It was decided that instead of subjecting our followers to repeated blog posts about the final days of the pursuit for big walleye on Alberta’s frozen lakes, we would do a recap, a “best of the best”, a montage if you will. So here it is folks …
With the 2016 ice fishing season disappearing in the rear view mirror it can be said that it was a fantastic one. Rolling Hills Reservoir proved to be a great location in the early season offering up many good fish in the 5lb to 7lb range and a steady supply of 1lb to 3lbers. Generally the fish were aggressive and consistently found in all the usual locations. As late January turned into February the walleye became more elusive to track down, more infrequent and slower to take a lure. Thankfully very little snow on the ice made movement by foot much easier leaving us hampered only by the battering winds.
For those that are perhaps “keen” to know, the most successful lure choices by far were the PK Spoon and PK Flutterfish in gold. Usually you could count on either lure to put a few walleye on the ice depending on conditions. When those lures attracted fish but left them wanting more, the Custom Jigs & Spins’ Pro Series Slender Spoon in gold or gold with color highlights, very often slowed things down enough to trigger a strike. Other lures that contributed to our successes in 2016 were the Hopkins Smoothie, Northlands Buckshot Minnow and an assortment of lipless crank baits.
The quest was still on to catch a ‘double digit’ walleye in the 2015-2016 season and though we knew there were a few lurking in Rolling Hills Reservoir, Lake Newel was the place to go for the best shot. So in the last two outings of the season, the infamous Lake Newel was fished again. Fished hard. As had been the track record, Lake Newel gave up nothing easy during the day. Late in the day a tactical decision was made to set out a ‘dead-stick’ to maximize the fishing effort. Inspired by a pattern that had been described by a local walleye guru, a hand tied purple marabou, glow jig tipped with a couple minnows was sent down the hole. It didn’t take long before the dead-stick came to life and start thumping with line being released by the drag. After a respectable struggle, the huge head of a 29” long walleye popped into the hole sporting the glow jig dead centre in the top of his mouth. The next two hours saw 4 more walleye landed that were all hooked using the jig and minnow. Even more remarkably, every fish was between 29” and 32” long and all estimated over 10lbs. Five more really big fish that were optimistically presumed to be walleye, managed to escape after short struggles. Unfortunately and some might even say suspiciously the darkness made it very difficult to photograph these beasts but some poor “Loch Ness” images were taken. Thank you Lake Newel for giving up a few hogs to the desperate!
Until the ice forms again on the local lakes in late 2016, the walleye have been given a reprieve.