I work part time in a tackle store and every day I get questions on what lures to take to Canada. I decided to start talking to various guides and charters in various parts of Canada to find the lures that generally will work best to catch the top 5 fish folks go to middle Canada to catch.
Definition of Middle Canada: Ontario, Manitoba, Alberta, and Non Saltwater bordering Provinces.
The top 5 fish folks go to Canada in no particular order of popularity are:
Smallmouth: Average size is from 10 inches to around 5 pounds. Occasional fish in the 6 pound range are caught and are true Canadian Trophy Fish.
Muskie: Canada is considered one of the TOP destinations for real Trophy Muskie. Fish in Canada live longer than their Southern Cousins like we find in my home state of Kentucky. These fish can get to 60 pounds and World Record Fish surely live in many waters of the Country. These toothy critters require you to use wire leaders and to practice extreme care when landing.
Walleye: One of the tastiest, and most sought after fish in Canada. Walleye are very good to eat and grow to over 14 pounds or more in the Provinces. Any fish over 10 pounds is a Trophy fish in Canada.
Lake Trout: These fish spawn shallow, but during most of the summer live in waters over 50 foot deep. Fish over 20 pounds have been caught and the World Record of 61 pounds and 5 ounces is believed to live in a remote deep lake in Canada by some folks who know some of these rarely fished gems.
Northern Pike: These toothy cousins of the Muskie are highly prized for their viscious attacks and tackle destroying hits on baits. Long hard runs, and serious attitude make these one of Canada's most sought after game fish.
What to use.... What to use....
Sooo Many Baits sooo little time
Here is what I am taking on my trip to Canada. We will be reporting back to you on the successes and failures of these baits, and I must admit I did ask the companies for some lures to try out. However the lures I requested are lures that I have heard about from guides, and from Canadian Fishermen.
Accessories: Fuji Throwaway Cameras for catch and release. Wes Thomas a pro angler on the FLW tour highly recommends the cameras and was nice enough to provide us with a camera for some test pics Next and really one of the more important items is Pro's Soft Bait Glue. By taking PSBG I can take fewer plastics, and repair the ones that I use. I will also have a glue I know I can depend on to fix quite a few other items that I am taking along, from Glasses, to clothing, and other items.
I am taking some extra fishing line. My first choice for line is always Power Pro Fishing line. I like the strenght and the extra casting distance it allows me. I will take some Vanish in several sizes to make leaders from if I feel that the micro braided line is causing the fish to spook, but I don't think it will. I am taking Power Pro in 2 lb diameter, 10 pound test for smallmouth, 8 pound diameter 30 pound test for Pike and 12 pound diameter 50 pound test for Muskie.
Multi Purpose lures - Rapala Shad Raps, good for smallmouth, and for walleye, as well as Lake Trout when they are shallow. I like the perch colored lures, mostly because perch is a major baitfish in the cold north waters.
The new Storm Plastics. I am taking some shad with curl tail, and 3 packages of various sizes of perch colored lures. ( Can you tell I like perch colored lures.) I purchased the Storm and Rapala Lures from Galyans. (Now Dicks Sporting Goods cc/2004)
The first thing you want to do is put some tubes in your tackle box. I am going to take some Snoozers Tubes in my favorite 2 colors. Roadkill Camo and Smoke Purple with black flakes. I am also going to take some Prowler Lures Big Butt Tubes in Puke and Black and Chartruese. I like a little variety and the big butt tubes will work differently from the Snoozers Tubes.
Another lure I would always take is Mepps Exude Twister Tail Grubs. I am also taking the Mepps Spinflex jig to fish these grubs on. The Spinflex can also be used to fish live bait for Walleye so this lure will double up. I also highly recommend the new Mepps Aglia Streamer. It comes with a single hook instead of a treble hook, which in some places is an advantage. Some areas of Canada and the United States allow only single hooks on some trout waters. If you are talking Mepps of course you have to take some Aglia Spinners. I have a variety of baits and will let you know which works best when we get back from the trip.
Storm Chug Bugs for that exciting surface action are my choice for surface crank baits. I have a box FULL of various crankbaits and will report on what works best when we return from Green Island Resort
Muskie: The fish of a Thousand Casts.
