Fishing & Boating News

Ontario Shield Lake Walleyes Will Make You A Better Angler

by: Babe Winkelman, Babe Winkelman Productions

(Apr. 16, 2010 - ) One of my favorite things to do is to catch big walleyes with a vertical presentation. Setting the hook on a giant bottom-hugging OEeye, directly under the boat, is one of the best sensations in the world. One of my favorite places to fish for walleyes is in the Province of Ontario, Canada. So, when you combine my favorite fish, with my favorite presentation, along with my favorite Canadian shield lake destinationS well, you have the recipe for the best day a person can have on the water!

And here's a big benefit to spending some time on a shield lake in Ontario: No, it's not the amazing scenery that Ontario has to offer. No, it's not the classic Canadian shore lunches you can enjoy; with fresh walleye, fried potatoes and other delicacies. No, it's not the cozy north-country lodge experience that's waiting for you. Nope, one of the biggest benefits is that you'll return home from Ontario being a much better angler than you were when you left! Before I explain how this is possible, let me tell you what an Ontario ?shield? lake isS

The Canadian Shield is a massive geological shield covered by igneous rock. That's rock created by volcanoes! Imagine volcanoes in Ontario. The shield is old! It's amazing to look at the rocks now and think OE wow, that's Precambrian! It was part of a massive volcanic mountain waaay back before life even existed on this planet!

The shield has been long-eroded by glacial activity, which basically scours the landscape and gradually shaves down mountains. The result today is a lot of very rugged country, and thousands of pristine lakes with steep rock outcroppings ? above and below water. That rugged sub-surface structure is walleye heaven, because it provides great ambush locations and continuous points-of-contact for bottom-hugging walleyes throughout the entire water column.

When you arrive at an Ontario shield lake, the first order of business is to get a good lake contour map. If your GPS has a map chip for that lake, even better. One look at the map will immediately help you identify the key structures on which to focus, namely: points, humps, holes and saddles. After you've identified these locations, take a closer look at them and highlight the structures that top out in shallow water (5-10 feet) and descend to deep water (30+ feet). Here you have an ideal situation, because a structure like this gives walleyes the ability to relate to bottom in any depth at which the forage exists.

When you get on the water, explore the chosen spots with your sonar unit. My Lowrance is my eyes underwater. So I run-and-gun, watching the screen as I cruise over promising structure. If I don't see fish in a spot, I don't wet a line. I move on. If I do mark fish, I note the depth and investigate the entire area at that depth to hopefully locate the highest concentration of walleyes. Then the fun begins!

Almost always I'll begin fishing with my #1 go-to bait: a jig tipped with a minnow or leech (or sometimes a crawler). If the fish are at a suitable depth where the boat doesn't spook them, I prefer to get right above them and present the bait vertically. This gives you terrific bait control, sensitivity and successful hookset percentages. If the fish are fairly shallow in clear water, then I'll present the bait by casting or long-line trolling with the Minn Kota. Orange and chartreuse jigs are good choices in shield lakes, but be prepared to experiment if the fish are tight-lipped.

As I mentioned before, these Ontario shield lake structures can be very steep. So if the walleyes are relating to a specific depth, say 22 feet, that zone of productive water on a steep drop-off is very narrow. Therefore, precise boat control is essential for staying in the strike zone. Add wind and/or current and fishing steep breaks on a shield lake will turn you into a boat-control expert in a hurry!

The reward for going to Ontario is dependable, non-stop walleye action if you do your homework, identify productive areas via mapping or GPS, and present classic walleye baits at the right depth. The vast number of shield lakes just across the US border is jaw-dropping! To find the ideal walleye fishery near you, and to get in touch with a lodge that fills the needs of you and your family, check out the GoFishInOntario website and you'll discover that the walleye trip of a lifetime is incredibly easy and affordable to achieve.

And when you return home, in addition to eternal memories, you'll have newfound fishing talents that will serve you well on any water.

Good Fishing!

Babe Winkelman is a nationally-known outdoorsman who has taught people to fish and hunt for nearly 30 years. Watch his award-winning 'Good Fishing' and 'Outdoor Secrets' television shows on Versus (VS.), Fox Sports Net, Wild TV and many local networks. Visit the winkelman website for air times where you live.