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Featured Fish - Ontario Walleye

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Ontario Walleye

Hands down the most popular game fish in Ontario has to be the Walleye (Sander vitreus vitreus). Known for is frisky fight and finicky attitude the Ontario Walleye is the shore lunch favorite for the majority of anglers who fish in the province.  The lovely golden green colour of the Walleye is a testament to natures’ perfection of a fish species. Affectionately called Pickerel by Ontarians the actual correct name is the American term Walleye and they have no direct relation to the pike or pickerel family of fish from which the name originates. Arguably the best tasting fresh water fish they continue to be the number one sought after fish species in the province and producing great numbers on an annual basis.

Ontario Walleye generally feed in the evening hours and their large eyes allow them to see prey extremely well in low light conditions.  Their light sensitive eyes allow them to see in murky and stained waters and they will often be found in deeper water depths where they will school and feed. These large eyes give them a distinct advantage when seeking prey in various water conditions and rougher waters on larger lakes. Because of their ability to see in low light levels the Walleye tends to primarily feed on cloudy gray days and during sun up and sundown.


Catch Ontario Walleye

Ontario boasts lakes and river systems teeming with these ‘Golden Eye’s. Northern Ontario is arguably the most visited Walleye destination and hundreds of areas boast healthy Walleye populations but locations such as the Bay of Quinte and Lake Erie in the south and Lake Nipissing in the near north are also popular spots for Walleye anglers. Many far north lakes can produce astounding catches and 30-60 fish a day are not uncommon at many remote lodges and resorts offering Walleye fishing.

Match The Hatch

 

 

 

 

Male Walleyes usually reach maturity at the 3rd or 4rth year of their lifespan with females 1 year later. Growth rates often vary by location.  Females generally spawn when water temperatures reach 6 to 10 degrees C and can produce up to half a million eggs. Many Ontario lakes and rivers have new slot size restrictions on Walleyes to ensure healthy females are returned to spawn once again thus keeping the Ontario Walleye population vibrant and sustainable. With this new slot size one should not be discouraged as many of these lakes will produce sizes that are within limits allowing you to enjoy your shore lunch while at the same time ensuring that future anglers will have the same amazing experience that you did.

Primarily a baitfish feeder, there are endless possibilities and lure combinations that prove effective for catching Walleye. The most popular and time tested presentation has to be the standard jig sporting soft plastic grubs and shads in various colours and sizes.  After the spawn many Walleye will be on the prowl for an easy meal and will take jigs baited with grubs, minnows and worms.  Once post- spawn Walleye return to the depths many anglers will ‘Match The Hatch’ using a variety of crank baits and minnow lures that resemble the Walleye’s primary baitfish of Perch and Shiners. Live bait is a proven tactic that consistently puts fish in the boat and various sizes of minnows, worms, maggots and leeches trolled or retrieved at slow speeds proves to be extremely effective.

Walleye Crankbaits

Walleye are active year round in the province and anglers fish spring, summer, autumn and winter in pursuit of old ‘Marble Eyes’. During the summer months after the spring spawn has occurred  Walleyes generally migrate back to deeper water where the temperatures are much more tolerant for them. Season openers generally occur in late spring and it’s important to check the Ministry of Natural Resources angling regulations for opening dates, slot sizes and limits in your zone.

During the hotter temperatures of the summer months Walleye will situate in deeper areas and structure. Adjusting your depth is important in locating them in the summer months but many of the same tactics and presentations still apply.  The autumn months in Ontario prove to be the most pleasurable time of the year to fish for Walleye. As the seasons slowly change and the forests come alive with mother natures’ brilliant colours Walleye anglers head for yet deeper waters and employ tactics such as trolling and bottom bouncing in search of schooling Walleyes. Walleye rigs presented at various depths are also a great way to catch your limit. During this time of year a fish/depth finder can be of great assistance and many outfitters and guides will use such devices to search for schools of feeding Walleyes. At this time of year the Walleye is very active as their natural biological clock is instructing them to stock up on forage for the long winter months ahead.

Whether you enjoy catching Walleye on a remote fly in lake in Ontario’s far North, cottage country of Ontario’s north east ,central areas or large water bodies in the south you will not be disappointed with the opportunities that the province of Ontario can provide in seeking the perfect Walleye fishing trip.

 

For more great information on Ontario fish species and much more check out our new Articles and Tips section. 

 
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