Best Walleye Fishing Day Ever

Posted by MNAngler On September - 1 - 2010

Date: 8/26/2010
Time: 11:30am – 4:30pm
Body of water: Undisclosed
Location: Gunflint Trail, MN
Weather Conditions: partly cloudy, West wind ~20mph

For a couple of year’s now, I’ve been trying to get out to a lake that my friend and colleague, Harley, has been fishing for years. He almost always comes back with his daily limit of walleye from the lake. And last year, he landed a fish of a lifetime. We’ve tried to coordinate our trips so he could show me the ropes of the lake, but while we’ve been up there at the same time, we’ve never been able to go fishing together.

To get to the lake, you have to enter one of the lakes accessible by road and portage in, so it’s basically a day’s trip. Ken and I had been working on putting in a sliding glass door in his cabin and we finished that (between fishing) on Wednesday. So on Thursday, we decided we would take an adventure and try fishing my colleague’s lake.

We got to the first lake at about 10:30, paddled in a canoe to the portage, and hiked the portage to our destination. Harley had warned me it would be a tough climb and he wasn’t kidding. As you can see from the pictures below, the path through the woods had a pretty good incline. I took the canoe in while Ken would take it out. The incline was so tough, we ended up switching halfway. We traded legs on the way back. The last picture was Ken coming down the hill on the return.


Once we got on the lake, we let the wind take us down the lake. Ken used a bottom bouncer with worm harness, while I used a slip bobber, sinkers, and leech. My first two casts whipped the leeches off. I cast more lightly after that and kept an eye on the leech on each cast. It started out very shallow, only 6-8 ft. After a while, Ken took off the bottom bouncer and just used his worm harness. We floated for an hour and a half, but didn’t get very far. Harley talked about walleye holes at end of lake and at that rate, wouldn’t have gotten down to the end til 5pm.

I was a bit frustrated and really wished I had come out with Harley at least once before committing a full day not knowing where exactly the right spots were.

Harley was nice enough to highlight hot spots on a Minnesota DNR map (with the understanding that I would have to eat it after my trip) including a spot that had rocks where we could have lunch. Since it was getting close to 1pm, I decided we should paddle down and look for those rocks. We found some rocks, but the place he marked seemed further down. We stopped anyway.

After doing some measuring with my sinkers, I set my slip bobber at about 20 ft and tossed it out about 30 ft from the rock and let it drift with the wind. Ken tossed his worm harness out so it floated down and then sat down to eat.

After eating, I was putting our food packaging away when Ken exclaimed, “ooh, ooh!” I thought he was just joking with me but then I saw his rod bending down. So I asked, “really?” “Yes,” he replied and pulled out a 13-14″ walleye. We decided to keep it so I went to the canoe to get a stringer. I found that easily, but then decided to get my camera as well, which was further in the canoe. By the time I was getting out, I heard an, “AH!” followed by a splash. He dropped it in between some rocks into some water. There was no way for us to get it out. We hoped there was a way back to the lake from between those rocks.

We now knew fish were here. Ken then cast out again, let the harness drop down, and jigged it up. That’s how he caught the first walleye. He got another hit. This time it was a 9-10″ walleye. Another few casts and he pulled out a tiny perch.

Ken wanted me to try his spot. It was only about 10 ft out from our perch. I adjusted the line up to about 12-13 ft since that area was only about 15 ft deep. I considered putting on a new leech, too, since the one I had was looking rather peaked, but decided to try it anyway. I cast it out to Ken’s spot and within a few minutes, my bobber started bouncing. “Ken, look,” I said. We both watched as it started to descend under water. Considering we were after walleye, I let the bobber go under for a few seconds. Ken was anxious and pointed out that, “he’s got it!” I let the bobber go under about a foot before setting the hook. It didn’t feel like much, but Ken said, “there’s one to write home about!” Just then, he got a hit on his worm.

Not wanting to wait for Ken to get the net (I lost a fish earlier in the week waiting for him), I pulled mine up and as I turned around with it, my line broke! Fortunately, I was over the rocks and I quickly put my hands on it and pinned it against the rock to keep it from flipping back in the water. Ken grabbed the stringer and secured it and then took the picture below.

