Posts Tagged ‘walleye’

Early Ice Walleyes, Crappies and Northerns

Clam Ice House Had a great adventure on early ice a week ago.  My friends Eric, John and I headed out to find ice on Friday afternoon.  We ended up on a small lake we had never fished before by Alexandria, Minnesota and slowly made our way out on the ice.  We ventured out about 150 yards and found a nice break that went from 8 ft of water to 20 ft pretty quickly.  We each had our portables with, so we set up in a line running from about 13 ft to 19 ft.  We found a consistant 3 1/2 to 4 inches of good dark ice, so we felt pretty good about that.

Walleye and CrappieFriday evening ended up to be a great night on the water.  We ended up catching 6 walleye, 5 crappie and 4 northerns.  The walleyes all bit on set lines with fat heads, they didn’t seem to want a wide variety of more active presentations we were throwing at them.  The crappies all came in about 5-6 feet off the bottom and when we marked them on our electronics, we jigged up to them.  They were pretty aggressive hitting buckshot rattle spoons tipped with a minnow head.  The northerns all came before dark and like a typical northern, was slamming anything it could find.

Eric Ice Fishing

Saturday morning started off a bit slow, but we ended up getting four more walleyes to bite along with 4 more crappies.  Once the sun came up, the northerns were in full swing and we got 17 northerns in less than an hour.  None were huge, but fun anyway.

It was great to get back on the ice for the first of many trips this year.  I’m not going to be able to make it back out this weekend, but I’m sure I’ll be on the ice several times over the holidays, so look for more reports soon.

Fishing in the Wabakimi Provincial Park in Ontario

Drake DillA few weeks back my new friend Drake Dill asked if he could write a guest post on The Fishing Foodie. Given I’ve been so busy lately, I said of course.  Drake is the owner of Thunderhook Fly-Ins  in the Wabakimi Provincial Park in Northwestern Ontario.  While I haven’t had the opportunity to fish with Drake yet, after talking with him and learning more about Thunderhook Fly-Ins, it is only a matter of time.

Drake would love to answer any questions you might have, so feel free to send him an email at info@thunderhook.com.

Guest Post – Fishing in the Wabakimi Provincial Park in Ontario

Many folks do not get the chance to visit Northwestern Ontario to go on a fly-in fishing trip. Even fewer folks get to explore and fish in the Wabakimi Provincial Park, which at nearly 3 million acres is a true hidden gem in Canada. This park is different from most of its other wilderness counterparts. The Wabakimi is not just a “paddle only” park, and was created with a different intent than most other wilderness areas. You can visit this park and stay in a cabin with all of the comforts of home, use a motorized boat, and fish with live bait. One other thing to mention is that the Wabakimi has a very healthy population of both Woodland Caribou and Moose. These giants are truly majestic, and can add the finishing touch on one’s wilderness experience. Below I will outline the primary fish species found in this area and some great times to target each species.

Walleye Fishing

Wabakimi_WalleyeThe walleye fishing in the Wabakimi Provincial Park is absolutely fantastic. This could even be an understatement. The large bodies of water in the heart of the park such as Granite, Whitewater, Wabakimi, and Smoothrock lakes are absolute fish factories. These large lakes all have landmark Canadian river systems such as the Ogoki, Berg, and Allanwater Rivers running through them. These rivers provide the ultimate spring spawning ground for walleyes. During the summer the walleyes move out into deeper water and relate to rocky drop-offs, reefs, and sand flats. Arguably the best walleye fishing is after September 1st when turnover occurs and the lakes in this area de-stratify. An example of a beautiful late summer walleye can be seen below.

