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The Lure of Big Walleye at Last Ice

 

In the coming months some of the biggest walleye of the year will be caught, through the ice, in water so shallow it’ll scare you when they bite. Just ask my good friend Derek Nyrose. He came to Alberta from Vancouver on a work assignment and took a day off to go ice fishing on Calling Lake with me. After looking down the hole and breaking off on a large walleye early in the day he jumped to his feet motioning with his arms to indicate how big the fish he was now seeing down the hole. At this point his eyes were as big as saucers but he managed to settle down and stick the next few bites including a 7 pound beauty and then a 9.6 pound monster. Talk about beginners luck. This was the first day he had ever fished for, let alone caught a walleye. I couldn’t complain either as I caught a 7 pound beast myself and our friend Larry hooked a few beauties himself. Calling Lake is a real producer of monster walleye through the ice.

Catching a big walleye requires a bit of luck, but starting late February, early March through to the end of the season the chances of tagging a real monster become better and better. It’s all about persistence, patience and that little bit of luck. I’d like to tell you that if you want to catch a big walleye, just put on a whopping big herring on a tip up line and they’ll come. Unfortunately big walleye don’t seem to work that way. Instead, using that same lead head jig and minnow that has caught walleye throughout the year will catch the big ones through the ice. What it takes is the ability to do work and the willingness to fish around their schedule.

It’s all about being on the ice and fishing when the fish are feeding. Walleye are for the most part low light feeders, so you want to be on the lake and fishing before sun up and after sun down. That means being on the ice and getting set up in the dark for the morning bite. Both sides of the light equation are equally good in bringing walleye in shallow to feed. The next thing I do is to set up near areas I believe walleye will congregate as they start staging for the upcoming spawn. Walleye spawn after the ice melts so it only stands to reason that they will move progressively closer and closer to these spawning areas like creeks and rivers as the season gets later. This concentrates large numbers of mature fish in predicable locations. Near these spawning sites, I fish off points and on the flats. Fishing the areas near these primary spawning locations substantially increases the chances of catching a big walleye. One such example that comes to mind is Slave Lake. Nearly 80 percent of all the walleye move into the Heart River, located at the extreme western end of the lake, to spawn. Anyone that fishes Slave knows that in the late months of the ice fishing season all the points and bays near this area will be full of walleye.

As for daily movement patterns, look for walleye deep during the day and pushing up shallow during low light. I had mentioned that work was an essential part of catching big walleye and it comes into play drilling the numerous holes required to effectively fish an area. I suggest you do all the drilling for the day at the onset. This may mean drilling a few dozen holes. Drill a pattern of holes from deep to shallow and back again which should ensure all depths are covered. This allows you to follow their movement deeper or shallower once the bite is on without disturbing the fish. I have seen walleye turn off immediately when someone in the area fires up an auger and starts drilling. I make every effort to avoid this.

When it comes to chasing walleye, I have found good fishing results at Pigeon, Lac St Anne, Isle and Calling with most of my biggest walleye being caught at Pigeon or Calling. This certainly is not an exhaustive list of good walleye lakes, but they are the better lakes around where I live and the ones I fish most often. Make the effort to fish the low light periods and fish in areas where walleye will be staging for the upcoming spawn. Do this and you to will be connecting to big walleye.


Previous Fishing Articles

(1) Fly Selection for Beginners

(2) Fly Fisher's Christmas

(3) New Waters

(4) Big Bad Burbot

(5) Looking Back

(6) Out of Africa

(7) Finding Success on Crowded Trout Streams

(8) Mountain Peaks, Fast Streams, Fall Colours And Rocky Mountain Whitefish

(9) The Browns of Autumn

(10) Fly-Fishing Pike Through The Seasons

(11) Walleye Town

(12) River Fun - One Bite At A Time

(13) Fly Fishing Larger Rivers

(14) Going With The Flow

(15) Becoming A Better Fly Fisherman

(16) Swinging The Fences

(17) A View From The Aerie

(18) Dixieland Delight

(19) Atlantic Salmon - The Fish of 1000 Casts

(20) Do It Yourself Pink Salmon

(21) Montana's Cool Missouri

(22) Pretty Is As Pretty Does

(23) Toothy Critters

(24) Hard Water Lakers at Cold Lake

(25) Top Ten Flies

(26) Northern Exposure

(27) Home Water Lessons

(28) Chicken Of The Sea

(29) Sealing the Deal – How to Ensure You Land More Fish

(30) Deep In The Heart Of Texas

(31) Keep It Up!

