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The Best Lures for Catching Walleye

The Best Lures for Catching Walleye

A visit to the Zone Chasse et Pêche store in Val-d’Or and some browsing on the Web turned up lots of expert advice about the best lures to use for fishing walleye in Abitibi. I’d like to share my findings and personal favourites with you here.

Before I get to lures, just a little reminder about the new government bait-fish regulation. It took effect on April 1, 2017 and is intended to minimize risks associated with using bait-fish, commonly known as minnows. Click here to see the new regulation.

  • The use of live bait-fish is prohibited everywhere in Quebec.
  • The use of dead bait-fish in the summer is prohibited everywhere in Quebec.
  • For winter use, go to the Ministère des forêts, de la faune et des parcs du Québec (MFFP – Quebec Department of forests, wildlife and parks) Web site by clickling here. (map available in French only)

And, remember that walleye must now be transported whole or in ‘wallet’ filets. The MFFP Web site states as follows:

  • When a fisherman has in his possession elsewhere than at this permanent residence fish caught while sportfishing, the fish must be in a state that makes it possible to determine the species (for example, by leaving sufficient skin on the flesh to identify it), the length and the number. When a length limit applies, the fish must be transported in such a way that its length can be measured. Here’s the link.

Here are the top five tried-and-true lures to use for catching walleye in Abitibi

poissons nageurs

Floating Minnows

The Hot ’N Tot and the Thin Fin are two of my faves. The Hot’N Tot, with its genuine metal lip, classic shape and wild movement, is a legendary bait. It’s excellent for trolling. Walleye cannot resist its side-to-side searching action. What is also great about the Hot ’N Tot, is that even if you scrape the bottom (which is ideal when fishing for walleye), it doesn’t get snagged because it flips upside down when it hits an obstacle. It really helps in areas that are rocky or where branches have sunk to the bottom. Whether it’s a bright sunny day or twilight, the Hot ’N Tot will help you to provoke strikes and be very productive.

The Thin Fin is a classic go-to that all serious fishermen need to have in their tackle box. With its multi-ball rattle, the Thin Fin emits a clicking sound and a vibration underwater as it moves. The lure sinks head first and has an erratic, darting action that imitates natural movement. The longer and more pronounced the tongue, the deeper it goes. You’ll see that the Thin Fin is very effective early in the season when the walleye is shallow. My husband really loves the Thin Fin for fishing walleye. In fact, he used it to land his biggest one yet: 9.5 lbs!

This is all well and good, but you are probably wondering what colour swimming fish lure is best for walleye – there are countless ones to choose from. Happily, I have an answer for you!

Perch imitation is a very good choice because it’s prey of choice for walleye. They’re crazy about perch!

Natural black and silver works everywhere. Using the most natural colour will give you better results in clear to moderately clear water.

Walleye imitation because the walleye is notorious for cannibalism. You can go for an imitation of a fish whose appearance and action remind the walleye of its food. Daniel Robitaille, professional fisherman, fishing guide and columnist for the Quebec hunting and fishing magazine, Aventure Chasse et Pêche, recommends the 7-cm. gold/black Flicker Shad. He says it has done an amazing job virtually everywhere he’s tried it!

marcheurs de fond blanc

Bottom walkers

Walleye can often be found just a few feet above the lake bottom. The bottom walker is just a metal pin bent to 90° with a sinker attached to it. The rule of thumb for choosing the proper sinker weight is an ounce for every 10 feet of water. The three- to four-foot worm harness goes behind the bottom walker. You can use a little Indiana-type spoon for the harness, in pink, fire tiger, chartreuse or silver, colours that work well for walleye. The classic technique is to troll slowly, using an earthworm. The sound of the bottom walker hitting the rocks excites the predators, who are territorial.

live target bait ball

Live Target Bait Ball

This realistic lure works really well in clear water. It imitates a school of small fishes, and as such is an attractant for walleye, who see it as a big lunch in one fell swoop! Its medium dive lip and slender body allow the bait to dive quickly and hold in the strike zone longer.

poisson souple

Flexible Bait

Flexible bait is used with a jig head. You insert the hook under the belly and bring it out at the top of the back. Flexible bait vibrates, and so there’s a lot of action in the water. It’s exactly the kind of food the walleye is looking for. You can cast or troll with this lure.

