Put eight avid anglers around the breakfast table at Temple Bay Resort on famed Eagle Lake in Northwestern Ontario’s Sunset Country, and you can bet the fishy discussions will flourish. That’s what happened last Sunday morning, when I joined the KingFisher Boat team from Vernon, BC for two and a half days of fun fall fishing for walleyes, smallmouth bass, northern pike, and muskies.
Buddy John Butts, only the second Canadian angler ever to win an event on the Professional Walleye Trail (PWT), grinned and fired up the conversation by asking “how important do you think lure colour is when selecting a bait?”
Now, I’ve always contended that the colour of your lure is meaningless until you locate the fish. After you’ve found them, you then have to determine the depth at which they are swimming, the speed with which they want you to present your offering, and the preferred size and shape of your lure. So, the colour of your bait is way down the list of priorities.
But—and it is a big but—once you get these initial priorities out of the way, choosing the turn-on colour can make a huge difference in your success.
However, I knew that John had spent a couple of days on the water, scoping it out in advance of our arrival. So I was certain he had some aces stuffed up his sleeve. Those aces ended up being 1/4- to 3/8-ounce jigs, tipped with lively minnows, fished close to the bottom and popped up gently. Oh, did I mention, the jig also had to be brown?
In hunting circles, it’s often said that “if it’s brown, it is down,” but this was the first time I can remember walleyes preferring brown coloured jigs over one of the more traditional shades. And I wasn’t going to argue with the fish.
So I tied on a Reel Bait Flasher jig that I had crudely painted brown to each of the rods I had on the deck, and handed one to Brad and the other to Dante, who were both joining me that day. Then I tipped each jig with a lively minnow, pinning it lightly between the lips, and we lowered them over the side. “Got one,” Brad said, within seconds of his jig touching the bottom, and I turned around to see his rod buckling under the weight of a nicely-sized walleye that I quickly netted. Before I could get it untangled and back into the water, Dante hollered that he had one, too, and the fire drill went into operation.
It stayed like this, fast and furious, throughout the day, with more brown-jig-caught-walleyes than I cared to count coming over one side of the boat and promptly going back over the other side—save for a few small eaters that we kept for a scrumptious shore lunch.
As a matter of fact, the action was so frenetic that Mike Clements (who was fishing only a few feet away in KingFisher pro staffer Dave Bennett’s 2025 Flex Sport XP), set the hook
into a beautiful 40-inch muskie. Unbelievable. Eagle Lake is renowned for its muskie fishing, and there were plenty of hard-core muskie anglers out on the water casting and trolling big toothy critter lures. Mike landed his first ever muskie, as an unintentional bonus, on a brown-coloured walleye jig.
The next morning at breakfast, John sauntered to the table, pulled up a chair, sat down, retrieved a package of jigs from his pocket, and asked with the same sly grin from the previous day, “who has pink jigs in their tackle boxes?” For a change of scenery from the previous day, and to show the boys from BC some of the diverse fishing opportunities Sunset Country is famous for, we had decided to visit nearby Lac Seul. So, was John saying that the big walleyes there wanted pink jigs, after we had walloped their brothers and sisters on Eagle Lake using brown-coloured lead heads? You’d better believe that was what he was saying.
Gotta confess, I like to take the path less travelled, although I usually need to see something firsthand before I believe it. So while KingFisher Boats CEO Byron Bolton and Flint Laroye dabbled pink minnow tipped jigs over the side, I showed the fish a spirited chub lip, hooked to a drop shot rig.
Byron and Flint handily outperformed me, hauling in one big walleye after another, until I ran the proverbial white flag up the pole, surrendered, and tied on a pink jig as well. It was only then that I kept pace with them, although Flint still crushed both me and Byron, hooking fat-bellied fish as fast as he could bait his jig.
It proved that after you sort out the ever-critical decisions about depth control, speed control, size and profile of your lure, the colour of your bait can factor heavily into
the day’s success.
And when you getnit right, well… you’re in like Flint.
A KingFisher Story by Gord Pyzer