Northern Pike Fishing

Wabakimi_NorthernAlthough the pike fishing can be spectacular on many of the large lakes within the park, there is not a better time to fish for these giants than spring. During the spring the pike can be caught off guard in weedy bays that are very shallow. Casting spoons and large plugs into these shallow flats can produce fish in the 45-50 inch class. These areas are the best bet for big pike in late May and early June.  Once summer rolls around the fishing for pike can get a bit tougher. It is often quite common to catch a master angler northern pike in the dead heat of summer when fishing walleyes with a jig and minnow or lindy rig setup. The fall again begins to offer the best chance of a trophy pike (like spring) as the fish begin to move back into shallow water in preparation for the spawn the next spring.

 

Lake Trout Fishing

Wabakimi Lake TroutThe Lake Trout Fishing can be fantastic in this area, but is not generally the primary target of most anglers. Many of the lakes we are talking about in this area are not typical trout waters. In Northwestern Ontario, most trout fishermen target lakes along the border that are not only deep, but clear as well. The lakes in the Wabakimi are deep and cool but not clear (for the most part). This makes it quite difficult to target the fish in comparison to some of the famous trout lakes along the border such as Quetico and Cirrus Lakes, which are incidentally in the Quetico Provincial Park. The easiest way to catch large Lake Trout is to fish in September (trout spawn in the fall) when these fish move into shallow water to prepare to spawn. During the summer months the trout move into deep water and relate to humps that can be as deep as 80 to 100 feet. Summer can be a very difficult time to catch Lake Trout. Trout fishing can also be wonderful in the Spring, if the trout have not begun to move into the deeper water in preparation for summer.

Brook Trout Fishing

Wabakimi Brook TroutAlthough Brook Trout are not the “prime” target and species within this area, it does not mean that one should pass up the wonderful opportunities that are available for catching this tasty table fare. Brook Trout fishing is very labor intensive and often it can take hours in a small stream (generally below a rapids) to catch one of these beautiful fish. Generally, it is worth it to go after a trout. Many believe that these fish taste every bit as good as Salmon. I tend to believe so too. The easiest way to catch Brook Trout in Ontario is to target the fish in small bays and fast-moving streams within 2-3 weeks after ice out. The sooner… the better!

Accessing the Area

float_planeAs you can see from the pictures, it is not uncommon to catch trophy fish among all species in the park. There are many options when visiting the Wabakimi. Some options are camping, kayaking, canoeing, and fly-in outposts/lodges. Remember, the only way to access this pristine and virtually untouched area is via floatplane.  Thunderhook Fly-Ins is one of the outfitters that has exclusive access to this area. We offers an airbase, fly-in outpost camps, a fly-in lodge, and logistics services in the Armstrong Station, Ontario.

Lake Wabakimi Ontario – Fly In Fishing Trip Report

For the second year on a row I was lucky enough to fly into the Ontario wilderness with a great group of guys for some fantastic fishing, food and relaxation.  We spent a total of 5 days up there including our travel days, and you couldn’t have asked for a better trip.  Here is my account of the fishing.  The food will come in a later post, but it was just as great.

Six of us flew in.  Dale, Steve, John, Tuyen, Paul and me.  The trip was booked through Rusty Myers Outfitters.  We used them last year as well, and they have great camps and overall run a good operation.

Fly in camp

Wabakimi Fishing Report

Thursday:
Wabakimi WalleyeWe didn’t get to camp until about 2:30 on Thursday. I thought we had an earlier flight, but that was not the case. After quickly unloading our gear, we quickly shoved it all in the cabin and went straight for the boats. We were on the water by about 3:15 and it was game on! It was fairly windy, and since it was pretty late in the day we decided to explore Lower Wabakimi. John and I shot across to the south entrance to Lower Wabakimi, while the other two boats went through Rusty’s back door. John and I have never been to Wabakimi, so there was lots of orienting ourselves and figuring out where the fish were. We fished until about 7:30 and ended up with 14 walleyes and a couple small northerns. Even though we were on the water for 4 hours, much of that time was spent running and exploring, so we felt pretty good about it. The other two boats ended up with 27 walleyes and 6 walleyes fishing the current by Rusty’s back door (just south of the camp).

