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Self-Fulfilling Promises

The author fights a beautiful walleye and proudly displays for a photo before releasing it back into Lake of the Woods. • Credit: Gord Pyzer

I've long advocated that anglers in general, and walleye anglers in particular, are self-fulfilling prophets. And last week I was able to corroborate this line of reasoning once again.

Good friend, Bob Izumi, who is the television host of the popular Real Fishing Show was visiting Northwestern Ontario's Sunset Country and we got together to film a walleye adventure on Lake of the Woods.

As luck would have it, Bob arrived smack dab at the beginning of the worst cold front we've experienced this autumn. In fact, the days immediately prior to his arrival we were decked out in t-shirts and shorts, but then the massive system blew in from the Rockies, swept across the Prairies and turned up here accompanied by threatening skies, near gale force winds and plunging air temperatures.

In short, the conditions for catching walleyes -- even in Northern Ontario which hosts more spectacular walleye waters than anywhere else in the world -- were wretched. At least, they were if you read and believe the popular literature which, by the way, I don't.

As I wrote a few weeks ago, in my blog In The Swim For Giant Northern Ontario Walleyes, I am convinced that most anglers miss out on many great opportunities to catch walleyes by looking out the window, sizing up the weather conditions and then pre-supposing how the fish are going to react.

ontario walleyeDespite what many anglers believe, when you fish aggressively for Northern Ontario walleyes, using big baits, the fish typically respond in kind, almost ripping the rod out of your hand. (Photo credit: Gord Pyzer)

And most of the time, that armchair analysis suggests the fish are going to be turned off, sluggish and feeding like kids being forced to eat their vegetables before they can leave the dinner table.

Got to be honest, that is how Bob was sizing up the situation as well.

"What do you think," he asked at the access point, as we pulled on our hoodies and got wired up for the camera. "Do you think they'll hit a drop-shot rig?"

"I am sure they will," I replied, digging out my supply of 1/2-, 3/4- and 1-ounce jig heads and 5-inch Hollow Belly Swimbaits.

"Wow, do you really think they'll hit those big baits under these conditions?" Bob wondered out loud. And, though he was polite enough not to say it, I could also hear him thinking, "because I don't."

Cutting to the chase, we tied the heavy jigs to our 7-foot medium-heavy action spinning rods, spooled with 14-pound test gel spun (Fireline and Nanofil) lines, tipped with 18- to 24-inch leaders comprised of similar strength Stren Fluorocarbon.

Look at how this walleye chewed up the soft plastic swimbait in Bob Izumi's hand. It's proof positive that being aggressive and fishing with big baits, pays off. (Photo credit: Gord Pyzer)

Making long casts, letting the jigs sink to the bottom and then swimming the Hollow Bellies back to the boat briskly, being careful to keep them wobbling within a foot or so of the bottom at all times, Bob nailed a nice walleye on only his third or fourth cast.

"Look at this," he marvelled, holding open the walleye's mouth and pointing it toward the camera, "the fish has completely engulfed the bait."

And that is how the rest of the morning unfolded, with Bob and I catching beautiful, eye-popping Northern Ontario walleyes with stunning regularity.

A couple of times we missed doubleheaders, each of us fighting a nice fish at the same time. Several other times we lost giants -- fish clearly in the 7-, 8- and 9-pound range -- as we horsed the fish to the net and played them for the camera.

The hits, by the way, as viewers will see when the show airs later this season, were savage. Despite the supposedly terrible weather conditions, the walleyes were streaking after our swimbaits, running them down and brutally beating them up.

In fact, Bob's soft plastic lure was literally torn to shreds.

And that is when we had an epiphany.

Bob Izumi walleyeBob Izumi displays a beautiful Northwestern Ontario Sunset Country walleye while recording a segment for his Reel Fishing Television Show. (Photo credit: Gord Pyzer)

To prove the point that anglers often "over finesse" walleyes, fish too slowly and rely much too heavily on live bait presentations, we dug out our drop-shot rods and decided to fish for the walleyes that were slamming our baits and that we could clearly see on the sonar screens to the way most anglers would think the conditions dictated.

In other words, we intentionally shied away from what clearly was working -- casting big, heavy-headed swimbaits retrieved aggressively -- and started fishing slowly, vertically, over the side of the boat, with light lines and light rods positioning the soft plastic minnows in front of the fish.

"Unbelievable," Bob said. After he placed his bait on a walleye's nose and after he worked hard to finally convince it to bite. "They're hitting the drop shot entirely differently. Whereas they were slamming the swimbaits, you can barely feel them ticking the drop shot."

bob izumi fishingBob Izumi's hat tells you everything you need to know -- Go Fish in Ontario!

Proof positive once again that most days anglers are self-fulfilling prophets. If we think the fishing is going to be tough, we select presentations that ultimately prove the point. Ditto, when we believe it is going to be outstanding and we pick a presentation that "can't fail".

It is why your best strategy always, is to start each fishing day expecting good things to happen and then fishing with an aggressive approach. Especially in Northern Ontario, where walleye dreams come true.

Follow Gord on Twitter as he fishes across Northern Ontario, or find Gord on Facebook.

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