First off lets talk Leader Material. Jim Strader whom I work with recommends highly a product called Tyger Leader. This is what he used on a trip to Ontario last year for Pike and he really like the product. It is a braided steel line that is flexible and allows you to tie the lure directly to the leader. This eliminates the need for snaps and other appliances that can affect the action of the lure.
Lures: Mepps sent us some Syclops Spoons, and I have purchased several different kinds of Buzz Baits and large Safety Pin Style spinner baits. I am still looking for several large baits to take with me for Muskie. The Believer Series has been recommended by Tim Hicks who has over 50 trips to Canada for Muskie under his belt. Crash Mullins of Crash's Landing on Cave Run Lake and no stranger to Canada himself recommends trying Believers, Super Stalkers a NEW spinner bait designed by Crash, that is really catching a lot of Muskie and Depth Raiders all of these should be availabe at his online store.
Lake Trout: One of the first things that was recommended to me was a blade bait. Jigging these little blades in 70 foot of water works ok.. but ripping them in 70 feet of water works even better. The heavy vibration attracts the fish, and the falling injured baitfish hooks them. My first thought of course was the Silver Buddy made right here in Kentucky. Next is the Swedish Pimple no thats not a European Skin Condition.. it is a Heavy Metal Spoon that weighs any where from 3/8th to one ounce.
It gets down fast due to a sleek body and jigs and flutters like a dying baitfish. The lure has a kicker.. a small peice of plastic either red or yellow and the ones I got from Dave's Bait and Tacle came with an extra O Ring and kicker to attach. The literature says that after vigorous bites by walleye the kicker can be torn up or off so they provide the extra. I intend to try this lure on Barren for Hybrids if I get a chance before I leave for Canada. The silver plated lures look a lot like the jigs jesse uses for hybrids.. but smaller bodied.
I may also try some of the Rattlin Raps that I am taking for Pike and Muskie on the Lake Trout, if they are in shallower water. Jigging this bait in 70 feet of water would be difficult I think because of the amount of time it would likely take for it to get down that deep.
Walleye: East lake Manitou where Team Fishin.com will be fishing is not supposed to have a great number of walleyes although they are in the lake. The resort does not advertise them for this reason. However since they are part of the Big 5 of Canada here are the lures recommended by several guides.
The top lure on many lakes is the Eerie Deerie. This lure has to be fished with some type of attachment and the most popular is a live night crawler. YOU CAN NOT IMPORT NIGHTCRAWLERS into Canada. You have to preorder them from most resorts which get them from worm farms. They can also be fished with minnows, and with Mepps Twister Tails. Try the new Exude Tails. These will give the bait a similar taste to regular live bait. Try Dave's Bait and Tacle. Crank Baits, and Spoons like the Swedish Pimple can be trolled or cast depending on the bite. See the list above for lures that you can use for multiple species.
Pike: This is one of the most popular fish in Canada. These voracious fish will attack anything and everything unlike their more shy cousins the Muskie. Rarely do these fish and Muskie coexist. Most lakes will have large populations of one or the other but not both. You might catch Muskie in a Pike Lake and vice versa, but normally the structure and the type of lake will determine which fish is predominant. I am taking several Buzz Type Spinner Baits, I will also use the Syclops Spoons from Mepps . Mepps also makes a spinner bait called a Muskie Killer. This bucktail bait will work very well in most conditions for both Muskie and Pike. If we are into small pike (East Lake Manitou is a Primarily Muskie Lake) I may use some of the Rattlin Shad Raps that I bought at Galyans. These lures will not stand up to many hits, so I will use them on Pike if we get into schools of smaller fish. I also recommend the 5 of Diamonds Daredevle Spoon. Every guide I have talked to and quite a few customers have been buying this lure. The lure is a Yellow spoon with 5 Red Diamonds on the body just like the playing card the 5 of Diamonds.. Thus the name.
This is a pretty representative list of lures for any trip to Canada. These lures should work for the species listed, but always ask your guide or lodge what they recommend for their area. .