On this episode of the Fish’n Canada Show, we were on the lookout for finicky, mid-summer Walleye.
It was the first week of August and although it hadn’t been brutally hot, it was the peak summer period. The majority of July had mile-high skies and lots of sunshine beaming down on lakes in the area we were in, which means tough fishing conditions.
We were in the Missanabie area of Ontario, a destination that is known for great Walleye fishing. This includes Dog Lake, Big and Little Missanabie, Whitefish, Manitowik and Wabatongushi Lakes, along with an array of smaller bodies of water, all of which are phenomenal Walleye producers.
This truly is Walleye country
Our home base for this shoot was at the time called Ernie’s Cottages and Campgrounds on the shores of Dog Lake. They have recently changed their name to Dog Lake Cottages and Campground (change of ownership).
OF COURSE… as it seems typical when we arrive at a new shoot location, “everybody grab your rain gear”! An unwanted summer, torrential downpour was hitting us hard! This pretty much had us stuck in one of the cottages… hey, it was comfy and dry and it even gave us a chance to record a podcast… go figure.
BTW… FYI…, it’s not that we can’t fish in these conditions, the fact is, we can’t film! A wet lens equals bad imagery!
We can fish in it, we just can’t shoot in it!
After what seemed like forever, the weather had finally cleared and we were chomping at the bit to hit the water. Our first stop was a big cabbage weed bed. It was a perfect spot to fire in some jigs and maybe a rattle bait to see if we could shake things up.
Here’s a LiveScope view of what our weed bed looked like
Well, it didn’t take long to connect with our first Walleye. It slammed a jig and fluke as it entered the weedy domain. Things were looking up, we were thinking this could turn into an outstanding, action-packed day.
The weather broke so we started out working a large cabbage weed bed and instantly hooked up with a Walleye
UNFORTUNATELY… no sooner did we catch that Walleye, that we started nailing small Pike one after another. It was actually annoying. Yes, we realize that there will be Northerns mixed in with the Walleye… that’s something we’ve come to expect in Northern Ontario but this was ridiculous… time to move on.
TROLLING: TWO DIFFERENT APPROACHES
We drove around the lake a bit and pretty quickly came upon some fish stacked up on a hard-bottomed breakline. They showed up well on our Garmin’s traditional and SideVu screens. Since the wind wasn’t ripping at that time, Ang and I decided to troll with our electric motor while fishing from the front of the boat. That way we can hold our fishing rods in our hands and make sure we could work on hooking up with light biters. As well, it gave us a quick opportunity to anchor the trolling motor and cast to fish we saw on our livescope screen.
“I’m one of those anglers,” says Ang “who likes to throw natural, perfect-looking baits. Hey, if the fish are eating perch, for instance, I want my bait to resemble a perch”!
“Pete on the other hand,” Ang continues “often goes way off the rails when it comes to colour choices. Sometimes it doesn’t work out for him, but there are times when he pulls out something like Purple Wonderbread, and, low and behold… it actually catches fish… and sometimes LOTS of fish”!
Techy Fishing Stuff
When trolling for pretty much any species of fish, it’s often a game of feet and even inches. We’ve seen many days when a 2-foot depth change could be the ticket. As well, if you accidentally sway even a short distance off of an effective trolling line or “pass”, that too could spell either success or disaster. Some trollers don’t believe this but a GPS/Fishfinder combo is absolutely essential.
The lures we were using are designed for trolling, and even better yet, they’re designed specifically for trolling Walleye. Not to say they won’t work on other species but man do they ever work on Walleye. They come in three different sizes that run at 3 different depths, approximately 7 – 10 feet, 10 – 15 feet and 15 feet and beyond.
Line size will ultimately determine the running depth of these baits.
The thicker the diameter of the line, the shallower the bait will run. Depth takes precedence over bait size every time. Anglers have to get that bait into the fish’s strike zone.
Back To The Fishing
As the day progressed, indeed Pete’s shot at crazy colours being effective for those northern Ontario Walleye worked. They loved it!
“Ok, Ok, I realize,” says Ang “that earlier on I said I was a natural bait colour kinda’ guy but enough was enough. I’ve gotta’ tap out and submit to the crazy, or should I say, what the heck does it represent… Purple Wonderbread??? Oh well…”
With Ang’s reluctant move to Purple Wonderbread, he too started boating fish.
Crazy colours often equal lots of Walleye
As in typical mid-day fashion, the wind had picked up and fishing from the front of the boat was much more difficult. We had to shift to the more conventional trolling method and put the rods in the rod holders at the back of the boat. We still used the electric motor for propulsion, we were just fishing from a different position.
“Funny story,” says Pete “I finally got Ang all pumped up and convinced into pulling a Purple Wonderbread and things were going great. He instantly started catching Walleye. Then all of a sudden he gets bit, grabs his rod, and proceeds to get spooled… every inch of line from his baitcaster is gone! We have no idea to this day what hit him”.
Check out the amount of line Ang has on his baitcaster… ZERO feet… spooled in seconds!
Luckily, the bite got even better… so Ang grabbed a Yo Zuri “Bass” crankbait… and he was back in business.
This was a very typical day for us, trying to figure out what is arguably Ontario’s most popular gamefish. We started out pitching jigs into weeds and quickly determined that “wasn’t” the way to go… But as soon as we located a couple of schools of deeper fish with our electronics, followed by bringing out the trolling gear, it was fish on!
Ending the day on a sweet double header of Walleye made the trip that much more worthwhile!
Quite honestly, no matter what fishing methods we use when targeting northern Ontario Walleye… for us, it NEVER gets old!
DOG LAKE COTTAGES AND CAMPGROUND (Formerly Ernie’s)
For more information on our incredible accommodations and how we got to today’s fantastic fishing destinations, check out the article over at Northern Ontario Travel!