A Non-Resident’s Guide To Quebec Walleye Fishing

After Quebec’s spring fishing draws to a close and the brook trout tackle is put away for another year, the province’s next big angling opportunity begins to take flight. By the time summer rolls around, the popular walleye season is in full swing in the province of Quebec, and because of the warmer water, most anglers who visit this beautiful province, will spend their early mornings and late evening desperately in search of a feeding “doré.”

The problem is that with over 1 million lakes scattered throughout the province, knowing where to start can be daunting. What equipment to pack, how to target these elusive Quebec “marble eyes,” and where to fish, are three big hurdles standing in the way of a non-resident’s fishing success.

Armed with a few simple tips and tricks, anglers can easily learn how to capitalize on the famous Quebec doré.

Where To Begin
Regardless of where you hail from, visiting Quebec as a non-resident may prove to be intimidating if you do not speak French. Not to worry though, even those no-so-well versed in the language should be able to get by when arranging a trip to Quebec.

Quebec’s hunting and fishing professionals see their fair share of English-speaking clientele, and it seems that the language of the outdoors is a universal one.

Basically, one has three choices when arranging a walleye trip to Quebec: Going with a registered, exclusive rights outfitter, hooking up with a government-operated outfitting business such as SEPAQ or a ZEC, and finally the “free-hold land” option, where you go without use of guide or outfitter.

Author’s father (right) with a nice walleye thanks to assistance from fishing guide Michel Lalonde of Domaine Shannon Outfitters.

A non-resident’s safest and most effective choice is with the exclusive rights or government-run outfitter. The FPQ Federation (http://www.fpq.com) boasts a membership of over 400 well-managed operations located in every conceivable corner of the province, many of which cater specifically to non-resident anglers in search of walleye. A government-run operation such as SEPAQ (www.sepaq.com/En/), or the ZEC (www.pleinair-quebec.com/zec.html) can also offer excellent access to prime Quebec walleye waters, and in many cases at a lower cost.

Listen And Learn
Now that you have your destination picked out and arrangements have been made for your Quebec walleye trip, there are still some essential loose ends to tie up on your way to the perfect trip.

Soliciting help from experts, such as a guide or other local anglers, will provide some invaluable information on the body of water you will be fishing. If you are able to hire the services of a guide, even if just for one day, the knowledge you will gain could make or break your trip.

As a non-resident, you should take note of the presentation, tackle choices and locations your guide chooses. Bring along a lake map and jot down notes such as hotspots and trolling runs. If you own a GPS, enter waypoints for the locations the guide has identified as productive, and remember that if you listen, you will learn something.

Do not make the mistake of letting your ego get in the way of gaining useful knowledge and information. Remember that they are the expert and you are merely the student. The guide’s home field advantage will soon become your home field advantage on the way to capitalizing on Quebec doré.

Copycatting: The Old-Fashioned Way
If you decide to operate you own boat, remember to focus on areas where other anglers are going and the techniques they are employing. Copycatting may be the oldest trick in the book, but will serve you well in a situation such as this. If you follow the other anglers at a respectable distance away, you will soon get an idea of what techniques work, and which do not.

Desperate times call for desperate measures, and one thing you can count on in Quebec is that, unlike some other provinces in Canada, the resident anglers are usually quite willing to offer information on where the walleye are biting and how to catch them. The openness and free sharing of information from the resident anglers can be a real asset to the non-resident.

Special Regulations
Regardless of where you decide to target these great fighters in Quebec, keep in mind that special slot limits and minimum length requirements do apply in certain areas. Because of heavy fishing pressure on some waters, provincial biologists have been keeping a close eye on fish stocks. For detailed walleye regulations and season dates, pick up a copy the Quebec fishing guide, or check it out online at the Ministry’s Website: http://www.fapaq.gouv.qc.ca/en/publications/fishing/

Always look into walleye regulations for the region that you will be fishing before you leave home, it could save you a run-in with a conservation officer.

Essential Equipment
When visiting this province of Quebec for the first time, there are some essential tools of the trade you should bring along. For example, a good digital camera to document your adventure is always a good idea. The great thing about digital technology is that it allows sportsmen to take scads of great photos and later manipulate the images at home. Try snapping some shots of productive areas on your new lake or river. It will add to your research material, and provide excitement as you learn your way around.

The usefulness of a modern sonar or fish-finder should also not be understated. Good electronics are, after all, your visual link to what lies beneath. You may be surprised to find many classic walleye holding areas, such as shoals and saddles, are revealed on the sonar, which would otherwise have been overlooked.

A hand-held GPS is, in my opinion, another essential tool for Quebec walleye waters. The ability to save precise waypoint locations in memory can be a real asset in familiarizing yourself on strange water. Try setting up a series of waypoints as you explore your new lake — marking off islands, points or other places that offer potential doré structure. Many of Quebec’s larger doré lakes are quite shallow and rocky, so by entering the danger areas into the GPS with an alarm might just save your motor’s lower unit.

Lessons Learned
La Belle Province has long been known for its walleye fishing, and now more than ever, avid walleye anglers from outside the province are discovered this to be true. The province of Quebec boasts probably more walleye fishing opportunities than anywhere in the country. By first knowing a few shortcuts on how, where and when to target these elusive fish, can put the non-resident angler a leg-up on the competition.

For more information on fishing opportunities in Quebec, or a free Hunting, Fishing and Lodging brochure, please contact Gilles Parent of Tourism Quebec: 1-877-BONJOUR.

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