Friday, August 10, 2018

2018 Wilderness Report #10

It's a heat wave here in the Opasquia Provincial Park. It's 94 degrees here today at Big Hook Camps and warmer weather is on the way for tomorrow. The forecast for Saturday is a sweltering 100 degrees here in the park. That's the warmest weather we have had in almost 10 years!  Fortunately, the heat wave is only supposed to last until Sunday afternoon.  Thankfully, a cold front is forecast to bring some cooler weather and rain late Sunday into Monday. 

A West Lake trophy from earlier this
The fish have been responding to the heat in an odd fashion.  Yesterday the weather was 80+ degrees with not a breath of wind here at Central. The surface temperature was a brisk 67, cool considering the temperatures of late. I figured walleye would be harboring in deeper waters considering the elements.  After two hours of jigging and only about 6 fish to show for it, we altered our strategy and began jigging and tossing crankbaits on top of 6 ft reefs. We were quickly rewarded with dozens of quality walleye.  Apparently, walleye at Central Lake like to buck the stereotype.

I managed to get on the water just about every day this week at Central.  As mentioned before walleye were caught at just about every depth, from 6 ft to 30 ft.  Vertical jigging with 1/4 and 3/8 oz jigs tipped with 3" Ripple Shad or Fluke Gulp tails worked best. A black1/4 oz echotail boated several fish in the 22-25" range. The high sun afternoons did cause walleye fishing to slow but would pick right back up in the afternoon/evening.  Forward trolling a Hot N Tot or Reef Runners in roughly 15 ft are a great way to break up the monotony.

The pike bite has remained more productive in the
Big walleye on a medusa?! Maybe it's a new trend. 
 late afternoon. We tried hard on Central for daytime production but the big girls remained dormant in the morning hours.  Topwater (top raiders, whopper ploppers, zara spooks) and blade baits (mepps musky killers, essox assault duel blades) remain the go-to lures.  Silver minnows tipped with a twister tail are great for finding fish located in heavy foliage.  We have had really good luck trolling deep diving crank baits along shorelines for big pike as of late.  Trolling has been outproducing casting truth be told. 

Lots of people have been asking me to post Mom's famous jalapeno corn recipe, so here it is.
Super easy to make and it is for a serving size of 6. 
Ryan and Gunner out for a paddle on the new
paddle board at Central. 

Jalapeno Corn

3 cans kernel corn (drained)
1- 8 oz tub of soft Herb and Garlic cream cheese
1 chopped fresh jalapeno (seeds removed) or bottled jalapeno to taste
Sprinkle with fresh chives and parsley
Mix well and bake at 350 degrees for 30 min in an oven safe dish.

Enjoy, it's a favorite among our customers. 

Good luck on the water everyone!

Friday, August 3, 2018

2018 Wilderness Report #9

The odd weather continues for us here in the Opasquia Provincial Park.  August began the month with...frost.  Well not quite, but almost. The morning of August 1st our temperature gauge was indicating 1 degree Celsius or a chilly 34 degrees Fahrenheit.  Since then, the temperatures have skyrocketed back into the mid 80's with some more warm weather in next weeks forecast.  Fortunately, some rain tagged along with the cold last week Tuesday.  We will take every drop of rain given, as this will go down as one of our drier summers on record.
A foggy Central Lake morning

Thankfully, there has been enough rain to keep the forest fires in check.  As a side note, please be mindful when having shore lunch and extinguish your fire completely. As stated earlier, conditions remain dry and water levels are still 12-24 inches lower than normal, depending on which body of water you are on.  Watch out for rocks with the low water! The safe passage waterways change with the low water. 

The hot and cold weather has had an effect on the fish. Unstable weather usually leads to unstable fishing.  According to multiple guests, one day of fishing will be hot and the next the fish are suspended and dormant.  Water temperatures began the week around 70 degrees only to fall to 64 several days later.  The rollercoaster water temperatures have been pushing fish all throughout the water column. The majority of walleye have been holding anywhere from 10-25' of water on windblown reefs and rocky points.  Slowly backtrolling and jigging is still the preferred technique for locating and boating walleye. The bigger fish seem to be holding further down the water column between 20-25'.  I was able to chat with several guests at the outposts the past couple days. West Lake has boated numerous walleye
 between the 22-26" on deeper reefs while vertical jigging 1/4 oz jigs with 3" ripple shad tails.  SW Lake has been boating large numbers of walleye along weed beds and rocky shorelines as shallow as 8 ft.  South Lake has found many fish between 18-23" at depths ranging from 15-18 ft.
Warming up the plane during sunrise. 

Pike are holding in their typical summer pattern locations: in deeper weed beds and along windblown points.  Shiny spoons and bucktails work best on sunny days.  The topwater bite is getting more consistent on overcast days or evenings.  Several guests have reported northern latching onto walleye while walleye fishing. Central Lake has boated several northern between 35-39".  Burnt Lake reported a 42" pike, caught "right in the mouth" according to the guests. Translation "the secret spot will remain a secret".
SW Lake was having fun fishing pike with a fly rod in the evenings. Unfortunately, I haven't spoken with Cocos or West Lake about the pike fishing.

The days are getting shorter, we are losing approximately 4 mins of daylight each day here in the north country.  In just a couple week signs of fall will begin sprouting.  The first notable signs are the birch tree leaves and the whiskey jacks (grey jays) coming to camp for food.  It is amazing how fast the seasons progress here.  Well, except for winter, that seems to last forever.

