We’ll Get ‘em at the Next Spot!


Being optimistic is an important trait when fishing, and almost required for trophy fish hunters. After all, haven’t we all said at one point, “Just one more cast,” when either leaving a spot for the next one, or at the end of a fishing day? That’s because any cast can potentially produce the next trophy fish. Or at least, we like to think so!

Optimism is an inherent trait in good fishermen. To catch fish, a positive outlook is often necessary. Well, a positive outlook, along with your lure in the water as much as possible! I haven’t seen too many anglers catch fish without their lure in the water, no matter how optimistic they are. It’s a percentage game. The more casts you make, or the more time your lure is in the water, the better chance you have of something tugging at the end of your line.

Fishing can be a lot of work sometimes. There are many days that you have to work really hard to catch fish. Take muskie fishermen, for example. Muskies have been nicknamed the fish of ten thousand casts. Many muskie fishermen cast all day long, and if they have a follow or even see a fish, it correlates to being a “good” day! That’s optimism!

Being optimistic has led to many top quality fish in my lifetime. However, I am not naïve enough to think that optimism is the only thing needed. Many things go into catching fish and putting the odds in your favor, like: lure type, correct line, rod action, reel drag, terminal tackle, knowledge of fish location, and the knowhow of “playing” or reeling in a fish.

However—witness the walleye fisherman or woman catching a giant muskie with a jig and a minnow. Sometimes, the difference between catching and not catching is mostly just being in the right place at the right time!

However, the “last cast” mentality oftentimes works. I can’t tell you how many last-minute or 11th hour fish I’ve caught for television show-enders in the last 25 years of filming for MidWest Outdoors. And it happened again this past summer up in northern Saskatchewan.

We were filming for Tourism Saskatchewan at Lloyd Lake Lodge (lloydlakelodge.com), one of the premier lodges in northern Saskatchewan. Owner Derrick Uniat was guiding us to a day of late-fall walleye fishing.

Lloyd Lake is about 25 miles by 12 miles in size and holds good-quality walleyes and northern pike, and is a family run lodge in the northwest corner of the province. It’s a quaint resort hosting up to 16 guests per week with six cabins that sleep 2 to 6 guests each. It is a family-run operation staffed by Derrick, his brother Desi and the rest of the Uniat clan. This was my third time visiting the lodge and it has quickly become one of my favorite places to go. Not only are the owners some of the nicest people in the world, but the fishery is topnotch as well.

We began our walleye pursuit on the east side of the lake, outside of a river outlet. There was a drop off where the river entered the lake that went from 5 feet down to 15 feet or so. We positioned our boat on the edge of the drop and trolled and casted the drop-off, catching numerous nice walleyes on Berkley Flicker Shads and lipless crankbaits.

Flicker Shads and lipless cranks are well-known walleye catchers on Green Bay’s Lake Michigan, and the tight wobble action makes them dynamic fish-catching lures anywhere walleyes are found. For lipless cranks, I prefer Berkley Warpigs and Yo-Zuri Vibes, but a lot of companies make lipless cranks that work well, too.

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After the spot outside the river slowed down some, we motored into the river channel itself. We trolled up the deeper, outside edge of the river where the current cut the outside bank, creating a 5- to 6-foot trench in the river. Once again, we caught numerous feisty walleyes. While the walleyes at Lloyd Lake do not get overly large—a trophy would be upwards of 25 inches—the fish are extremely healthy, stocky and golden in color. A normal 16- to 18-inch fish is quite a handful and makes an ideal fillet.

As we made our way upriver, we encountered two deeper pools we casted with Berkley Flicker Shads and caught some nice-sized walleyes as well. Trolling and casting our way through and on the edges of the pools were very effective ways to catch these Canadian delicacies.

Once we spent a few hours in the river, we decided to spend the rest of our time at the original spot on the drop-off outside the river channel. The goal was catching a 25- to 26-inch trophy walleye to put on camera. While we caught numerous good-quality fish—walleyes that I would appreciate catching anywhere—the trophy eluded us.

As Derrick and our cameraman Seth Myers prepared to call it quits for the day and head back to the lodge for supper, I said, “one more cast,” and threw the Flicker Shad to the deeper side of the drop-off. About two cranks into the retrieve, I felt a huge tug, and then weight. This was possibly what we were looking for—the Lloyd Lake trophy.

Quickly into the fight, I said that the fish was definitely not a walleye, as the 6’9” medium-light Abu Garcia rod bent over, and the weight of the fish was all it could handle. Rather, this could be one of Lloyd Lake’s other trophy species—a northern pike, which we were also looking to catch and to showcase.

Sure enough, as I brought the fish near the boat, it turned out to be an extremely stocky 43-inch pike that was feeding on the nearby walleyes and grabbed my Flicker Shad instead. Derrick and I looked at each other with wide eyes, and as the fish neared the side of the boat, Derrick grabbed the walleye net lying in the boat. Looking at the net, and then back at the size of the pike, I asked if he really was planning on attempting to net the trophy fish in the small walleye net. His reply was that it was all we had!

On the first attempt, he got half the fish in, but as he tried lifting the net into the boat, the hefty back half dragged it back out of the net and back into the lake. Luckily, the bait was completely buried inside the pike’s mouth, and the lure’s hooks didn’t have a chance to get caught in the net’s webbing. As I brought it around a second time, Derrick managed to put it mostly into the net and hoist it into the boat. Joyous high-fives and another 11th hour trophy ended a terrific day of filming and an outstanding day on the water! We were all smiles as we made our way back to the lodge to celebrate with one of chef Derrick’s 5-star meals.

Being optimistic can sometimes work in your favor. That, along with confidence, can go a long way to catching fish. Next time you’re on the water, make that last cast with gusto. It could lead to a trophy!

I am already looking forward to my next adventure to Lloyd Lake. In the meantime, you can watch the episode this spring on MidWest Outdoors TV and our YouTube Channel.