Feast your eyes on 11-pounds of pure walleye gold.
Ontario's Bay of Quinte is a world-renowned walleye mecca, and with a proven record for producing trophy fish, this body of water is a must-visit if you dream of double-digit gold.
I'm what you call a 'bass snob.' Largemouth are my go-to species, and they are what I predominantly chase throughout the summer and fall months here in Ontario.
But when I received a call from good buddy Eric Riley to hit Quinte during the trophy prime time of late fall, it was an invite I couldn't pass up.
Trolling minnow baits behind planer boards gets the nod during the end of open water season on Quinte. This technique allows you to effectively cover water, while strategically running lures at predetermined depths based on bait and fish activity as seen on your electronics. There's definitely more to it than meets the eye.
In the days leading up to our Nov. 24 outing, I peppered Eric with a myriad of questions. The main one was, "What's been working?"
Eric simply said Berkley Flicker Minnow. But not any old Flicker Minnow would do. No, the majority of fish that hit will hammer the Purple Bengal color pattern. And it has to be a size 11.
Eric and his partner, well-known fishing enthusiast Ashley Rae, live for Quinte walleye. It is their passion, and they have this style of fishing down to an art form. They also keep impeccable records. And these records certainly don't lie when it comes to shining the light on what works.
I showed up at the ramp that morning with a handful of Berkley Flicker Minnows, in a variety of colors (including Purple Bengal), but in the Pro Slick model. Berkley actually produces three lines of Flicker Minnows, including the original, Pro Flash, and Pro Slick.
The Purple Bengal Pro Slick caught my eye while picking up tackle that week in preparation of the trip, and it's the one I tied on as we began our first trolling run that morning.
It was an unusually slow day. Fish on the graph were mostly down deep and boat traffic was thick. We did catch two small walleye, but we were struggling as the hours slowly passed by.
That's when it happened. It was late in the day when we both saw the erratic movement of the outside right planer board and I quickly reached for the rod. The solid weight on the end of my line (which was some 200+ feet behind the boat) instantly let me know I was tied into a good one.
The largest walleye under my belt is a five-and-a-half pound fish caught from a small lake in Quebec a number of years earlier. I would have been over the moon to eclipse that on this day, but in reality, a double-digit fish is what I had come here for. That's the true mark of a trophy walleye.
The battle was a tedious one, and let me tell you, your arms get one heck of a workout when fighting a fish of this size. As I slowly gained line, the only thought going through my mind was "Please stay on."
As Eric expertly scooped the fish up after a close-to 10 minute battle, the realization of what just transpired hit me. I had landed my first trophy walleye!
The scale bottomed out at an even 11-pounds. This is what pure Quinte gold looks like:
And here's that Berkley Flicker Minnow Pro Slick, in the Purple Bengal hue:
The fish was released to fight another day, so hopefully a lucky angler can enjoy the same thrill such as I did back on this late November day.
We plied the water for the next hour as the most amazing of sunsets painted the sky behind us. Talk about the perfect ending to an incredible day.
If walleye is your thing, a trip to the Bay of Quinte needs to be on your bucket list. I'm elated to say I made the trek.
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