While a fly-in Canadian fishing adventure can be an awesome experience, noteworthy drive-to walleye destinations abound in the Lower 48 and across Canada, within easy reach of anglers eager to sample world-class action without taking wing.
Considering the amazing options both countries are blessed with, narrowing the list of must-fish waters to 10 was no easy task. Many five-star fisheries, from the Columbia and Snake rivers of the West to Dale Hollow on the southern front, and countless Canadian gems—including Last Mountain Lake, the Winnipeg River, and legendary Bay of Quinte—were literally in the mix until the final cut.
Mitigating factors included numbers of fish and trophy potential. But in the end, the survivors also reflect personal feelings on fisheries sampled, and those still on the bucket list. Too, I wanted to highlight a variety of waters, rather than rattling off 10 Great Lakes tributaries, 10 prespawn rivers, and so on. That being said, here is our rundown of 10 favorite drive-to walleye Meccas, in alphabetical order.
- <h2>Devils Lake, North Dakota</h2>Spanning roughly 160,000 acres, Devils holds hordes of eaters under 3 pounds along with trophies topping 10. And it’s rich in flooded cover, offering fishing options to fit virtually everyone’s strong suit. Feeder creeks and current-washed bridge areas produce early, followed by weedy bays, deep timberlines, rocks, and flooded roadways as the season progresses. Classic patterns include slipbobbering cattail edges in back bays, as well as gnarly tangles of standing timber. But don’t be afraid to think outside the box. In August 2012, Scott Busteed and Dave Harmon topped 228 anglers competing in the Cabela’s MWC-Devils Lake Chamber of Commerce dual tournament by targeting hungry ’eyes gorging on freshwater shrimp in two feet of water. The hot zone was a mudline within eight feet of the bank, created by heavy equipment building up a shoreline roadbed. The killer tactic was trolling Berkley Flicker Shads 1.8 to 2 mph behind planer boards. Contacts: Guide Jon Dircks, 701/230-9469; Ed’s Bait Shop, 701/662-8321, edsbaitshop.com; Mitchell’s Guide Service, 701/662-6560, fishdevilslake.net.
*Dan Johnson of Harris, Minnesota, is a frequent contributor to In-Fisherman publications and director of All Creation Outdoor Media.