I learned a very valuable lesson 2 years ago while shooting a tv show at Miminiska lodge – specifically, fly fishing for walleye.
I have had varied success fishing walleye on fly and entered this episode with skepticism – a lot of skepticism. Why? Simply because my previous experience fishing walleye on fly was work! A lot of work! And slow – watching paint dry kind of slow. A lot of time invested for meager success. On the phone with our host, Krista, she told me about “the honey hole.” What she doesn’t know is as soon as she mentioned said honey hole, I rolled my eyes and said to myself.. “not again”. You see, every lodge out there has their “honey hole” and well, sometimes, those are the most known spots to fish, and because of that, the honey hole doesn’t produce squat. I obliged her and said I’d give it a try.
So we pulled into Miminiska Lodge landing on the 2400-foot grass landing strip and got settled into our cabin. We geared up, and hit the lake. The first time I fish on any body of water, I rely on what the locals tell me. After looking at a map of the area, we isolated a couple of promising looking spots and asked local guide Joe Boyce what he thought… “go to the honey hole” he said. Ugh…
So we obliged and travelled the 2.3 minutes to the location of the honey hole. I’m here to tell you at first glance, it wasn’t very impressive; 2 feet deep and a bit of moving water. However, upon closer inspection, that moving water had created a channel that was significantly deeper than its surrounding flats. I tied on a leech pattern fly and cast my sinking line upstream right across the cut, counted to 10 and started my retrieve.
BAM! 21-inch walleye – FIRST CAST!!! Third cast, 19-inch walleye, 7th cast 22-inch walleye! What was this sorcery?!?! My camera man wasn’t even ready!!! Long story short, we fished the honey hole and averaged a fish every 3 minutes for 3 hours, releasing each and every one. This truly was a “honey hole”. I stood humbled and incredibly amazed at what had just happened.
I came to learn very quickly that Miminiska lake, the entire lake is teeming with quality walleye, so much so, that you can take your time and experiment with different flies, techniques and presentations. The populations are so healthy, playing around with different ways of fishing isn’t lost on lack of fish in an area. IF they don’t bite, they aren’t interested. It’s not a matter of lack of fish in the area. The biggest walleye caught at Wilderness North this year was at an astonishing 33 inches; which, if measured and submitted would have been a new IGFA World Record for length!!! (the current record stands at 31.1 inches).
So why is the population of walleye so healthy at Mim? Well there are a number of reasons; however, the prominent one in my opinion is Wilderness North’s conservation initiatives. Big fish make Big fish. Walleye over 18 inches are returned to the water while it’s encouraged for anglers to take 2 fish under 18 for shore lunch every day! This allows the big (possibly genetically superior) to make other strong-lined fish. That coupled with the sheer size of the lake and the lack of angling pressure ensure walleye success – yes, even on fly! You can check out the episode which includes walleye, pike and the big brook trout Mim is famous for here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uRo2EYwhYDI