Jigger

Jigger

Despite their small size, jiggers are formidable allies in the search for the most beautiful walleye. These guys have a fat little body and a lively tail that vibrates at high speed. Jiggers will yield excellent results early in the season with fish that are starting to feed again. The jig must move up and down slowly. The deeper you go, the heavier the jigger head you need; the same applies when there’s a current or wind. The deeper the colour of the water, the better it is to select highly visible colours like orange, yellow, green or chartreuse. Chartreuse is the colour that got me my best walleye so I highly recommend it ;-). In crystalline water, natural colours can often work very well. The biggest sellers at Zone Chasse et pêche are pink, white, blue and chartreuse. I have purchased a few pinks and blues and intend to try them out this summer!

6 Reasons to love the intense winter in Val-d’Or, its cold weather and its abundance of snow

6 Reasons to love the intense winter in Val-d’Or, its cold weather and its abundance of snow

Expedia has recently published an article on the Canada’s worst winter cities and Val-d’Or is one of them. The ranking was done according to four criteria; the snow, the cold weather, the means put in place to get warm and the national records. Well, Val-d’Or scores high in all these criteria! But don’t forget that it’s not because winter is intense that you shouldn’t visit Val-d’Or at this time of the year. In fact, I strongly suggest to visit it. Here are 6 reasons to love the intense winter in Val-d’Or, the cold and the abundance of snow.

A dry weather

In Val-d’Or, there is dry weather most of the time. But know that it is easy to protect oneself from it by dressing warmly. Well dressed, you can enjoy the fresh air and the outdoors for a long time

Magical landscapes

Winter in Val-d’Or is completely gorgeous. With all the space we have, no need to remove all the snow and put it in the pits for this purpose. We only have to move it to the side of the streets. Even in the city, you can find large spaces all white and admire the shine snow. The contrast of dark green spruce with the whiteness of the snow is quite handsome. And there, I don’t even talk about the skies at dawn and sunset that looks like cotton candy or a drink of Tequila Sunrise!

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A lot of outdoor activities

Of course, we can practice a host of winter sports in Val-d’Or: snowshoeing, ice skates, cross-country skiing, fat bike and many others. Moreover, you will find the Forêt Récréative (recreational forest): 50 km2 of playground for outdoor enthusiasts. There are trails for snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and fat biking and a 2 km loop of an ice-skating trail. All the equipment necessary for these sports is rented except for Fat Bikes (they can be rented at Cyclo Vélo Pro). To complete, an outdoor fireplace is maintained to warm the users of the trails.

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Recreational forest trails are illuminated in the evening until 9pm and 11pm.

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The outdoor fireplace is located at the central entrance of the different trails.

High quality snowmobile trails

The Abitibi-Témiscamingue region is known for the quality of its snowmobile trails, and Val-d’Or contributes to maintain the reputation. Snowmobile enthusiasts will enjoy 3,700 km of wide and safe trails throughout the region. Val-d’Or for its part, has these urban trails allowing snowmobilers to access services such as restaurants, hotels, gas stations and snowmobile dealers. Then, the cold weather and the snow that people generally dread allows us to start our snowmobile season earlier and finish it later!

motoneige-acces-restaurant

Nothing better than a beer or a coffee after a day of snowmobiling. But to have beautiful snowmobile trails, it takes snow and cold!

motoneige-panneau-direction

With all those signs who are indicating nearby services and directions, you can’t get lost in the snowmobile trails in Abitibi-Témiscamingue and in Val-d’Or.

Restaurants and cafes to warm up

Val-d’Or has a host of restaurants and small cafes that will warm you up suitably after a day out in the open air. You’ll have a lot of choice between coffee shops and delicious teas. There are restaurants with a warm atmosphere like the microbrewery Le Prospecteur or the poutine bar Bar à poutine chez Morasse, or others who propose comfort food like as Windsor or Chez Vic.

Windsor_restaurants_val-dor_6

Windsor proposes the most comforting cuisine in a warm and comfortable atmosphere.

Activities to celebrate winter

The winter in Val-d’Or is not perceived as miserable, but rather as a beautiful season to play outside and have fun! Besides, it doesn’t stop people from organizing events or festivals. For example, at the beginning of February, winter is celebrated with the Hiver en fête Festival. It offers musical shows, open-air cinema, fireworks and a host of activities for the whole family, ice fishing, dog sledding, pony riding, horse drawn carriage rides, maple on snow, inflatable games, Zipline, snow sculpture, giant sliding, rock climbing and more! There are also Polar Night [s] two days long and offers musical performances in a giant igloo. Exploded activities and fires to roast sausages and marshmallow are planned.

