Outdoor Notebook: Jigging for Canadian walleyes
Just over 20 years ago our telephone rang. The caller was “The Osseo Jinx,” Tom Twesme. He told me to open my calendar and draw a line through five days in July. My reaction was something like, “Why did I do that?” He quickly explained that we were going to Canada to fish for walleyes.
We have continued to drive to northwest Ontario each year since that first trip, and a couple of weeks ago nine of us headed out yet again. There were three trucks pulling boats in our group. I felt especially privileged because our son, Craig, and his 13 year-old son, Jack, joined me. Dan Krueger Sr., Duane Frey and “Walking Eagle,” Tom Cornelius, were in another rig. The “Osseo Jinx,” Bob Pederson and Don Wolf were in the third rig.
As usual we met the fishermen from Osseo in Superior and headed north. Everyone was in good spirits, and in a hurry to get to our destination, Halley’s Camps, which is located on a large flowage of the English River.
The first evening in fishing camp is always enjoyable. Several in the group had not been together since one year ago. That first evening we slid our boats off the trailers, spooled new line on reels and organized our equipment. It was burgers on the grill and to bed early for each of us. Our grandson, Jack, said that he spent the entire night dreaming about large walleyes.
The first morning we bought a pound of leeches for each boat and headed out. All live bait must be purchased in Ontario.
As we began to search for walleyes, we were concerned since we saw the carcasses of may flies floating on the surface. Usually we have had trouble catching walleyes when the may flies are hatching.
As expected “Walking Eagle” went off to the area where he likes to search for walleyes. That area is fondly called “Hawg Hole.” Over the years he has caught good numbers of nice-sized walleyes there. The water is about 10 feet deep, and there are many jig robbing snags on the “Hawg Hole.”
We anchored our boat over a long, rocky bar coming off the end of a pile of rocks called the “Bird.” Jack wondered what we would do if we were not able to catch enough walleyes for lunch. We were using small jigs with a leech for bait. After fishing for about 10 minutes it was obvious that we would have no problem having enough walleyes for lunch.
The rest of the morning was spent fishing over 10 feet of water catching and releasing walleyes. On the water that we were fishing the limit is two walleyes and we cannot keep any over 18 inches in length.
The entire week was spent catching walleyes almost at will and enjoying an excellent shore lunch each day prepared by the “Jinx.” The weather remained hot all week long with very little wind. Jack seemed to enjoy the trip, and certainly learned how to jig for walleyes.
As mentioned earlier, the walleye fishing has remained excellent for the previous 20 years. We have reserved a cabin for next July.
If you are handling fish, please be cautious because the fish are stressed due to the high water temperatures. Return the fish to the water as quickly as possible. To lower the temperature of the fish, we have sometimes filled the live well with water and placed the fish and a large bag of ice cubes in the live well for a period of time before releasing the fish.
Longtime Northwoods outdoors personality Roger Sabota writes a bi-monthly column appearing in the Star Journal.