Nothing beats a great escape into the Canadian wild for a combination of super fishing, quality time with friends and family, and just plain relaxation away from the pressures and worries of the everyday world. Fly-in resorts offer an outpost of civilization amidst the majesty and splendor of the outdoors.
Walleyes are high on the list of most fly-in anglers, offering fast and easy fishing on light tackle, often with a minimal selection of lures. Traditionally, a handful of jigs and a few packs of 3-inch twister tails do the trick; the fish are usually hungry and willing to bite. Bounce jigs through current areas at river mouths, or the first pool of deep water below waterfalls and narrows, and hang on tight. Hundred-fish mornings are possible, even from a few key anchor positions.
Where far-north lakes are big and deep and cold, and particularly where good numbers of lake trout roam the open basin, walleyes do indeed tend to remain in and around the warmer, darker water at river mouths for most of the open-water season. But where northern fly-in lakes are smaller and darker and warmer, or where lakes lie at more southerly latitudes and warm to swimming temperatures in summer, walleyes can and do spread throughout the lake sometime after spawning. And that’s where alternative search tactics come into play.
Add a few more lures to your flight bag of tricks: notably bottom-bouncers, spinners and soft plastic crawlers; and crankbaits. All will let you cover water quickly to locate walleyes on shoreline or midlake structures, determine walleye depth preference, and trigger strikes through increased speed. Once you have fish cornered, well, you can still drop a jig down on their noses if you wish.
Bottom bouncers are such snag-resistant devices that they’re natural options for drifting or trolling spinner-crawler combos across rock reefs and points-classic Canadian walleye structures. But the weak link has always been the lack of availability of livebait at fly-in destinations. Today, no problem. A wide array of soft-plastic substitutes fit the bill.
Scented soft plastics appeal to the walleyes’ sight, scent and taste, and a thumping, flashing, wobbling blade alerts and draws ‘em in for the final attack. With bouncers and spinners, nothing beats a 6-inch soft crawler in a natural color pattern, such as Berkley’s Power Crawler. Other companies offer similar 6-inch straight-tailed worms, although Power Crawlers are specifically scent- and taste-impregnated for walleyes and seem to be particularly effective.
Dress ‘em on a classic 30-inch spinner snell with a #3 to #4 blade, typically with an orange or chartreuse blade pattern to match the stained water common to many Canadian lakes and river systems. Add a 1/2-, 1-, or 1 1/2-ounce bouncer to match the depth, typically ranging anywhere from 5 or 6 feet down to 15 or 20. You can get by with your spinning (jigging) rod with 8-pound line, although you’re really better off with a 6 1/2-foot medium-casting rod spooled with about 10- or 12-pound test. So if you have room in your rod tube, pack another rod; it’ll come in handy for crankbaiting walleyes, too.
If walleyes aren’t stacked at river mouths, proceed out to the first few adjacent middepth structures, like long shoreline points, the ends of islands, saddles between islands or between an island and shore, or shallow midlake reefs projecting up near the surface; somewhere walleyes logically disperse to if they leave the river mouth for better feeding conditions in summer. Then let your rig out on enough line to barely scratch bottom and begin trolling just fast enough to spin the blade, skipping across rocks without snagging. You’ll be amazed how much territory you can cover in quick fashion.
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