Thursday, December 31, 2009
Year in and out Big Hook Wilderness Camps faces many challenges as Ontario's most remote outpost fishing resort. As a fly-in outfitter, Mother Nature has always been our biggest competitor. Some years she cooperates more than others, blessing us with blue skies and calm waters. However, in 2009 Mother Nature was quite defiant. May started out cool and with a later than usual ice out. The ice departed from the shores of Central Lake around the 13th of May. Typical ice out usually lands around the 4th-8th of May. The last lake free of ice in 2009 was Cocos around the 1st of June. June remained cool and blasted us with an ice storm in the first week, our poor air plane was covered with over an 1/2" of ice. Also, an unexpected snow storm on the 11th was another surprise Mother Nature had up our sleeve for us. July brought us gray skies and a late May Fly hatch, which occurred in the third week of the month. Mother Nature saved her best weather in 2009 for the last couple weeks of August and the month of September. Unseasonably warm, September 2009 was one of the nicest on records, providing us with several weeks of 70+ degree days.
The cool summer of 2009 didn't affect the fishing, it just altered the hot spots. The dark skies actually helped produce some of the bigger fish (on average) that Big Hook has recorded. In my experience, dark skies have always aided the fisherman in catching the elusive trophy walleye and pike. The cool temperatures of the spring held the fish in shallower waters up until the beginning of August. Typically, walleye begin descending mid July to depths of 15'+.
The water levels throughout the park remained a little higher than in past years. The flowages and rapids were pushing more water. The higher volume of water flowing throughout the Opasquia Provincial Park attracted more fish to the highly oxygenated areas.
We accomplished several projects in the 2009 season. The new solar systems at Burnt, South, Southwest and Cocos were fine tuned. Each of the previously mentioned lakes also were equipped an efficient electric freezer. South Lake saw several improvements starting with a new porch. We then replaced the majority of the propane appliances with electric. A new refrigerator, freezer and lights were installed and powered with an incredibly quiet Honda 2000W generator. Also at South Lake, Yamaha 4 stroke motors replaced our 2 cycle Mercury's. The new Yamaha's thus far have received rave reviews.
Two cabins at Central Lake were updated with metal roofs. Also, a new floating dock was built.
We have several projects were are looking to tackle in 2010. New docks at West, South and Cocos are just to name a few.
Big Hook Wilderness Camps wishes the best for everyone in 2010 and we look forward to seeing you in the up and coming summer months.
-The Hartle Family
Steve, Evie, Ricky and Nathan
Thursday, December 24, 2009
Monday, December 14, 2009
Many of you have asked what will happen to the GST rebate that many of our guests receive under the Foreign Convention and Tour Incentive Program when the takes effect. We have received confirmation from provincial officials that the rebate guests receive will be half of the 13% harmonized tax or 6.5%. There had been some initial concern that the rebate would apply to the federal portion of the tax only.
We are also continuing to urge provincial officials to lobby the federal government for a return to the old, more flexible visitor rebate program. We don't know how this effort is going at the moment, but we will keep pushing on your behalf.
Although it is still possible for details to change as the legislation is passed and the regulations drafted, it appears at this point that we can count on a 6.5% rebate for guests who qualify under the program. We will provide further updates as new information becomes available.
Big Hook Wilderness Camps
Sunday, December 13, 2009
Group ID#: 26489
Happy Holidays from Steve, Evie & Nathan
Big Hook Wilderness Camps
Sunday, December 6, 2009
Understand, though, it really isn't the fishing season, well...other than ice fishing.
On the other hand, I just noticed Cabelas is offering $20 off purchases of $100 or more.
Visit www.cabelas.com for more details. They currently offering 25 days of deals so I would suggest visiting their often if you are really hunting out a good combo for the 2010 season. Also, their bargain cave every now and again will hold some fishing treasures also.
Other retail giant Gander Mountain, has marked down spools of 300 yd moss green Power Pro for $22.99 and free shipping. Those of you who have fished with braided line knows it usually will run more than $30. Visit:
for more details. They are also marking down several of their store brand rods and reels, which personally I am not very keen on.
For Bass Pro current holiday offers visit:
I also suggest visiting your local tackle store for great bargains. The little guys are more willing to negotiate combo offers.
I'll keep my eyes on the Internet and if I find any door busting deals I'll keep you posted.
Happy Holidays everyone!
Big Hook Camps
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
When everyone is slowing down from gorging on pounds of turkey, Thanksgiving is a great time to drop hints for that new fishing rod or reel that you have been eyeballing on Cabelas.com or seen in Gander Mountain on special. On the next post I'll pick some great fishing holiday gifts that are available at your closest fishing out fitter.
Once again, Happy Turkey day to all.
Big Hook Wilderness Camps
Friday, November 20, 2009
Only too happy too give my testimony........
"I have been fishing Central Lake for over 15 years and it never gets old or boring and I have never had a situation where I couldn't catch fish. I have fished it just after the ice goes out and as late as August. While I prefer fishing just after ice-out, I have caught just as many fish later in the season. Where and how you catch them changes, but not the quality or quantity. Central Lake, with its 4 portages offers a huge area to explore and find your own secret fishing hole and, you can fish all day without seeing other fishermen.