Species: Walleye
Size: 16″
Lure used: slip bobber and leech

I then had to re-rig my line and Ken was getting his rod setup with a better setup. It was like a fishing gear tornado hit the scene. We had tackle everywhere. It took us a good 20 minutes before we were fishing again.

Once I got setup again, I cast out to the same spot. Within minutes, my bobber went down again. Again, I waited til the bobber was under about a foot before setting the hook. This time, I pulled out a smaller guy at about 11″. I was going to get a picture before letting it go, but it got away from me before Ken could snap the pic. He did get the one below, though. Do you see it?


Then it got quiet. For the next 30-45 minutes, I didn’t get any hits. During that time, Ken pulled out a nice 12″ perch. But we didn’t keep it.

I then discovered that my bobber wasn’t at my bobber stop. The bobber stop was about 6 ft up the line. I fiddled with it for a while and found some abrasion on my line that was apparently acting as a bobber stop. I took about 10 minutes to clip the line and re-rig. I got the new rig to work correctly and once again, within minutes, I got a hit. I pulled out a 12 incher.

On my next cast, the line stopped premature of my bobber stop again. Frustrated, I decided to abandon that reel and old line and set up my other rod, which I brought to cast for smallies, and use that instead. Sure enough, I got that set up and within minutes, my bobber went down. This time I missed the fish and my leech was gone. The next 6 casts or so, I pulled in an 8″ and missed the rest, all with leeches stolen of the hook. Ken was getting hits on his worms as well and they were coming back half eaten.

I realized that the walleye were probably being true walleye and grabbing the bait and running. When I set the hook, I was probably tearing the hook out of the leech. They were pretty weak when I hooked them. I then started to let the walleye make their runs and waited to set the hook. It worked because I pulled out an 11″ that I actually waited too long with. The hook was in its gut. I’m afraid that little guy probably wouldn’t live, but I let him go anyway.

It was amazing. Every cast was getting pulled down within a few minutes. It got to where if the line didn’t go down, I thought something was wrong. In most cases, I was right. Either the leech got twisted in the line, or a sinker had slid down to the hook, or something funny like that.

I missesd a couple of more and once when I happened to look away for a second, Ken saw my bobber go under. I was waiting for the run, but Ken said he took the leech hard, so I shouldn’t wait to long to set the hook. I set it and hooked him. While Ken ran to get the net, I tried pulling the guy out of the water, but he thrashed and got off before Ken could get the net under him. He looked to be another 12 incher or so.

With my new theory about how the walleye were eating, I was now waiting a good 15-20 seconds before trying to set the hook. My bobber then started coming back to the surface as if the fish were letting go. I thought they might be feeling the weight of the line, so I took off one of my two sinkers. That didn’t help.

I decided that the walleye weren’t necessary feeling the weight of the line, but that the bobber was floating the leech back up when they let go of the leech to fully eat it. We should have really been using a lindy rig with a float near the hook so that the leech sits a foot or so off the bottom. Then when the walleye lets go to swallow, it won’t float away from them.

We should have left at 3:30pm, but we were having so much fun, we kept going. We ended up staying, but I wouldn’t be able to set the hook into another fish. At 4:30, the bobber stopped going down. The school must have moved on.

It was an incredibly fun day. Having gotten a nice walleye early on, I wasn’t so upset about losing the others. I would, however, like to revisit the lake and come back with my limit. I’ll have to ask Harley to outline the spots again, though, since I ate the map.

6 Responses to “Best Walleye Fishing Day Ever”

  1. Harley says:

    Glad you had fun. We have taken a lot of fish off that spot, and getting out of the canoe is a nice added benefit.

    We sat down there in the spring one year with two canoes off that point, and 4 of us on the rocks. We caught fish all afternoon long, came back a very nice stringer, and had a huge Boundary waters fish fry. One of the people in the group, who had never been north of Duluth before, had never fished before, exclaimed “Wow, this is really fun.” Turning someone else on to the joys of the great outdoors made the trip worth it, the fish were just an added benefit. And a nice meal.

  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Hunting and Fishing , MNAngler. MNAngler said: My best Walleye fishing day ever (so far): […]

  3. MNAngler says:

    This post was picked up by the Chicago Sun Times:

  4. Ronnie says:

    Intrigued by the variety of fish you have there,here we have trout salmon and some pike.Would be interesting to try for your species with a fly using HI-D.Have you tried it.

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