Canada’s best walleye waters lay along the Canadian Shield, an area of nearly 2 million square miles that was the first part of the North American Continent to rise above sea level. Ancient glaciers, erosion and other natural processes have left the topography, lakes and rivers we see today. Within this vast area, prime walleye territory reaches from northern Saskatchewan down through central Manitoba and into northern Ontario and western Quebec, and it would take an entire book to cover all the great walleye fishing Canada has to offer.
Because at Fishulo our expertise is fishing Canada’s wilderness, I’ve bypassed some of its best known waters. My apologies to Ontario’s Bay of Quinte, Lake Winnipeg in Manitoba, Saskatchewan’s Lost Mountain and Tobin lakes and many other popular destinations.
Quality Verses Quantity
First and foremost Canada is known for producing quantities of walleyes, and most anglers go there with the expectation of catching a lot of fish, enjoying daily shore lunches, and hopefully bringing a few home for the freezer. Catching a trophy-class walleye would be a bonus. There are trophy waters, of course, but generally the farther north you go, trophies get fewer and father between. In Canada’s far north a 26-inch walleye could be a trophy, farther south it is closer to 30. Even then, there are only a few wilderness lakes that consistently produce 30-inch fish
Personally, I’m a numbers guy. My idea of angling heaven is to be eating a fresh, deep-fried fillet within sight of the reef where I caught the fish it came from.
Top Walleye Hotspots
Any “Best Of” list is subjective, but mine is based on nearly 20 years of working with Canada’s best lodge owners, and having visited close to 300 camps during that time. I’ve organized the list into three categories.
On their first Canadian fishing trip, most anglers are looking for can’t-miss fishing action, and those opportunities exist all over northwest Ontario, Manitoba and Saskatchewan. Here are my top choices. All are smaller Ontario fly-in lakes that are exceptional walleye fisheries. The fishing challenge is minimal; just pack some jigs and you can’t go wrong.
- Uchi Lake Uchi Lake Lodge: 75 air miles from Souix Lookout, the lake is known for producing numbers of walleyes of above-average size. This is due largely to the lodge’s catch-and-release conservation policy, though each angler can keep one fish for shore lunch.
- Cobham River Headwater Excellent Adventures: This is a fly-in outpost trip, which means each group of up to six anglers shares a modern cabin and has the 5½-mile long Headwaters Lake—and the walleye and pike fishing—to themselves. Boats, outboards and food staples are provided. Plus, two other lakes—with boats and outboards on hand—are within walking distance.
- Flindt Lake Ignace Outposts: This outpost cabin is the only one on 3,500-acre Flindt Lake on the Flint River system. Walleyes and northern pike are the primary targets on Flindt and one other lake that can be reached by boat.
- Mosher Lake Kashabowie Outposts: Moser Lake is noted for large walleyes and northern pike. The three-bedroom cabin can accommodate up to 10 people.
- Shekak Lake White River Air: With just one outfitter on this 2,500-acre lake, fishing pressure is limited. The modern cabin sleeps 12, so it’s a good choice for family groups.
For the Adventurer
Here are some of Canada’s top systems for walleye anglers looking for a challenge. These are bigger waters with trophy potential. These lakes and rivers can be well traveled, but also have remote stretches, the lodges tend to be full-service. These lakes aren’t walleye factories, but you can still catch tons of fish, many in the 20- to 25-inch range and maybe even a trophy or two.
English River from Separation Rapids east to Ear Falls: This is an amazing stretch with excellent walleye fishing, you might catch a trophy smallmouth, muskie or even pike as well.
Outpost: Walsten Outposts/Separation Rapids
Full-Service: Oak Lake Lodge
Trout Lake East of Red Lake Ontario: This is a big lake and in June and July walleyes are shallow and easy to target. Get ready to set the hook on some fat fish; anglers will catch many in the 20- to 24-inch range and some 26 and up. Cat Island Lodge
Lake St Joseph: This lake is huge and remote and so highly prized by the Ontario government you need a permit to fish St Joe. On the west end in the Root River/Bay area the walleye fishing is beyond exceptional. The main lake is excellent as well and road accessible. The closest city is Pickle Lake.
Main Lake: Old Post Lodge
Root Bay (west end): Slate Falls Outposts
Central Manitoba is home to some of the best walleye fishing on the planet, lots of fish and nice size. You’ve seen pictures of these beauties; pitch black on top and bright gold on the sides. Here are three of my favorite lakes with some room to roam, lots of 4-pound fish and trophy potential.
- Dogskin Lake: Dogskin Lake Lodge
- Amphibian Lake: Amphibian Lake Lodge
- Bolton Lake: Bolton Lake Lodge
I could fish the rest of my life on the Churchill River; it is wild, remote and full of walleyes. Look from LaRonge east to the Manitoba Border. It’s hard to explain heaven on earth…you’ve got to head to the Church to find out. I’ve sightfished for walleyes in three feet of water until I got bored catching them. It can actually be frustrating at times when you’re targeting trophy pike and all you catch are walleyes—on a 12-inch Bulldawg, 10-inch Suick or Mepps Giant Killers.
Full Service: Ruffo’s Sportsmans Lodge
Okay, there’s a bare spot in your man cave just waiting for a trophy walleye reproduction. Here are three spots that put the odds in your favor. A lot of factors will go into your success--timing, weather, angling skill and a little luck. But if I’m a betting man, someone in your group is coming home very happy indeed.
Ontario’s Attawapiskat River is remote, wild and unaltered by anglers. It flows for more than 400 miles through the Hudson Bay lowlands into James Bay, and has a history dating back to the fur trade. Hard to reach, and with only a couple points of entry, this river is full of big walleyes. The accommodations will be spartan, but in this remote wilderness a roof over your head is a luxury. Hearst Air
Is there a name that says big walleyes like Lac Seul? An enormous 70-mile stretch of perfect walleye habitat with fish so fat they look like they just might explode. My favorite stretch is the central basin north of Dryden, Ontario. It’s the most remote section and there are two camps perfectly suited. If you know what you’re doing and you are willing to travel on the water, a 30-inch fish is a real possibility. Things don’t really heat up here until mid-summer.
Budget: Williams Lake Lodge
Full Service: Silver Water Wheel
Gunisao Lake, Mantioba
It has been awhile since I fished here, but looking over the Manitoba Master Angler list, the fishing keeps getting better and better. Because the walleyes as so big here many people feel it is more than just a fertile lake and the walleyes are genetically larger than other lakes in Manitoba. If you truly good shot at 30-inch walleye, book your trip right now. Budd’s Gunisao Lake Lodge
If you are looking for assistance in planning an adventure of your own visit us at: Fishulo
Editors Note: Joel Prunty is president of Fishulo LLC and is passionate about using his expertise in Canadian wilderness travel to assist anglers and hunters in planning their own adventures.