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Bassin' For Walleyes

French River Walleye Fishing Weekend

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In eight of his last ten fishing trips in Northwestern Ontario’s Sunset Country, Gord Pyzer has caught at least one eight pound or better walleye while casting for smallmouth bass in shallow water

Catch trophy size Walleye well targeting other species of Fish.

Bassin' for big walleyes is a surefire recipe for success across all of Northern Ontario. And there is no better time to do it than right now.



Do you yearn to catch the biggest walleye of your life on your next Northern Ontario fishing vacation, but you're not sure what tactic to employ?  Or maybe you'd love to catch a trophy size walleye, but would enjoy targeting other species as well.

Have I got the recipe for success for you. 

Go bassin' for walleyes. 

It is what I've been doing for years, but for some strange reason that is still stumping me, it is working better than ever this summer.

Honest truth, in eight of the last ten trips out on one of the myriad of waters that dot my Northwestern Ontario Sunset Country neighbourhood, I've caught at least one eight pound or better walleye while bass fishing.  On several of the trips, I've hooked half a dozen or more giant 'eyes while casting for bass.

To get in on the fun, about the only thing you need to change is your mind set.  By that I mean, if you're fishing for walleyes and enjoying less than stellar big fish success, instead of moving the boat out to ever deeper water, try shifting shallower.

You’ll increase your chances of catching a big walleye like this beauty that Lori Matity caught and released while fishing with Gord Pyzer on Lake of the Woods, if you concentrate your fishing on the breezier side of the lake, structure or cover

Again, case in point: the two biggest walleyes I've caught over the past couple of weeks - both giants nudging 31-inches in length and 11-pounds in weight - were swimming in water that was so thin I was amazed that I didn't spot their dorsal fins and backs poking through the surface. 

It was only ankle deep.

Now, you are probably wondering, why in the world would a species of fish that so many anglers view as being a dweller of mid- to deep water be found so shallow in the heat of the summer? 

Well, the answer is always the same - food.

Indeed, the next time you pull your boat onto shore to enjoy lunch on a pine- draped island or take a dip in the lake to cool off, look into the water and I bet you'll spot an abundance of fish food.  In some cases you'll see schools of shiners flickering on their silvery sides.  In other lakes the predominate forage is young-of-the-year yellow perch.  In still others, it is crayfish.  In most, it is a variety of all three items. 

In other words, a veritable seafood buffet.

When you’re bassin' for walleyes on the windy side of the lake, Gord Pyzer recommends that you opt for a fast horizontal presentation involving a crankbait, jerkbait or soft plastic swimbait

Here is something else to consider as you stand knee deep in the soothing water.  Do you feel how refreshing it is?  Being cold blooded creatures that only can adjust their internal body temperatures by swimming into warmer or cooler water, walleyes feel the same way about it.  Their preferred, or optimum temperature, is likely a few degrees cooler than the water you're wading or swimming in, but they'll definitely tolerate it for long periods if it means a hearty steak dinner with fresh strawberry shortcake for dessert.

Better still, however, if you concentrate your fishing on the breezier side of the lake, structure or cover, you'll increase your odds of nabbing a giant walleye even further.  Think of the wind and wave action as the walleyes' air conditioner and food conveyor belt.

Plus, the breeze breaks up the surface tension of the water, acting like the dimmer switch for the light positioned above your dining room table.  So it is a candlelight affair that adds up to perfect shallow water walleye - and bass - fishing conditions.

Indeed, when I am bassin' for walleyes on the windy side of the street, I always opt for a faster, horizontal presentation involving a crankbait, jerkbait or soft plastic swimbait.

One of the great rewards of bass fishing for walleyes in shallow water is that you will also catch smallmouth bass, as Lori Matity shows here

I'll pitch a floating / diving crankbait like a Rapala Scatter Rap Minnow or Shallow Shad Rap close to shore and then retrieve it so that the lure bumps bottom as I work it back to the boat.  It is uncanny how often you'll feel the bait run into a rock and ricochet off to the side, only to be gobbled up immediately by a big walleye or bass.

Ditto, when you cast out a jerkbait like an X-Rap. Give a sharp tug so that it dives down and then let it pause in the middle of the knee deep water.  The longer you can let it hang in the middle of the shallow water column, the more often you're rewarded with a sharp tug.

When the walleyes and bass are gobbling up crawfish, on the other hand, like an all-you-can-eat lobster love affair, my favourite approach is to cast out a lipless Kamooki Smartcraw - the crawfish paint pattern on these lures is exquisite - and let it fall to the bottom.  Because the lure is uniquely weighted and lacks a belly hook, it stands up on its nose and rarely snags on the bottom.  

Gord Pyzer, shown here with a gorgeous Northern Ontario walleye, says the longer you can let a jerkbait hang in the middle of the shallow water column, the  more often you’ll be rewarded

I fish it just like a jig, lifting it up just smartly enough that I can feel it wiggle and then swim it a foot or two, before letting it fall back to the bottom.  Nearly every fish you catch will hit on the pause immediately after it descends, or when you pick it up and let it pause at the apex of the lift.

Bassin' for big walleyes is a sure fire recipe for success across all of Northern Ontario. And there is no better time to do it than right now, in the lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer.

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