Catching the BIG One

Ashley Rae lands a new personal best!

It is no secret that big water is known to hold big fish. This past summer I travelled across the Northeastern Ontario region with the goal in mind of targeting a variety of species on four different bodies of water. The last stop on this tour was the North Channel of Lake Huron. Lake Huron is the second largest of the Great Lakes and the third largest freshwater lake on earth. This destination was one I was really looking forward to as it would be the largest body of freshwater I’ve ever fished on.

I was eagerly anticipating a shot at a BIG one. I’m always on a quest to catch a new personal best, and a place such as this could undoubtedly provide that opportunity. Upon arrival, just gazing at this vast water body was quite the sight to behold and I couldn’t wait to get out there in my boat to explore it.

Tagging along for this adventure was my fishing partner Eric. We checked in at Meldrum Bay Inn & Restaurant, located at the westernmost tip of Manitoulin Island. It is such a charming and enduring place with so much character. The staff was so friendly and the owners, Shirin and Bob, quickly felt like old friends and made us feel right at home.

The Meldrum Bay Inn & Restaurant.

The boat launch, which is managed by Meldrum Bay Marina, is located directly across the road at Breakwater Park. It was too windy on the afternoon we arrived to get out on the water safely, so we settled in at the Inn & Restaurant for the evening. I loved the relaxing atmosphere and the food at the restaurant is absolutely delicious! The veranda has a waterfront view and hummingbirds were zipping about and chattering as they flew from feeder to feeder. We ate way too much and spent the rest of the evening resting up for our fishing expedition the following morning.

Shirin packed us a delicious breakfast and some snacks for our early morning departure. Chinook salmon are a common species targeted in the area so we wanted to spend some time trying our luck for them. There’s also an abundance of lake trout, white fish, and even pink salmon found within these waters. Neither of us had ever caught a pink salmon so I was hoping for a chance at one. We trolled around for a while in hopes for some Chinook salmon but didn’t have any action. We were seeing some sizable fish marking near the bottom on the sonar that we figured were most likely lake trout. We pulled our trolling lines in and decided to try dropping a heavy blade bait down to these fish in an attempt to get them to bite.

My favourite way to target lake trout is jigging for them vertically so I was excited to try it out on Lake Huron. For the past few years, I’ve been using the Sebile Vibrato for lakers in open water and through the ice with a lot of success. We drove around using our kicker motor until we spotted some fish on the Humminbird sonar, we then circled back and repositioned directly over top of them using our electric tolling motor.

With lake trout I reel at a steady pace away from them, which usually gets them fired up enough to strike. Lake trout can be very aggressive and sometimes, in these crystal clear waters, they’ll charge up to intercept lures even before they’ve had a chance to reach bottom. I dropped down at our first stop where we marked some fish and was excited to quickly see a fish give chase to my lure on the sonar. Fish that come up like this will usually hit without much coaxing and I was pumped for the first hook up! I could tell right away that it too wasn’t very big but was still excited to see what I had on the other end of my line. When I brought it up to the surface we were both blown away as it turned out to be a pink salmon! This was my first ever pink salmon and also my first ever salmon caught while jigging. What a pretty species!

We trolled around until we spotted the next school of fish and again circled back to drop down right on them. This time Eric had a fish chase up after him and as he reeled away his blade bait got smacked! We weren’t surprised to see a nice lake trout come aboard and what a gorgeous colourful fish it was.

After trolling around a bit and locating more fish, I dropped down and had a nice aggressive chaser come up and crush my bait! Over the last couple of years, I had been spending more time targeting lake trout but had not yet caught a real monster. I brought the fish up after a good battle and as soon as it hit the net we were both screaming and celebrating. This lake trout certainly blew away the previous personal best! I could have gone home happy at that point catching a new species and new personal best in a day but of course, there was plenty of time left and more fish to be caught!

Eric followed up with a nice big laker of his own. We ended up catching several more fish before the day came to an end and it was time to head back to the Inn. What an adventure! It was definitely a thrill to land such nice trout out on that big a body of water and I cannot wait to visit again in search of an even bigger catch!

About Ashley Rae

Ashley Rae is a year-round multi-species angler residing in Ottawa, Ontario. She is a full-time fishing writer and content creator. Ashley is passionate about chasing anything with fins from her boat, kayak, from shore, or on the ice

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