Fishing in the Boundary Waters and Quetico


Quetico and the Boundary Waters Fishing

Deep Divers:
Rapala Shad Raps and Storm Deep Thundersticks: dive to about 10'-12' and can be used as search lures for walleyes. They can be cast toward steeper shorelines and rocky points but are generally lightweight, do not cast very far and get blown around by the wind easily. A more effective way to use them is by trolling. Generally, the depth at which you can see bottom on most lakes in the BWCAW/Q is about 10-15 feet. So, if you paddle slowly along the shore just outside of where you can see bottom on a sunny day, you will be over about 10-20 feet most of the time, which is often prime walleye feeding depth during morning and evening hours in the summer. Understand that walleyes also spend a great deal of time in depths over 20' especially during the middle of the day late in summer but when a walleye wants to eat it usually moves shallower. After dark walleyes commonly go very shallow to feed and can be caught at those times by casting to shorelines and rocky points.

Trolling in a canoe can be accomplished with one or two people. If alone, sit in the bow seat facing the stern and paddle the canoe stern first. A dry bag filled with water and placed at the opposite end from the paddler is a neat idea for trimming a solo canoe. For two people, have the passenger sit in the bow seat facing backward and the paddler sit in the stern seat. To begin trolling, get the canoe moving in the desired direction, place the lure in the water to observe the action at various speeds and to make sure it is running correctly. If you are satisfied with the lures action, make a full cast behind the canoe and let out another 10-15 yards of line. This should place the lure about 40-50 yards behind. Continue paddling as needed to make the lure “work” with the passenger fishing on one side of the canoe and the stern paddler on the other. As you move along a shoreline, occasionally you will bump the bottom. That's your cue to move a bit deeper. If you never bump the bottom with your trolled lure, steer a little closer to shore. Zigzag along shore like this until you catch a fish. Only one person needs to paddle while trolling because the speed generally should be only fast enough to get the lure moving and to dive. Vary the speed or even pause to see if that triggers a strike and to find the particular action that the fish prefer. Never lose contact with your rod as some of the strikes can be quite powerful and it's possible to lose a rod overboard. If trolling is something you find you like to do, it may be wise to check out rod holders for canoes. The non-paddling passenger should keep a paddle handy for when you get the inevitable snag when both of you can paddle backward quickly to retrieve it.

The original floating Rapalas run shallower (about 4'-5' deep) than deep Shad Raps or Thundersticks - note the size of the lip on each. They too can be cast toward shorelines and be effective but I still prefer to troll them. When trolling with two people, a good plan is to have the rod on the shore side of the canoe pull a shallow running lure and on the other side a deep lure. If the shallow lure gets all of the action it would be wise to fish shallower with both rods or vice versa if the deep lure is catching fish.

Trolling is a great way to cruise the shoreline, observe wildlife along the way and locate fish. As you troll along, take mental notes of weedy bays where you may want to shift gears later and do some casting with spinners. Rocky points commonly hold walleye. If you catch one off of a rocky point and you are able to hold the canoe in position, it's time to make a few casts all around that point with the same lures you are trolling or you can try a jig and plastic, which is discussed later.

The lures that I've recommended for trolling so far are all floating lures and for good reason. If you need to stop or slow down to catch a fish on one rod, the other lure will just float to the surface rather than sink to the bottom to get snagged amongst the rocks. For the most part these lures will bounce over and around rocks while being pulled forward without snagging. Occasionally, they will get wedged between rocks and then you will have to back up to retrieve it. Because these lures are working amongst the rocks much of the time, the first 2 feet of line ahead of the lure will get beat up, especially when using monofilament line. Inspect this section of line frequently and remove and retie if it feels nicked or abraded. If you neglect this advice it may cost you the trophy of a lifetime.

Trolling with sinking lures is also possible but not usually worth the trouble. The depth they run cannot be controlled as well and they are far more prone to snags. Save your sinking lures for casting.

Entry > Discover Wilderness > Fishing > Deep Divers

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