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The Joy of Fishing Never Fades

• Credit: Ashley Rae
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The Joy of Fishing Never Fades

It was a great fall season on the Bay of Quinte for Walleye

Although I’ve spent plenty of time fishing solo over the years, I much prefer sharing the water with friends and family. No matter who’s reeling in a fish or who’s netting it, I cherish these memories just as much as the fish themselves. I love how the reactions vary from person to person when a memorable catch is landed. Some scream and cheer when the fish hits the net (that would be me), while others fall silent in disbelief or shock. I’ve experienced happy tears and other times have felt nauseous with excitement when a trophy is landed. It’s quite comical how these finned creatures can evoke such strong emotions from us.

The last open water trip of the season ended on a high note with lots of emotion aboard my boat. About a week prior, my phone rang, and the display read “John Anderson”. A legend in the musky fishing industry, John owns and operates the Ottawa River Musky Factory. Our paths crossed a few years ago in an Ottawa fishing store and we have since shared a few adventures on the water. John called to see if there was room for him and his friend Kent to jump aboard my boat for a walleye fishing adventure on the Bay of Quinte. Kent hadn’t yet had the opportunity to catch a walleye and this was certainly the place to go for a trophy. It also happened to be the prime time of year for it, as the walleye have migrated in from Lake Ontario to feed leading up to spring spawning. My boyfriend Eric and I had been having a great fall season on the Bay leading up to this point, and we had hoped that we would find some nice fish for Kent and John.

We met up in Picton Harbour before sunrise in order to get out and get our lures in the water during the low light period. The action started up right away with Kent landing his first walleye right off the hop (a 3-pounder) in what quickly became a doubleheader. John landed a nice 4-pounder. Kent was thrilled to check walleye off his bucket list, and we all cheered with excitement as both fish were brought in. I was thankful it didn’t take long to find active fish. Now that the pressure was off, I had hoped we would upgrade to some larger walleye. 

angler holding bay of quinte walleye

Ken with his Bay of Quinte walleye.

At this time of year, we troll using a variety of crank baits running at various depths. Planer boards are used to steer the lines away from the boat and keep multiple lines more organized. It can get quite chaotic with several people on board and as a result having multiple lines out, so the planer boards help keep things running more smoothly. It’s certainly a team effort when a fish is on as sometimes it means moving inside lines over to clear a path free of tangled lines, of course steering the boat, and then netting the fish. All this commotion can warm up a cold day quickly, especially mixed with the adrenaline that kicks in while reeling in a nice walleye. 

Thankfully, the action continued throughout the day and Kent was able to upgrade his personal best several times. His largest of the day ended up at 8 pounds, 1 ounce. This was certainly a trophy and a good introduction to walleye fishing for Kent. He snapped lots of photos and had a big smile on his face. Mission accomplished.

Although John now guides exclusively for musky, he does have a past in guiding for walleye. Regardless of his past, John was absolutely ecstatic when he brought in the biggest walleye of the day. As this fish approached the boat we were all convinced he had reached that glorious double-digit mark. The scale read 9 pounds, 14 ounces. He was so close to a 10-pounder! John was thrilled nonetheless with a new personal best. We were all still smiling about this fish when John hooked into another giant. This time he got his wish, as this next fish tipped the scales at 10 pounds, 4 ounces! Woo hoo!! John joined the double-digit walleye club. There was definitely screaming and cheering, and a huge smile on his face that lasted the remainder of the day. It was quite inspiring to see just how excited he was about landing this fish even as such an accomplished angler with so many trophy catches to his name. The joy of fishing never fades.

angler holding large walleye

John Anderson with his 10-pound walleye.

As if the day couldn’t any get better, John also landed a monster lake trout! That was a nice surprise.

2 anglers with lake trout

I was grateful to end the open water season with wonderful company and lots of walleye that created some unforgettable memories for us all. 

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