Angler Catches Walleye of a Lifetime
As the saying goes, “you never know what you will catch on Lake of the Woods.” This unique fishery offers a wide variety of fish and some trophy class fish as well. This was definitely the case when I had the chance to bring some family out for a couple of hours of evening fishing up at the NW Angle. Very simply, we were out to catch our dinner that evening. What happened next will be tattooed in our memories forever as an un-suspecting angler caught a walleye of a lifetime.
I was fishing with my sister, my brother and his wife, Patty. As we reported in our fishing report the week previous, we were focused on near shore structure, areas with current and points. Our first stop was a shallow area called Flag Island flats. This area is an area locals know to avoid during the winter months. It gets shallow and has a lot of water moving through it. This time of the year, that area that tops out at about 6′ or 7′ deep can be loaded with walleyes. It is a timing thing. We decided to pull some crankbaits through this area, a technique I have done well with in the past.
Most would have gone right to jigging, but I wanted to maximize our time on the water and believe if there were walleyes there, we would have caught them. Our first spot merited nothing after about a half hour. We decided to move.
Our next stop was on of the many islands in the area that had a couple of points that are go to walleyes areas most of the year. It seems there is usually something living on a point that stick out into Lake of the Woods.
Our technique in this spot was jigging with frozen shiners. Patty was using a pink jig tipped with a frozen shiner. It didn’t take long and we were catching fish. Actually a nice variety of walleyes, saugers, jumbo perch and even a couple of nice sized pike thrown in. There was definitely life here and it didn’t take long to catch some beautiful fish for dinner.
I was working between 17′ of water and 25′ of water. Fish were scattered throughout this entire area and were active. I decided to slide up into 18′ just to see what might be living a bit shallower and Patty hooked up. We were catching enough fish that it wasn’t a big deal anymore that someone had a fish on. She did say, “this seems like a bigger one.” Boy, was she right, just could it be that walleye of a lifetime?
Although nobody said anything, I think in the back of our minds we were thinking northern pike. Then it appeared, just to give us a glance before it shot to the bottom of the lake ripping drag. It was a monster walleye! Knowing it was a big walleye, now the adrenaline starts pumping. As more of a “once in a while” angler, Patty knew enough to keep her rod up at about that ten o’clock height to eliminate slack in the line. There was going to be little slack during this battle as the fish pulled hard. Once up to the surface, here husband Jim, taking a risk of all risks with the chance of missing this walleye of a lifetime for his wife with the net, scooped up the fish like a pro.
The fish was so big, it made a normal sized net seem small. Once in the boat, the excitement was high. We quickly took a few pics of the 31.25″ walleye with big shoulders and girth, and released it back healthy to reproduce and hopefully give another angler the memory.
It is one of the draws of Lake of the Woods. Not knowing what you might catch. Whether it is a 20 lb pike while walleye fishing, a charter boat hooking into a muskie or big sturgeon, jigging over the side of the boat for walleyes only to pull up a 15″ jumbo perch. Or like my walleye tournament friends get frustrated over, hooking up during a tournament on a big fish only to watch your line rise to the surface with a monster smallmouth bass.
Memories were definitely made this fine evening. Most lakes don’t have walleyes that big in them. If they do, most anglers will never catch one that big in a lifetime. For Patty, it was just one of those nights. One of those nights that will never be forgotten!