(32) River Fishing for Fall Walleye

(33) After the Flood - A look at Southern Alberta rivers and streams one year after the flood

(34) Reindeer Lake - A Diversity of Opportunity

(35) Hawg Holes

(36) Saltwater Salmon

(37) Early Season Dry Fly Fishing

(38) Down a Lazy River –
A Fly-rodding Adventure on the Lower North Saskatchewan

(39) The Fly Fishing Season Ahead

(40) IN SEARCH OF SPECKLED FOOTBALLS

(41) FISHING CANADA'S PRAIRIE CITIES

(42) Bright Fish from the Land of Silver

(43) Canada's "Other" Salmon

(44) Fall Walleye

(45) Wet Flies

(46) Versatility the Key to Success

(47) Grayling of the Boreal

(48) Teaching Kids To Fly Fish

(49) Size Matters

(50) Fly Fishing Small Streams

(51) Chasing Winter Whites One Lake At A Time

(52) Manitoba's Fishing Jewel

(53) The Twelve Gifts Of Christmas

(54) The Point Of It All

(55) Fishing With Friends-Big Weather Seizing The Day

(56) Fall Fly Fishing

(57) Personal Pontoon Boats 101

(58) Big River, Big Fish

(59) Bottom Bonanza

(60) Fishing Small Flies

(61) So Many Choices, So Little Time

(62) Four Seasons of the Bow

(63) Favourite Lakes - Some Like it Hot

(64) GEARING UP FOR SMALL STREAM TROUT

(65) Trout Hunting - New Zealand-style

(66) Don’t Leave Home Without Them –
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(67) Edge Walleye

(68) FLY FISHING STRATEGIES FOR HIGH WATER

(69) Smallmouth Bass – An Oft Overlooked Challenge

(70) Four Corners – Four Waters

(71) Chasing Pothole Trout

(72) Springtime Stoneflies

(73) The Torrents of Spring

(74) Drift Boat Fly Fishing

(75) Bust Them With Bait

(76) Cure the Winter Blues with a Good Book

(77) Hot Strategies for the Cold Months

(78) Cutthroat: The Angler's Trout

(79) Terrestrials

(80) Fly In For Fishing Fun

(81) Rocky Mountain High

(82) Reading the clues

(83) Where the Trout Are
The art of locating feeding trout
in rivers and streams.

(84) K.I.S.S. and Tell Fly-fishin

(85) Fly Fishing 101

(86) To Catch a Big Halibut, or Ling Cod

(87) The Bountiful Bones of Ascension Bay

(88) Grayling in the Eye of the Beholder

(89) Fly Fishing for South Fork Clearwater Steelhead

(90) Manitoba's Red River - North America's Catfish Capital

(91) Eliminating the Spook Factor

(92) Trust Your Electronics

(93) The Most Important Hatch of the Year

(94) Early Season Nymph Fishing for Trout

(95) Finding Success for Ice Trout

(96) Walleye can be Humbling

(97) The Secret to Landing the Big One Finally Revealed

(98) Winter Flyfishing

(99) North Saskatchewan River - An Underutilized Gem

(100) Hot Fall Pike Action

(101) Tips and Tricks to Save the Summer Slow Down

(102) Reading Trout Stream Waters

(103) Frequently Asked Questions

(104) Streamer Fishing for Larger Trout

(105) The Lure of Big Walleye at Last Ice

(106) Deep Water Perch

(107) Post Spawn Brookies

(108) A Fisher's Life

(109) The River's Last Stand

(110) The Big Ones Come out at Night

(111) Coho on the Coast

(112) Chasing and Catching Halibut

(113) Summer in the Mountains

(114) Peak Walleye Season

(115) Slow and Steady Wins the Race

(116) Last Ice Rainbows

(117) The Burbot Event

(118) Tackle Matching

(119) Ice Fishing Strategy #2 - Going Light

(120) Ice Fishing Strategy #1 - Location

(121) The Lure of Brook Trout

(122) The Shallow Water Hunt is On

(123) Hot Backswimmer Action Happening Right Now

(124) Fishing Among Giants-Pursuing Lake Sturgeon on the Prairies

(125) Adventure at Davin Lake Lodge, Northern Saskatchewan

(126) The Vesatile Plug

(127) Bead Head Flies, Plugs and Shot and other Spring Favorites for Pothole Trout

(128) Planning your Upcoming Angling Adventures

(129) Good Fishing at Last Ice

(130) Maximize the Odds - Use Multiple Presentations

(131) Daily Fish Migrations

(132) Fish Migrations - Following the Spawn

(133) Lake Whitefish - An Ice Fishing All Star

(134) Pick Your Favorite Brook Trout Lake...and Go Fishing

(135) A Look Ahead to Great Trout Fishing

(136) Wrestling White Sturgeon on the Fraser

(137) The Fun in Ultra Light

(138) Flyfishing and Leadcore Lines

(139) Embrace the Spirit of Adventure

(140) Never Stop Learning

(141) Ice Fishing is Getting Hot

(142) Jigging through the Ice

(143) An Ice Fishing Unsung Hero – The Setline

(144) Rainbows on Ice

(145) The Season of Ice Begins

(146) Red Hot Fall Pike Action

(147) Hitting it Right with Water Boatman

(148) Facts On Cats

(149) West Coast Adventure

(150) June Walleye Frenzy

(151) Aerated Lakes are Big Trout Factories

(152) "First Fish of the Year - Pothole Rainbows and Browns"

(153) "Northern Exposure"

(154) Sometimes There is More to Fishing Than Catching Fish

(155) Early Season Pike On The Fly

(156) Man Overboard