The Maumee River gets flooded with walleye every year near the end of March and through April.
Folks from Ohio and neighboring states funnel into Perrysburg during those five to six weeks.
They assemble campsites and fish for walleye.
This year is no different. But the coronavirus (COVID-19) has sparked some change.
Jared Schlosser, along with some friends, has been camping along the Maumee River every chance he can get away from work for a quarter century.
The fishing and camping has been a much-needed adventure for a while, and that remains so despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This is our release every year; for 25 years. We can’t just stop doing what we do. I mean I could, but I don’t want to,” Schlosser said.
“This is how I put walleye in the freezer. This is for me to eat all year, so this is what we do. Come up here every March and April.
“As soon as we see fish being caught, we’re here until they’re done. That’s everybody.”
The gravel-lot campsite was not full on Sunday, March 22, as Schlosser was surrounded by about a dozen other campers.
A decrease in numbers is just one of a few changes to the 2020 walleye run.
Schlosser has noticed plenty of familiar faces, but some Maumee River regulars did not make the trip this season.
“There are some that didn’t show up this year. One of my older friends didn’t come, maybe because of that, I’m not sure,” Schlosser said. “I haven’t heard the full story yet.”
But those that have made the trip have been conscious of the risks.
Jim Garrison, a retired camper, has been coming to the walleye run for five years now and is camping at the River for the third year in a row. He has noticed a shift in the culture for this season.
“It’s great. Most people are respecting it, staying at a distance,” Garrison said.
“I’m hoping that helps the fish actually spread out a little bit more this year, so that would be a little better.”
Garrison added that he typically comes up for the entire month of April and said he plans to do the same this year.
“Everything is still normal. It’s just what we do at camp (has changed). Disinfecting the toilet every time you use it and stuff like that,” Schlosser said.
“People have always been respectful here. If you tell somebody something, they won’t do it. We just don’t need to shake hands this year and stuff like that.”
Some people have elected not to show this season. Those that are electing to fish have taken precautions.
Others are keeping to themselves.
Rodney Wise, a camper who has been coming to the River a couple weekends a season for a decade, is doing what he always has.
“I stay to my own. We catch our fish and leave,” Wise said.
He added that there are less people this season, but “it doesn’t bother me. If I get sick, it ain’t no big deal to me.”
COVID-19 has not dropped the water level. The fish are still biting. The campers are still catching their share.
But the pandemic has prompted those that fill the banks of the Maumee River to keep their distance until next walleye season.