Oh, one thing that is very important: the hosts really go out of their way to make sure that you are comfortable and that you catch fish.
This is REALLY how I feel about fishing at Big Hook. I haven't tried to embellish this at all.
Hello Big Hook,
We have been to Central for 7 of the last 8 years and have not been
disappointed once. Both Northern and Walleye fishing is fantastic.
With the camp location you can always get out regardless of wind
conditions. There is abundant water on Central, plus portages for
added opportunities of scenery and fishing adventure. With Central
being the main camp you have the safety and security while still
experiencing a truly beautiful remote wilderness camp. Steve,Evie and
Nathan have made us feel part of their family.
Duane Bunting, Eagle, WI
Thank you Lorance and Duane. We look forward to seeing you next year.
Good luck on the water everyone.
Big Hook Camps
Monday, November 16, 2009
Other Ontario News
For more border crossing information visit:
Good luck on everyone's fall fishing adventures. We will see you at the sport shows.
Big Hook Wilderness Camps
Monday, November 9, 2009
For, those of you who have fish in the freezer and just don't know how to prepare them, have I got a recipe for you. I just stumbled across this tasty fish marinade about a month ago. Ideally it is for stronger tasting fish such as salmon and trout but it does work with walleye and pike. I hope you enjoy this tasty marinade as much as my family has.
Here is a quick link for the recipe at recipezaar.com:
Halibut/Salmon Marinade Recipe #10410
1 day | 10 min prep
SERVES 4 -6
- Mix ingredients together.
- Place in flat tupperware container and store in refridgerator.
- Marinate 6-24 hours .
Good luck on the water to all.
Big Hook Wilderness Camps
Saturday, October 31, 2009
Mark, the producer for Real Outdoor Destinations, sent us a quick update telling us they secured a slot with the Pursuit Channel. They were able to get one of the top rated air time spots available at 8:30 pm Central time on Thursdays starting in Q1 & Q2 of 2010. Each episode will also have two additional airings per week on Mondays 11 am and Wednesdays 12:30 am. The show has signed a contract with Wild TV as well, which primarily airs in Canada.
Real Outdoors is also trying to acquire a prime time slot with the Sportsmans Channel and Fox Sports North.
We shall keep you updated with more information and Big Hooks exact air date as we receive it.
Good luck on the water everyone with your fall fishing endeavors.
Big Hook Camps
Monday, October 19, 2009
Granted, the populations of these species are not as plentiful as walleye and northern. However, fresh perch, whitefish and sauger offer a unique change in flavor for an original Canadian shorelunch. Targeting these species require just a slight change in angling tactics.
Perch (Perca flavescens)
Perch exist in every lake in the Opasquia Provincial Park. They are most plentiful in Burnt Lake and Southwest Lake. Perch is a tasty cousin to walleye and often run smaller in size. A good sized perch is anything over 10 inches. Targeting perch throughout the year usually requires the angler to scale down in tackle. 6# line or less is recommended. Paired with an ultra light rod offers great senistivity. Effective lures are Mepps #0 Agila spinners, Beetle spins and small jigs with twisters. Worms placed on bare hooks and a bobber is another great way to boat perch. Perch are most commonly found around weed beds and creeks. A popular way to fish perch is called "perching". "Perching" is a technique where an angler situates himself in a thick weedbed and places his lure in an opening in the foilage. This is most effective using a bobber and a worm. Since perch are most commonly found in the the thick weeds, targeting them is best in July and August.
Whitefish (Coregonus clupeaformis)
Whitefish is another species that exist in lakes where depths reach deeper than 30+ ft. Whitefish is most often caught in the spring when water temperature are cooler. 60 degree's or less is ideal for this species. Later in the summer, whitefish will descend to deeper and cooler waters. Targeting whitefish at Big Hook can be a little more challenging. This species is often caught by accident while fishing in rapids and shallows in the spring time. Lures that commonly boat whitefish are jigs with worms and small spinners. These fish have soft crappie like mouths that often tear when hooked.
Whitefish makes are great meal. The meat is white and flakey when cooked. When filleting a whitefish make sure to take out the row of Y-bones. Smoked whitefish is also a popular way to prepare this fish.
Sauger is most often mistaken for a walleye. They may be distinguished from walleyes by the distinctly spotted dorsal fin , by the lack of a white splotch on the tail fin, by the rough skin over their gill, and by their generally dark color, sometimes almost black or copper. This species exists in most Big Hook Lakes, however they are most commonly found in Favourable and Lemonade Lakes. Targeting a sauger is the same as fishing for walleye. They strike the same baits and prowl similar areas of lakes.
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
On Saturday October 3rd, Steve and I had the opportunity to participate in a tour of the Experimental Lakes Area (ELA). The tour began with a ride 30 KM down a restricted access on a school bus. This remote location, not far from Vermilion Bay, ON, has been in operation for over 40 years. The "ELA" has gained an international reputation for leadership and excellence in freshwater research. Every month, this unique facility hosts scientists from around the globe. Scientists worldwide come to NW Ontario to participate in various studies of the ecosystem and discuss results of hundreds of ongoing tests. Many studies analyze the effects of various chemicals introduced into aquatic ecosystems.
