There is a fall fishing phenomenon that has existed for a long time now that is anticipated by plenty of hard-core anglers from both Canada and the USA. It normally starts in October and runs right into December. Of course, as per the title of this piece, we are talking about the annual Bay of Quinte fall Walleye migration in the province of Ontario.
By the way, if you want to read about that great cover image Walleye, check out my piece called Reaching Deep For Walleye which we shot last fall on the Bay of Quinte.
MY FALL QUINTE HISTORY
I remember back many years ago when I used to fish well into November with my long-time fishing pal Mike Burriss. Back in the day, it was strictly Walleye, nowadays, we’ll try for anything as long as it’s not frozen over. Our old Walleye deal was to grab a bucket of mud minnows and head out to either the Long Reach or the Telegraph Narrows, both areas which are not far from my old hometown of Napanee.
Depending on the wind strength and direction, we would set up for a series of drifts, dragging our jig and minnow combinations. For the most part, we did quite well but as time passed on, the fishing seemed to get tougher and tougher.
By the end of my prime jigging time, I’d be hard-pressed to get even a few of those typical fall fish in the 5-8-pound range. It was to the point of vertical jigging in 30+ feet of water for little cigar-sized Walleye with the odd giant (usually 10 pounds or more) mixed in. Those big ones made for great pictures and stories, but it was a long day for maybe one fish.
Then something happened.
MY TURNING POINT
I was in Moon’s bait shop in Deseronto picking up my usual couple-dozen minnows when a guy named Tom Gustar came up to me and asked how I have been doing “jigging” up my Walleye in the reach. I told him and he kind of shook his head and suggested I needed to troll as he was catching loads of BIG Walleye. Of course, when I hear stories like this, the doubt factor immediately pops in. After all, we would only see the odd big fish, and as well, who the hell was Tom Gustar?
Well, let me tell you about Tom. At that time, he was one of the only, if not the only Canadian that was actively fishing on the PWT better known as the Professional Walleye Tour. They covered mostly US waters if I remember correctly. For Tom, these were good learning experiences on a variety of waterbody types away from home (Ontario).
One of the greatest techniques Tom picked up while touring was refined trolling tactics. Not just dropping a line back at an unknown distance. He was dropping lines back at precise distances and he was spreading his lines out to cover more water.
Every time Tom saw me, whether near Quinte or in the Greater Toronto Area, he’d ask “when are fish fishing together?”
Well, it finally happened. I was going to call this big dude’s bluff. Loads of 10-pounders… yeah right!
MY FIRST LATE FALL TROLLING EXPERIENCE
I’ll always remember that first time Tom got me out on the water in his boat. We launched and he looked at the conditions and said “it’s gonna’ be a good day”. That’s it. Nothing about what we were going to use, trolling tactics, etc.
Once we started to set out our spread, however, my mouth couldn’t stop spewing questions.
This is the first time I had ever seen little inline planer boards. I found them intriguingly awesome. Something different and if they worked, a new tool for me. Well worked they did. No sooner did we have our two lines out and set did one of the boards start ripping backward. “There you go, grab the rod”
That first fish surprised us at being a big Northern Pike. Big for Quinte that is. Probably around 15lbs. Of course, I was freaking out (I love big Pike) and even Tom cracked a bit of a smile as he hadn’t seen many there at that time as well. Trust me though, he was as disappointed as he was surprised since his main deal there was Walleye.
Not to fret, the Walleye came soon after. And man did they come!
It was then that I knew Tom wasn’t bragging about his fall trolling tactics to me, he was teasing me in order to get me out there and show me his discovery. And what a discovery he had, ALL TO HIMSELF BTW!
Tom and I went on to returning season after season to enjoy this Walleye phenomenon and even shot a Fish’n Canada episode there.
Here is an article I did back in 2007 with an old buddy where we fished the conditions and caught a couple of mules… around 13lbs each!
Continue to Page 2 for more of Pete’s Ultimate Fall Bay of Quinte Walleye Fishing Guide