Falling leaves and temperatures may not bring a smile to many faces, but they do tend to make anyone fishing in the Bay of Quinte happy.
Those low temperatures mean walleye will be on the move – migrating from cooler Lake Ontario water into the warmer bays and lakes that make up this region, experts say.
These conditions – and the unique geographic features of the Bay of Quinte region – make it one of the best places in the world to fish; a destination that attract thousands of visitors each year.
“The Bay of Quinte is literally world renowned for walleye fishing,” said Scott Walcott, owner of Bay of Quinte Charters, one of several successful businesses in the region that helps tourists reel in the big fish. “Most people will fish a lifetime to catch a 10-pound walleye. In the Bay of Quinte we get that almost daily.”
Walcott said November is his busiest – and most successful – month of the year. By this time, walleye are well into migration mode and are moving along the southern bodies of water that make up the Bay of Quinte.
The bay is shaped like a ‘Z,’ he explained. The bottom end of that ‘Z’ is a strip of water known as Adolphus Reach; an area that stretches from the shoreline of Bath, Ontario to the village of Adolphustown. It’s one of the most popular spots to fish in November, as it’s the first area schools of fish will travel through in their search for warmer and shallower water.
By the time winter arrives, the fish – if luck has it – will be spread out throughout the entire ‘Z.’ If weather permits, ice huts will then be spread out throughout the bay, including in areas south of Deseronto, Belleville and Quinte West. By the spring the big walleye will get ready to spawn and start moving south.
“The whole Bay of Quinte is phenomenal,” said Stacy Ash, owner of Pro Tackle, a Belleville-based fishing business. “There isn’t really a bad spot.”
It’s also a unique place to fish, because of the size of walleye that can be found – especially in the fall. “This is when you fish more for size, than for numbers,” said Dave Chatterton, owner of Fish Finding Charters, a Carrying Place business.
Chatterton said walleye tend to grow large here because they have a healthy supply of food both in Lake Ontario and in the bay. There are other theories on what contributes to the size of fish – genetics, and vegetation in the water, to name a few – but fishing enthusiasts throughout the region all agree, the walleye are just bigger here.
“Quinte is certainly your best chance for catching 10-pound-plus walleye,” said Joe Pickstock, owner of PB & J Charters, based south of Napanee. He said he sees tourists from walleye-loving areas such as Minnesota and Pennsylvania visit here regularly hoping to catch a trophy fish. “They’re still elusive, but your chances go up here.”