I’ve been having lots of fun using a range ofDecember 18, 2013
The Kawartha Lakes Walleye fishery is located right in my backyard, and is underrated by a lot of anglers. After watching shows like Extreme Angler and seeing reports of fellow anglers catching trophy fish just an hour from my house, I decided to put the boat on the trailer and head over to Balsam Lake.
I had never fished walleye on Balsam prior to my trip over there, so the first day included a lot of driving around and getting a feel for the lake and the fishing suffered as a result. I spent the day running and gunning around the lake fishing points, main lake shoals and river mouths with very limited success. Throughout the day, I made two mistakes that resulted in a slow day of fishing – I was fishing too deep and targeting rocks instead of weed lines. This was one of those times where knowledge and previous experience work against you.
My previous walleye experiences had been spent fishing mid-summer patterns where the fish are staging offshore on deep ledges or extended underwater points. By transferring these techniques over to spring walleye, I completely missed the mark. It wasn’t until late in the day, where I had pretty much given up hope and was just fishing my way back to the ramp, that I stumbled across some fresh weed and immediately hooked up into a 17″ eye.
After seeing that, I decided to give the lake another shot a few days later. I did my research the night before, studying lake charts and Google Earth to find other spots just like what I had found at the end of the day. Using Google’s satellite imagery I was actually able to see weed lines and then compare that to the nautical charts to get a feel for depth and other underwater features.
The following day, from the time I launched to the time I left, it was game on. It took about five minutes to hook into the first fish of the day, a solid 24” walleye. After that, the fishing was steady all day and got even better when the wind picked up in the afternoon. The key was fresh, green coontail or milfoil in the 8-13 foot range and whenever you found that, the eyes were there and ready to eat. Overall we caught over 30 fish and maintained about a 16” average throughout the day.
My setup consisted of a 7’ medium action Shimano Compre rod paired up with a Shimano Symetre 2500 reel. I had that spooled up with 10# Power Pro Super Slick which lead to a 3-4 foot 8# Berkley Vanish fluorocarbon leader. As for the lure, nothing beats the classic jighead/curly tail grub combo for walleye. I used 1/8-oz. and 1/4-oz. jigs rigged with either a 3” YUM Black/Silver walleye grub or a PowerTeam Lures 4.5” Smokey Pepper Grub. The 1/8-oz. head was key to keeping the bait from burying in the weeds and allowed me to slowly tickle the grub across the weeds, letting it drop to the bottom a few times each cast. When the wind picked up I switched to the 1/4-oz. head which gave me better feel, and as the fish became more active I was able to use a more erratic jigging action.
All in all, I was more surprised than anything about the quality of the walleye fishing on such a popular lake with substantial cottage traffic. People, including myself, generally travel for hours to northern Ontario or Quebec to experience the caliber of fishing I experienced right in my backyard. These techniques are no doubt transferable to all of the Kawartha Lakes such as Sturgeon, Buckhorn and Rice Lake so I would highly recommend giving it a shot. I know I’ll be out there again in the very near future.
Good luck and tight lines!
About AuthorMore info about author
Steve is a talented multi-species tournament angler, based in Orillia Ontario. When Steve isn't on the water, writing articles or editing YouTube fishing videos, he's an Environmental Studies student at Carleton University in Ottawa, Ontario. Steve plans to pursue a career following his passion for the outdoors and in particular fishing.More by Steve Rowswell