The calm before the storm as Picton Harbor gets ready for the Fall Brawl of trophy walleye hunters.
As the last of the colours leave the trees in Prince Edward County and all over Ontario boats are being winterized for storage, the diehard walleye anglers are just getting ready for the return of Bay of Quinte trophy walleye. The post spawn giants head to the main lake for the summer to feed on alewives and other forage then return to the outer reaches of the bay starting in late October. By the time the first skim of ice forms in Picton Harbor the area becomes thick with some of the largest walleye in North America. Trophy hunters from around the globe converge on Picton and surrounding area for a chance to have their picture with one of these spectacular fish.
Walleye in the 7 to 12 pound range are common and every year several fish in the 14 to 17 pound class are caught. These are very old fish, some approaching 20 years so they are not to be wasted on eating. Taxidermists create perfect life like trophy replicas now days so a quick picture and measurement and back in the water they go to spawn in the spring and keep this extraordinary gene pool alive. They can also be caught another year and become someone else’s larger trophy and story. Thought by many to be the best table fare from fresh water, smaller fish can be found as well in the more protected inland waters of Hay Bay, Long Reach down to Telegraph Narrows. In fact here is walleye to be had from Trenton to Picton not to mention the world class fall bass fishery.
This is a busy time of the year for charters and guides and many are booked a year in advance. This might be the most convenient and sure way to land the fish of a life time and be in the comfort of a well-equipped boat with a guide that knows how and where to find them. A list of Charters and Guides can be found here https://www.fishingbayofquinte.com/links/guides/
It isn’t until the ice is too thick to break at the boat ramps that the season will come to an end. Unlike most tourist destinations where towns along the waterfront go dormant by November, Picton sees one of the town’s busiest months in November. The economic impact of the fishery is a major contributor to the health of local businesses. Whereas some cities and towns discourage anglers catering to higher profile optically pleasing water activities, the Bay of Quinte Tourism welcomes anglers with open arms and does everything possible to make sure visitor leave with a memorable experience.
Historically the fall walleye reconnaissance has been dominated by “the boyz” annual fishing trip. But in recent years more families have been making the journey. There is so much to see and do in the area that fish are beginning to share the limelight. Prince Edward County just happens to be Canada’s fastest growing wine region not to mention local breweries and great eateries.
If you haven’t experienced the Bay of Quinte before ice up you are missing some of Canada’s best fishing and a probability of a new personal best. It is also great training for ice fishing in this incredible fishery.