Top 6 lakes for trophy walleye
Looking for the walleye of a lifetime? Here are the best hot spots for landing a trophy€”plus advice from the pros
Canada boasts fantastic walleye fisheries from B.C. to Quebec, but only a handful of lakes, rivers and reservoirs consistently kick out good numbers of big walleye weighing eight to 18 pounds. Even on these marquee waters, though, it’s important to put yourself in the right place at the right time with the right presentation. So, here’s the skinny from the experts on where and when to go, and what to throw.
Lake Erie, ON
Probably no one was more surprised than Ted Takasaki himself. During a tournament four years ago on Lake Erie, the ever-positive president of Lindy Legendary Fishing Tackle set a new Professional Walleye Trail record for a one-day, five-fish limit. Are you ready for this? His walleye weighed a staggering 53.2 pounds. Most anglers never catch a double-digit walleye in their lives, but Takasaki’s five fish averaged almost 11 pounds. Not only did he shatter the previous record of 48.48 pounds for a five-fish limit, he bettered the one-day, six-fish limit as well. Says Takasaki: “It was unbelievable.”
Which only goes to prove that anything’s possible on Lake Erie.
Part of the reason is that Erie, the shallowest of the Great Lakes, offers many prime places for walleye to spawn. Plus, walleye grow faster here than anywhere else in the country-almost twice as fast. And while the total walleye population has dipped recently from a high of 100 million fish due to gobies and zebra mussels, there are still more walleye in Erie than any other lake in the world.
Following the spawn, which occurs early in Erie, the walleye quickly filter back out to the main lake, forming Genghis Khan-like hordes that maraud schools of smelts, alewives and shad. Takasaki favours pursuing these hungry ‘eyes at the mouth of the Detroit River and the area around Pelee Island. He also says it pays to cover lots of water to locate pods of moving fish. And while Takasaki admits he’s never caught a suspended walleye in a river, he catches the vast majority of his Erie fish in the water column.
“The key on Erie is my four-stroke kicker motor,” says Takasaki. “It’s critical. When I troll I watch my GPS unit and maintain a trolling speed, usually between 1.6 and 1.7 miles per hour.”
Planer boards are also essential tools in Takasaki’s trolling game. Erie walleye spook easily in the gin-clear water when a boat passes overhead, but regroup quickly off to the sides. That’s where they’ll nail minnowbaits, such as Hot ‘N Tots, ThunderSticks, Rapala Original Floaters and Lindy Shadlings, that pass by at the same depth. “My typical strategy,” explains Takasaki, “and the one I used to set the record, is to keep my lures down 10 to 17 feet when I’m trolling over 28 to 32 feet of water. But if that doesn’t work, I’ll keep trying different depths and experimenting with speed control.”
Make no mistake about it, experimenting could pay off. From 1943 to 1960, the world-record walleye was a mammoth 22.7-pounder caught near Fort Erie, Ontario. And Takasaki’s betting that the Great Lake is holding another record-book ‘eye.
Pro tip: When trolling minnowbaits behind planer boards, Takasaki says it’s important to make wide S-turns. The turns cause the inside lure to stall, then surge forward when you move in the other direction, which triggers the walleye to strike.
- Niagara Sportfishing
- Erie Tracker Outfitters
This article was originally published on May 1, 2006