Saturday, March 13, 2010

Where are the biggest walleye caught?

On Red Lake, or at least at the west end of Red Lake where Bow Narrows Camp is located, there isn't a single answer to the question: "Where do I go to catch the largest walleye?"

There isn't, for instance, a nine-pounder bay that is between eight-pounder bay and 10-pounder bay.

Big walleye can be caught everywhere walleye are being caught.

There are a couple of minor exceptions.

The first is you probably won't find huge walleye where there are massive groups of tiny walleye. The little ones are packed together for protection. They're too small for people to eat but absolutely yummy for northern pike! Early in the season the little guys are frequently found in shallow, weedy bays where they use the weeds as cover.

There are big walleyes in the shallow weedy bays too, just not in the particular cove or weedbed where these little guys are packed.

It's not a hard-and-fast rule but the bigger ones are usually a little farther out from shore in a little deeper water and where the weeds aren't quite as dense or where there are no weeds at all.

Once walleye get to about 16 inches in length they are better able to protect themselves against marauding wolf packs of northern pike and move freely out into the open.

From that point on all the sizes of walleye swim together.

Walleye of all sizes around Bow Narrows Camp will stay in the weedy bays right until the water begins to cool down in mid-August.

Then they move out to the edges of the deeper bays where they join other walleye that seem to have been migrating there from all over the lake.

So, from opening day to late June walleyes of all sizes are mostly in the shallow weedy bays with the littlest walleye in the shallowest water.

From mid-July to mid-August there are still walleye in the shallow bays but there are also others in deeper water in the big bays and from mid-August to the end of September there are walleyes exclusively in the deeper bays.

Although the walleyes move to the area of the deep bays, they never go that deep themselves. In mid-July to mid-August they are probably 16-22 feet deep (during the same time, in the shallow weedy bays they are 8-12 feet deep).

By September when they are all in the deep bays they will be 26-30 feet deep and that's as deep as we catch them.

The nice thing about fishing late in the season is that the fish congregate in large schools and don't really move around very much. They are more predictable than at other times of the year.

The second exception to the all-walleyes-school-together rule comes at the other end of the scale -- the big end.

Even though walleye are a school fish, the really big girls (they are almost all females) can leave the group and go cruising on their own. They act more like northern pike than walleye and a lot of times are caught by anglers who are pike fishing.

Still, while some lunker walleye do this solo thing, more of them hang with the group. So the best advice is that once you locate a bunch of mixed-size walleye, keep fishing and you're bound to come up with some biggies.

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