Late Summer Weekend Update, Lessons, Lesions and Aqua-View!


When most people finish work on Fridays, I assume they make plans to gather with friends and share some good times together. If you’re anything like me, that means getting ready to escape the daily grind and hitting the water for a precious 48 hours. Ok let’s make that 30 or so because like most of us mortals I do need to sleep unfortunately. Two Fridays ago, I was heading home from work and preparing for another day on the water when I received a last minute Saturday morning surprise invite from local guide and 2013 South Lancaster Fish and Game Club tournament winner, Ryan Flaro. One of Ryan’s clients had cancelled for the morning and he had a few hours to spare. Despite already having tentative plans, I figured an invite from someone who has that amount of experience and the credentials to go with it was hard to pass up. So I graciously accepted.

After a quick chat and a coffee we hit the water by 8am. It didn’t take long before we were onto fish. And by onto fish, I don’t mean catching them, well at least not right away. Ryan and I both knew that fishing’s been tough this year, so we decided to have a bit of fun with his underwater camera. No sooner than a few minutes after we made it to our first spot, Ryan threw the camera down and revealed surprisingly clear images of the world below the surface. I have an Aqua-View as well, but must admit I rarely use it because of the low-resolution image and difficulty seeing the screen in the bright sun. I think it’s dated to the rotary phone era. Thankfully Ryan’s model isn’t as archaic. His has a colour monitor and incredibly clear resolution which definitely makes the experience much more enjoyable. It was great to explore, take our time and not feel pressured to catch fish for a few hours. I was amazed at how many walleyes hold on a given piece of structure, but more importantly, how they gravitate and stick to a specific part of that structure; the proverbial spot on the spot, if you will. Watching them swim nose up against the current is both fascinating and mesmerizing. I love watching walleyes in their natural element. They have incredible poise and grace underwater and are masters of their element. Based on our observations, Walleye seem to gravitate to open patches near weeds that offer some current and a hard bottom. If that area offers scattered stones or boulders even better. Years of fishing this lake teaches you this and one gets good at finding these spots by reading the water, but seeing it live with the help of a camera opens up a whole new realm and brings imagination to life. It’s really fun to just watch and learn sometimes and fun was what this outing was all about.

There comes a moment, however, when the urge to catch a fish takes over. Now that we’d taken a look it was time to drop a line to see if we could get them to react. We went over fish we had just seen, and no matter what we tried, there were no takers. We moved from spot to spot, covering miles on the water in the process and despite not catching any big fish that morning we managed to put a few in the boat with a bit of persistence and precision. By the time we headed back in at noon, we had enough for at least a good snack.


Overall we had a great morning, I’ve know Ryan since we were kids, we grew up as neighbours, but oddly enough, this was the first time we ever fished together so it was great to chat and share our fishing experience. It was interesting to see that we fished a lot of the same spots, but fished them quite differently. We also exchanged a few spots that were new to both of us. I especially appreciated the time Ryan took to show me where walleyes were holding on some of the structure and the expertise he took time to share. That beautiful Saturday morning getting to know Lake St. Francis reminded me why I spend so much time fishing in the first place. It’s not always about competition or filling up the livewell, sometimes it’s important to revive the childhood passion that originally drew us to the water and ultimately keeps us going back.

School ridge blog

I often get asked how I know where fish are and where to find them. the answer is often that I honestly don’t know. So every outing is a search, more than it is a get, if you know what I mean. Walleyes are migratory critters. They move as the environment in which they live changes. Weeds are a big factor in driving that change. Much like land vegetation, aquatic weed growth starts in the spring as the water warms and immediately begins to attract baitfish and predators. As weeds grow over the summer months, they provide shade, slightly cooler temperatures and food. In the winter, when there are no weeds, walleyes will congregate on huge flats near spawning grounds, rocky points, sharp break walls, or rock piles in deeper water. Finding fish is however only half the battle. As anyone who’s ever spent time trying to catch them will tell you, walleyes are also extremely finicky at times. Our Percidaed friends can be notoriously frustrating in that aspect, resulting in the occasional ever-so-humbling goose egg. They seem to respond to triggers when it comes to feeding. This becomes quite apparent when ice-fishing near other anglers for example. Take a situation where there are multiple anglers with holes drilled a bit everywhere in the same area and you will notice patterns of when people are catching fish and when they are not. Sometimes an hour can go by without a fish caught, then seemingly out of nowhere people start catching fish regularly for the next hour. Wait twenty more minutes and the bite goes cold again. What turns them on and off is often a mystery, though experience tells me one sure way is to get distracted by a cell phone. Check your cell phone and you’re guaranteed to miss a bite, especially on those slow days :).

