The water levels on the Winnipeg River in Ontario usually peak in late June / early July and then begin to rapidly decline. This year the water levels did peak on schedule and at levels slightly above the high water mark. Unlike other years the water levels have not declined. On August 1 they are still at the same levels as a month ago and this is something that has really not happened before as long as I can tell from looking at the records.
The usual summer pattern for walleye fishing has been affected somewhat – for me anyway. I had very little success fishing the mid lake humps I normally fish in mid summer. The walleye seem to be more scattered and I had better success finding them on points and transition zones closer to shorelines.
The walleye were also finickier than usual and live worms worked better than Gulp. The *$%#@*!! perch and rock bass liked the live worms too! I found that I had no confidence that I actually had a live crawler left on the spinner rig with all the perch and rock bass nipping at it. My solution was to put both a live crawler and a Gulp crawler on the rig at the same time. The perch and rock bass would often strip off the live crawler but at least I was not fishing with a bare hook as they couldn’t pull the Gulp crawler off.
I did try using a slow death spinner rig with smile blades and the shorter Gulp crawlers and that seemed to work as well as live worms. It was the first time using the rig for me and definitely something that I will be using more often.
I just completed a couple of days of early October fall fishing on the Winnipeg River and it was a blast! Water temperatures on the river were 59 to 60 degrees. For the most part the air temperature was cold and there were very brisk north winds.
Pretty much every walleye pundit will tell you that walleye fishing is better in windy conditions but I dislike the wind. Fighting the wind drains the trolling motor batteries real quick and I have never had much success getting an anchor to hold on a smooth rock bottom in a strong wind. When it is windy I seek out sheltered locations and the fish seem to be there too!
We had no trouble catching walleye within the slot size for eaters and those caught that were outside the slot size were generally larger rather than smaller. The biggest walleye was 28 3/4 inches which is considered a trophy. Also caught several large pike while walleye fishing and I was glad I was using my Pike-Proof Walleye Spinner!
Check out the pictures and short video of some of the better fish caught.
I had circled August 20th on my calendar quite a while ago and set that day aside for some muskie fishing. There was a heavy mist on the water in the morning so I did not really get started fishing until around 9:30 am and the forecast was for an extremely hot day so it looked like I would be ending the day early too.
I did catch a muskie and lots of pike to keep me from getting bored but the day sure turned into a scorcher!
While fishing for muskie the other day I caught this nice 36 inch northern pike.
I was a bit surprised as I was using a large muskie sized bull dawg lure and he inhaled the whole thing!
I never look forward to removing large lures from pike as they thrash around so much there is always a danger of ending up with hooks embedded somewhere in my body! This time I narrowly missed a severe injury that happened so fast it is hard to see in the video. Watch the video below and see if you can spot what happened.
Did you see it? When the pike thrashd as I was removing the look my long nosed pliers jumped up and poked me right in my glasses leaving a large deep gouge. If I had not been wearing glasses I would probably be missing an eye!
Who remembers their mom saying “you’ll poke your eye out!”? Geez! Maybe she was right! Consider your sunglasses to be saftey glasses and an essential item when fishing!
I got out walleye fishing on July 7 and the action was hot just like the weather! Once again most walleye were larger than the slot size and that makes for a fun time.
There were a lot of boats on the water as many had booked their vacations to be around the time of Canada Day or Independence Day. There were also an additional 80 + boats on the water in the area because of the annual Minaki Walleye Tournament. I still managed to find spots where I was the only one fishing which is the way I like it!
The following day, July 8, I set aside to spend a few hours targeting muskie. After a few hours of throwing the big muskie baits with zero action I was tired and bored. I stowed the net and other gear and headed back to camp. Along the way I decided to take a few casts in one more spot. I was totally unprepared and did not really expect to catch a muskie. I was cruising past the spot using the trolling motor while reeling in and there was a muskie following!
I began my figure 8 and the muskie kept following the lure. After a couple of 8’s I realized that the boat was still moving along at a good clip and maybe I would have better success of I turned off the motor!
I seemed to be doing the 8’s forever! In reality it was probably closer to 90 seconds but felt like 10 minutes. He finally bit and the fight was on!
Now I had to turn on the camera while fighting the muskie with one hand and hope I didn’t lose him.
And where the heck did I put the pliers and the net?!
Quick release from the net and he was off and in great shape. My afternoon of muskie fishing turned out successful after all. I love it when a plan comes together!
The early summer walleye bite continues to be hot! We went out for a few hours in the morning on Thursday before the start of the Canada Day long weekend and took the opportunity to fish in what is normally a high traffic area.
Boats were absent from the water for the most part as the June tourists were on their way home and the July tourists had not yet arrived. Cottagers had not yet arrived for the long weekend either so we basically had the water to ourselves. It was great!
The action was pretty constant and we hardly noticed the rain as we were busy hauling up walleye with average size being in the 20 to 24 inch range.
The bigger walleye seemed to be feeding on the smaller ones as we had a 22 inch walleye cough up a 10 incher. We did manage a couple of eaters for supper too!
The biggest fish of the morning was this 27 inch golden beauty.
Fishing an area where the boat high traffic is normally high during a period of low traffic certainly paid off for us.
This weekend marked the beginning of summer on the calendar and summer fishing patterns. Water temps were averaging 64 degrees for the most part and we found walleye at their summer haunts in spite of the water levels which have risen 6 feet in the last couple of weeks.
Areas with some current produced the best for us. The average walleye size we were catching was in the 20 inch range which was outstanding!
