Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Mid June Report

Bog Labrador Tea blooms early June
It truly feels like I arrived in camp just yesterday, and here we are already half way through the month of June.  June is behaving, well, like June in the far north.  Weather wise, the first several weeks of June are quite unpredictable.  Prime example, last week was 75-85 degrees with sunny blue bird days and we were envisioning a hot dry summer ahead. However, that promptly changed last Saturday and Sunday with a cold front bringing chilly temperatures into the 30's and copious amounts of rain.  Furthermore, today a low pressure system has bestowed 30-40 mph winds upon us with more rain. The several day forecast also predicts....lots of rain.  It's an up and down month for sure.  I guess I could only blame myself for posting in the last blog that we were in dire need of rain.

With the rain comes another staple of NW Ontario, the mosquito.  All was quite on the bug front until last Saturday.  Add to your packing list: a can of bug spray of choice, mosquito coils and a head net if you plan on portaging or walking through the woods to keep the little pests at bay.  


Sunset flight in XZK
The fishing has been superb the past seven days.  South and West Lake led the camps notching a pair of monster 44" pike.  South Lake also had the biggest walleye at 27.5".  According to the guests, the passing cold front I mentioned early hasn't deterred the walleye bite.  They have been aggressive the past several days, even with the water temperature dropping back to the high 50's and low 60's.  The guests at Central mentioned they had trouble locating walleye small enough for dinner (remember you can only keep walleye under 18").  This means the big females are back in the shallows hungry and feeding.  As mentioned in the previous blog, the majority of the walleye are still shallow and hanging around mud flats or rapids.  You typically do not have to venture deeper than 6-8 feet of water and in most cases you'll find fish as shallow at three feet.  Small jigs and small crank baits still your ace in the hole for walleye.  1/8 or 1/4 oz jigs with three inch tails (white, yellow, flouro orange, pink or pumpkinseed).  Perch, fire tiger, or chartreuse Hot N Tots and Shad Raps have been hot crank baits.  

Numerous 40+" pike have been boated photo'd and released the past week.  The hot lure....a jig, go figure.  Never fails, the biggest northern pike of the year are always caught on a jig while walleye fishing. However, some of the big girls are falling for more traditional lures like the Johnson silver minnow, shallow mini bull dawgs and Mepps Musky killers.  The pike are relating in close proximity to walleye. Find a school of walleye in the mud flats this time of year and you'll find a big pike nearby.  Many walleye have been hammered at the boat by northerns this week.  One fish was even so determined it leapt two feet out of the water to steal a walleye right off a guests hook at Central Lake.  Scout shallow bays and areas adjacent to rapids or creeks for trophy fish.  Weed growth is continuing as typical with some shallow bays sporting a few lily pads already.  

Next week will bring the longest days of the year; which means more time on the water for everyone. Good luck to everyone on the water! 


Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Blue Bird Days

Central Lake sunset 
Summer heat has arrived early here in the north woods.  Mother Nature has brought plenty of warmth and sunshine this past week.  Temperatures have hovered in the mid to high 70's, with yesterday (6/6/17) topping out at a sweltering 86 degrees.  Hot temperatures this early in the season have happened before but are uncommon.   Conditions throughout the area are dry and as nice as it is to see the sun, we really really could use some rain.

The water temperature has spiked the last couple days with all the sunshine.  Yesterday, the surface temperature was almost 70 degrees already in shallow back bays.  The fish are enjoying the sudden warmth and have flocked to the shallow mud flats.  Both pike and walleye are located in about 2-6 feet of water in muddy bays or areas with current.  Weed growth has just begun on the bottom of some shallow bays; only a matter of time before the cabbage weeds start.

The walleye have been slamming small jigs and are very active.  1/8 oz heads, color doesn't seem to matter, with 3 inch twister tails have been the hot combo.  White, yellow, pumpkinseed, flouro orange and pink have been great tail colors.  Smaller, shallow diving crank baits seem to be more effective lately.  The classic three inch Rapala, Shad Rap SR5 or small perch hot N tot are great casting cranks in the shallows for walleye.  As mentioned before, focus on the mud flats or locations near rapids for most walleye.  If you do find walleye close to the rapids, back away about 100-200 yards. Walleye will hang around on the flats until the May Fly hatch occurs, which I expect to see early this year.
Sometimes you just have to enjoy the moment. 

