The grass is always greener on the other side. This is a saying that has been around for many years and we tend to always believe it. Especially fisherman—we take it to the extreme. If our quarry isn’t voraciously schooling up and inhaling everything we’re throwing at them, then we’ve gotta move. In our heads, a little voice is saying “the weeds at the top end of the lake will be better” or “that rock pile twenty kilometres away has got to have a school on it” and so on, and so on. Simply put, it’s human nature and it’s part of fishing.
Of course, up in the remote north country where fish are perceived to be everywhere, the “Grass is Always Greener” rule has never been applied, right? Wrong.
Granted, these lakes do have a crapload of fish on them. But finding quality is more work than you might think.
BRACE LAKE OUTFITTERS
This episode takes place at Brace Lake Outfitters in Northern Ontario and according to Kyle Polesky—owner, operator, and head guide at the lodge—the best fishing on the entire lake, especially for big Pike, is directly in front of the lodge.
Well, a couple of knuckleheads like Ang and Pete just can’t comprehend such a statement. Come on, they’ve gotta cover some water, burn some gas, and put in some time.
Brace Lake Lodge can actually access three bodies of water: Brace Lake being the obvious, and then the connecting lakes of Meta and Ara. Between these three lakes, as well as the connecting river systems, there are literally hundreds of kilometres of fishable water for Walleye and Pike.
After a quick talk about the game plan, the boys decided to run. Fishing in front of the lodge would just be absurd, wouldn’t it?
“We tried up the river,” says Pete, “and caught fish after fish after fish, but no big boys.”
“So we headed back to the lodge to regroup,” adds Angelo.
Still insistent about having to “get away from the crowds”, they decided after a quick lunch to make the long trek south to Meta and Ara lakes. They’re only 45+ minutes away, after all.
THE GRASS ISN’T ALWAYS GREENER
The adventurous tour that took the boys all the way down to Meta Lake and then into Ara Lake started to produce a little better average-sized fish, but not the big Walleye and Pike this lodge is known for. And certainly not what they drove 45 minutes in the boat for.
Ang: “We were trying to figure out why we couldn’t get any of the big girls that this place is known for… but now we see why. In typical Northern Ontario fashion, Mother Nature threw us directly into the midst of the dreaded Mayfly hatch. This doesn’t mean big Walleye won’t eat our offerings, but when the hatch does occur, you can expect about a twenty-to-one ratio of small fish to quality fish.”
“Back to home base to regroup again,” says Pete. “Those Pike out front of the lodge are sounding better and better!”
After sucking up their pride, our team decided to fish a little area just south of the lodge. There’s some fantastic structure there with great weed growth surrounding a giant boulder in the middle of nowhere.
Their first couple of fish in this area were some of the best Walleye of the trip. Things were looking up. But remember, where there’s Walleye, there’s Pike. As Angelo was pulling in his jig, a lunatic Northern literally jumped out of the water boat side and engulfed his jig in mid-air—something that usually only happens in the beautiful Canadian North.
READING ALL THE PAGES
Of course, the shoot wouldn’t be complete without Ang and Pete finally heeding Kyle’s advice and fishing directly in front of the lodge. Knowing that, they headed out and starting trolling for a total of about 60 seconds.
Sure enough, the biggest Pike of the entire trip came exactly as the lodge owner had predicted.
Pete says, “If we can give you one lesson out of this Fish’n Canada episode, it’s that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side when it comes to fishing. Be smart and check all areas.”
Ang: “As my good schoolteacher Mr. Hiltz used to say,’Read all the pages, Viola!'”
TIP: Trolling big plugs, spinners, spoons or swimbaits is by far the most effective way of making contact with these big lodge-oriented Northerns. As per usual, once the fish are located, be persistent. Troll a big grid pattern, run some Figure 8 patterns, zig and zag.