Balsam Lake Walleye Are a Snap

Located a short hop, skip and jump from the busy Greater Toronto Area, the tranquil waters of the Trent-Severn Waterway offer vacationers from all across North America a smorgasbord of peaceful, stress-free outdoor opportunities for swimming, boating, relaxing by the beach, or in our case, fishing for the famous Kawartha Lake walleye.

The Kawartha Lake system and Trent-Severn Waterway, located in south-central Ontario, offers vacationers and boating anglers the opportunity to boat through to each lake via a locking system that stretches from Lake Simcoe to the Hub of the Kawarthas in Bobcaygeon and is one of our favourite lakes on this system for walleye, Balsam Lake.

Balsam Lake is 16 km long and averages 3 km wide. It's the highest point of the Trent-Severn Waterway and offers fishing for bass, muskie, northern pike crappie, perch, panfish, and of course the tasty walleye.

During our road trip, we visited with the folks at Balsam Resort on a most beautiful outlook of Balsam Lake. They offer a variety of accommodation options including studio and one-bedroom apartments, two-bedroom resort townhouses, and three-bedroom chalets, all very contemporary and with lakeside and beach views.

balsam resort cottages

(Photo credit: Balsam Resort)

With a late spring and minimal weed growth, we had our work cut out for us as one of the prime locations for Balsam Lake walleye is weeds. Find the weeds, find the walleye.

We explored a few locations at the mouths of bays and sharp dropping points on the many islands that are scattered throughout the entire lake and found some new emergent weed beds in 8 to 12 feet of water which had weed growth as high as 5 to 6 feet deep, perfect conditions for me.

The day was sunny and calm, so you knew the walleyes would either be hunkered down in the thick stuff or tight to the edges, and precise placement of baits would be required to get any bites.

After an hour or so of getting soft and missed strikes, I decided it was time to provoke some bites and look for reaction strikes rather than try to over-finesse the walleyes into biting.

It was time for the hair jig and snap jigging some Balsam Lake walleyes. Snap jigging has been around for a lot of years and is a proven technique for getting reaction strikes from non-aggressive fish, especially weed-dwelling walleye.

A medium-action spinning rod anywhere from 6'3" to 7' is ideal with braided line on a spinning reel so you can "snap" the hair jig through the weeds without getting caught up in the weeds as you would if you were using fluorocarbon or monofilament lines.

The technique is simple really.

Using short underhand casts approximately 40 to 50 feet ahead of the boat, with a 1/8- to 1/4-ounce hair jig (our favourites are the Blackjack Bucktail jigs in black with red), let the hair jig fall on a semi-slack line through the weeds (always watching your line for strikes on the fall). Then once the jig rests on bottom, implore sharp upward snaps of your rod, while reeling in any slack line as the jig begins to fall through the weeds. Repeat this cadence all the way back to the boat; many walleye will follow the reaction of the snapping and strike right below the boat, and a lot of times you won't even feel the strikes, but as you begin your "snap," a fish will already have your hair jig in its yap.

karl kalonka holding walleye

(Photo credit: Karl Kalonka)

I fished the hair jig for the rest of the afternoon, hooking many of Balsam Lake's species including, bass, northern pike, muskie, yellow perch, and of course, my fair share of chunky, golden walleye. Be sure to check local regulations for creel limits and slot sizes that are legal on this lake.

If you're looking for the ideal family vacation to one of the most popular lakes on the Trent-Seven Waterway with safe sandy beaches and lounge chairs for the family while you go fishing for dinner, remember Balsam Resort.


Balsam Resort - Fenelon Falls, Ontario
PH: (705) 887-5040
Toll Free: 1-800-561-5040

About Karl Kalonka

It's possible Karl's love for fishing began as early as the age of five. His parents took the kids on weekend trips across Ontario fishing for panfish, catfish, and bass. "I started with a bobber and worm from the time I was five years old," says Karl. These days, he has the enviable task of doing what he loves for a living, travelling across Ontario fishing, filming and producing two outdoor series, Extreme Angler and Crappie Angler TV.

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