The hot colour spinner blade this weekend was pink. The biggest walleye this weekend measure 27.5 inches and was caught on spinner with a Gulp worm.
While fishing for walleye we also found some good sized smallmouth bass down deep in the current feasting on some really large minnows. The biggest was 17.5 inches.
Just wrapped up our annual Spring Fishing Classic and because of the extremely late Spring patterns were not at all usual for this time in June.
We fished from Perch Bay to the Dalles and while the walleye were sparse and scattered and not in most of their usual spots yet we managed enough to eat and some to bring home. The biggest we caught was 24 inches. We caught more over keeper size than under which is a nice problem to have!
There seemed to be more tourists up from the US than usual for this early in the season which surprised me a little as. By the weekend when the cottagers arrived there were lots of boats looking for fish in all the same known spots and they would change spots frequently so they were likely not finding fish there.
For walleye, points worked best for us. The fish seemed to be suspended about half way down steep points and were enticed by crawler harnesses trolled past their noses. They were fininky and a three hook harness would catch them while they would strike short on a two hook harness.
It looks like it was the same situation up at Minaki as the lodges were sending their guests down through the Dalles and also to Myrtle Rapids. Current areas did not seem to be any better than anywhere else however. We “saved” some lost tourists from Minaki and they had just one walleye in the livewell.
We fished for walleye in the morning for the most part and spent the afternoon targeting smallies. Found lots of 15 to 16 inch bass which was a blast. I don’t think they were on the nest yet but did find a couple of pairs. While fishing for bass we also found lots of little snot rockets which were feisty and fun. Biggest pike was 36 inches. Also found decent pike deep while checking out deeper summer walleye areas.
Water temps were 55 in most areas but as high as 62 in some bays – perfect for spring Crappie fishing. We saw some boats doing just that!
I suspect that the walleye will be moving into their summer haunts any day now so if fishing the Winnipeg River be sure to check them out too.
I have just returned from a few days of fishing on the Winnipeg River. This was my annual fall trip with my friend Frank who just gets out fishing a couple of times a year and our “to do” list included pike, walleye, bass, and muskie. This is late in the season for us and usually around mid October I am pulling the boat out of the water for good so I was not sure of exactly what the fish would be doing this time of year. It turns out my uncertainty was well founded as the fishing had changed from what I had experienced throughout summer and early fall.
Priority was given to catching walleye to make sure that we had a good fish fry while we were out there and to make sure Frank caught his limit to bring home with him. With that in mind we decided to target walleye on our first afternoon on the water. We found the fish to be biting real light and just nipping at the tails of our Gulp nightcrawlers attached to our spinner rigs. With three hooks on the rigs we were catching them but with just two we found that we missed them. We kept enough for a good feed and opted for an early walleye supper so we would have a couple of hours of daylight left after for some more fishing.
After supper we decided to target northern pike in a large weedy bay and didn’t have great success. We caught a couple of hammer handles but I also caught what would turn out to be the largest walleye of the trip – a 24 incher. It was feeding in just a few feet of water and we did catch others shallow in the evenings as well. For the few days we were fishing we found that walleye were really scattered and didn’t seem to be concentrated in any particular areas. They were everywhere at every depth but were sparse. We would only catch a couple at any one location. I thought that perhaps if they were to be concentrated anywhere they may be seeking out current areas so one morning we headed out to the Norman Dam at Perch Bay. That ended up being a big waste of time as we didn’t get so much as a nibble there. We did find an almost dead 30 inch sturgeon on the water’s surface that looked like it had been attacked by something with teeth.
We set aside a day to troll for muskies in the Minaki area and a heavy morning fog kept us off the water until about 11:00 am so our time targeting muskies was short. We didn’t catch any muskies but caught four nice pike in the 8 to 12 pound range that made the afternoon trolling the big baits a lot of fun.
Frank with one of the pke caught trolling for muskies.
We caught a few more large pike while bottom bouncing deep for walleye. Pike seemed to be the only species that were really attacking the bait. Smallmouth bass were were not attacking the bait very aggressively either but we caught a few really nice ones down deep while walleye fishing.
We set aside yesterday afternoon to target some keeper walleyes. As it turned out the walleye had really turned neutral and we had to resort to drop shotting with large salted shiners in order to entice them to bite. The bite was extremely light and the hits were unbelievable subtle even using 6 lb test line with a light action rod. Often the only indication that a walleye had taken the bait was just a very subtle quivering of the rod tip. Most of the walleye caught that afternoon were quite small but we did get the eaters to take home that we were looking for.
This was the first time I had to resort to using a drop shot setup to catch walleye this year. Up until now the walleye had always been relatively active feeders and uninterested neutral walleye was not something I had run into in a long time. We got it all figured out however and count the fishing trip as a great success!
I got off to a late start and missed the Labour Day long weekend due to other commitments but did manage to get out fishing in the Minaki area a few times after that. There were many very windy days and I avoided those also. Fighting the wind makes my trolling motor battery run out of juice very quickly and I don’t like dropping anchor because it rarely holds on the smooth rock bottoms where I like to fish. If the anchor does hold in the wind that usually means it is wedged in a crevice and it may be the last time I see that anchor. Besides, the windy days coincided with days that were not prime according to the solunar tables anyway – and I do find the action better when the solunar indicates the moon is right!
I took videos of a lot of the fish I was catching and below is a compilation including walleye, bass, northern pike and muskie with a couple of rock bass and perch thrown in as well. Trying to turn on cameras while fighting a fish often results in losing the fish and for some reason those lost fish always feel like they are a lot bigger than the ones that stay on the line and make it into the video:)