TOTW Logo WWT Summary 2011

The original purpose of our Winter Walleye Tour was to show that the average hard water enthusiast with limited resources and time doesn’t have to travel hundreds of miles to northwest Ontario or Manitoba for great walleye fishing. Every year we receive several outdoor magazines with great stories and pictures of huge walleye being hoisted through the hole. Those magazine destinations with an abundance of huge fish are out of reach for most. The majority of Ontario’s 1.2 million anglers would have a tough time telling the family they are taking a week of the family’s winter vacation to ice fish with the guys, travelling about the same distance as Florida to get to the “Disney World” for ice angler. We set out to fish and report on destinations a little closer to home. It was a dirty job but someone had to do it.


What a winter it has been for walleye through the ice in Southern Ontario. Unfortunately our tour ended short by two destinations.  The intention was to fish five destination, three we reported on plus Lake Muskoka (the hidden gem) and Lake Skugog. Due to ice conditions, a complete lack of discipline, and lake trout on fire on Lake Simcoe, we fell short of our goal.  But we didn’t fall short of fish, new techniques, and new friends for the hard water season.


Our winters might be getting shorter but that is not reducing the number of anglers enjoying or discovering ice fishing. Many of Ontario's 1.2 million anglers only fish through the ice. New equipment, clothing, portability and comfort, and access to information are bringing more people out of hibernation and onto the ice. We see more families on the ice than ever before. Embracing winter is what Ontario is all about and like hockey, ice fishing is more than part of our identity, it is part of our Canadian fabric. We are a four season nation.

 

Pointe au Baril
We started our tour in Pointe au Baril where the fishing was nothing short of phenomenal catching 90 fish in two days, and fished only five hours per day. The folks at Kenlea Cottages, Mike and Margaret Bristow put us on fish beyond our greatest expectation. This fishery rehabilitation story is certainly a feather in the cap of the MNR and local stakeholders. We can’t wait to get back up there for our spring pike story, (Where Big Girls Lie) where last year we had one of the best days of spring pike fishing ever. Click the image to the right for the full story. 


Severn Sound

Our next stop was Severn Sound where we spent an entire week confirming this destination as well on the way to recovery. The walleye population is healthy and after drilling a lot of holes and putting a pattern together, fish were available any time of day. We didn’t have any huge days but we are confident that the information we provided in the story should help the average angler to a multiple fish day and considering the proximity to the GTA, convenience of access, and amenities close by, you couldn’t ask for more.

 

Bay of Quinte

Our final destination was the Bay of Quinte where we met up with the G2 Angling team, got pampered, and although the weather played havoc with the fish, 15 fish over a day and a half is a pretty good trip. Quinte is often labeled the “walleye capital of the world” and evidence of this is everywhere in the area from the pictures and stories to the number of anglers on the ice looking for that one cover story fish. We’ll be back in the spring for a walleye report as soon as the season opens.

 

Common Themes


Everywhere we go we ask a lot of questions concerning the fisheries. We ask what the condition of the fishery is compared to 10 or 20 years ago. Is it worse, the same or better? Needless to say anyone fishing Pointe au Baril says the fishing has improved. There was mixed results in Severn Sound with a slight hint of optimism. When we ask what the main stressors were to the fishery, the number one reply was water levels, followed by commercial fishing and First Nation spring harvesting.  There were a lot of misconceptions about First Nations rights. Many thought it was against the law for anyone to harvest fish out of season, particularly in spawning areas and that the MNR Enforcement should be more aggressive. When we explained that there was nothing the CO’s could do about it there was a general expression of outrage.  Few people understand the relationship between First Nations and our Government.

 

The input from the Bay of Quinte was ambiguous as the default answer about the condition of the fishery was “about the same”. When asked what the stressors were for walleye, the number one answer was recreational fishing pressure, followed by First Nations spring harvesting.  There is no commercial fishing in the immediate region but there is an application for a licence and that was of concern to those who knew about it.


That concludes our tour for this year and hopefully next year we can get the whole job done without being distracted by other fishing destination.  If only winter was a little longer and the ice was safe all the time.
Thanks to Leon Maloney and David Chong, who took time from their busy schedule to accompany me this year and thanks to G2 Angling and Kenlea Cottages for their hospitality.  If you have a destination you think deserves recognition in the walleye rankings, send us message and we’ll put it on the schedule. You know the old saying “ It’s a hard job but someone has to do it”

Pointe au Baril

Severn Sound

Bay of Quinte

Kenlea Cottage ad

 

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WWT Pointe au Baril WWT Severn Sound WWT Bay of Quinte Kenlea Cottages Pointe au Baril