Hiver en fete_festivals_traineau a chiens

The Hiver en fête festival is taking place at the great site of the Cité de l’Or.

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During the event Nuit Polaire (Polar Night) in 2017, Valaire’s band came to warm the crowd.
Photo | Geneviève Lagrois

Winter in Val-d’Or can be cold and the snow can be abundant, but when we know how to dress and that we found an activity which we like, then this cold and this snow become expected and appreciated. Then we see the landscapes under another eye noticing their beauty and their magical side. Come visit us and try it!

When I started walking the talk about the wonders of snowmobiling in Abitibi-Témiscamingue – Part 2

When I started walking the talk about the wonders of snowmobiling in Abitibi-Témiscamingue – Part 2

Three days ago, I was preparing for my first snowmobiling experience (Read When I started walking the talk about the wonders of snowmobiling in Abitibi-Témiscamingue – Part 1). My uncle, Yves, his daughter and one of her friends, a couple of my uncle’s friends, Marco and Danielle, my sister, Kim, and I had planned to travel out to the Pourvoirie des Îles du Lac Duparquet and come back the next day. In all, the trip would cover 440 km; my sister and I, who had never snowmobiled, were to spell each other off driving the machines. Three days and 440 km later, I can now safely brag about how wonderful sledding is in Abitibi-Témiscamingue because I have actually experienced it!

ABITIBI-TÉMISCAMINGUE: A SNOWMOBILERS’ PARADISE …FOR NOVICES TOO!

People who say that Abitibi-Témiscamingue is a snowmobiling paradise are right! I felt totally safe and in control, which was so reassuring for a first experience. Of course, I have nothing to compare it to, because I have no experience sledding in other areas, but I can assure you that I was blown away by what I saw and experienced! The vegetation and the scenery are breathtaking and changing constantly. The trails are undulating and winding in places and straight and true in others, but always very wide. As a novice, I found this quite reassuring because I was never concerned about catching an oncoming snowmobile. Also, the frequency and quality of the signage was impressive. I was travelling at my own speed, which was very different from Yves and Marco’s, who’ve been sledding for about 20 years, or Danielle’s, who has had her own machine for six years, so I’d lose sight of them occasionally. So, even if I lost sight of Danielle bouncing along on her sled or taking a tight turn, I knew what was coming on a corner or at the bottom of a hill. The little yellow signs were always there to give me a heads up! There were numerous rest stops and huts, providing ample opportunity to stop safely and often to prevent fatigue.

halte-refuge_sentiers-motoneige

One of the numerous rest stops in the snowmobile trails, in Rivière-Héva.

WE ALWAYS NEED A GOOD YARN

It’s a fact. The trips that include an unexpected adventure or leave you with a great story to tell are the most memorable. And I can assure you that this is one we will definitely remember! Kim and I were not the only novices in the group. It was also the first time snowmobiling for my uncle’s daughter and her friend. They were two very excited little 9-year-olds as we headed out on our adventure together. About 20 minutes into the trip, we stopped to check that everything was going well. We discovered that their enthusiasm had waned and their little faces were now

an interesting shade of green or white. Motion sickness had joined our expedition! After a 15-minute break, we started out again only to stop about 20 minutes later. The girls had both brought their breakfast up on the blanket that was keeping them warm. That was the beginning of the story. Every 20 minutes, we stopped to clean up the vomit, and console and encourage the girls. We finally stopped in Cadillac for a rest and some lunch, which was good for everyone. The girls were feeling a lot better by then and even fell asleep in the sled after lunch, which allowed us to travel a fair distance without stopping.

carriole

From the inside of  the sleigh

Then we came to another lake. The crossing woke the girls up and they promptly threw up again; they also got scared. So, at Preissac, just over the halfway mark, we decided to spell each other off in the passenger sleigh. Yves climbed in with his daughter’s friend and, 30 minutes later, all was well. Her fear had disappeared and she felt good. Then it was my uncle’s daughter’s turn… and mine! It brought back childhood memories of being small and not able to see anything, as well as a few added bonuses: the smell in the sleigh was awful, my cousin’s motion sickness was still very much on board, and the suspension was broken (the sleigh didn’t care for my uncle’s powerful build). I must admit, even as an adult, I HATE sleighs!

