Canadian Walleye Fishing Adventures – Three Choices
By Wiley Bay
If you have ever been to Ontario, Canada on a fishing trip, you know how great an experience it can be. The remote, cold-water lakes of Ontario provide very good habitat for the northern game species of Walleye, Northern Pike, Muskie, Lake Trout, and other lesser species.
The best among these lakes is the Lake of the Woods in SW Ontario. It has some of the world’s best walleye and other species habitat. This lake has become known as “Walleye Heaven” by professional fishermen, average fishermen, fish biologist, and sportsmen of all types.
If you fish in Ontario (or want to), how will you fish it? What kind of trip will you plan? How much of an adventure are you willing to take? You basically have three choices: “normal”, “adventure”, or “hybrid” (my terms). Let’s take a look at each one to see where your interests lie.
Adventure Choice #1 – Normal
Definition: (1) Conforming, adhering to a typical or standard pattern, level, or type. (2) Not affected or altered by experimentation. (3) The expected or usual state, form, amount, or degree.
This is the most “laid back” type trip. It involves the least amount of effort, knowledge, and preparation. If you are thinking about your first fishing trip to Canada, this is the kind of trip you should plan.
The “usual” Canadian fishing trip first involves finding a lodge or camp that suits your needs and budget. There are many camps ready to serve you and the accommodations range from basic to luxurious.
Fishermen plan a 3 to 5 day fishing trip and choose either a meals provided (American) plan or a do-your-own-cooking (European) plan. Unless you have you own boat, you plan on using the lodge’s boats. Since most fishermen are infrequent visitors, one of the main features of the “normal” trip is to hire a guide everyday to take you to the fish. That adds about $150 to $200 per day to the trip costs.
Here is how a typical day with a guide might go. After breakfast, you gather your gear, head down to the dock about 8:00am. The guide gathers all the gear, bait, etc in the boat and you head out for the day.
Out on the water, the guide pulls up to a spot, tells you to get your lines out (probably with jigs) and you enjoy the anticipation of a nice walleye hitting your hook. The more fish you catch the happier you are, right?
Depending on how the fish are biting, you are soon off to another spot where you put your lines out again. This sequence is repeated all morning.
At lunch time, the guide will park the boat on the shore of his favorite lunch spot. He then begins preparation of a great lunch. After cleaning the walleye caught in the morning, he prepares a fantastic, open-fire shore lunch of walleye, fried potatoes, and maybe a few other tasty trimmings.
If you haven’t experienced this great, traditional Canadian shore lunch treat, you simply must put it on your “bucket list”. It is one of the great experiences of any fishing trip in Canada.
After lunch, you are off to repeat the morning sequences of stopping at a spot, throwing out your jigs and looking for lunker walleye. Around 3:00pm to 4:00pm, the guide will start edging toward the camp. In the afternoon, as a bit of diversity, some guides will take you to places where you can cast for northern pike or small mouth bass, or muskie. It depends on what you want to do.
A lot of fishermen (if not most) opt for the above fishing trip experience and are very happy with it. The guides are familiar with the area and know how to locate fishing spots for their guests.
You can pretty much sit back, relax, and let the guide take you to the fish everyday. There is very little risk, of “no fish” and you really don’t have to worry about a thing. You don’t have to worry about where the fish are, what bait to use, navigating the lake, or fixing lunch, etc. It is a very comfortable way to enjoy an Ontario fishing trip to Lake of the Woods or other Ontario lake.
Adventure Choice #2 – Really Out There
Definition: (1) Participation in daring or exciting experiences, (2) An unusual or exciting experience.
If you want a more adventurous trip, you will end up doing most all of the above on your own. You will find and clean the fish, cook all the meals, and navigate the lake — all on your own. The biggest decision you must make is what lodge to use as your base. Most fishermen who choose this type trip will fly into a remote cabin owned by the lodge.
On this remote lake, there will be a rustic cabin with beds, perhaps propane to use for heat, refrigeration, and cooking, and a small boat and motor. There will not usually be any guides or any other services available until a float plane returns at the end of the trip.