 

Friday:
This was our first full day of fishing. The wind was blowing a bit, but John and I decided to head up to the north side and fish around the long bays on the north end, and I’m sure glad we did.  In about an hour and a half of fishing, we had about 40 walleyes, 30 of them were over 20 inches. Just beautiful fish, and they were everywhere. After that, we explored a bit just picking up a few fish here and there, and then ended up finding some running water in the far east of the big bays on the north side, and we sat in there for about an hour and got another 45 or so walleyes. We ended up the day with 96 walleyes, 6 northern and 1 perch. What a great day. The other boats didn’t do as well, but still managed a great day with about 30-50 fish per boat.

Josh with a Wabakimi WalleyeJohn with a Wabakimi WalleyePerch

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of the highlights of our trip happend on Friday.  John and I were out fishing and the stringer came loose and one of our walleyes found its way to our prop.  Needless to say it got messed up.  About 5 minutes later, we were driving along and saw a beautiful Bald Eagle perched in a tree.  John got out his camera, I held up the walleye to get the Eagle’s attention and threw it about 20 feet from the boat.  The Eagle made one low pass over and came right in to get the 17 inch walleye.  It was amazing!

 

Bald Eagle catching Walleye

Saturday:
Running waterWith the success we had the day before, all three boats went up and followed our pattern from the previous day. The conditions were totally different though. The lake laid flat, and the sun was out. On Friday it was pretty choppy and cloudy/rainy, so I wasn’t sure how that would effect the fishing. The fish were still in both spots, but not as heavy as the day before, and they seemed to move away from the running water a bit to the deeper water that was right next to it. We finished the day with about 140 walleyes between the three boats.

Sunday:
Stringer of Wabakimi WalleyesThe wind was howling and it was rainy and pretty much just a crappy day, so we decided to stay on the south end of Wabakimi. John and I along with Dale and Steve’s boat headed to the south entrance and started fishing some moving water along the way. We picked up a few fish, but nothing great. We continued on to the south cross as we called it and fished a rock wall there and hammered the walleyes for about an hour before returning to camp for lunch. The other boat went south through Rusty’s back door and had some success too. After lunch we decided to head all the way south to fish the moving water which I think goes into Smoothrock lake (or something like that). Man, it was raging, and we couldn’t even get the boat close enough to fish it or we would have been sucked down it never to return. Since we were down there, we explored the bays and picked up a couple walleyes and a couple northerns, but nothing great. We decided to head back to the rock wall at the south cross. It was a pretty choppy ride back north, and the other boat with us tagged a big rock in the middle of the lake (no damage done), but we finally got up to our spot and continued to hammer them all evening. I caught the big fish of the trip there, landing a nice 27 inch walleye. We ended the day with well over 200 walleyes between our boats and had a great day.

27 inch Wabakimi Walleye

Monday:
Rusty Myers Caravan on FloatsWe cleaned up camp and looked out at the weather. Pretty low clouds and lots of rain in the morning. The rain stopped, but the clouds hung in there, so we really were not sure when we would be heading out. Finally, at about 3:00 our plane was in sight. I wish we would have know that, we would have fished the morning, but we didn’t. Really bumpy ride home and had to weave through a few thunderstorms, but we made it. What a great trip!

As for tackle, when the fish were on, it really didn’t matter. We had minnows and leaches with, but a gummy worm worked too (no lie). If you are heading up there, bring enough bait.  We brought in 30 dozen minnows and 2 pounds of leeches, and we ran out of minnows about half way through the last day.  We did have some dead loss though that became soft and not usable.

Most of the time we used a variety of jigs.  The Northland Gumball Jigs in a 3/8 oz size worked well for us.  For a time I used a couple different spinner jigs from bulk tackle and also some Scheels Sports brand spinner jigs, and they out fished regular jigs 3-1.  The ones I had were pretty light though, so I had trouble keeping them on the bottom, so I gave up after a while, but they sure worked well.  For colors, we found that pink and orange were the best colors when it was cloudy, and white seemed to do best when the sun came out, but color didn’t seem to be too much of a factor. The bigger thing was making sure you were jigging right on the bottom. If you were more than a foot off, you weren’t catching fish.

