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Fishing Articles from Phil Rolfe
Witch Bay Camp, Lake of the Woods

Canadian Walleye Opener on The Lake of the Woods
By Phil Rolfe

Opening week on the Lake of the Woods can offer anglers spectacular walleye fishing opportunities, both in numbers and size. The fishing can be a bonanza, especially during an early warm spring when the spawn has been completed prior to opening day.

On the other hand, a spring with massive cold fronts rolling through every other day, producing rising and falling surface temperatures can make fishing spotty. However, anglers armed with the proper location and presentation methods can still score.

The purpose of fishing seasons is to protect the gamefish species from massive exploitation during their most vulnerable time, the spawn period. Fishing openers are typically designed to open after this process has been completed. The monkey wrench can be Mother Nature, who at her whim can serve up a cold and nasty spring. When this happens, the fish could be in the pre-spawn or spawn period. This is the exception though, for the most part, we are dealing with the post spawn during opener.

The big females will usually leave the spawning area fairly rapidly following the spawn, males tend to linger, sometimes for quite a while. Your preference, numbers versus a potential trophy opportunity, will dictate your strategy.

The first areas I like to check are the near the spawning sites like rocky sections of extended shoreline related flats, especially if they are adjacent to deeper water. Then, rocky fingers that jut out from shore, some fish may spawn here, but even if they don't it's a prime post spawn feeding area. These are prime areas for males lingering near spawning sites, and a occasional female straggler.

Another location favorite of mine is soft dark bottom bays and flats. These areas warm up fastest especially those facing south, and attract the forage that walleyes favor. They harbor weed growth which is in its beginning stages at this time. Besure to work any downed timber present in these areas.

We know where, now let's talk about how. For small specific spots such as rock fingers or downed timber, I like to use a jig/live bait combination to thoroughly probe the area. For working the flats, I want to move quick, covering as much water as possible, I'll use a trolling method. Long lining crank baits, and bottom bouncing spinner rigs are the ticket here. The fish will tell you what they want. Be versatile and use you imagination.

The ways of taking early season Lake of the Woods walleyes are abundant. No matter what mood or situation the fish are in, there is a way to get them to bite. Versatility and creativity are the keys to success. If one presentation doesn't work--try another; the same for location, if they are not shallow--then they must be deeper. Telemetry studies indicate that walleyes spend very little time in one place; maybe a day or two at the longest, but then they are on the move again.

It won't be long now. I'll be leaving for the Woods in May to watch the ice go out and then start fishing for trophy northerns anxiously waiting for walleye season to open. I'll be shining the 1,000,000 candle power spot at night to see what those eyes are doing. For up to date fishing reports on the Lake of the Woods, besure to check:


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