglers with tents and trailers.

The campground is closed the last Saturday of April when the plows come in to begin the farming operations. Campers then must find another spot. Many of them do because the month of May can be good for fishing.

In the early days of May itís not uncommon to catch walleyes and white bass on the same trip. Walleye fishing fades as the íeyes move out to Lake Erie, passing the in-coming white bass along the way.

The Schroeder Farm, while open, affords excellent access to the Maumee River, plus camping and boat launching. Parking costs $3.

Ninety percent of the walleyes taken from the Maumee River are caught between the Ohio Turnpike Bridge and the I-475 Bridge over the Maumee, the biologists say.

Besides Schroederís on the east side and Side Cut on the west, other access points are open to anglers.

Wherever one fishes, Bryant knows a number of his customers will stop by to see him, especially if they need more Zap baits.

The Sandusky River also is noted for its walleye and white bass runs in April and May. Most of the better fishing at the Sandusky takes place in the City of Fremont.

Fishing Facts

  • Numbers to call for river conditions and fishing: 1-888-HOOK-FISH; Maumee Hotline from Sidecut Park: 419-893-9740.
  • Be sure to check fishing regulations for special laws pertaining to the Maumee and Sandusky Rivers.
  • Jim Robey is an outdoor columnist for the Dayton Daily News on Sundays