In all seriousness, I’ve personally seen fish in 15 feet of water or less hugging the bottom and if it weren’t for their gills moving you’d think they were dead. I recall one time when I could bump a jig off the fish’s back and nothing would get them to strike. I remember another where a school of over 20 large suspended walleyes sat in the middle of the channel in broad daylight, about 7-8 feet below the surface. My friend an I tried everything to catch them, but to no avail.

At other times, you can’t keep lures away from fish. I’ve had walleye chase a crankbait to the side of the boat like a musky, bass or pike would. I also remember an outing with my buddy Mike when we were drifing spinners with the current and the fish were hitting the spinners as we were reeling them up to the boat. They were spitting up tons of baitfish too. Just this past weekend I caught a 4 pounder reeling in a crankbait when I thought I was done fishing a spot. The fish hit my lure about 10 feet from the boat, in about 5 feet of water while I was over 30 feet. That fish was either suspended off the structure, or it followed the bait and chased it up the water column to the boat. Needless to say they were aggressive that day and ended up with over 15 fish caught. The very next morning a cold front moved in, the wind blew strong from the North, and I came home empty-handed (and freezing) fishing the same spots that produced so well only a few hours earlier. That’s just the way the cookie crumbles in the game of fishing for walleyes. Sometimes they are on, sometimes they are not. Sometimes it’s jubilation for the crazy guy on the water, sometimes it’s despair.

As I mentioned earlier, Ryan and I’s observations revealed that walleyes were holding just off the edges of weeds, on rocky/sandy flats that offered a slight to moderate current. Seems to me walleyes love edges. I always knew this from trial and error, but looking at fish in their element drove the point home for me. They will hold right where the weeds end and the sandy/rocky bottom begins. It’s their comfort zone. There are however, exceptions to every rule.

One one spot Ryan called “home”, I learned and witnessed proof that they also sometimes hold right on top of the weeds, seemingly in the middle of nowhere. Sure I’ve seen walleyes hide inside weed edges and have heard of bass guys finding surprisingly large walleyes in reed beds and lillypads, but I didn’t know they also sat directly on top of weed beds in open water. This was indeed the case in this location. The area consisted of a saddle in about 10-12 feet of water between two deeper holes. It’s off a point, and also provides plenty of current. The weeds, shallow water and unusual structure layout makes the spot very difficult to fish because there are no open spots to put a lure. And personally I would not have thought to even look at that spot, but they are definitely there.

As most good things usually do, our short outing ended too early. I spent that afternoon catching up with my buddy Eric. We took advantage of the hot late summer sun by snorkeling a few areas. Snorkeling in the current takes a bit of practice. You need to learn to pop your ears and dive to at least 15 feet to get to walleye holding areas, but as you can see, once you get the hang of it you can reap some really interesting rewards. You can also swallow a gallon of lake-water, but that’s all part of the charm. Either way, looking at the world below the surface whether it be with an underwater camera, snorkeling or even scuba-diving is a lot of fun, and can only help an angler figure out the big picture.

 walter blog

As we enjoyed some of the morning’s fresh walleye and a bonfire by the water, I thought I would try my luck for the evening bite. This would prove to be an excellent decision. If you know there are fish in an area, I recommend trying to get them to bite in the last few hours of daylight. I suspect you will have much better luck. I know I do.

Rich walters

Fish move tight to structure at sundown and do so to for only one reason, to put the feed-bag on. I think the lower light also helps better conceal lures and fools fish that otherwise would be wary of your presentation in broad daylight. I’ve made some amazing catches in July and August in the middle of a sunny day before, but this year I’ve had much better success finding fish in low light conditions. As far as quality goes, almost all of my big fish were caught with the sun almost or completely down as well. As most fishing things go, this is by no means guaranteed science, but I can say that after a full day on the water, some added experience and knowledge and hours on the water, a fish like this one makes it all worthwhile. Not to mention the other 10 fish we put in the boat that night.

livewell walters
Until next time, Stay Outside!


Tournament Results! A rare hot day…

Tournament rankings

What else can you ask for? A picture-perfect day and a chance to compete with some of the best walleye fishermen in the area. This year’s Walleye Tournament held by the South-Lancaster Fish and Game Club was a total success. With a slightly higher than expected 23 boats enrolled, the stakes were high and the competition proved to be solid. This year’s tournament took place near Mac’s Marina at the old Lancaster-Inn point, which works perfectly as a both a neutral starting point between the islands and the big lake and at offering an absolutely breathtaking view of the Carin and Lake St-Francis.

First and foremost. I would like to personally thank Glen Patton, Gene Picard, Shawn St-Pierre and Wayne Woods for volunteering and handling the leg-work that day. The event can’t happen without the help of volunteers and I know these guys would have loved to be fishing too. So a huge thank you goes out to them.