We finally reached the Pourvoirie des Îles du Lac Duparquet where we would bed down for the night; the girls played all evening. Sunday morning, my cousin’s grandparents came and rescued the girls from another day of torture on the snowmobile. They drove to Duparquet and took them and the stinky sled back to Val-d’Or. So, on the return trip, we were down to five adults and four machines.

pourvoirie-iles-lac-duparquet

The view from our room at the Pourvoirie des Iles du Lac Duparquet. In addition of the great landscape, the food was delicious and service was top-notch!

With stars in their eyes, so many sledders have described the sense of freedom, spirit of camaraderie and stunning landscapes that draw them to snowmobiling. The experience certainly matched the descriptions I’d heard over the years. On my machine, I felt as though I were floating on the snow, flying through the trees. On my own and surrounded by the strength and magnificence of Mother Nature, I was indeed free. And I met two wonderful people: Marco and Danielle are simple, funny, considerate and passionate souls and lovely travelling companions. Now, I will be able to describe the snowmobiling trails in Abitibi-Témiscamingue from personal experience, with stars in my eyes. I’ll be able to explain why it is so much fun, describe the beauty out there and talk about the camaraderie that reigns. And, believe me, I’ll do it with passion!

histoire-de-motoneige

Because we also need a good yarn for Sunday, my uncle had a little incident on that day!

When I started walking the talk about the wonders of snowmobiling in Abitibi-Témiscamingue – Part 1

When I started walking the talk about the wonders of snowmobiling in Abitibi-Témiscamingue – Part 1

For a little over three years now, I’ve worked at the Val-d’Or Tourism and Convention Bureau. As part of my job, I often talk about snowmobiling in Val-d’Or and Abitibi-Témiscamingue, when I am on the road promoting our area or assisting a visitor at our tourist information office. I suggest itineraries, talk about how great and beautiful the snowmobile trails are, let people know which sections are more straightforward and which are more technical, but I had not actually done any sledding for about 20 years!

My only memories of snowmobiling are being bundled up in sheepskins, squished like sardines into the back of a passenger sleigh with my two sisters. Between our helmets, our size and the tight space, we couldn’t really see a thing. So, for me, snowmobiling was just a slow, uncomfortable way of getting to the family cottage.

I have always felt a little uneasy promoting snowmobiling when I don’t even do it. I feel as though I am talking through my hat. And then there was the fear of misleading someone despite carefully studying our regional snowmobile map and frequent conversations with local sledders who know the trails and the terrain. The doubt and uneasiness that have always lurked at the back of my mind will soon be gone because in less than 24 hours, I’m heading out for a weekend of snowmobiling!

salon-motoneige_Quebec

The stand of Tourisme Abitibi-Témiscamingue during a snowmobile show in Québec in 2015, which I participated to.

Along for the ride will be my uncle, his 7-year-old daughter, and one of her friends as well as a few of my uncle’s friends, all old hands at snowmobiling. My sister will join us too; she’s a real novice like me! We’ll leave from Val-d’Or, spend the night at the Pourvoirie des Îles du Lac Duparquet and head back to Val-d’Or the next day. We will cover about 440 km in all. I am very excited about finally getting out. By all accounts, sledding gives you a wonderful sense of freedom. I am also pretty nervous. Why? Because, for logistical reasons, my sister and I will need to spell each other off driving the snowmobile.

trajet_motoneige

Our itinirary

kim

My sister who were pretty happy to find all the equipment we will need for our trip.

So, I’ve been preparing for this excursion all week, pumped full of anticipation and adrenalin. My sister and I had to round up all the gear we needed: helmet, snowmobile suit, mittens, long underwear, woollen socks, snowmobiling map, etc. Since neither of us usually do any sledding, we got our parents’ old snowmobiling gear out of mothballs and borrowed the rest. We were all ready, with our mismatched suits straight out of the nineties, but still cozy warm. They did the trick! Stay tuned, Dear Reader, for a few gems in the second part of this blog! J To satisfy my need for a modicum of control over the unknown, I also sought out advice on driving a snowmobile. I contacted my uncle and my sister a million times to go over the various stages of our trip and to sort out the most minute details, right down to what we’d eat for breakfast the morning of our departure! Yup. Under stress, I can get a bit controlling…

Here we are now, just hours from leaving, and everything is just about ready to go. A few more things to buy, luggage to secure on the machines and then a good night’s sleep to be in good shape for the trip. As soon as I’m back, I’ll tell you about my first actual snowmobiling outing. For the first time, I’ll be able to give a firsthand account of the beauty of our land, the great camaraderie, the freedom we felt. And this time I’ll know what I am talking about!

Read the second part