A question for you: when is a walleye, actually a pike?
Answer: when it’s a pickerel.
So, let’s once and for all correct one of the most egregious mistakes in the Canadian fishing world, and that is calling a Walleye a pickerel. A Walleye is not a pickerel; a pickerel is literally a pickerel as in a Chain Pickerel, in the Esox family of predatory fish, which by the way looks almost exactly like a Pike or a Muskie.
Make sure though that you do not confuse this issue with a Pike-Perch, which is actually called a European Zander.
The European Zander looks almost exactly like a Sander Vitreus, or more commonly known as, a Walleye!
You got that right fishing fanatics, it really can be confusing!
So, getting back to business, this Fish’n Canada article is obviously about the nation’s most popular fish, the Walleye BUT as well, we’re gonna throw in the Northern Pike as a bonus. Let’s face it, with “northern” in your name, it gets no more Canadian!
The beauty of the Walleye and the Northern Pike is, under normal circumstances, they reside in the same bodies of water. When one’s not biting, the other can be a bonus.
Let’s start out with the Walleye. Its Canadian distribution is mind boggling. We’ve caught them from BC and right through Quebec, including the territories. We have even heard of one or two being caught out east.
They can survive in deep cold lakes as well as shallow fertile lakes… and everything in between.
They flourish in slow meandering rivers, and survive equally as well in fast, ripping whitewater. They truly are an adaptive species.
As well, the Walleye is by far the most desired species when it comes to the iconic Canadian shore lunch. It’s delicious white, flaky meat almost melts in your mouth. The entire Fish’n Canada crew loves doing Walleye shoots at Ontario fishing lodges because we are guaranteed some of the best outdoor meals of the entire season.
Of course, eating fresh Walleye is only a small part of this great fish’s story. It’s the adventure of catching them in so many different destinations, that keeps us coming back, again and again.
From the far reaches of the north to the most southerly regions of this great area, the Walleye justifiably is held in high regard.
THE NORTHERN PIKE
We’ll get you back to more Walleye in a bit however we also want to talk to you about the Northern Pike. This voracious freshwater predator only takes a back seat to one fish… its cousin the Muskie.
To us, that’s only because Muskies can grow bigger. If it wasn’t for that, we’d put Pike and Muskie at the exact same level on our “tough-guy” fish list.
The Northern Pike’s Canadian distribution is even greater than its little buddy the Walleye. Again, they live from BC to Quebec, the Yukon through the territories and they even reach into parts of Labrador. You wanna’ talk about an adaptable creature that can be found across the nation, well the Northern Pike is that creature.
One thing that we have learned as anglers growing up in Ontario is that if you want to cash in on a true giant of a Pike, your best chances will be to the north. Yeah, we’ve caught some big ones to the south, but by travelling to the north, for “Northern Pike…” you definitely put the odds in your favor at hooking into a behemoth!
Moving back to Walleye, you have got to love the fact that they are a schooling fish. Yeah, the odd time you seem to catch a single fish here and there but, if you carefully scan around with your electronics after catching what you “think” is a loner, you may discover the school of all schools.
If you keep in your mind that Walleye “ARE” a schooling or grouping fish, you may unlock the code to a bunch of em’.
Often, big Pike don’t want to play the way they’re “supposed” to. They just get down-right finicky. You would think that these giants, with rows upon rows of sharp teeth, would slash and kill anything that moves. That is not always the case, even way up north…
We have often seen giant fish totally ignore any artificial presentation we throw at it. VERY FUSTRATING!!!!
But as often is the case, there is a solution as in a Quickstrike Rig under a float.
GIANT WALLEYE LOCATIONS
Oddly enough, we have 2 favorite destinations in Ontario when searching for that absolute gigantic Walleye of a lifetime. We say oddly because one is in the southern part of the province, while the other is over 2,000 kilometers away, in the far reaches of the north…
ARE NORTHERN PIKE BETTER IN THE NORTH?
Since Ang and Pete live in Ontario, a question they get all the time is “just how far north in the province, do you have to travel to tie into a big Northern Pike?”
In their experience, you need to start in the Algoma region of Ontario and work north from there. This is a case where the further north you travel, the more abundant trophy Pike will be…
Well, there you have it, two of Ontario’s most popular fish species and as well, 2 that are making an impact across the entire nation.
And finally, as we have been telling you on our TV show throughout this season, if-and-when it is safe to travel to any region in this country please respect all local health and safety regulations.
We can and will get through this together.