Effective Northern Ontario Walleye Tips:
Of all the game fish available in Ontario's countless thousands of lakes, Walleye are the most popular and the quality of Walleye fishing seems to be the deciding factor when many choose a fishing destination. Not many people will disagree that Walleyes are the best tasting fish in the world. They are easy to clean and can be cooked in so many different ways.
Time and time again outfitters witness guests coming up from the south that fish like they would for bass or pike or fish for Walleye in the same fashion as a TV personality is fishing for them on the Great Lakes. Many times this results in frustration and disappointment. Here are some time-trusted methods that professional guides use in the north.
Fishing Line: Most people use 6-pound test for Walleye or go to 8-pound if there are a lot of Pike in the area. Power Pro has a 15-pound dark green braded line, which is the thickness of 4-pound test mono. Power Pro does not oxidize like many of the expensive brands of braded line thus it keeps it's strength after it gets wet. There are downfalls to all braded line. It's not as easy to tie a knot as it is with mono. It cuts easy when it rubs on rocks and when you get snags, people forget it's 15-pound and they end up breaking their fishing rod when pulling on a snag.
Fishing Rod: A light-action to light-medium is usually all your need. 95% of the Walleyes you will catch in Ontario are between 1 and 5 pounds so you don't need a bigger rod. Just make sure your drag is set for your reel size and line strength. If you are using braded line, set your drag to your rod strength.
Lures: Jigs with Twistertails, single-hook spinners, worm harnesses and small trolling lures such as Junior Thundersticks and small Floating Rapalas are all you really need. If you find a point where you are catching Walleye after Walleye, then you can try casting other lures.
In the spring, the walleyes are either in river current or right on shore where there is sand. They spawn is 2-feet deep of water and sometimes even shallower. The big females will drop their eggs at night and move off into deeper water during the day but generally the small males with stay very shallow for the first couple of weeks after ice out. Three or four weeks after ice-out, the smaller males will move into 4 or 5 feet deep of water and the big females with usually be 10 feet deep during the day. With this in mind, try trolling along the shore with shallow running Rapalas and Thundersticks. In an area where there is structure like a rocky point or shoal, cast light 1/8 oz to 1/4 oz jigs with small twistertails. Usually in the spring you don't need to add anything else but if you want you can add a small piece of worm, Walleye Gullet or a small minnow, if you are on a lake where minnows can be used.
Use unscented twistertails. Scented twistertails do not work that great in the north. Mind you, some of the bait companies are coming out with salted grubs and twistertails. They do work. Real salted minnows also work great as all gamefish like the smell of salt.
Late Spring & Summer:
When you think about Walleye fishing, you have to think big or think small. Ask yourself if you want to catch lots of small Walleye or a couple of big ones. Big trophy Walleyes do not behave like regular size Walleyes so you should treat them like they are a different species of fish. The smaller Walleye in the 1 to 5-pound range are usually in the 5 to 12-foot range during the day. The best way to get them is with a ¼ oz or 3/8 oz jig with a white twistertail. Walleyes will also go after yellow, black and transparent green but overall white seems to be the best color. You can also cast with deeper diving lures and rattle baits like Fat Raps or Cotton Cordels. If you are drifting, drift over the area with spinners or worm harnesses with a generous size worm. Walleyes like rocky points and shoals but you will also find them hiding in the thick weeds, which also a good place to drop down a jig.
During the day, most of the big females will go deep. You will find them anywhere from 15 to 35 feet deep. In this case you can slowly drift over a drop-off with a jig or you can back-troll with a 3-way swivel rig, which is a great Lake Trout method. The only difference is if you are after Walleyes, you want to stay in the 15 to 35-foot depth range and use a worm harness with a big fat worm. Please read our Lake Trout tips page for more information on the 3-way swivel rig.
Late evening and night is the very best time to catch trophy Walleye. Both the smaller Walleyes and the big deep-water Walleyes will come right into shore at night and swim along the shoreline hunting for minnows and leeches. If you are in a small boat that tolls slowly and quietly, troll 5 or 6 feet off shore in 2 to 4-foot deep of water with small floating Rapala or Junior Thunderstick and make sure you have a lot of line out and go just fast enough for the lures to work.
In the spring, the Walleyes are more aggressive and will hit bright colors like Fire-Tiger, red and chartreuse. As the season progresses, natural colors take over. By mid-July you should switch to silver-&-black, gold or perch color. At night, the magic color seems to be blue. Some of the biggest Walleyes in Ontario are taken at night on small blue lures.
Hot Sunny Days:
Sometimes it seems the Walleyes will not hit anything, especially on hot sunny days in the middle of the afternoon. Contrary to popular believe, Walleye are bottom feeders. They do swarm and go after schools of minnows but they also feed off the bottom of the lake where they find crawfish, bugs, leeches and snails. Walleyes are very sensitive to light and on bright sunny days they go deeper but also look down at the bottom of the lake to minimize the amount of light in their eyes. With this mind, try dragging your jig on bottom. Drag it through the muck and guck and just every couple of feet jig it off the bottom to clean it off a little. You will be amazed how the Walleyes grab it off the bottom. If the Walleyes are that slow that you have to use this technique, then odds are you will have to tip your jig with worm or Walleye Gullet. You can also put a big worm on a hook and just drag the worm on the bottom.