Saturday, March 7, 2009

How many walleyes does the average angler catch?

prime fish habitat
This is a question that I get quite frequently.
I understand that people are just trying to get a read on the quality of fishing here but it still makes no sense.
It's silly because the answer, if I would give one, still tells you nothing.
An example, one boat goes fishing and catches 100 walleyes in a day. Another boat catches zero. Is the answer then that the "average angler" gets 50?
An answer also doesn't tell you anything about the size and therefore the quality of the fish.
Brenda and I once caught 100 walleyes in a single hour. We were using jigs with barbless hooks and plastic twister tails -- no bait. You could not get this outfit to the bottom without catching a walleye. This was the fastest walleye action I have ever seen including in the old days fishing on remote "unfished" portage lakes. However every one of the hundred fish we caught and released that August afternoon was only 12 inches long! They were tiny. But it sounds impressive -- 100 walleyes in an hour!
OK, that was an exception, so what does the "average" guy catch?
It depends, do you mean the "average" fisherman who has been coming to Bow Narrows Camp for 10 years or the "average" fisherman who has been fishing for 10 years on other lakes but is new to Red Lake or the "average" fisherman who has never fished for walleyes before or the "average" fisherman who insists on using techniques that worked on another lake in another province and won't adapt to our lake? Maybe you mean the "average" guy who fishes for pike 95 per cent of the time or conversely the "average" person who fishes for nothing but walleyes from daylight to dark. What about the guys who are fishing with little kids or the ones who won't fish in the rain or the ones who will fish no matter what the wind and weather?
The very question of "how many" indicates that the person is really concerned about numbers, not quality. So would he be happy catching hundreds of 12-inch walleyes? Or would he prefer to catch fewer but bigger fish? That is virtually always the choice. You cannot catch 100 eight-to-12 pound walleyes in an hour, if for no other reason that it takes about five minutes to land each of them.
Red Lake's claim to fame is its large numbers of big walleyes. Where on a small lake you might only catch one 25-inch walleye in a week on Red Lake you might catch two dozen that big or bigger in a single day. We routinely catch walleyes 28 inches (eight pounds) and it would seem most walleyes end their growing at 32 inches (12 pounds). However every so often someone catches a 34-incher (14 pounds).
We frequently hear seasoned anglers that are new to our camp remark, "I've never seen so many big fish!" How many did they catch? I don't know, frankly, but I know they were impressed with the fishing.
Instead of telling people how many walleyes they can catch in one day, I usually refer them to our camp's setting as shown on Google Maps. Switch the map to satellite mode, click off the box showing the camp's info and zoom down. Look at all the bays and islands and narrows that are nearby the camp. This irregular shoreline is prime fish habitat! It also shows how the camp is protected from the wind, no matter what the direction.
The satellite photo doesn't show the lake depths but the large bodies of water all have places where it is over 100 feet deep. The smaller bays and narrows are usually 30 feet deep or less.
This is important because there is a wide variety of depths and temperatures available to the fish. That's why we can catch them throughout the season -- we just move to where they are feeding.
The map also doesn't show you what the bottom of the lake is made of. In most places at the west end of Red Lake where Bow Narrows Camp is located the bottom is clay -- the most productive material. A fishery is just like a farm, it starts with good soil. Clay produces more plankton and tiny invertebrates that form the start of the food chain than does sand or rock.
These are the factors that make Red Lake such a tremendous fishery and it's our extreme good fortune that Bow Narrows Camp is located right in the middle of the best place to fish on the entire 30-mile-long lake.
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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You hit the nail on the head. We were there the first week of June n 2008 and the weather was terrible cold and rainy and fishing was tough. But we caught fish everyday, and they were nice ones. 29" was our biggest but I can say with all sincerity that the average fish I caught would probaby be 23". The amount of 24-27 inch fish we caught was incredible. We did not catch alot 10-20 a day. But they were Beautiful big post spawn walleye. Can't wait to do it again.