Monday, December 21, 2009

Fishing, Friends and Finesse - Tournament Anglers travel to Quebec Canada

Photo courtesy of Tournament Angler, Paul "Coot" Williams

 Fishing, Friends & Finesse

By Bill, the guy that took Coot fishing in Quebec Canada

This story begins with an email and an attachment about a new fishing product. Paul "Coot" Williams a fireman and walleye fisherman from Appleton WI sent me a note and an invitation to take a look at a new walleye kit he had developed. As soon as the attachment was open I new that there was something to this deal. I get to see many different ideas that promise to make me a better fisherman and truth be told not many live up to the hype. Paul has applied a new spin to walleye rigging and I called him immediately and asked him to send me a kit. You can check out the kit here and see for yourself why I got so excited.

I had a chance to fish Paul's system the following week at the James Bay Tournament on Lake Opemiska, Chapais Quebec and was immediately impressed with the ease of use and results. Upon my return I called Paul and invited him to join me on another trip to the north and get him to show me first hand his method. He accepted and on very short notice made his way to my place in Gatineau, a 16 hour jaunt arriving just before midnight on the 10th. We spent the whole day on Sunday getting to know one another, our histories, habits and styles. Surprisingly we shared all the same passions and attitudes towards walleye fishing and life in general including a fondness for older Mustangs with hot engines.

Lake WetetNagami July 12 – 17 – a few years back:

A six hour drive from my place to the jump off point at Lebel sur Quevillon brings you to the forest road and Lake Wetetnagami. Our arrival on the afternoon of the 12th was as spectacular and pleasing to the eye as any new destination can be, completely hidden from the access road there was no impression at all of the majesty of WetetNagami until we were standing on the shoreline at the reception area chatting with our host J. C. Parent and that was only a hint of what really was to unfold.

The immediate area surrounding "Lake Wetetnagami" was extensively destroyed by a huge forest fire back in 95 and J C's operation was one of those affected by the devastation, with the loss of more than half of his cabins. Rebuilding over the last few years with an eye to the complete enjoyment of the environment and the surrounding wilderness J C has earned the highest 4 star rating from the FPQ and offers one of the newest accommodations in the Province of Quebec. Each of the cabins are nestled in their own private bay, fronted by extensive beach and completely shielded from all neighbors, privacy and plenty of it is obvious.

Within a half hour of our arrival the camp's service boat was loaded with our gear and we were on the way to the east side of the lake and our own little piece of heaven. J C has a fleet of 15' Princecraft Yukons powered by new 15 hsp. motors and one is assigned to every 2 persons. I was immediately impressed with the attention to detail, all gear was provided and the boat was absolutely spotless. The arrival at our cabin was more confirmation that this spot was special. Clean and very well equipped, we weren't long is stowing the supplies and breaking out the fishing gear. Within the hour we were ready for our first exposure to the lake. J C offered us a guided tour and we were quick to accept.

Part 2 - Route of Waters

Is the translation of Wetetnagami and it truly is. The lake is part of the James Bay watershed and the waters flow north. J C introduced us to the rivers first. The weather this year has been very unusual and there has been much more rain resulting in water levels 5' above norm. This condition has improved access to the rivers and our first shot at the walleye was pitching small jigs tipped with crawlers into current breaks and under the shoreline alders. Action was non-stop but the fish were small, averaging 12 -14"s. The second river we entered had an entirely different makeup and we continued throwing jigs but this time into holes and washouts created by rapids that were 5' under the surface now. Again the action was hectic and over that hour we boated a bunch of fish. Now it was time to venture out into the lake and get a feeling for the layout of this expansive body of water. As we exited the river a vista of islands came into view and they cover the central portion of the lake offering up many points, reefs and rocky shoals. We were hyped and immediately started planning an attack for the next day. Back to the cabin and a hot meal, into the sleeping bags, a bit of planning talk for the morning and a slow drift into sleep aided by the cry of the resident loons.

