Right Time + Right Place = Worlds Best Walleye Spots
Getting in on great fishing is first a matter of being in the right place at the right time. This is the finest of seasons for catching a giant walleye and sometimes lots of them, given the quality of some of the walleye fisheries we have available today.
While the fisheries we highlight here have been dynamite in most recent years, our point isn’t only to focus on world-class fisheries, but also on the general process of how to get in on great fishing wherever your fishing takes you. You may not be able to travel to these fisheries, but you can plan excursions to waters with the best potential near you.
Each body of water has hot buttons that you can get a feeling for by calling the right people and asking the right questions. When does the fishing usually peak? What are the conditions this year? And, more importantly, what’s happening right now?
You also need a feeling for the presentation process on the target water. Can the fish be caught during the day in deeper water? Or does the best fishing transpire after dark, trolling minnow-plugs on a long line in shallower water?
Finally, it’s a matter of going and making the most of the experience and what you’ve learned by reading In-Fisherman, our Critical Concepts series of walleye books, and In-Fisherman’s Walleye In-Sider magazine. Find the best spot and when it’s best to be there. Then find out how best to catch the fish. Here, meanwhile, are notes on a few of the finest walleye fisheries the world has ever seen.
BAY OF QUINTE, ONTARIO
The Bay of Quinte, just off Lake Ontario in eastern Ontario, is arguably the best walleye fishery in the world for consistently large fish — in any season, but especially after Labor Day. From early September until freeze-up in late December, the fishing just gets better and better. In a couple days of filming In-Fisherman television footage last December, the smallest walleye In-Fisherman Contributing Editor Jeff Simpson and I caught was 6 pounds. Fifteen others weighed more than 10 pounds. The Bay actually may be the only place where it’s easier to catch a fish over 10 pounds than one under that mark.
The reasons for the remarkable fishing are interwoven. Gigantic Lake Ontario offers both food and refuge, even more so now that zebra mussels have cleared the once-fertile bay’s waters. As a result, the mammoth walleyes gravitate to the main lake faster in the spring and spend more time there in summer, foraging on smelt and alewives in the deeper, darker waters. The giants return in autumn, staging over winter before spawning in inflowing rivers and filtering back into Lake Ontario.
Like most Great Lakes walleye fisheries, one top presentation is to longline troll smelt-imitating crankbaits behind planer boards and downriggers. The fish usually suspend. During the day, we used Rapala Deep Down Husky Jerks and #11 Tail Dancer Deeps run on long lines (100 feet or so back) attached to trolling boards.
At night, giant fish move inshore over weedflats and especially along weededges. We used #12 Rapala Husky Jerks run about 100 feet behind the boat, or ran #10 Tail Dancers along weededges and over nearby open water. We trolled with a big gas motor at 2.5 to 3 mph during the day, but switched to an electric trolling motor and speeds of about 1.5 mph at night.
Shore anglers also take big fish at night, anywhere they can wade or use a pier to reach feeding areas. One bank-bound angler we met had released a brace of 14-pounders.
When ice eventually locks up the big shallow bay, usually around Christmas, the light-sensitive walleyes feel more secure. The winter bite still peaks during the two twilight periods each day. Jigging Raps, Nils Masters Jigging Shads, and William’s Ice Spoons tipped with a minnow head are top producers during January and February.
Contact: Kevin Lavers, 613-476-6894 (lodging and information); Guide Big Jim McLaughlin, 613/498-2517.
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