North America's top walleye waters.
CONNECTICUT RIVER, NEW HAMPSHIRE/VERMONT
By April the spawn's going strong in the currents of the Connecticut--a flowing border with neighboring Vermont. Fish congregate below Wilder, Bellows Falls, and Vernon Dams, and are accessible to both small-boat and shore anglers. Males average 17 inches, hens to the low 20s, with behemoths up to 10 pounds milling about.
Contact: Fishery biologist Gabe Gries, New Hampshire Fish and Game Department, 603/352-9669, wildlife.state.rib.us; Great Falls Regional Chamber of Commerce, 802/463-4280, gfrcc.org; Connecticut River Byway, 8771282-9929, ctrivertravel.net.
FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH
FONTANA LAKE, NORTH CAROLINA
April spawning runs gather big numbers of walleyes in the 10,000-plus-acre impoundment's two major tributaries, the Little Tennessee and Tuckasegee rivers. Bank and boat fishing options abound for fish averaging 15 to 17 inches, with larger ones possible. Be advised: Fontana's clear, deep waters are among the most prolific of Tar Heel walleye waters but it's largely a numbers game, as 'eyes of trophy proportions are rare.
Contact: North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, 828/452-0422, ncwildlife.org; Guide Ronnie Parris, Smoky Mountain Outdoors Unlimited, 828/488-9711, smokymountainoutdoorsunlimited.com; Swain County Chamber of Commerce, 800/867-9246, greatsmokies.com.
STOKED ABOUT STOCKTON
STOCKTON LAKE, MISSOURI
Walleyes in this 24,900-acre impoundment of the Sac River are postspawn by April and can be found scattered in about 10 to 15 feet of water in the backs of coves. Heavy stocking makes this a numbers-over-size fishery, with 16- to 18-inchers most common and 7-pounders considered big. Fish are extremely fat due to a rebounding gizzard shad population. State surveys have revealed that anglers catch more walleyes, and more walleyes er hour of fishing, on Stockton than in any other Show Me fishery.
Contact: Guide Lee Brown, Brown's Guide Service, 417/886-2046, brownsguideservice.com; Stockton State Park Marina, 417/276-5329, stocktonstateparkmarina.com; Stockton Mini Mart, 417/276-3611.
LIVE THE DREAM
GUNISAO LAKE, MANITOBA, CANADA
A true trophy destination 250 miles north of Winnipeg, this pristine lake produces an eye-popping number of Manitoba Master Angler Program walleyes (fish over 28 inches). Fish feast on yellow perch, whitefish, and shiners in 5 to 12 feet of water on the east and west ends of the lake from mid-May through mid-June, then follow forage to its many rockpiles and reefs in 15 to 35 feet. The lake's only lodge closes in August.
Contact: Budd's Gunisao Lake Lodge, 517/676-3474, buddsgunisaolakelodge.com; Manitoba Water Stewardship, 204/945-6640, gov.mb.ca/waterstewardship/fisheries.
PORTAGE LAKE, MICHIGAN
Resident walleyes in this natural lake average 3 pounds. At the last-Saturday- in-April opener, Great Lakes spawners, some over 10 pounds, come in through the channel from Lake Michigan and mingle. Trolling after dark is top in the canal, along the southwestern shore, and in the shallows off Schimke Creek. Portage is 2,110 acres, with a max depth of 60 feet.
Contact: Portage Lake Marina (bait/tackle), 231/889-3825; Travelers Motel, 800/769-0184, travelers-motel.com; Manistee Area Chamber of Commerce, 800/288-2286, manisteecountychamber.com.
MISSISSIPPI RIVER, POOL 4, MINNESOTA/WISCONSIN
Spawning occurs earlier here than in surrounding waterways; walleyes are done procreating by early April and are dropping back into slackwater pools and eddies. Jigs and three-way rigs tipped with minnows emulate the gizzard shad forage base. You'll have a chance at an 8-pounder, but fish to 4 pounds are most common.
Contact: Dean Marshall, Evert's Resort, 715/792-2333, evertsfishingresort.com; 4 Seasons Sport Shop, 651/388-4334, 4seasonsports.com; Guides Jarrad and Lee Fluekiger, River Guiding Services, 608/685-4244, RiverGuiding.com.
* GREAT LAKES
ST. CLAIR RIVER, ONTARIO/MICHIGAN
Both resident postspawn walleyes and migrants from lakes Huron, St. Clair, and Erie can be found in the St. Clair River in late April, with the bite peaking in May. The record year-class of 2003 is averaging 25 inches. Gobies and gizzard shad make up the main menu here.
Contact: Guide Doug Samsal, Doug Samsal's Guide Service, 231/859-4485, manisteerivercharter.com; Selfridge Bait and Tackle, 586/949-2998; Blue Water Bait and Tackle, 586/725-1448.
COLUMBIA RIVER, WASHINGTON
Lake Wallula, the 70 miles of waterway behind McNary Dam, is virtually untapped for walleyes; yet it's true trophy territory with monsters to 19 pounds caught every year. Fish grow beastly on a diet of chinook and steelhead smolt, whitefish, and suckers. A constant year-round temperature helps stabilize the big girls' metabolisms, helping them live to 20 years or more. In April, focus on main-channel breaklines in 35 to 40 feet of water off midriver spawning reefs and humps. A vertical presentation with a bladebait or jig is hard to beat.
Contact: Guide Kurt Sonderman, Sonderman Sportfishing, 509/948-0763; Guide Kimo Gabriel; 541/567-9616; Tri City Regional Chamber of Commerce, 509/736-0510, tricityregionalchamber.com.
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|Title Annotation:||Insider: Top Picks|
|Author:||Rose, David A.|
|Date:||Apr 1, 2009|
|Previous Article:||Focus on forage.|
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