It was another beautiful day at Otter Lake in Missinipe, Saskatchewan. When I sip coffee on Ron’s porch around 7 AM it’s nearly 70° and mid day is upwards of that. The only bad thing we have in northern Saskatchewan right now is smoke from numerous lightening started forest fires.
The fires are starting to cause havoc up here. The smoke is obviously a nuisance but some of the lodges and fly in camps are in danger of burning down. Ron was planning to take us out on Otter Lake today fishing but instead he was called on to fly fire fighters and fire fighting supplies into the burning regions. Ron assures us they won’t call on him starting tomorrow so we can go to Selwyn Lake, but man, if the fires flare up more – it’s certainly a worry of mine.
Luckily his friend and fellow bush pilot Odie offered to take us out this afternoon while Ron was off helping with the fires. Me, RA and Austin are no doubt enjoying some relaxation time here in Missinipe but we’re also here to fish. Odie’s offer was very much appreciated.
Otter Lake is the only place we have access to walleyes this trip so with all the great pike fishing we have ahead of us we decided to focus on fly fishing for walleye. A lot of folks ask me if you can fly fish for walleye during my warmwater talks during show season. The answer is absolutely. Realize they aren’t easy but there are a couple helpful facts to know.
Most important is that your fly must be down near the bottom. I fish walleye with my 6-weight Winston and a Uniform Sink Type 5 line. My leader is 12 ft of straight 0X Flouro and I fish a heavy fly. My favorite walleye fly these days is a red and white Clouser minnow. And even though walleye have sharp teeth I find they’re too finicky for wire.
Walleye are most active in low light conditions. The absolute best time to target them is from sunset till pitch dark. This is the time of day when they hunt in the shallows. If you hit them right you’ll find them in less than six feet of water and a floating or intermediate line will put your heavy fly in the zone. Up here in northern Saskatchewan in June there’s not enough darkness at anytime of day so we fish the walleyes whenever.
So, I wrote like I know how to catch walleyes on fly but the end result today was a mere two walleyes. The first one I caught was a nice 17” fish that will be fish n chips tonight. The second was smaller and I let him go. RA and Austin never saw a walleye in their boat. We did however catch twenty pike a piece, but not one was larger than 25”.
The walleye on the fly can be excellent fun – but they’re walleyes. What I didn’t mention is that they can be moodier than a brown trout and finickier than a Henry’s Fork rainbow. I could blame today on a big storm that hit us but my main excuse, and its true, the mini pike of Otter Lake kept stealing my walleye flies because I don’t fish for walleye with wire.
We’re flying further north in the morning for big pike on Selwyn Lake. Stay tuned for what should be an amazing adventure!