Each year, the Northern Ontario Walleye Trail sees new faces coming to compete against some of the best walleye anglers in northeastern Ontario and for good reason. With the introduction of a championship, new anglers are showing up from across Ontario to try their luck to qualify for it.
I had the chance to share a cabin with one such angler this fall at the Mattagami Fall Classic Walleye Tournament. This angler has many years of experience chasing walleye on the big water in Ontario and across the U.S.
When asked to fish this year in the Northern Ontario Walleye Trail (NOWT) by his friend, Ivan Misevic, he jumped on the opportunity for a chance to expand his Walleye knowledge on some of the smaller water bodies in northern Ontario.
I'd like to introduce this week's new NOWT pro angler, Bill Limage.
Q) Where were you born?
BL) I was born in Toronto, Ont.
Q) Who played a role in getting you started in fishing?
BL) It was my dad who got me started in fishing. Even though he was never a serious fisherman, it was something he enjoyed to do. When I was in my late teens, we went on a salmon charter on Lake Ontario. We had such a great time we decided to buy a boat and make this a regular occurrence.
Q) As a youth, where did you fish and for what?
BL) As a youth, I used to walk to a local conservation area and fish for perch, but usually ended up catching catfish. Once I got my driver's license, I would fish rivers and streams for trout.
Q) What age did you start fishing?
BL) About 12 years old
Q) How did you get into walleye tournament fishing and why?
BL) Walleye was really the first species of fish that I had a strong desire to learn at a higher level. I didn't have any close friends who fished, so I was on my own.
One of the best ways to learn about fishing is either to hire a guide or to fish as a co-angler in a professional walleye tournament. On several occasions, my son and I fished as co-anglers in both the NWT and the FLW. Once you feel the thrill of fishing in a professional walleye tournament the desire to compete just continues to grow.
Q) What was your most memorial fishing experience and why?
BL) I have had many great experiences over the years. To pick out just one event would be difficult. Probably some of the most memorable events would involve my son, Zack. He has also started competing in tournaments for both walleye and bass. I like to go to his weigh-ins and watch him conduct himself in such a professional manner. I think the pride I feel watching him are some of the best experiences for me.
Q) List any anglers that helped you learn more about fishing over the years.
BL) I would have too many to list, especially some of the pros on the NWT I had the pleasure of fishing with!
Q) List sponsors and tournament finishes.
BL) I have to say I have some of the best sponsors in the industry! Bass Pro Shops, Nitro Boats, Cisco Fishing Systems, Wave Pro Seats, 13 fFshing, Pelican products. Offshore Tackle, Walleye lures, Torpedo fishing products, Monkey See Optical, Warrior lures, Beckman nets.
This year has been a pretty good year. Our season got off to a great start by winning big fish in the Lake St. Clair May Madness Tournament. We then took a 12th place at the Budweiser Shootout in Port Colborne on Lake Erie. In the NOWT we finished 19th in Longlac and finished the season with an 8th place in the Sagamok fall Walleye classic.
Q) Biggest fishing supports over the years? (example: wife, family, and friends)
BL) My family has always supported my love for fishing. Even my neighbours help me look after my dog while I'm away!
Q) What are some of your favourite fish you like to fish for and why?
BL) Obviously walleye is my first choice to fish for. In the spring, I enjoy fishing for King Salmon, and Rainbow Trout
Q) What is your favourite fishing technique(s) for walleye?
BL) Definitely my favourite technique for walleye is pulling worm harnesses, but I also enjoy vertical jigging in the current, and bottom bouncing.
Q) Why do you fish walleye tournaments?
BL) I fish walleye tournaments for a few reasons. First of all, there is no better way to elevate your game than by competing. I have always been competitive by nature, but when you are getting your butt kicked while competing, it makes you dig deeper!
Q) What walleye series have you fished in over the years?
BL) I have competed in the FLW, NWT and now the NOWT.
Q) As a big water walleye angler, what reasons lead you into fishing the NOWT walleye circuit?
BL) I have always loved northern Ontario – its immense fisheries and beautiful scenery – but aside from Lake Nipissing, I have not really had the opportunity to fish much up north. A good friend of mine, Ivan Misevic, invited me to fish the 2019 NOWT season with him so I agreed to give it a shot. I will be honest – it has been a completely new learning curve and is so different from my comfort zone, but that what makes us better anglers!
Q) Why are you know as 'Billy Blades'?
BL) This is a great question. As some guys know, I have quite the collection of custom painted spinner blades. I have so many blades, that I started making my own blade storage boxes to store them in. Last summer at the Longlac Walleye masters, I brought some of my blades in case we could pull spinners. We were sitting in the boat later that evening when a few guys came over to talk. One guy in particular (Jody Villeneuve) was shocked to see how many blades I had and instantly gave me the nickname 'Billy Blades' and it has stuck ever since!
Q) Why did you agree to have your bio done?
BL) I agreed to have my bio done because fishing is a fantastic way to enjoy the outdoors and to express my passion for fishing with other anglers.
Q) Any tips you would give to a new walleye angler looking at fishing the NOWT?
BL) I would just say get out there and compete! as I said earlier, there is no better way to fast track your learning curve than competing and getting your butt kicked!
Q) What would be some of your greatest accomplishes over the years of fishing? (Could be anything relating to fishing. Name as many as you'd like to)
BL) Definitely my greatest accomplishment would be introducing my son Zack to the sport and watching him mature into a great fisherman. Also, introducing several other young people to the joys of fishing. Working with my sponsors, and having success promoting their products. I still remember the first boat that I sold at the Toronto Boat Show years ago!
One thing I learned about Bill while sharing the cabin with both him and Ivan is that Bill is a very knowledgeable and friendly angler that was more than happy to share his knowledge on open water fishing. If you have any questions, don't be shy to ask him.
I would like to thank Bill for agreeing to have his angler profile done.