It had been a few years since I had hooked up the boat to try some summertime walleye on Lake of the Woods. If past experience could be counted on, I figured the chances were pretty good that the fishing would be good. As it turned out it would be hard to imagine that the fishing could get any better. Yes, it is summer time and the fish are hungry, ready to make up for a cool spring. Walleyes have moved out to main lake basin areas, and on this day we found them in a number of different locales but sunken islands that topped off in the four metre range were really good. Friend Jim Price and I caught them a couple of different ways, either by vertical jigging with a Berkley five inch Jerk Shad or by trolling a Berkley six centimeter Flicker Shad over the top of the structure. This of course, was dependent on the size of the structure. While we would catch two or three walleye on the top or side of each sunken structure the real fun was trolling deeper shoreline areas for both walleye and pike. These areas were once again located near deep water, adjacent to the main lake basin. A prime ambush spot for open water forage, these spots also allow both species access to deeper, cooler, oxygenated water. Twice this day we had on double headers, with one pike and one walleye. Pike will also be out adjacent to the sunken islands but tend to suspend off the side of this structure and are bit tougher to locate. I have had some great success over the years by running crankbaits off the side in open water at about the seven metre depth. If you have good electronics, you will be able to spot these fish underneath pods of baitfish. This is where a line counter reel and 14 pound test Berkley Fireline come into play. With the line counter reel, you know exactly the amount of line you have let out so once you contact fish you can get that lure back to the same depth. As for the Fireline, that pound line diameter allows the crankbait to dive quickly to the depths required, yet is strong enough to fight the big fish you will encounter.
If you really want to catch big walleye, trolling crankbaits in low light conditions or at nighttime over sunken islands during the heat of July will produce the largest fish of the year. Ciscoes and in the case of Lake of the Woods, smelt, will rise up in the water column to feed in the low light conditions. Any large minnow style crankbait that runs in the top four metres of the water column will usually work. Of course you will need some bug spray for this type of fishing and a good knowledge of the lake. It will, however, make your heart beat awfully fast when a huge walleye stops your lure dead in its tracks and heads off in the other direction.
Smallmouth bass on Lake of the Woods have moved up on rocky shoreline areas to feed on the crayfish that make their homes here. Firing out a crankbait or a soft plastic imitation will produce some excellent fishing for this species as well. Are you ready to go fishing yet?
Walleye fishing remains very good in many parts of the province. Lake of the Prairies has returned to its earlier glory days and anglers are catching walleye in all sections of this reservoir. Clear Lake, in Riding Mountain National Park has also been excellent as has Traverse Bay on Lake Winnipeg. Now is the time to load up the family and enjoy the great fishing that Manitoba and Northwest Ontario has to offer.