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Every Picture Tells a Story
By Bob Riege

Drifting along Oak Lake, adjacent to a rock-faced wall my wife Ginny noticed a pictograph from some ancient aboriginal tribesman. The pictograph was telling a story about fishing or hunting on Oak Lake in Ontario. Oak Lake Lodge is nestled into the hillside along the western edge of Oak Lake. It is owned and run by John and May Naimian. The name might be a little deceiving because it is on the English river and it is more of a river system than it is a lake. Armed with this knowledge Ginny and I decided to approach fishing on this lake like we would a river. Lake walleyes often suspend, and they are very inclined to concentrate at certain depths. It’s different on the river. River walleyes are bottom fish. Always make sure your bait is tight to the bottom. If you aren’t losing baits, you are fishing too high. The speed of the current is one of the major elements of the river walleye’s world. They want some current, but not too much. They don’t pay as much attention to light presentation, seemingly, as lake fish, and will hold in one foot of water at times if the current is right. Walleyes live in a variety of aquatic environments, although they are usually found near rocky points, in places where the lake bottom changes from mud to gravel, along weedlines, near reefs and in areas with current. The trick is learning where walleyes are likely to be located throughout the year and to focus your fishing efforts in those places. Walleye fishing success is determined by water clarity and temperature. The clearer the water, the tougher the bite, although clear lakes often have the largest walleyes. The best times to fish in clear lakes are dawn, dusk and at night. In stained water, walleyes will bite throughout the day. In northern rivers and lakes where food is limited and the growing season is short, walleyes will aggressively follow lures to the boat even on sunny days. By summer, walleyes start moving to deeper structure from five to 30 feet depending on water clarity, sunlight, wind and wave action. Try the edge of dropoffs along long points. If the waves are up, look for feeding fish on top of the structure. Mid-lake humps, sunken islands, cabbage weeds and mud flats all hold summer walleyes. In the evening, you may find feeding fish in shoreline shallows. Many types of artificial lures work for walleyes, but most fish are caught on live bait. Most anglers prefer to use minnows in the spring and again in the fall. Leeches and nightcrawlers are used during summer months, and will catch fish throughout the season. Remember, big baits often equal big fish. If you are looking for a trophy use the largest minnows, leeches, or nightcrawlers you can find.

When fishing with live bait it's tough to beat a Lindy Rig. Keep your bail open and a finger on the line as you slowly troll. When you feel a pick-up, drop the line. The slip sinker rig allows the fish to take the bait without feeling any weight. You can vary the size of your sinker and hook, and change the length of the leader to match conditions. Use a floating jig to lift your bait off the bottom. Since walleyes are usually found on or near the bottom, lead-headed jigs tipped with bait are consistently effective, especially when the water is cold. As the water warms and walleyes become more aggressive, twister tails and grubs can be used without bait. Carry a selection of 1/4 and 1/16 ounce jig heads painted in fluorescent colors, black and white. Yellow, green, white and black twisters and grub bodies will cover most situations. Stock a few crankbaits in your tacklebox, too. Deep-diving, sinking and floating minnow cranks are all effective. In the spring, trolling #5 perch Shad Rap along sandy bays is a great way to locate fish.

During the summer try casting near inlets and other walleye structure at dusk with large, floating crankbaits. Don't be surprised if you tie into a trophy. As you can see from the pictures this lake had walleyes that were of different colors. The walleyes on the western end were lighter than the ones on the eastern end where the water was darker (stained). Needless to say every picture tells a story and there are a lot of stories coming out of Oak Lake. For more information about fishing Oak Lake contact John on his website at www.oaklakelodge.com. Or contact him at the toll free number 1-800-248-4666 or direct at 1-807-768-4086. The Winter address for Oak Lake is: Oak Lake Lodge, PO Box 23104, County Fair Postal Outlet, Thunder Bay, ON P781KO, Canada

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