The hot still days have caused the big pike to become cautious and many casts result in follows vs strikes.  With the high sun and calm water the pike can see us as easy and we can see them.  Customers have noticed pike being more aggressive early in the morning or late in the afternoon/evening.  Shallow diving stick baits such as a Rapala F18 perch, silver minnows with white twister tails, and shallow or surface twitch baits are great for tossing in areas with little water.  Keep your rod tip high to avoid weeds laying on the bottom. Yesterday, I witnessed some pike hanging in as little as 18" of water soaking up the sunshine.

I haven't been able to chat with the customers much this week to obtain a quality fishing report from the outposts.  Can't blame the guys for enjoying the weather.

Good luck on the water everyone!

Monday, May 29, 2017

A Good Start

We are off and running here at Big Hook Camps.  The Hartle family and company made land fall in the Opasquia Provincial Park on May 18th and have been frantically opening up main camp along with all of the outposts.  In comparison, we arrived last year on May 9th.  Aside from today, we have been fortunate to have some terrific weather for start up.  Sunny skies with highs in the 70's have warmed the water considerably.  Just yesterday some black flies popped out to annoy us during our projects and we even witnessed pollen blowing off the trees which is earlier than normal.  

Aside from numerous fallen trees at Central and one malfunctioning windmill, everything weathered the winter rather well.  I have spent most days hauling considerable amounts of necessary freight back and forth from Sandy Lake. Last Thursday, with the help of Showalters Beech 18 we moved around 8,800 pounds of goods to Central Lake.
Cocos Lake trophy walleye 

Catching pike in the setting sun. 
Unfortunately, I have only made it out fishing for a total of 30 min one afternoon last Tuesday and had some great success.  The walleye were still spawning and the bite was rather light.  We boated about 20 walleye on small 1/8 oz jigs with three inch white tails.  Talking with the guests at West lake yesterday (5/28),  they confirmed all of the walleye boated had finished spawning but the bite was still light.  Walleye are typically sluggish a couple days after the spawn.

The water is a bit on the low side for this time of year and conditions are dry here in the north woods. Only about 1/4 inch of rain has fallen in the days since our arrival.  Please be diligent when having shore lunch during these dry conditions and make sure your fire is completely out when finished.

We have a new pilot working with us this summer.  Luke hails from Brighton in the United Kingdom and is hoping to learn all about the boreal forest here in NW Ontario.  During his first fishing outing he managed to pick up the technique rather quickly and out fished everyone in the boat.

Luke with his first stringer of walleye 

Looking forward to seeing everyone for the 2017 season and good luck on the water!

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Spring in the North

May is just around the corner and the calendar indicates spring has arrived and should be in full swing.  The ice here at Eagle Lake had vanished, however winter has returned gripped NW Ontario with hopefully one last gasp. Last Monday a brutal low pressure dumped approximately a foot of snow in the Dryden/Red Lake region and blasted the area with an arctic freeze for days.  Yesterday morning (4/29) I awoke to see Eagle Lake once again coated with a thin layer of ice.

Looking forward to open water and amazing sunsets. 
Thankfully, warmer temperatures are on the way and the snow is quickly melting here at Eagle Lake.  Temperatures are forecasted to climb into the 60's over the next few days, even up in the Sandy Lake/Opasquia park region.  This is great news as we patiently wait for the ice to recede at Central Lake along with the outposts.  All signs are pointing to a typical ice out year at Big Hook, which usually falls around the 12th of May.  I would love to see the ice disappear tomorrow but that is a far fetched dream at this moment.

We have staged all the remaining goods for the 2017 Big Hook season and have them ready for transport to the north.  I am hoping to pick up the plane sometime this week from Selkirk and bring it back here to Eagle Lake; very excited to get back up in the air and soar the blue skies.

I thought I'd pass on some information for hotel lodging in Red Lake.  We received a letter a couple days ago from the Super 8 in Red Lake offering a special rate to Big Hook guests for the 2017 season.  The camp rate is $100 per night for two queen beds.  If you haven't booked your room in Red Lake before you fly out take advantage of these prices.

Looking forward to seeing everyone soon.  The season 2017 is almost underway.