North America's top walleye waters.
HELLS (WALLEYE) KITCHEN
DEVILS LAKE, NORTH DAKOTA
It's numbers of eater-sized walleyes (14 to 18 inches) over bulkiness in this lake with no size limit and a 5-fish-per-day creel. Still, fish to 8 pounds are a possibility. Scads of freshwater shrimp feed the piscine population well, with perch and introduced white bass close behind. Concentrate ice-fishing efforts on rockpiles in Howard's, Mission, Creel, and Six Mile (north end) bays, as well as the outer edge of standing timber in the main lake.
Contact: Perch Patrol Guide Service, 701/6626560; Woodland Resort, 701/662-5996, woodlandresort.com; Lakeview Lodge, 701/665-5060, lakeviewlodgedl.com; Devils Lake Area Chamber of Commerce and Tourism, 800/233-8048, devilslakend.com.
** GREAT LAKES
WESTERN BASIN, LAKE ERIE
Walleyes roam reefs in Erie's southwestern quarter the moment ice breaks, and by late March through mid-April the hard-bottomed complexes are packed with spawners. Don't overlook rocky shoreline breaks along this area's southern shore, either. Both get a multitude of males up to 5 pounds and females to 14. Smelt and shiners make up the migratory monsters' menus.
Contact: Happy Hooker Live Bait & Tackle Shop, 419/898-9676, happyhookerbaitandtackle.com; Lake Erie Rentals, 419/707-1201, lakeerierentals.com; Turtle Point Marina, 419/898-2003, turtlepointmarinaresort.com.
I WANT MY MAUMEE
MAUMEE RIVER, OHIO
At Lake Erie's western tip, a mammoth migration of walleyes moves into the Maumee mid-March through mid-April. Males (85 percent of the catch) from the immense 2003 year-class are approaching 22 inches. There's plenty of public access via county and Toledo Metropark properties, therefore wading crowds are common. Single-hook (1/2inch point-to-shank) and no-fishing-sunrise-to-sunset restrictions apply March through May, in addition to a 4-fish, 15-inch minimum creel.
Contact: Maumee Valley Bait and Tackle, 419/893-3474, maumeetackle.net; Guide Chris Cutcher, 419/944-9658; Toledo Metroparks, 419/407-9700, metroparktoledo.com.
KENTUCKY LAKE, TENNESSEE
Spawning saugers stack up below Pickwick Dam, on the 184-mile-long reservoir's south end, throughout March. Vertical-jigging on sandbars is a popular ploy. One-pounders are the common catch, with females to 3 pounds considered big in this reservoir, with a 14-inch, 10-fish-per-day creel. Later, postspawn fish head north to the main body of this narrow, 160,300-acre Tennessee River impoundment.
Contact: Pickwick Outdoors, 731/689-8000, pickwickoutdoors. com; Pickwick Landing State Park, 731/689-3135, state.tn.us/ environment/parks/PickwickLanding; Hardin County Chamber of Commerce, 866/7502363, hardincountychamber.com.
LAKE NORFORK, ARKANSAS
Nighttime's the right time on Norfork in March. Cast suspending stickbaits to shore on mainlake flats. It's post-spawn and 3- to 4-pound males are eager to strike, as are occasional hens to 8 pounds.
Contact: Guide Darrell Binkley, Bink's Guide Service, 870/499-7384, binksguideservice. com; Quarry Marina, 800/6645640, quarrymarina.com; Harps Superstore, 870/425-6556.
CALLING LAKE, ALBERTA
Under the ice, walleyes wander onto 5- to 10-foot flats at dusk to feast on yellow perch, then slide out to rock shoals in 15-foot-plus during daylight hours. Twelve-pounders are common amongst the average fish of 5 pounds. This bowl-shaped lake's more than 32,000 acres max out at a depth of 60 feet.
Contact: Guide Ray Kohlruss, 866/961-3425, 780/961-3726, reelangling.com; Cabins by the River, 780/689-6200; Cheap Seats Sporting Goods, 780/675-2000; Athabasca Country Tourism, 877/211-8669, athabascacountry.com.
HOWLIN' GOOD TIME
WOLF RIVER, WISCONSIN
The Wolf generally flows ice-free by the second week in March, allowing boat anglers to reap the rewards of a substantial passage of prespawn walleyes from lakes Winnebago, Butte des Morts, Winneconne, and Poygan. The section of the river between Lake Poygan to the town of New London is a staging area for fish prior to making the final push upstream. Walleyes to 3 pounds are the norm, with 8-pounders in the mix.
Contact: Critter's Wolf River Sports, 920/582-0471; Wolf River Resort, 920/582-4555; Winneconne Area Chamber of Commerce, 920/582-4775, winneconne.org.
DES MOINES/RACCOON RIVERS, IOWA
Late March into April the Des Moines River, from Saylorville Reservoir down to Red Rock Reservoir, offers some of the state's finest walleye fishing just a short cast from downtown Des Moines. The nearby Raccoon River system is no slouch, either. A pink jig tipped with white curlytail and minnow is hard to beat, says state fishery biologist Ben Dodd.
Contact: Iowa Department of Natural Resources, 515/432-2823; Casey's Bait & Tackle, (515) 262-2760; Saylorville Marina, saylorvillemarina.com.
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|Title Annotation:||Top Picks; fishing resorts|
|Author:||Rose, David A.|
|Date:||Mar 1, 2009|
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|Status of walleye stocking: a selection of pertinent science topics by Staff Fishery Biologist Steve Quinn.|
|North America's top walleye waters.|