The rain started overnight and we awoke to a heavy overcast, should be good for fishing, so a quick toast washed down with a cup of coffee and we were into the boat and heading for the second river we fished last evening. Our intent was to bottom bounce the "Coots" rigs around the rock structure and out into the depths of 20' or so. it didn't take too long before we both realized that the bite was off, whatever effect the high water was having on this system wasn't going to make for a test bed for our planned attack. We compared notes of similar situations and Paul suggested we get back to basics and fish a hook, crawler and sinker. I was all for slowing down, back trolling some finesse harnesses with long leads and using leeches. The spot we were at had a natural current drift so we tried both techniques, Paul's method soon proved to be the winning ticket so I switched rigs, tying on a floating jig tipped with a leech and weighted with a split shot. For the next few hours we worked that drift and boated many fish the largest topping out at about 20"s. Mid afternoon and time to try the main lake, the sky's were still overcast as we approached the first string of shoals. Got our rigs down and then all heck broke loose, the skies opened with a vengeance, the wind started blowing at least 20 miles an hour and we had one choice, head for a lee shore and wait this storm out. We beached the boat just as the heavens started a display of pyrotechnics that easily could have outshone any fireworks display anywhere. The weather seemed to break about a half hour later so we made a decision to run back to the cabin, have a bite of late lunch and head out in the evening to try our luck again. It was not to be, shortly after leaving our safe anchorage and about a mile from the closest shore the heavens opened again and I was faced with a long run, rain beating on my face so hard I couldn't see without pulling my cap down over my eyes. Finally back at the camp and sitting around the fire we had a visitor, J C dropped in to make sure we got back through the storm and that everything was okay, it was decided we would stay in this evening, dry out, eat well and start again in the morning trying the WetetNagami River at the south end of the lake.

Part 3 - Discovering a Finesse Presentation

As we headed out the next morning Paul suggested we give the shoals another try so we headed into the central basin and rigged up for a little back trolling. Nothing had changed, there just was no trolling bite. As we were drying out the evening before I had put some mini jigs for crappie into the kit. Paul had been telling me stories about the shallow bite on Lake Winnebago and he decided to adapt and rig a 32nd OZ. jig tipped with half a crawler to demonstrate the technique. You have to be aware of how adverse I am to anchoring to fully understand my reluctance to this theory but Paul's a very convincing character and I followed his lead. We anchored in 10' of water and started to fan cast around the area we had just trolled through. Within minutes Paul had a fish on, then another. My momma didn't raise no dummy so I asked him what was he doing to entice a bite and the explanation was a slow crawl across the bottom, tick a rock, pause and retrieve a few more inches. Too simple, this boy knows his walleye fishing and the practical application of this little used technique simply blew me away. We lost count of the walleye we caught over the next few hours and had an absolute blast. Deciding to fish the south river in the evening we moved back into the same river on the north side that we had so much success on yesterday. What a difference a day makes, the wind direction completely reversed the drift and again a finesse tactic was called for, this time we rigged drop shot style, small hooks and split shot so that our presentation was very close to the bottom. Slight twitches of the rig seemed to call a walleye every time. As the day was winding down the decision was made to make the run to the south river and fish some of the necked down areas. Here's where our fortune changed. The first stop produced a few fish but nothing dramatic. We moved up the river to an island and Paul boated a good sized Northern. Moving again up the river about a half mile we came to a little cove that looked promising. Out came the mini jigs and this time we pitched them on to the shoreline. A quick limit soon followed. We decided to move a little further upriver and fish a feeder creek. This was the best decision so far, within minutes we started catching one 19 or 20" fish after another, the key being to anchor in 10' of water and pitch the jigs into the shallows. As we fished this area for a few hours it became obvious that the fish were getting smaller and we might as well call it a day. Keeping 6 fish for supper we headed back to the cabin for a well deserved fish fry.

The next morning dawned under the same overcast conditions so we took our time getting out on the water. Intermittent showers were starting to have an affect on our mood. So far the fishing has been good, the numbers have been solid and we are starting to see a few bigger fish. Took a run over to the main camp to invite J C and his crew to dinner, I had brought some moose and caribou with me and was going to make my famous northland hodgepodge but J C had other ideas. His wife had arrived and she wanted us all to get together for a chicken dinner, now I'm no slouch in the kitchen and am quite well respected for my culinary skills but it wasn't hard to accept this change of plans. So off we went to fish the south river a bit more, going in earlier to catch the bigger fish as they seemed to enter the feeding area first. That theory held true, one of the other guests got into a 3 pound walleye immediately, by the way this was the first time in three days that we shared a fishing spot. we gave the area a couple of hours, kept a limit of eight fish and headed back to get ready for dinner. There is more to this story but I'll have to continue some of the special happenings under another title.

This trip will bring back memories for quite a few reasons, the first of course is my friendship with Paul "Coot" Williams, the second was the hospitality of J C and his crew, I'll never forget the weather and how Paul found a solution to putting more and better fish in the boat and most of all that attitude is everything and although Paul was disappointed in not really getting a chance to show off his bait system he did take this old fella back to school on finesse presentations.

(Coot in Quebec)

Note from the editor:  Paul "Coot" Williams is my newly found friend on



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