4-Wheel Safari – Not Just for Africa
After a great breakfast our guide Cal picked us up in his four-wheel-drive truck and we headed out into the bush. The ride was about an hour-long on a dirt road cut through the bush over hills, around rocks and ruts. Finally, we spotted some other explorers that had come upon a bad time. They had tried to launch a boat in a creek area and they had their pickup, trailer, and boat over the edge of the road. Luckily, they were smart to have another 4-wheel drive vehicle there to pull them out.
Is this a scene out of Africa? No, this is in Canada. Ginny, my wife and I were experiencing a 4-wheel safari that is part of the fishing experience at Andy Myers Lodge. Cal our guide works for Steve Herbeck owner of Andy Myers Lodge and we were about to drop our boat in the same creek as the previous fisherman were, but we had to wait until they cleared the landing.
When we arrived at the lake around nine a.m. the temperatures had already reached 78˚F. The forecast called for 90˚F. plus. There was no wind at all, and as the temperature rose the anglers who were out disappeared to cooler places. The lake was like a watery desert.
We fished Max Gap jigs tipped with minnows along the break line of the sunken island. Twenty minutes of hard jigging and casting did not produce a thing. As a last resort, we increased the speed of the retrieve and finally got a jarring strike. My rod doubled over in a tight arch as the fish dove deep and circled the boat. When I finally raised it to the surface of the murky water, I realized that this was what I was looking for. Minutes later, I landed a walleye that was slightly under six pounds. I have found that it is not uncommon for walleye to react to fast-moving crankbaits when the water is very warm.
Since we could not coax another strike, we moved the boat to a reef near a marshy bay. My first cast was greeted by an electrifying strike. Seconds later, another four-pound walleye broke the mirror-like surface and rolled into the waiting net. Fishing turned spectacular. The walleyes were stacked up close in eight feet of water at the tip of the reef. Almost every cast produced action. Twice I lost fish only to have another walleye attack the bait as it moved back to the boat so I could make my next cast. This spot produced five walleyes from four to just over two pounds. Eventually, the fish stopped biting in this spot so, we moved again.
It was time to return to the sunken island, and here also the fish suddenly went on a feeding rampage about one hour after I caught the first walleye off this spot. Four casts with the jigs produced three more walleyes in the three-pound range. It was time to quit fishing at that point, but I still wondered how many walleye were lying off that sunken island.
The lake that we had selected for our summer walleye fishing trip was a small lake less than 500 acres in size with water depths of 30 feet or less. These lakes are ideal for hot summertime walleye action. It is much easier and quicker to fish all the prime fishing areas in a small, shallow lake than in a large, deep one. Searching out and fishing for walleye on a deepwater structure can be time-consuming and difficult. A shallow lake eliminates this problem.
Hydrographic charting of the area surrounding these prime fishing spots showed them to be unique in the section of the lake where they were located. However, the peculiarities in their bottom configuration were not shown on the hydrographic map in the detail needed to recognize them easily.
The first area had immediate access to a shallow, marshy bay rimmed with bulrushes and scattered clumps of lily pads. The bay harbored a large minnow population. Walleyes could be found on the side of a reef, which guarded the entrance to the shallow, marshy bay. The reef was five feet deep and extended out for 100 feet with rock rubble and pebbles that tailed off into deeper water. The water at the point and side of the reef facing the main part of the lake dropped off to 12 feet, which was quite an abrupt change for that portion of the lake. Walleye were usually located in five to ten feet of water, in the weeds close to a drop-off.
The second walleye holding area was on the edge of a large sunken island in five to eight feet of water and located in close proximity to some of the lake’s deepest water. The sunken island also harbored an extensive population of minnows and small walleyes and northern pike. Of course, there were other areas which produced walleyes from time to time, but we were interested in concentrating our attention on those places which produced the most consistent results throughout the summer.
After you have identified the prime fishing locations in the lake, return to them every hour. You can often intercept a second good feeding spree after the area has been rested for approximately an hour. It is far more productive to concentrate your fishing efforts on proven walleye holding areas than to make the rounds to all places that have ever produced walleye in the past.
All in all, we had a wonderful time walleye fishing in the bush of Canada. The 4-wheeled safari isn’t just for Africa it happens even in Canada.
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