Don Willoughby with a "two-footer" pike

Northern Ontario fly-in adventure: 6 days, 3 kayaks and 400-plus fish


#3  The walleye are husky, plentiful and hungry

It’s truly amazing what low fishing pressure will do for a piece of water. Bulldozer is a small and fairly typical Shield lake, primarily home to walleye and pike. The forage base didn’t seem especially rich, in the way it can be in other, more fertile waters. It’s a pretty unremarkable lake, actually, except for one crucial factor: hardly anyone fishes it.


As a result, the fish population is what Mother Nature intended: high. And the action is out of this world, with walleye lurking around every reef, shoal and sandy bay. Actually “lurking” is the wrong word. Given their enthusiasm for hitting jerkbaits, crankbaits, spoons, spinners, jigs and flies, they mostly seemed to be aggressively hunting, rather than lurking.

Wes Nelson shows off a typical walleye

For example, my buddy Wes Nelson (above), who’s done hardly any walleye fishing, caught a Walter on his first cast of the trip. Yep, first cast. We stopped counting fish by the second day, but on our one slow fishing day, we all had at east a dozen walleye. And a daily total of 20 or 30 was more typical, though my other friend, Don Willoughby, had more than that in one extraordinary hour (that’s a story for the magazine, too). The average size was about 16 inches, but we had many fish that were much bigger. More on that in a minute…