All in all, a great trip that I will remember for a lifetime!  Check out The Fishing Foodie on Facebook for more pictures.

Tight Lines!

Minnesota Walleyes Through the Ice

It’s been far to long since my last post, but fishing has been pretty good.  A few of the guys usually take a trip up to Upper Red Lake or Lake of the Woods about this time of year to hammer some walleyes, but we are not going to make it up this year due to schedules and two of us heading to the Bahamas for some relaxing and deep sea fishing.

Last week Blake, Sty and I fished for a few days on Lake Ida near Alexandria.  We aren’t much for chasing Crappies all over the bays, so we pretty much targeted Walleyes on the break lines.  The deeper water seemed to produce the best for us.  We moved the house four times, and didn’t really seem to do better or worse, it was all pretty consistent with a dawn and dusk bite.

The first day and a half were right in the middle of a cold front that came through the area.  The fishing was fairly steady at dawn and sunset, but other than that, there was a cloud of small Perch with the occasional Northern swimming through.  All of the fish we caught were on set lines those first couple days with the Walleyes coming in to check out our jigging lines, but taking the set lines.  We had a variety of small jigs and plain hooks on the set lines, and that didn’t seem to matter, it was the slower presentation that seemed to be the key element.

WalleyeIda walleyeWalleye

 

 

 

 

 

 

As things warmed up the second half of the trip, the fishing slowed down, but the fish we did get were more aggressive taking our jigging lines and leaving the set lines alone.  A variety of jigging spoons in a variety of colors produced nice Walleyes, so again it really didn’t seem to be the bait or the color, but more the aggressive action that triggered the bite.

in the ice houseWe didn’t light it up over the three days of fishing, but we ended up with about 25 Walleyes, 3 Northerns and a few small Perch.  Blake was the big winner the fist couple days catching the biggest and the most fish.  I chalk it up to laziness since he wasn’t jigging so he had twice the set lines Sty and I had, but in reality, it was a smart move given the bite.  It was a blast being out there with the guys though in Sty’s new Ice Castle.  I love my Clam Guide Series portable, but the comforts of a wheel house make for great days on the water.

One of our traditions over the past few years has been to chisel a bunch of crystal clear lake ice to keep our cocktails cold.  Blake happened to pick an iceberg for his drink.  Not sure why, but the lake ice seems to last much longer than ice cubes.  I’ll have to look into the reasoning for that one day.

Tight lines, and be careful out on the ice!

New Year’s Ice Fishing For Walleye

I finally got to spend some quality time on the ice over the New Year’s holiday.  We spent the weekend at my friends cabin on Lake Ida near Alexandria, MN.  We were targeting Walleyes through the ice over the weekend, and had some pretty good success, but the flurries each morning and night were fast, but short lived.  We spent a couple hours in the ice house each morning and evening around sunrise and sunset.

Our first night out we we had Eric’s wheel house in about 24 feet of water, and I set up my portable in about 22 feet of water.  We didn’t nail a big one that night, but we ended up with 3-4 walleyes (can’t remember).  The first night the walleyes seemed pretty mixed hitting both our set lines and our jigs.  I do know that the one fish I got the first night came on a red Northland Buck-Shot Rattle Spoon.

The next morning we got on the ice at about 6:30 and started fishing right away.  Things were slow until about 8:00, and then we had a small flurry of action.  I got my biggest fish of the weekend that morning, and we also managed 4 others during the morning bite.  The fish were really aggressive in the morning, and all of our fish came on our jigging lines.  Eric got one on a Chartreuse Glow Lindy Darter, and the rest came on Lindy Rattl’n Flyers in both red and gold.  If only the flurry could have kept up for a bit longer.  Man, that was fun.

A beautiful Lake Ida Walleye caught through the ice.