Good luck on the water everyone.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

2018 Wilderness Report #8

Wow, what a storm! We finally received some much needed rain here in the Opasquia Provincial Park.   According to our rain gauge, around two inches of rain fell overnight last night (7/23), and it came down in buckets.  The rain on the metal roof, usually hypnotizing, was actually quite deafening.  The rain is continuing to fall as I write this blog.  Water levels should start to rise after this deluge.  Levels on most lakes were approaching lows I have never witnessed.  A cold north wind has tagged along with the rain and today's high is going to be a mild 50 degrees.  The welcomed rain will help the fire situation as conditions in the area were labeled as extremely high fire danger.

The planes are ready for a Saturday change over
This cold snap may cause the fish to dive into deeper waters. Yesterday, the surface temperature at Central was 70 degrees.  This morning it had already sunk to 66 degrees.  Smaller baits may be more effective as fish can be less aggressive after a cold front.   A short-lived guide trip this morning supports the previous statement.  We found walleye just tapping our baits, barely hanging on the ends of the jig tails.  However, some good schools were located in about 20 ft.  To combat the short strikes, I switched from a jig and twister to a 1/4 oz Kastmaster jigging spoon and was hooking up on more fish.  

The walleye bite before today was active and steady.  Fish are holding anywhere from 8-25' with the majority hanging in 12-16' range.  Vertical jigging 1/4 oz or 3/8 oz jigs with 3" Ripple Shad tail while slowly backtrolling is a favorite technique of mine.  Light colors produce on sunny days while darker colors on cloudy days are preferred.  Trolling crankbaits along windblown shorelines in 12-20' is a great alternative to jigging. 

A northern pike selfie. 
The northern bite continues to be most active along weeds in the late afternoon and early into the evening.  Bucktails, like musky killers and Mepps Agilas, have been outproducing the larger baits.  Bright blades and skirts seem to be the favorites.  Casting the heavy weeds still requires the old faithful, Johnson silver minnow.  The 3/4 oz or 1 1/4 oz is a must have spoon in everyone's tackle box for pike.  The top water bite will stall for a few days until the water begins to warm back up.  

West Lake topped the 40" mark for pike several times over the past couple days, while South Lake has a couple 28"+ walleye under their belts so far.  Southwest is catching lots of fish on any rock reefs in 12 ft of water.  Reefs just north of camp at Central Lake are holding quality walleye.  Big boy bay at Burnt Lake still holds the crown for top northern spot on the lake. The deep pools in the Sagawitchewan river on Cocos Lake are holding lots of fish. 

Good luck on the water everyone! 

Thursday, July 19, 2018

2018 Wilderness Report #7

We are about halfway through the 2018 fishing season here at Big Hook Camps.  It is hard to believe just two months ago I was being chased by a snowstorm on my way to open up the camp.  As I write this blog, the temperature outside is a sweltering 88 degrees with high humidity; so a snow flurry sounds kind of refreshing at the moment.  July has brought a rollercoaster of temperatures so far.  Just two days ago our high for the day was a chilly 48 degrees.  A 40 degree temperature swing in just under 36 hours sounds appropriate for NW Ontario.  I've always said, "In this neck of the woods, wait 12 hours and the season will change."

We are still in need of rain here in the north country.  Aside from a couple random showers throughout July, conditions remain incredibly dry. I urge everyone to use caution when having outdoor fires, please make sure the fire is completely extinguished.  Due to the lack of rain lake levels are down roughly 12-18" throughout the Opasquia Provincial Park.  Water temperatures on most lakes are still hovering in the high sixties and creeping into the seventies. Just about all the weed beds are now fully mature. 

40" caught jigging for walleye on Central
The up and down temperatures this week have had the walleye scattered throughout the water column.  Guests have reported best luck around the 12-16 ft range however, some are still be caught on the edges of weed beds.   Hot colors for walleye the past couple days have been pink, flouro orange and purple.  3" Ripple Shads are quickly replacing Gulp as my favorite jig tail. Vertical jigging while back trolling over structure has been the most effective technique for catching schooled up walleye.  Trolling 15' flats or shorelines with Reef Runners or Shad Raps are a great way to locate the schools.  Walleye should continue their descent through the water column as the summer progresses along. On a side note, guests at Central Lake are having excellent luck walking the rapids and fishing walleye in the slack pools.  Guess our walleye are behaving a bit like trout lately. 

A Central Lake 40" caught well after sunset.
Cloudy days or evenings are the best times for northern fishing lately.  Guests at Central have boated three fish over 40" with two of them being caught well after sunset.  The usual suspects Johnson Silver Minnows and orange-bladed black skirted bucktails have been hot lures.  If you want to run the risk of throwing a Bulldawg, they get to be hot baits as the summer marches on.  Trouble is those 24" northern love to bite the tail off of them, which is why I don't toss Bulldawgs as much anymore.  Don't forget to pack at least one topwater bait.  Whopper ploppers, top raiders, zara spooks and buzz baits are among my favorite.  Find your favorite weed bed or wind blown rocky point and start slinging, the pike will be sure to respond with some high flying antics.  Another side note, numerous pike have been caught in deeper water while fishing for walleye the past couple days.  It might be worth packing a rattle trap or jigging rap.

Most guests have been out fishing when I have visited the outposts this week so I don't have the most informative outpost report.  South Lake has reported steady action with walleye, however, the northern have been a bit on the slow side. Most walleye are holding on structure in 15 ft of water.  In a quick chat yesterday, West Lake said the fishing was very good.  Trolling crankbaits along shorelines was catching plenty of both species.  West Lake has also boated and released a pair of 41" northern.  Both fish were caught trolling large F18 husky jerks.  I have not seen Cocos, Burnt or SW lake yet this week.  I noticed many 35-38" northern written on the bragging board at Cocos this week.  The water at Cocos is really low. Guests are having no issues navigating the two sets of rapids into the Sagawitchewan River. However, lots of new rocks are present in the river, so please go slow the first time through. 

Good luck on the water everyone and remember to send pictures.