The Search for Alberta Walleye

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Having grown accustomed to hunting monster walleye through the ice annually on The Bay of Quinte with my closest friends, it was bound to be an adjustment for me to adapt to the hardwater of Alberta.  This time I would be flying solo in an unfamiliar province … but absolutely jubilant that conditions were ideal to drive the truck out onto the ice.

After extensive research and deliberation including input from my hardwater buddies back in Ontario … Lake Newell was chosen.  The lake, reputed to be the warmest and largest man made Lake in Alberta, lies approximately two hours away from Calgary, just south of a town called Brooks.   While the lake is known to host a variety of fish species including Northern Pike, whitefish and perch, new local fishing contacts confirmed a real chance at a big walleye.  Big being over ten, thrilling pounds of gold!

Setting out well before the sun was to rise, the faint lights of Calgary were quickly disappearing in the rearview mirror.  A seeming eternity later, the a boat launch at Kinbrook Island Provincial Park was finally reached.  Still dark, and mildly concerned about the “safety” of driving the truck on an unknown lake, time was taken to  “gear up” in the parking lot, strategically waiting for a hint of sunlight or another truck to take the lead.  It didn’t take long before a truck arrived and barrelled out onto the ice without a moments hesitation.  With the GoPro mounted on the dash and recording,  this Ice Road Trucker set out following the shoreline to a spot that had been picked based on the bathymetric mapping  available on the web.   After drilling through 24″ of ice the hunt began in 18′ of water.  Baitfish were  immediately visible on the sonar with larger “marks” appearing to check out the dancing Live Target Golden Shiner.    DSC_8810

The  GoPro, positioned with a great view of the fishing action was again turned on to ensure that at least some footage would be captured to share with friends. Some of whom (you know who you are … Matt and Phil) would be dumbfounded to learn that I actually DID use the camera.

It wasn’t long before a large mark appeared on the Marcum and streaked towards the darting lure.  In an instant the heavy weight of what could only have been a pike disappeared along with a 14 dollar lure!  An advantage of ice fishing is that lures are rarely lost due to snags but these Alberta pike were starting to cost a fortune.  BUT …. while the fish may not have been caught … the footage of the event was!!

Grabbing another rod the jigging resumed and continued without any real interruption save for relocating to various pre-planned spots .

After drilling upwards of 30 holes in about 10 different locations the sun began to set on a “walleye-less” day.  A few small pike and a whitefish were pulled through the ice and at least 4 more lures were lost to larger specimens with damn sharp teeth! DSC_8803image2

It was an absolute pleasure to explore this new lake in the comfort of a truck in search of walleye and based on the ice thickness it will be revisited a few more times before the season closes.

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