“The walleye is the most valuable and intensely utilized fishery resource in Manitoba. Walleye angling probably accounts for more time and money spent in Manitoba by both resident and non-resident anglers than angling for all other species combined.” – The Freshwater Fishes of Manitoba – Stewart / Watkinson

The walleye is one of the five species of apex predators in Manitoba’s fish fauna. In Canadian Shield lakes and specifically the waters surrounding Kitchi Island Outposts, it shares the top of the food web with the northern pike and channel catfish.

The walleye and its cousin the sauger spawn early in the year, generally late April to late May, just after ice breakup and in water temperatures of 4 degrees C. (about 39 degrees F.) After spawning the female of the species, and often the larger fish, rest for a period of time and then begin the cycle again, feeding and preparing for reproduction. The walleye tend to school as the water warms. As the year matures, walleye can be found in all areas of the lakes and river systems at Kitchi Island Outposts, some relating to weeds, some to fast water and others to structure.

The area offers fish habitat of all descriptions for the avid angler. Because the land area drops 200 feet from the Ontario border to the shore of Lake Winnipeg, about 2 feet per mile, there is diverse habitat created. Kitchi Island Outpost waters offer large swollen lake areas and bubbling fast water areas, quiet bays with deep weed banks and ambush spots with rocks and current.

Walleye tactics are as varied as one can imagine. The most preferred method is still the jig and twister tail. Some frozen minnows are often an asset to tip you jig and the new Berkley Gulp baits are also very good in Kitchi’s waters. Some anglers prefer leeches or night crawlers as their bait of choice. Many anglers enjoy trolling or bottom bouncing. Both of these methods are productive with a minnow spinner tipped with a frozen minnow or Gulp or a Rapala type crank bait deep trolled or used with a bottom bouncer. Casting a crank bait or a spoon under an area of fast water can be very productive.

Whatever angling method you employ, you can expect to catch walleye varying in size from a few inches to over 30 inches. Several “Master Angler” size walleye, over 28 inches, are caught and released in Kitchi waters every year. The “average” size walleye is between 16 inches and 23 inches, all very respectable fish. Many guests report catches of over 100 walleye per day of various sizes.

The stained water of the Berens River system produces a range of colours in the walleye here. They are very deep green, almost black on their backs and grow ever more golden down their sides to the cream coloured underside. Often the caudal and anal fins will have orange tips and edges. The walleye have no scales on their cheeks where their cousins the Sauger do have scales on their cheeks. The Sauger are brownish-grey with 2 or 3 irregular blotches on their sides. Hybrids between Walleye and Sauger are infrequently seen but when encountered are more yellowish in colour than either Walleye or Sauger and they have rows of spots on their dorsal fins like a Sauger. Anglers distinguish between Sauger and Walleye, but regard the Sauger as equally high in eating quality as the Walleye.

Kitchi Island Outposts practices “catch and release” and encourages all walleye over 18 inches be returned to the water unharmed. Use only smaller fish for a shore lunch or a supper. It is the law in Manitoba to fish “barbless”. Only the hooks on the line in use must have the barbs pinched down. I further encourage all anglers to cut off one “arm” of each of their treble hooks as well as pinching down the barbs. These measures will insure that fish are returned to the water unharmed and allowed to grow and multiply to maintain our fantastic fishery.