Annual pilgrimage to Canada yields great fishing, memories
By Roger Sabota
Special to the Star Journal
One week ago nine anglers pulling three boats on trailers met in Superior eager to head north in pursuit of walleyes. Each year for the past twenty-plus years, these fellows have met to head North into Northwest Ontario for the opportunity to catch those delicious fish.
The group consisted of the Osseo Jinx (Tom Twesme), his son, Mark, and Bob Pederson in one boat. Dan Krueger Sr., Tom Cornelius and Duane Frey in another boat and Dr. Mike Riggle and Maurice Micke joined me in my boat.
Our destination was an impoundment of the English River. It is an approximately 13-hour drive from Rhinelander. Unlike many of the outstanding Canadian walleye destinations that are accessible only by plane we are able to drive directly to our cabin. Fly-in trips are available from the resort but we prefer to pull our boats and fish the areas that we choose.
We arrived at our destination known as Caribou Falls Landing on Sunday evening, put the boats in the water and organized everything so we were ready for fishing early the next morning.
Our first morning of fishing was quite cold however everyone was prepared for cool conditions. Each morning the first order of business on the water is to catch four walleyes per boat for shore lunch.
“The Jinx” is the head shore lunch chef and continuously reminds us that the best tasting walleyes are those that measure 16 to 17 inches. These waters are trophy waters and walleyes larger than 17 inches must be returned to the water alive. Umfreville Lake is simply loaded with walleyes. Some days it is difficult to get walleyes shorter than 17 inches. We have noticed over the years that we have fished these waters that the fish seem to be heavy for their length.
It is our belief that the restrictive limits are the reason that the walleye population remains so strong. The vast Umfreville Lake continuously provides a new supply of walleyes. The limit on walleyes is two. Yes, that is accurate! Two walleyes per person per day may be kept.
In addition to the excellent walleye fishing these waters provide World Class small mouth bass fishing. There is also excellent fishing for northern pike.
To publicize the excellent fishing in this area of Northwestern Ontario a group of resort owners have organized a trophy program. Those anglers who land a walleye measuring 27 inches qualify for a trophy cap. To qualify for a northern pike trophy cap the northern must measure at least 38 inches and to qualify for a cap for a small mouth bass it must measure at least 18 inches. Each year we compete with each other in a friendly sort of way. We continuously compare the caps that have been earned. Also, each morning we put a dollar in a hat. The longest walleye caught during the day gets the money.
This year the longest walleye caught by one of our group measured 27-1/2 inches. An interesting note about the walleyes we caught is that at least six times someone would battle a walleye and a northern would grab the walleye. We were not able to land any of those northern this year.
Our method of fishing for walleyes is to anchor off a drop off and fish with a jig tipped with a leech. Occasionally there would be a lull in the action but seldom did it last five minutes.
Yes, we are going to visit Halley’s Camps again next July.
Longtime Northwoods outdoor enthusiast Roger Sabota writes a bi-monthly column for the Star Journal.