Wednesday, July 19, 2017

The Sounds of Summer

This morning I awoke early and wandered down to the dock at Central Lake.  The sun was making its daily journey over the tree line while faint wisps of fog danced over the water.  I took a moment to just sit and listen; the sounds of summer were overwhelming.  Well, just after the mosquito buzzing in my ear was quickly silenced, the forest came alive.  Fish splashed at the surface trying to gather the last remaining may fly; a loons hypnotic cry broke out in the distance while our local Merlin falcons screeched out hunting early morning prey.  All of these sounds intertwine to create a unique boreal forest here in the Opasquia Provinical Park.

Small jigs work great for full
bellied walleye
My favorite sound of summer however, is rain falling on the metal roof of my cabin.  As odd as it may sound, the soothing noise of rainfall puts me in a trance and I can fall asleep in a heartbeat. Today, is the first true good rain we have received in the month of July.  Warm weather and several days of wind have cause conditions to become rather dry here in the north country.  Our water levels have fallen about a foot since the beginning of July.  Water levels though, are at about normal for this time of year.  Water temperatures are a bit cool, ranging in the mid to high 60's through most lakes.  The cooler water and a gloomy June hampered the weed growth this year.  There are mature weed beds but they are somewhat sparse compared to last year.    

Just when I thought the mayfly hatch would end last week, another batch would arise.  All in all, the hatch this year was sparse and in stages.  After cleaning several walleye today I noticed no signs of fresh mayfly, however most of the fish had full bellies. Walleye will digest mayflies rather quickly and become aggressive feeders within a couple days.

After the mayfly hatch walleye will traditionally migrate away from the mudflats and weed beds in search of bait fish.  Typically this time of year, they hold off of rock reefs and wind blown points in about 10-15 ft of water.  Vertical jigging 1/4 to 3/8 oz jigs right over the side of the boat is the most effective technique to catch fish.  Dragging crawler harnesses and trolling bigger lipped crank baits like Reef Runners or Shad Raps work great also.

A dandy Cocos Lake pike 
Pike are now holding tight to weed beds and wind blown points.  Bucktails, johnson silver minnows and top water baits are my favorite three lures to toss for those toothy critters.  Low light times have been better than mid day with a high sun.  Five to eight pm has been a good feeding period for bigger northern.

The Cocos Lake crib going
I chatted with most outposts today. West Lake was experiencing a little mayfly slow down for walleye but had boated several dandy pike.  South Lake was the front runner for walleye numbers and quality.  Monday evening alone, they boated and released a 26.5, 28, 28.25 and a 29.5" walleye.  That is a fantastic evening indeed, hopefully some great pics to come.  SW Lake was catching lots of fish just trolling cranks around an island east of the cabin.  Cocos Lake had a 40" boated yesterday evening along with a 26" walleye.  Burnt was having no problem locating walleye and perch with plenty of pike in the mix, however nothing huge....yet.  Central has been catching lots of walleye over the East portage and finding lots of schools around the north narrows and shorelunch island.

We have been getting some projects accomplished over the course of the summer.  A new crib at Cocos Lake a couple weeks ago; framed and trimmed in the windows at South Lake and replaced the entry way door with a more modern steel door with a sliding window; all the boardwalk at Central is now completely pressure treated.  New windows are coming to Cabin #1 at Central along with a new floating dock for Cabin #1 very soon.

Good luck on the water everyone!
Remember to keep those pics from your last Big Hook trip coming.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Mid July Report

Summer has taken hold here at Big Hook Camps in the Opasquia Provincial Park.  Bluebird days ranging from 68-82 degrees have graced us throughout July. During the past two weeks we have only witnessed about an hour of rain.  The water levels have dropped considerably due to lack of rain and evaporation.  Lake levels are down about a foot since July began.  We are to the point where a couple days of rain would do us plenty of good.

Central Lake 27.5" released 
The sunny days have warmed the water into the upper 60's and lower 70's, depending on the time of day and location in the lakes.  As predicted, once the water temps began creeping into the upper sixties the mayflies emerged more consistently last week.  The good news is, the mayfly hatch has been spotty and sporadic over this year.  Walleye's bellies haven't been packed full which is a good sign for fisherman.  Today (friday the 14th) we haven't seen much mayfly activity at all.

Central Lake 27" released
The walleye fishing, at least at Central Lake, seemed to hold consistent throughout the week. Some parts of the lake would slow where the mayfly hatch was more intense, and fisherman would have great success in areas of water away from the hatch.  Lots of big walleye at 22"+ with a 26.5, 27, and a 27.5" were boated and released this week at Central.  The only other outpost I've had a chance to talk to was Cocos.  All the other outposts were out on the water enjoying the beautiful weather. Cocos reported the lake was a walleye factory despite a fair amount of mayfly activity.  Walleye were crushing even northern baits.  The falls was a great producer along with any windblown rock reef.  Lots of walleye were holding on the edges of weed beds.

Now that we are post may fly hatch the walleye should start to transition to rocky shoals and reefs.  I would also expect to see more fish in the 10-15 ft range especially if the water continues to warm.  Vertical jigging 1/4 oz to 3/8 oz jigs while back trolling is my favorite technique to boat walleye this time of year.  Trolling Shad Raps or Reef Runners along 10-15 ft break lines will help locate schools.

 Hot lures for walleye were Rapala jigging raps (orange), 1/4 oz jigs with orange gulp tails and fire tiger number 7 Shad Raps.

