Friday, January 8, 2010

Why are walleye near Bow Narrows Camp so big?

another big walleye
It's an interesting question.

It would seem to some of our fishermen that there just aren't any walleye in Red Lake near Bow Narrows Camp that are smaller than 20 inches. The average fish caught last year was probably 22 inches with many fish in the 26-inch range and some 28-inchers caught every day. A 20-inch walleye seemed to be the "little one."

The Red Lake-Gullrock Lake water system has earned the reputation for producing great quantities of walleye as well as really big walleye.

The biggest of these would seem to consistently be at the west end of Red Lake near camp.

Why is that?

Well first of all, there really are small walleye in the lake. They just don't usually show up at our end until the water warms, about July 1 in a normal summer. From that point on we still catch the big walleye but small ones as well.

Just about everything there is to know about fish behavior comes down to this fact: food. I would suspect that the reason we seem to have only big walleye early in the season is because we have more food fish available to them. Our end of the lake is deeper and probably contains more ciscoes (and up until recently, smelt) than the rest of the lake.

Ciscoes, called tulibee in Northwestern Ontario, are a high-calorie food for all of Red Lake's gamefish. Fish like them because for just a little bit of effort they get a lot of nutrition as compared to chasing down minnows such as dace and shiners. Ciscoes are also bigger than minnows and this would appeal more to a large fish than a small one.

Why then do the smaller walleye show up later in the season?

Probably minnow populations become more abundant at the west end of the lake about that time. There certainly are hatches of minnows entering the system about then.

Sometimes, however, there are all sizes of walleyes caught right from the start of the season and I've reason to believe next year will be one such year. The reason comes from lake trout studies done by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources near camp last fall.

The MNR researchers were searching for small lake trout that had been stocked from Red Lake eggs over the past six or so years. They didn't find any (it was kind of like looking for a needle in a haystack) but they did find hordes of small walleye. These fish should be prime eating size this summer and for the next few years.

As for the lake trout, we are catching small trout, especially in the spring. These all have been naturally-spawned fish. The stocked fish can be identified by a clipped fin. A different fin has been clipped each year. If you catch any next year, please let us know. All lake trout must be live-released in Red Lake.

Click to go back to our website:

Click to see the latest on the blog:

No comments: