My wet, ungloved hand would have stuck to the aluminum gunnel if I’d left it there. Quickly, I let go of the boat and reached into the net. Straining to hoist the huge walleye from the netting, I passed it to Kevin Lavers, owner of Merland Park in Picton, Ontario. As I snapped photo after photo of Kevin’s catch, he reassured me that this was only the beginning. Considering the walleye was over 12 pounds, I could hardly wait until the engine slipped back into gear.
It was only 4:10pm, but nightfall comes early in December. The dying light of day triggers giant walleye and the fishing in Picton Bay can be world class. As daylight faded and the wind died, our excitement grew as Kevin piloted the boat into the damp and freezing night.
Picton Bay, part of the Bay of Quinte system that threads through Prince Edward County, is a top destination for anglers looking for giant walleye. Come in September and expect to catch 35-inch-plus pike and targeting the shallows can distract anglers with fine largemouth and smallmouth, but the main draw is walleye.
As autumn progresses, schools of Lake Ontario walleye funnel into the bay. Anglers don’t even raise an eyebrow until scales dip below 12 pounds and every year a few 15-pounders are caught. In late fall Kevin’s cottages are full of serious fisherman. Several styles of boat are available for rent or anglers can hire Kevin as a guide.
Walleye tend to cruise the upper sections of the water column. Often they are only down 20 to 30 feet, even in water as deep as 100 feet. Flat lining works well day or night when trolling with an electric motor or small outboard. Large motors tend to spook fish so planer boards are recommended. Visiting anglers only need a few boxes of shallow and deep diving minnow baits and trolling gear.
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We continued flat lining minnow plugs, with Kevin choosing a clown-coloured Husky Jerk, and I a silver Jackall Squad minnow. Weaving along the contours, we slowly covered water. Night had firmly gripped us before it was my turn.
The battle was slow and deliberate. After endless retrieving, the profile of a colossal walleye came into view. At first I was in shock. This fish was well over 30 inches and thicker that our first. The giant was quickly transferred from the landing net to the scale. With the aid of a flashlight we laughed and cheered when we read 14 1/2 pounds. Following a few photos, we returned her to the water.
Two walleyes over 12 pounds in just a few short hours clearly illustrated why Picton Bay and Merland Park are a great choice for walleye lovers.