Title: Walleye on a fly
Date of Article: 2008-09-10
The Walleye (Sander vitreus vitreus, formerly Stizostedion vitreum vitreum) is a freshwater perciform fish native to most of Canada and to the northern United States.
The common name, "walleye," comes from the fact that their eyes, like those of cats, reflect light. This eyeshine is the result of a light-gathering layer in the eyes called the tapetum lucidum which allows the fish to see well in low-light conditions.
Since walleyes have excellent visual acuity under low illumination levels, they tend to feed more extensively at dawn and dusk, on cloudy or overcast days and under choppy conditions when light penetration into the water column is disrupted. Although anglers interpret this as light avoidance, it is merely an expression of the walleye's competitive advantage over its prey under those conditions. Similarly, in darkly stained or turbid waters, walleye tend to feed throughout the day.
"Walleye chop" is a term used by walleye anglers for rough water typically with winds of 5 to 15 mph (7 to 24 km/h), and is one of the indicators for good walleye fishing due to the walleye's increased feeding activity during such conditions.
Living in the NW in the United States and fishing for Steelhead and trout, I had never fished for Walleye. On August, 22 - 29th, 2008, some good friends invited my wife and I, on a Fly-in Canadian fishing trip to Whitewater lake at Strikers Point in Northern Ontario.
Strikers Point Lodge
Wabakimi Park's Premier Canadian Fly In Fishing Lodge
At the eastern end of Whitewater Lake, in the heart of the Wabakimi Provincial Park is one of our premier Canadian Fly In Fishing Lodges. Here is the fly in fishing lodge that is home to the largest registered northern pike in the 2005 season, (50" 31 pounds) caught and released by a Strikers Point Lodge guest. Plus, as part of the Ogoki River watershed, Whitewater Lake offers Walleye anglers exceptional results. So exceptional they can plan a shore lunch everyday.
For more info go to: http://www.wildernessnorth.com/fly_in_strikers.php
Being a 100% fly fishermen, meaning if I can't catch it on a fly rod and with a fly, I'm not fishing. I went to Whitewater hoping to catch lots of Walleye, but not sure if they would take a fly well. Results - I caught a hundred Walleye!
Morning and evenings are definitely best time to fish, but also when afternoon winds come up helping diffuse the surface light. Fishing near rocks or reefs produced the best result. Whitewater's surface temp in late August were between 62 - 67 degrees, and with a full sinking fly line I did my best fishing at 20 feet deep. In the late evening I would find Walleye on the edges of reefs and catch them in 5 - 6 feet of water.
I was using Airflo - Sixth Sense Sinking line
For my fly rod I was using: ECHO Classic 10'0" #6 Fly Rod
I fly fished for Walleye much the same as I do for trout in lakes. I would cast out my full sinking fly line and waiting a few seconds as it sank then hand retrieve in short pulls.
During the afternoon or evening when the wind was blowing. I would simply cast out and depending upon the depth (strip out more line if I needed to go deeper) then drift with the wind - using the wind as a trolling motor. This technique was very effective.
I used Meat Whistle Bass Jig flies, and found these to be very effective - especially if I need to go deeper then twenty feet. I caught some Walleye at 30 - 35 feet deep using these rabbit strip jig flies.
The most effective fly, the killer fly, was a Red Real Eyes Plus Black Wooly Bugger with Black Rubber legs, size #2. The Walleye loved this fly and it would be fish-on every couple of casts.
Fishing for Walleye using a fly rod is fun, and with barbless hooks it made it easy to release the over-sized 18+ inch mature Walleye as well as the undersized fish, and keep a couple of fat 16 inches for a meal.
Fresh Walleye is delicious and at Strikers Point Lodge, new arrivals are greeted as they enter the lodge for dining for the first time with - fresh out of the oven, baked bacon Walleye wraps - they are deliciously mouth watering.
I would like to thank the crew at Strikers Point and Wilderness North for their great accommodations, and friendly and expert service.
Submitted By: Jeff Layton