Monday, May 7, 2018

Spring Update: Ice report

Eagle Lake ice 5/5/2018 
Spring has finally sprung in NW Ontario and warmer temperatures are on the way.  Mother Nature has released her chilly grasp on the north country and has blessed us with some favourable temperatures the past couple days.  After a brutally cold winter and near record ice levels, some warmth and sunshine is a welcomed sight. 

Mom, Dad and I are currently at Eagle Lake, some 300 miles south of Big Hook at the moment.  We are briskly staging for the up and coming 2018 season at Big Hook.  Just about all the snow has melted here in the area and the ice is rapidly disappearing thanks to temperatures creeping into the 70's today.  Similar weather is warming the Opasquia Provincial Park to the north and putting a hurting on the ice situation.  We had a chance to talk with Sandy Lake Seaplane yesterday and there is still plenty of ice in the area, unfortunately.  After this past winter, it is expected.

However, predictions for the ice to less loose is getting more favourable as we monitor the future forecasts.  Highs in the 50's and 60's are on the way and nightly lows are to remain at or above freezing.  According to Sandy Lake Seaplane, ice in the rivers and creeks has melted and crept off the shores in some bays.  We will get a more accurate report Thursday when Seaplane is going fly north into the Opasquia Provincial Park and get a birdseye view of the area.

Two weeks ago, it looked dismal for us to have any sort of time to arrive and open camp on or before guests arrived.  However, if the future forecasts hold we could possibly be arriving at Big Hook sooner than later.  Fingers crossed for warm weather and rain!  Looking forward to seeing everyone in the near future.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Winter Road Adventure

The 2018 winter road is in the books.  During the week of February 7-14th, Dad, Ryan, Ed and myself completed two round trips to Sandy Lake from Red Lake ON.  Utilizing three 4x4 trucks and one trailer, we managed to transport approximately 10,000+ pds of materials and goods.  A new boat, three brand new Yamaha 4 stroke motors along with pressure treated lumber were just a few of the items we delivered. Since the winter road only extends to Sandy Lake, all the materials await springtime for the final haul to our camps.  All in all, Dad and I tacked on about 3000 miles of driving during the week.

Overall, the weather conditions were perfect for ice road trucking.  As many of you may remember, last year we were unable to complete the ice road journey due to temperatures hovering around 60F in February.  In a stark contrast, the average morning temperature this year was -30 C, with one morning clocking in at a frigid -42 C.  The cold weather is beneficial as it causes the snow packed road to bind together rather well.  The impressive road conditions allowed us to complete each trip in just under ten hrs.  Attached right is a quick video of the trip.

Our first round trip to Sandy Lake was completed without incident.  A smooth ten hour trip up, a day of unloading and storing materials in Sandy was followed by an uneventful trip back to Red Lake.  However, upon our departure for the second trip, Ed's truck blew a power steering line...at 5am...in -40C.  Fortunately, we were just outside Red Lake and not in the middle of the wilderness.  We limped Ed's truck to a friends place and loaded as much as we could in the other two vehicles.  Also, that same morning, Ryan came down with the flu and quarantined himself in the Super 8 motel.  Fortunately, we had three drivers available for two vehicles. On our way northbound, we immediately noticed the road was getting severely chewed up by the numerous fuel and freighter semis.  Another 10 hr drive was followed by a quick unload of goods in Sandy and we were back on our way southbound.  We encountered 18 semi transports our final trip back to Red Lake; that is incredibly heavy traffic for a seasonal road.  All in all, it was another interesting journey into the wilderness.

Only a couple more months till open water!
-Nathan
www.bighookcamps.com

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Year End 2017

It's a wrap.  The 2017 season has come to a close for us at Big Hook Camps.  First off, all of us at Big Hook (Dad, Mom, myself, Shadow and Luke) would like to extend our biggest thanks to all of our clientele for choosing to share the beauty of the north country with us this season.  We look forward to swapping fishing stories with everyone at the sport shows this winter.  

Dad, Shadow and myself completed last of the projects and flew south bound to Eagle Lake on the 22nd of September in the Cessna 185. With a whopping 50 mph headwind for the majority of the flight,  I felt we were moving as fast as the geese heading in the same direction.

Overall, the 2017 season began with some unseasonably cool weather in June and closed with unseasonably warm weather in the first several weeks of September.  Historically September has been a giant question mark for weather in the Opasquia Provincial Park, you can have 75 degrees one day and 35 the next. Perfect example is having one hard frost on the 19th.  The boardwalk and waterlines were completely frozen up for a couple hours in the morning.  The very next day was 72.  Precipitation was minimal during the 2017 season; overall it was probably the driest season on record.  Water levels were at least two feet below normal at the end of the season.  Also, several forest fires burned in the Opasquia park in August but nothing was threatening.

The fall in the north is my particular favorite time of year.  I've probably stated it a million times in this blog.  The cooler temperatures are refreshing and scenic shorelines with colorful changing leaves are picturesque as they come.  Fish in the fall are still very active but the patterns change considerably.  The walleye bite becomes light and they descend to deeper locations throughout the lake. Whereas the pike become more aggressive and are fattening up for the long winter ahead.