A fat Burnt Lake trophy pike released
The high sunny skies and calm waters caused the northern fishing to slow somewhat during this week.  Glassy water and bright sunshine will often result in follows vs strikes while northern fishing.  The fish can easily see the boat and decipher the bait during sunny conditions.  Early morning and late afternoon will be more productive when weather like this occurs.  Working top water presentations with Zara Spooks, Buzz Baits or Top Raiders are also a great method to induce strikes from timid fish.  Smaller baits are still being favored by larger pike.

Central has had several 30+" inch fish and a couple over 35+". It should be noted that the guests at Central are primarily walleye fisherman and have been catching these pike while targeting walleye.  Cocos noted the pike were timid mid day with the high sun, witnessing lots and lots of big fish follows but few connections.  On cloudy days those fish will feed.  Hopefully I'll get more reports tomorrow when I have a chance to talk with the other outposts.

Hot lures for pike this week: small silver spoons johnson silver minnow or little cleo (3/4 oz) , mepps agila #5 bucktail, zara spook.

Good luck on the water everyone!

Thursday, July 6, 2017

A Taste of Summer

The common mayfly has
emerged at Central
The summer furnace finally decided to ignite here at Big Hook Wilderness Camps.  July has begun with a beautiful week, especially after a damp and cool June.  Thus far in July we have had temperatures over 75 degrees and ample amounts of sunshine.  Future forecasts are predicting plenty of pleasant days to come.

With the sunshine has come plenty of other influences from Mother Nature.  The mayfly of course, is the main concern for most fisherman.  Yes the hatch is occurring as we speak; however the mayfly have been few and far between.  After filleting several walleye today, very few stomachs had any food within, which means they are still hungry and feeding.  Chances are we could experience an extremely mild hatch this year.  Another note to be made is, after a wet June the mosquito's and black flies have been rather...feisty, unfortunately.  Continued warm and dry weather will diminish their annoyance.

The ample sunshine has caused an explosion in weed bed growth.  Empty mudflats have suddenly turned into lush habitat for aquatic species.  The water temperature has rapidly sprung from 60 degrees to 70 in shallower bays.  The warmer water has
triggered plenty of feeding from both walleye
and northern.

A south lake trophy walleye 
The walleye have sunk a tad deeper in the water column and the majority have migrated away from the rapids.  Most fish are holding in 6-10 ft around rocky reefs and are grouped on the edges of weeds.  Jigs are still my favorite lure to toss for schools of walleye.  1/4 oz with a white twister was hot today at Central Lake.  The winds have been howling out of the west for three days now so the east shorlines and mud flats are holding lots and lots of fish at the moment.  Trolling Shad Raps along the edges of weeds will catch plenty of walleye but will also boat a considerable amount of pike.  Having a flourocarbon leader or mono leader will help with the bite offs.

After several days of sunshine, the pike really turned on today.  Pike were smashing anything that was moving near a weed bed.  Smaller baits still were more effective than larger.  3/4 spoons or 4 inch shallow diving cranks were getting the most action.   Central boasted two fish in the 40 inch range the past couple days.  Both were boated and released on smaller lures, one being a jig and the other a small black cyclops.  The top water bite has begun to get exciting and will only get better as the summer progresses.  Pack a couple "walk the dog" baits for an evening extravaganza.
A dandy Central Lake walleye from the
Bauer group. 
Good luck on the water everyone! And keep on sending those pictures.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Cool weather, Hot fishing

Ready to move guests 5 am Saturday morning
The cool weather trend continues here at Big Hook Camps.  We are anxiously awaiting the arrival of summer as today's high is topping out at a very mild 52 degrees. North and East winds are a primary culprit of keeping the temperatures down lately.  However, warmer weather is being forecasted and some nice days were peppered in throughout June, but nothing like we have had in the past.  

As a result of the cooler weather, fishing patterns and weed growth are mimicking mid to early June.  The weed beds have begun to grow, however most beds are still laying low and/or sparse in the water column.  Today at Central Lake the surface temperature is hovering around a mild 61 degrees. One should also note there have been no signs of the notorious Mayfly. They usually grace us with their presence around this time of year.  The Mayfly will typically hatch when surface temperatures reach 70 degrees. 
West portage at Central Lake 

The walleye are still active and feeding like crazy.  A couple of fishing reports from yesterday confirms that statement.  Two guests at Central boated 150 fish EACH on the south end.  Fishing were feeding so fast and furious that one of the guys caught two fish on ONE crankbait! Another report from South Lake boasted 120 walleye in an afternoon with one topping at 27.5". The fish were stacked in the far SE narrows and hitting on jigs with yellow tails.  

Jigs are still the weapon of choice when hunting walleye.  1/4 oz heads with 3 or 4 inch tails (white, brown, black, yellow and flouro orange).  Fish are still holding shallow in roughly 6-10 ft of water.  The majority of fish are still located in rapids and mud flats.  Although, some are starting to migrate to rock reefs and points.  If you get tired of jigging, try pitching some Shad Raps in the rapids or troll them along the edges of weeds for great results.

More and more sauger are being caught
The northern have been hot and cold like the weather.  On nicer days they are in the shallows chasing bait fish and are extremely active. Then, on the cooler days their patterns have been in deeper water around rock reefs.  For example, yesterday was 72 degrees with blue bird skies at Cocos and they boated a 45", 38" and 34" in a shallow just across from the rapids.  Today in the cool wet weather, guests have reported catching pike jigging on 15 ft reefs.  Most fish are still chasing smaller spoons with the cooler water.  Lots of pike are being caught on jigs while fishing for walleye.  Pike will get more active, chasing fast bucktails and slash baits as the water warms throughout the summer.  

Hot lures thus far this week:
Walleye: 1/4 oz jig with a black tail
Pike:  3/4 oz silver spoons with a white twister tail trailer.

Good luck on the water everyone.