The prettiest fish in the world is a walleye pulled from Wawang Lake. They seem to have a rich, caramel color unmatched by any other region in North America. Maybe it’s because of the dark water in many of Ontario’s thousands of Canadian shield lakes. Or maybe it’s simply an extension of the colorful personality you find in Ontario’s places, people and attitude.
Here’s a proven approach to filling your live well and memories with golden walleyes!
In early summer, the walleyes have just finished spawning. So you’ll find them near their spawning grounds which are ideally hard-bottom bays with lots of gravel and some current. The current can be from inflowing rivers and creeks, or from wind/wave action off points and within pinch-points. Study a good lake map, ask questions and spend some time searching for potential hot-spot bays. A solid game plan pays dividends.
An ideal shallow bay will be between 4-8 feet deep with a feeder creek and a hard sandy bottom. If rubble and some weeds are mixed in, even better! Begin fishing with a “search bait” presentation to cover a lot of water and find active fish. Trolling with a ½ ounce bottom bouncer and a 5-foot snell with a spinner rig and live bait is a great search bait strategy.
After you zero in on reef, flat, saddle or point that’s holding active fish, you can switch tactics to improve your catch rate. At this point grab a medium-action jigging rod with a 1/16 or 1/8 ounce jig and 6-10 pound monofilament line. Tip the jig with a leech, minnow or half a crawler. The best colors vary but in Wawang Lake are orange, pink, chartreuse, silver & gold. The brighter colors always perform better in stained water.
Experiment with plastic bodied jigs, hair jigs and “naked” jigs too and find out what the fish are responding to. Use jigs with an attached fluttering blade. In addition to providing some extra flash and vibration, the blade slows down the rate that the jig falls. Active fish like to hit that jig on the drop, so if you slow it down it’ll stay in the strike zone longer.
If the fish aren’t hitting your jig when you pitch it and let it fall, try dragging it instead. Start with a very slow, steady drag with gentle jigging. But don’t be afraid to throw in some snap-jigging too. Sometimes that aggressive “snap” incites a reflex bite from a walleye that you wouldn’t get with a gentle ‘pop.”
Clustered Fish & Bobbers
When it seems you get a bite at a particular spot on a big, featureless flat are and for whatever reason, the walleyes are really bunched up in that small area try this on them:
- Eliminate the commotion of trolling over them – backed off and slowly lowered an anchor.
- Bring out the slip bobber rods and presented small feather jigs with leeches beneath the floats.
You will hammer ‘em! And there’s not much that matches the excitement of watching a bobber go down and knowing it’s a big ‘eye doing it. Using floats is also a great idea if the bottom is really rugged and causing a lot of hang-ups and broken lines. So give slip-bobbering a try if the fish and conditions dictate it.
The first step in experiencing the best walleye fishing in the world is planning the trip. Check out our Wawang Blog that has many articles on how to fish our lake along with techniques, presentations, what lures and baits work best. It’s all there on the blog – great fishing tips that will help you catch even more fish!
While fishing early summer walleyes, Ontario will surprise you with some fringe benefits… namely an abundance of “accidental” fish you’ll catch including large pike. It’s not uncommon to catch a monster northern pike while fishing for walleye. I don’t know about you, but I love it when that happens!
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