Tournament view

The day began with a speech for the ages from tournament co-organizer, local legend and fellow angler, Derek Leroux. As the dead calm waters betrayed the fiery battle that was about to take place, he spoke wisely, stoically sending competitors off with finely chosen words of wisdom. Engines purred as anxious moments finally led to a long anticipated shot-gun start on a beautiful Saturday morning. Well, Derek’s version of a shot-gun anyway. All was set for the makings of a memorable day…which in the end definitely did not disappoint.

Tournament boats

It’s no secret that it’s been tough fishing this year, so we figured our best option early on was to cover a lot of water and get the minimum 3 fish in the boat first. We made it to our first spot, and began covering water from deep to shallow. It didn’t take long until Derek said “fish on” and we had officially broken the proverbial ice. The first fish was solid, and gave me high hopes for the day. We hit 2-3 more spots and by 9:07am we had our 3 fish swimming in the livewell, as happy as can be. The pressure was off. It was now time to go after big fish. That first fish however, unfortunately for us, ultimately ended up being the biggest of the 8 we put in the boat before the 3pm deadline. Our day ended with a total weight of 10.75lbs, good enough for a tie in the 8th position. Considering the competition at hand, I was more than happy with the result. Enough about me though…

Tournament honours this year went to none other than Ryan Flaro who earned his stripes for the win with 15.35lbs. Ryan puts in as many hours on the river as anyone I know and his hard work and relentless pre-fishing paid off. And when I say paid off, I mean with a 1,035$ pay off to be exact. Not bad for a day’s fishing! From speaking with Ryan I know he experiments a lot and absolutely loves to fish. Congratulations on the W Mr. Flaro! Fully deserved.

Tournament Ryan wins

Coming in close second, in what ended up being a fierce battle that culminated into an exciting photo-finish, are the brother duo of Kris and Mike Rousseau who weighed in at 15.25lbs. Did I mention how close a finish that is? I’ve been lucky enough to fish with both of these guys and I can testify that they are incredibly knowledgeable anglers. These two together in a boat have to be considered as favourites to win any tournament. Kris and Mike’s run-and-gun approach earned them not only 2nd place and a nice chunk of change at 575$, but also biggest fish of the tournament prize with a beauty 6.6lbs beast, worth an extra 150 bucks. Great job guys! One couldn’t possibly come up with a better one-two finish.

Next, coming in at the 3rd position, is the team of Alain Larocque who weighed in a solid 14.35 lbs. That is an average of 4.78lbs per fish! Their efforts earned them 345$ which definitely covers gas money.

The next two money positions were awarded to the famed Laframboise family. Chris’s and Adrien’s boat finished 4th and 5th respectively, earning 230$ and 115$ with total weights of 12.10lbs and 11.75lbs. The final position with earnings went to Mike Quinn’s team, who pocketed 100$.

Tournament prize board

Unfortunately there were no real monsters caught this year. And by that I mean fish over 8 pounds. In talking with many of the fisherman after the tournament opinions vary on why that is, but most agree that predominantly cool and rainy conditions this year did not help fishing quality. There were still some beauties caught however, and more importantly, to quote Miss Stevie Smith, a good time was had by all. We hope that this year’s success encourages even more people to take part in the next one.

Can’t wait til next year!

Tournament fish

Until next time, Stay Outside! Jigger.

Lancaster Fish and Game Club Walleye Tournament

Attention Walleye fishermen!

Here is your chance to get in a great day’s fishing, meet some of the best walleye fishermen around the area and maybe make a few bucks in the process! If you’ve been thinking of fishing a tournament and haven’t yet I can testify that they are a ton of fun and a great learning experience. So whether you’re a seasoned vet, or a weekend fishermen like me, I encourage everyone who is thinking about it to join. These events are always a good time. All useful information is below. If you have any questions, just leave them in the comment box!

Until next time, Stay outside! Jigger.

Walleye Tourney.jpg

A Wet Summer’s Report


“Everything is a month behind this year” is a phrase I’ve heard a few times around the lake. Indeed, we’ve had a very cool (and wet) spring and despite last week’s heat wave the trend seems to want continue. It seems I’ve spent more time pumping water out of the back yard on weekends than fishing. The rain not only completely soaks things up making it impossible to get to my boat, but it also changes things dramatically on the river. We are now nearing August and I have yet to see the water near shore be completely clear. The shoreline normally looks like an aquarium in the summer. This year it’s tinted brown from runoff and has been that way pretty much since ice out. There is no doubt that walleye fishing has been slow. Is it because of the extra rain and cooler waters? I can’t be sure, but personally I think there is a correlation to be made. Typical patterns aren’t working and fish are finicky. However, as the old proverb goes, where there’s a will there’s a way. You can’t choose the weather, so when faced with adverse conditions, even over a very long period it’s important to adapt and change your game so that you can stay on fish with regularity. Besides, a huge part of the fun of fishing is unraveling the puzzle and feeling the utopia of success when you do figure things out. At least it is for me.