In regards to fishing, the 2017 produced some sizable catches.  The biggest northern of the season were tied with two 45" pike, caught and released at West and Cocos lake respectively.  Six walleye at South Lake topped the 30" mark for biggest of the season.  The most 40"+ pike were caught at Central Lake and the most 25+" walleye were boated at South Lake.

Starting to raise the cabin and replace exterior stringers
at Cocos Lake 
Unfortunately, fishing time is short for me in the fall while at Big Hook.  Our goals at the end of the season is to accomplish as many projects as Mother Nature allows.  This year we decided to focus on the big cabin at Central Lake.  All new interior tongue and grove pine walls were installed along with new laminate counter tops and shelving.  The new interior certainly brightens up the cabin and makes it feel even bigger.  Another project we tackled was setting a new foundation under the Cocos lake cabin. We raised the cabin about 6" and set all new pressure treated posts and pads.  We also dug and installed a new grey water septic system.   Finally, West lake received a new shower and a fresh out house hole was dug for the 2018 season.

Now that the season is over I get a chance to wet a line.  Hopefully I'll be able to trick some trout, musky and small mouth over the next week.  Good luck on the water this fall everyone.  Once again, thank you all so very much for your business! Send pictures of your 2017 Big Hook adventure when you can.

-Nathan
www.bighookcamps.com

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Late August Report

It's just unbelievable how fast a summer flashes on by.  In a blink August is just about over.  We only have a three weeks of fishing left at Big Hook Camps and suddenly the 2017 season is in the books. Unfortunately, late August doesn't want to buck the heat wave as the warm dry weather marches on.  Sunny skies and temperatures in the 80's dominated the last week. Thankfully we received our first  trace of rain last night with no lightening in what seems like forever.  Less than a 1/4 inch fell but it is better than nothing. 
A foggy August morning
Vertical jigging echotails work well for walleye
this time of year 


 The daily high temperature is supposed to reach into the mid 80's tomorrow, which is unseasonably warm for this time of year.  Fortunately, the nights have been cool; the past several evenings have dipped down into the 30's.  We even had a trace of frost at Central last Wednesday. The cool nights have lowered the water temperature into the mid sixties.  Sadly, lake levels continue to recede as we still need rain badly.  At Central the lake levels are approaching two feet below normal.  The dry conditions and several lightening storms have also caused some small forest fires in the west end of the Opasquia Provincial Park around the vicinity of Burnt Lake.  Nothing threatening, just something we are monitoring. We have had some smokey mornings when the winds shift to the west the past couple days.  The majority of the smoke is a result of the massive forest fires in central Manitoba.

Big Fish Week

The cool nights certainly triggered the big pike this week.  The surface temperatures falling into the mid sixties coaxed the big females back into the weed beds.  Spoons, glide baits and bucktails fooled many 40+" fish throughout the park this week.

The walleye continue to hover around deeper reefs and rock structures.  15-25' is where you will find the majority of fish.  As I sound like a broken record, vertical jigging 1/4oz - 3/8 oz jigs with 3-4" tails works best.  Popular colors are white, black, flouro orange and pumkinseed.
40" Central Lake trophy 8/21
 
Central Lake led the charge with a 44" and a 43" as their biggest fish for the week.  A couple other 40" along with a 39" and 38" were also released.  The north narrows held several of the big girls along with Husker rock.   The walleye were a bit slower at Central as guests had to search deeper water to find schooling fish.  The Stop and Go jug was holding some big schools.  
44" from Central 8/21
West Lake boated five fish over 40" with a 43" topping the week.  The weed bed in the back of the Horseshoe was a productive spot for big northern.  The SE portage was on fire for walleye.  Vertical jigging the deep humps on the north end of the lake is great for big walleye this time of year. 
South Lake boated the biggest walleye for the week at 29 inches.  They also released a 28.5", 27, 26 and a couple 25" fish.  Most were caught in the 14 -20 ft range.  Vertical jigging while back trolling worked best.   
Burnt Lake noticed the walleye were holding unusually shallow for this time of year, catching many fish right along the edges of the weeds.  Big Boy bay is still the spot to beat for big northern.  The perch bite remains hot as they are still holding tight in the weedbeds.  
Cocos Lake said the walleye this week were aggressive and plentiful.  The bigger pike were a bit timid and cautious.  The water levels are close to an all time low for Cocos causing the first set of rapids to be a bit of a challenge to navigate. Fishing the deeper pools in the Sagawitchenwan was the most productive location. 
SW Lake boated plenty of fish throughout the week.  "Hoards of 17"-19" walleye," was a quote from the guests.  A dandy 39" pike was also released.  The guests noted the northern lights were quite spectacular Wednesday evening. Jigging or trolling around the island immediately east of the cabin was incredibly productive.  

Good luck on the water everyone! Hopefully we will receive some good rains here in the near future.  It would be nice to see the water levels come up a bit.  
-Nathan 
www.bighookcamps.com