Author gives secrets to catching ‘eyes in canoe country
Craig Zarley likes to keep things simple, especially when he’s fishing for walleyes. “Twister tails and jigs are all you need to catch walleyes,” he said. “People think there is a magic formula to catch this fish, but it really is pretty simple.”
Zarley has just recently released a book, Catching Canoe Country Walleyes, and it’s about his simplistic walleye catching methods, done while angling during canoe trips to not only in the beautiful and majestic Boundary Waters area of northern Minnesota, but also at Quetico Provincial Park in Ontario, Canada.
“I saw a niche for this book,” he said. “I found many people really over-loaded their tackle box when they fished up there. You really don’t need to, and that’s an important factor when you are hauling in all your own gear to go camping.”
Zarley grew up amidst the monotone cornfields of Des Moines, Iowa. It was on a northern Wisconsin fishing trip with his father at age 10, that he realized how much he enjoyed a more diversified landscape. “Once I saw all the lakes and trees up north, that was it,” he said. “Then my dream was to eventually move to northern Wisconsin.”
Writing was another one of Zarley’s passions and when he graduated from college he got a job as a reporter with a daily newspaper in Wyoming. Then he became one of the first journalists to cover the Silicon Valley in California. And while he enjoyed this career, he always looked forward to his yearly wilderness canoe trips. Over the years he developed and honed a method on what, and what not, to pack on these excursions. “These trips include lots of portaging, so you don’t want to be carrying any extra weight,” he said. “And that includes fishing tackle.”
Also included in the book are methods to catch walleyes during certain weather conditions. For instance, he finds lots of success while fishing shores that wind is coming into. “Walleyes relate to the wind,” he said. “Windy shores are a good bet when fishing for walleyes.”
There is also lots of information in the book about what to pack when camping in this remote area of the country. “Less is definitely more here,” said Zarley. “You have to carry everything in, so you have to be really sure you will use what you pack.”
Zarley first came to the boundary area when he was 14 years old with a group of like-minded friends. He has been camping, and canoeing, there ever since, and he’s had some real adventures. Take for instance the time the bear got into his food cache. “You’re suppose to hang your food from a tree,” he said. “But one time we just set it up on a limb and a bear came by and started sniffing around. Then we put the food under a canoe. We put pots and pans on the canoe figuring if the bear came back we would hear it if it tipped over the canoe. But it lifted the canoe without disturbing the pots and pans, and by the time we discovered it, the bear had ripped into our food pack and ate half of it.”
Zarley didn’t get to upset about it because he always employed his jigging method to catch walleyes. “I always keep a couple of 17 to 18 inchers to eat for supper,” he said. “Walleye cooked out in the wilderness this way just can’t be beat.”
And while Zarley enjoys the sport of walleye fishing, and the fact that they are just plain delicious, he also has a certain respect for this fish. “You know it is culturally an animal that is part of the landscape like bears and loons are,” he said. “Maybe that’s why I am so fascinated with them.”
Zarley’s Catching Canoe Country Walleyes can be found on Amazon.com and at the Book World stores in Rhinelander, Minocqua and Eagle River. He hopes readers will find it inspirational, and try their own hand catching walleyes with his method.
“We should all make it a point to show someone the way to canoe country,” he said. “And if a walleye fish story or two can entice a few new visitors, I’m all for it.”