This type of do-it-yourself trip is for experienced fishermen who are familiar with Canadian Shield lake habitat/conditions and the species they are after. They are comfortable in their abilities to locate and catch fish consistently and otherwise survive for a few days out in the wilderness.
To be dropped off outside of civilization and be almost totally on your own for a few days, can be a very rewarding feeling. First-timers or rookies on this type of Canadian fishing trip might enjoy the solitude and remote feeling, but be very disappointed about the fishing. The idea of not catching nice fish while on a fishing trip could leave anybody with a bad taste in their mouth about the whole Canada fishing thing…Not Good!
One more thing, if you choose a fly-in place, you will have to take most of your food, gear, and baits with you. It takes a lot of planning as there are tight weight restriction on the small float planes. Being unaware of or forgetting some very key items, gear, etc. could make for some hardships and/or bad memories. Fishermen who like this type trip know what they need, do a lot of planning, and relish being in the self-sufficient mode.
Adventure Choice #3 – Hybrid
Definition: 1. Something of mixed origin or composition. 2. The results of combining different elements, varieties, or species.
Above, you have a glance at two extremes of experiencing a great fishing trip to Ontario and/or Lake of the Woods (if you decide to choose it). However, there is an in-between way to go that pulls together the best of the “normal” and the “adventure” modes.
You can enjoy the lodge/camp atmosphere and amenities, but take on the fishing, boating, navigating, and shore lunch — all on your own!
Hunting the elusive walleye on a large, remote lake without a guide will definitely add a nice element of adventure to your trip.
You can go for an American plan and get a good breakfast and dinner in the lodge. However, the open-fire shore lunch duties are all yours to plan, create, and enjoy. Of course, to have a nice lunch, you must plan to catch a nice mess of walleye first, eh?
Many lodges/camps (be sure to ask) can provide most of the raw lunch ingredients like potatoes, cooking oil, onions,, cornmeal, dishes, pans, and silverware. That might seem like a lot, but it all has little value without the main course – the prized walleye fillets. If the lodge doesn’t provide the basics for you (in a shore lunch box) as part of the trip costs, you might want to look elsewhere.
To make this type of trip successful, you must have a good working knowledge of walleye habits/habitat, best baits and lures, and consistent techniques to find them and get them in your boat.
There is a lot of water out there and your target walleye will only be interested in a very small part of it. Dropping your lures just anywhere is not likely to be productive. It is not easy to replace the knowledge and experience of a guide, but it is not nuclear science either. It usually takes a few years of Canadian experience to learn the ways of the lake and the walleye.
However, a little research, study, plus a little sense of adventure can go a long way toward you being able to find and catch walleye — on your own.
If you are venturing out on a remote lake in a boat, you will need safe and sound boating techniques. In addition, you would be well advised to know any navigation hazards and be prepared to handle possible events like boat/motor breakdowns and severe weather. Large lakes will require a good, detailed map in the boat and the common sense to use it.
No matter which way you choose to experience a Canadian walleye (or other species) fishing trip, you and your buddies or family will have a great time. Rookies or experienced veterans can plan and fine tune a trip that fits like a glove.
There is something about these pristine lakes, dotted with islands of all sizes, and surrounded by miles of uninhabited boreal forests that is both invigorating and calming. No excuses…start planning today!
The author has over 50+ years of walleye (and other species) fishing in Ontario, Canada. Information is the key to a successful fishing adventure, so he now shares his accumulated knowledge and information through articles and websites.
He has produced a simple website that helps you learn to BE YOUR OWN GUIDE on remote Ontario lakes. The site has tips, lures, techniques, and features 12 Special Reports that cover all aspects of a memorable fishing trip that helps you do it all – ON YOUR OWN. Rookies and experienced fishermen alike can learn the “how to” secrets of finding and catching fish in “Walleye Heaven” (Lake of the woods) or other Ontario lakes — NO GUIDE NEEDED! Visit http://www.walleyeproject.com for further information.