Friday night was slow for us.  The bit turned off and we couldn’t get a thing to hit our jigging lines.  We ended up getting one more nice fish and a couple little ones, but they all came on set lines.  We had several fish check out our jigs, but nothing would commit.

Ice FishingSaturday morning we set up two portables along with the wheel house in about 28 feet of water to try something a bit different.  We managed a couple more small walleyes, but that was about it.  I had one in my house, and Eric had a couple in his house, but the rest of the guys were pretty quiet.  Mine came on a gold Lindy Rattly’n Flyer, and I believe Eric got one jigging and one on a set line.  Oh, our set lines were all about 4-8 inches off the bottom.  We found that the lower ones typically did better.

Saturday night things were looking up a bit.  Like the other mornings and evenings we had ice fishing, a flurry came through, but we had a couple prior to it and a couple hit after as well.  Our luck wasn’t as good Saturday night though.  Blake and Briz both had really nice fish on, but we couldn’t get them through the hole.  We didn’t see Blakes, but it looked like it had some weight to it.  Briz lost his right at the hole, and our guess is that it was about 26-27 inches.  Would have been nice to get a picture of that one!  The big one hit on a set line with a small blue jig and a fathead.  It was the only fish we had hit a fathead, the rest were all on Shiners.  We managed to land a half dozen fish during the flurry, but three were pretty small.  The wind was screaming Saturday night, so Eric and I had to make a run out to the houses and pull down the portables, we were worried they might not be there in the morning if we didn’t, and I’m glad we did.  Things were really whipping out there.

Ice fishing for walleyeSunday was our last full day to catch a mess of fish.  The morning was more of the same.  We managed few fish, but all but one were pretty small.  Again, jigging seemed to be the ticket, but the occasional set line would go down as well.  The evening was a bit crowded in the wheel house because we didn’t have any portables out due to the weather.  We had a better school of fish go through and managed to get another 4-5 fish, I think three between 14-17 inches, the other couple were small, and we missed a few more.

Monday morning was our last time on the ice.  Eric and I were the only two headed out in the morning and it was still really whipping out there and the temperatures dropped quite a bit.  We managed to get three really nice walleyes between 16-18 inches and also released a couple smaller ones.  Everything came jigging on Monday morning.  The walleyes were much more aggressive and really hit an aggressive presentation.  I don’t think our set lines even moved.  We were jigging and a big red mark would just fly onto the Vexilar and wham!  Fish on!

Lake Ida Ice Fishing Walleye

For those of you headed out to the lakes around Alexandria, be careful out there.  On Lake Ida, the ice was pretty good where we were fishing, but I heard a house sunk in a bay not too far from us.  We were on 9-11 inches of really good ice most of the time, but I did see a spot that was just shy of 8 inches of ice.  There was a pretty big pressure ridge about 200 yards from us, and a smaller one about 50 feet from us.  We wandered over to the close one and there was no open water, but the bigger one was much bigger sticking up about 2 feet.  I’m not young and invincible anymore, so I kept my distance from that one.

I’m not going to get back onto the water for a couple weeks, but I’m already looking forward to it.  Eric, Blake and I are going to be meeting up for 2-3 days of solid fishing, so we’ll be trying all kinds of stuff and chasing the walleyes all over the lake, not just a morning and evening thing.  Can’t wait to get out there and can’t wait to tell you about it.

Have you made it out on the ice recently?  How did it go?  I’d love you hear your stories as well.

Tight lines!

Early Ice Walleyes in Minnesota

Eric showing off some of our Walleyes

I finally got the opportunity to get in on some early ice walleyes this year.  My friend Eric and I went out on Lake Ida by Alexandria, Minnesota this weekend in search of some early ice walleyes.  From the reports I’ve been getting, every lake seems a bit different for ice conditions.  Some lakes are reporting 9-10 inches, and at my lake which is by Perham, MN, it is wide open, you could take a boat out there (as of Saturday).  Crazy.