jig eye

Allow me to resort to clichés for a minute. The turning point if you will, this season, was a fishless day. You see, fishless days irritate me to the very depths of my being. They are not part of my vocabulary. I spent hours that day searching for walleyes on structure that’s usually a walter magnet that time of year. When the fishless minutes turned into hours, instead of adapting, slowing things down, I kept fishing spot to spot, thinking that there HAD to be fish on the next one. Frustration got the better of me and I headed home, defeated, deflated, embarrassed…well you get the point. That night, I light a fire, sat back with a nice scotch and began to study the entire length of the lake on the map, east to west, prepping for redemption. I started eliminating water (and there was a lot to eliminate). I eventually concluded that fish could still be in post-spawn areas. As I was planning out a route, and starting point, I set up a few rods to troll shallow, a few to troll a little deeper and a couple more to jig with. I made sure that whether it be plugs, spinners, jigs, live bait you name it; If it’s been known by man to catch walleyes at some point in history it was going to be part of my arsenal the next morning. I started working one of the main feeder-rivers in our area and planned to make my way towards more typical summer patterns from there. I fished shallow, I fished deep, I jigged, trolled and despite it being another tough day, I had put 12 fish in the boat by the end of it and more importantly, I learned a very valuable lesson. Try everything.


By the end of that second day, I had found a few fish right in the feeder river, and then on the first flat adjacent to it, but nothing with size. I fooled 2 or 3 fish on spinners and some on plugs, but the jig bite ended up being the best producer in the colder water. From that day on I have been able to find a few fish here and there all summer using the same basic try everything techniques, and with some perseverance slowly but surely began to figure out the fish. One thing I’ve found to be particularly interesting is the variety of areas where I found fish in this season so far. I have caught and seen fish on my underwater camera from 8 feet deep all the way to 70 feet, including one day where I patterned fish in deep structure and caught them on jigs in 50 to 60 feet. For whatever reason, fish were deep for a while and eating at those depths. I started experimenting and found that a few details made a big difference. First off is jig size and type. I noticed that though bigger jigs got to the bottom in a hurry and allowed for good bottom contact in the current they didn’t get as many bites. I think it has to do with how it looks to a fish. The lighter the jig, the more natural your bait looks, but if you go too light, you have no control over it and that doesn’t work either. With proper boat control, I narrowed it down to a 1/2oz jig tipped with a gulp minnow or anything that looks like a 3-4 inch minnow. The key element in keeping the jig on bottom is staying as vertical as you can and being in control of the drift. In order to keep my boat from drifting too quickly or off of to the side of the structures I was fishing, I used a tandem of a drift sock attacked to the stern on a cable split used for water skiing and my bow-mount trolling motor. Man was I happy with the results. The combination of both gives me total control on both East-West drift speed and North-South variations. It really did make the difference. It’s interesting to note that this boat control technique also really helped me on a trip up to Cabonga Reservoir a few weeks later jigging for lake trout. But let’s save that story for another day for now.


One important thing to mention is that if you’re going to target deep fish and you want to release them, I’d recommend bringing them up very slowly and saving that bite for colder water conditions. I avoid fishing deep in the hot summer months when the surface temperature reaches 65+. When fish come up from that deep their swim bladder expands with air from the release of pressure. When release them with a bloated swim bladder they go belly up and eventually die. In warmer water the shock to the fish coming up can be too much. If you happen to have been an aquarium owner at some point, you’ll know that fish are very sensitive to temperature changes. . Subtle changes in temperature can be quite dramatic to them. Besides, once the surface temperature reaches 68 or more, it’s possible to find aggressive fish everywhere in much shallower areas.

I release most of my fish, and almost all of them in the warm water because I personally find they start tasting a little weedy. But in the spring and fall, I like to keep a few for my famous jigger fish-roll feast. If you live near Lancaster, or have visited the area, it’s likely you’ve met someone who claims to make the best fish-roll around. In fact, everyone around here thinks that, and I’m no different :).


At the end of the day, I’ve uncovered a new way to catch walleyes that works very well and I’ve learned a thing or two about fishing and about adapting. Even though I’ve moved back to the shallows now, the deep water jigging was certainly a nice change from usual tactics, a fun learning experience that yielded a few nice surprises too as you can see. Oh and for you bass fishermen out there, there are a few monster Smallies hanging out down there too… Until next time, Stay Outside!