In the minds of many fishermen (include me in that group), there’s no better eating fish on the planet than a freshly caught, filleted and cooked Walleyed Pike. Tender, white and flaky, the walleye is the fish most sought after by fishermen north of the Mason Dixon line. And it really doesn’t matter how you cook it: fried, baked, grilled, almond- or pecan-crusted or prepared a hundred different ways, walleye is the perfect food fish for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
On family fishing trips as a kid, my Dad’s goal was always to come up with enough walleye for dinner. In those days, the limit was six in both Wisconsin and Minnesota. It wasn’t always easy to find those six fish during the course of a day’s fishing. In Ontario, we’d run into the slot rule where a fish had to be smaller or larger than a certain length, all in an effort to protect those fish most likely to spawn. We don’t have those issues at Big Sand Lake where on any given day, you can catch and release as many walleyes as you like, keeping only what you intend to eat for shore lunch.
We always called them walleye or walleyed pike in my house back in Chicago. Around Winnipeg, they are often referred to as pickerel; in some places they’re called jackfish or yellow pike. Truth of the matter, they’re not pike but rather a member of the perch family. I once thought the name walleye had something to do with the color or opacity of their eyes. I’ve since learned that the term refers to the fact that their eyes point outward, as if they are looking at walls on opposite sides of the room. They do have a light-gathering layer on their eyes that enables them to see well in low-light conditions and cloudy water. That’s why fishing for walleyes in choppy water, at dusk or night when they are using their excellent vision to feed often gives the best result. That’s not necessary at Big Sand where walleye can be caught on both bright and cloudy days, in choppy or still water, morning, noon and evening.
Personally, I like to jig when fishing for walleyes although spoons and spinners work as well. No need for minnows or worms on Big Sand. A bare barbless hook on a feathered jig is all that’s required. Once you get into a hot spot, which our guides are very good at finding, you are likely to catch one on nearly every cast. My personal record is 26 caught on 26 consecutive casts. On the 27th cast, I also had a walleye hooked when a monster northern pike decided it was time for his lunch and grabbed my walleye just before I brought it into the boat. The northern, while not hooked, refused to let go and I landed both fish. We ate the walleye for lunch and returned the northern to the lake, still hungry but unharmed.
One of the things I love about Big Sand is the ability to be able to fish all four of the Grand Slam species—walleye, northern, lake trout and arctic grayling—on the same body of water. No fly out is necessary unless desired just for the fun of doing it.
We’re nearly completely booked for this season with just a few openings in June and some openings for big and small groups the first week in July. If you haven’t made a reservation, there is still time…but not a lot of time. Go to bigsandlakelodge.goelementbeta.com or call Lynda at 800-348-5824. There are some especially appealing price deals available for the June 30th to July 5th slot. You can also call me with any questions: Gary Cole, 847-644-5787.
Don’t get caught working or sitting at home when you could be catching a trophy fish this summer on Big Sand.
By Gary Cole