Our fishing grounds on Lake Ida

Where we were at on Lake Ida, there was a pretty consistent 5 inches along the shoreline, and then about 4 inches out a bit further.  I’m not as young and invincible as I used to be, so we didn’t push it too much.  The spot we were hoping to fish was a break about 300 yards from shore.  There was a pretty big pressure ridge between us and our spot, and given there wasn’t too much ice, we decided not to push it.  We went a bit further down the shore and fished a break that was only about 150 feet from shore.  It’s a pretty steep break we had never fished before, but since it looked much safer, we thought we would give that a try.

The view from my ice house at sunset. It was incredible. Looks like we should be in a boat, not an ice house.

Saturday night we punched holes in about 16 feet of water.  We ended up with 2 walleyes and 1 northern.  Sunday morning, we moved out a bit deeper on the break and set up one portable in 18 feet and one in 20 feet of water.  Each house produced 2 walleyes and we both missed a couple as well.  In the end, we had 6 really great eaters for lunch (all were between 14-17 inches) and had a great time.

Eric and I are both pretty aggressive fisherman, and if we mark something by our bait that doesn’t hit, we switch presentations until we find something that is working.  All of our fish ended up coming on a red buckshot rattle spoon tipped with a shiner head.  Our set lines got hit a couple times, but the fish were never there when we went to set the hook.  We were jigging pretty aggressively until we marked a fish in the area, and then slowed down the presentation.  That seemed to do the trick.

Nothing beats fresh walleye for lunch!

As you can see from the pictures, there isn’t a flake of snow on the ice.  Based on the conditions out there now, and the lack of snow in the forecast, we are set up to possibly have great ice conditions this year, which would be a welcome change from the past few years.  The ice on Lake Ida was crystal clear with very few major cracks to worry about.  It was a bit unnerving wandering out, but after we got the holes drilled and started fishing, all the worries went away.  With the holidays coming up, I’m not sure I’ll be hitting the ice for walleyes in the next couple weeks, but I should get several days out there around the new year to hit it hard. In the mean time, the fresh walleye we enjoyed for lunch will have to hold me over until then.

May your ice be solid and your lines tight!

Lake of the Woods Ice Fishing

Getting ready to head out on Lake of the Woods

All I can say is that I’m getting antsy to get out on the ice.  I’ve fired up the auger, pulled my Guide Series Clam portable down and put new line on my reels.  On top of that I’ve spent a few too many hours in Scheels and Gander Mountain over the past couple weeks and my wish list has grown.

I’ve been watching the fishing boards and it looks like the small lakes have 1-4 inches of ice on them and the larger lakes still have open spots, so it is a couple more weeks until it will be time to hit it hard.  In the mean time, I’ll I can do is think back to past ice fishing trips.

Lake of the Woods and Red Lake are two of my favorite hot spots in the winter.  I’ve started hitting up Leech Lake a bit, but I still think that Lake of the Woods and Red Lake are better fisheries.  Getting the itch to get on the ice sent me looking through pictures of past ice fishing trips.  I didn’t take nearly as many pictures a year or two back as I do now, but I thought I would share a few from a Lake of the Woods ice fishing trip I was on with my brother-in-law and father-in-law.  It was a great weekend on the ice.

I can't help but lead with this giant 6 pounder....er 6 incher I mean.

A couple nice eaters from Lake of the Woods

Another great eater by my father-in-law

The Eelpout sure turned on in the evenings

Jerry was thrilled to get an Eelpout...ha

Andrew's Eelpout - and he got to clean them...hehe

It was a great trip that I will remember for a long time.  As slimy as those Lake of the Woods Eelpout were, they were absolutely delicious.  We boiled them in some water and just drizzled melted butter and salt on them and they were fantastic.  I’m not sure if I’ll say they were better than the fresh from the hole walleye, but darn close.  I can’t wait to get back up to Lake of the Woods, with our recent Red Lake trips, it has been too long.

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