Steve and I enjoyed our day long field trip and learned a lot from the students and scientists. For more information on the Experimental Lakes Area, check out their web site at
This was quite the eye opening experience. We never knew how important this site is and these studies simply would not be possible elsewhere.
Monday, September 28, 2009
With all that said, I guess my message is when fishing gets tough, don't go to the glitz and glamour of "new and improved" lures; stick to the basics such as the good ole jig and twister for walleye and the Johnson silver minnow for pike.
After conversing with hundreds of guests this summer I can confidently list the top five lures for each species, that being walleye and northern.
Lures listed in no particular order.
Johnson Silver Minnow 3/4 oz-1oz with a white twister tail trailer
Copper or Orange Bladed bucktail. Skirt color seemed to make little difference.
Bulldawg-medium size, not the magnum. Black, white, brown were all effective
Jig and twister-go figure, some of the biggest pike this year were caught jigging for walleye
Buzz bait-probably the most entertaining way to fish for northern.
Jig and twister. No surprise there. Popular jig heads 3/8 oz black, flour orange, pink, red.
Tails: white, yellow, black, pumkinseed, flouro orange, any color Gulp.
Worm harness. Simple rig with various color blades. Attach spilt shot, worm and your in
DOA Tiny Terror-eyze. A new lure that is awesome only in the spring when fish are shallow.
Rapala RS suspending. A great trolling bait in about 12 ft of water. Blue and silver the best
Rattle Trap. Small sized silver and blue rattle traps were a great casting/trolling combo.
Good luck on the water to everyone this fall/winter.
Big Hook Wilderness Camps
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
September has shown us that summer is still holding on. This month has been the most pleasant of the summer for us here at Big Hook Wilderness Camps. In all the nineteen years we have operated at Big Hook, this September has been the best. Temperatures have been averaging 74 degrees and light winds have made flying a delight.
In the past, September has always been a gamble for weather and fishing. Cooler temperatures during this month can cause lake turnover and shut down the fishing. On the other hand, a pleasant September can ignite the trophies and some of the biggest fish of the summer are caught.
This September, the fish have been responding quite well with the great weather. Both walleye and pike are deep, 20+' of water. Guests at Central, the week of 8/29-9/5, did very well vertical jigging in 20-25' with a 3/8 oz jig and twister. The hot twister tail color was a Yamamoto Blue. It was the first time I ever used that color of tail and it dominated the bite. When vertical jigging for walleye it is crucial to tie the jig directly to the line, DO NOT use a leader. It is a risk of getting bit off by a pike but you will catch many more fish.
This was our last week at Big Hook and now the boats are being flipped, the cabins painted and the year end projects are wrapped up. In the process of closing camps, I have had a chance to fish at Burnt and West. Both lakes produced an excellent pike bite. Using mostly a orange bladed bucktail with a black skirt, I managed to boat a 40.5" just west of the cabin at Burnt Lake.
Last Wednesday Dad, Andre and I worked putting a new foundation under South West Lake. Utilizing several jacks, the original foundation was ripped out and replaced with concrete block and pressure treated logs.
I would like to personally thank everyone for visiting us this summer. I know in a recession, times are tough and money is tight. However, I have found fishermen will persevere and continue to stalk the trophy pike and walleye despite the conditions. Once again, thank you everyone for a great 2009 season.
Good luck on the water in your fall/winter fishing expeditions. Please send us pics of your 2009 vacation and I can post them here on the blog.
Big Hook Wilderness Camps
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
Our season is winding down here at Big Hook Wilderness Camps. We have entered our final weeks for the 2009 season. Mother nature is giving us a great send off with warm temperatures and sunny skies. After a really cool July and August the blue skies and warmth is greatly appreciated. Blueberries and raspberries are now ripening and litter the forest and bald rocks with vibrant blue and red colors. In my opinion, there is nothing better for breakfast before a long day of fishing than fresh blueberry pancakes.
The water temperatures are back on the rise with the pleasant weather. I see myself jumping in the lake this afternoon, following a sauna of course.
Looking outside at the moment, I would never guess that in two weeks we will have the chance to see snow falling from the sky. Weatherwise, the month of September is really unpredictable. Several years ago forest fires ravaged Sandy and Deer Lake. Whereas, last year we could not cut enough fire wood to stay warm.
Fish this time of year are normally the biggest, however they are not schooled up like in earlier summer months. A risk about fishing in later September is the lake turnover. Usually mid September the cool water on the surface will get replaced with the warm water from below. This causes the water clarity to drop and cloud up.
Currently, the walleyes are at their deepest depths of the year. When the walleye are at depths of 20 ft+ the most effective technique is vertical jigging. Most crankbaits have trouble reaching waters deeper than 20 ft. When the sun is out and shining I'll switch to lighter colors. Yellow twister tails are probably my favorite lure followed closely by Berkley Gulp flouro orange.
Pike are on their fall feed and are striking as big of baits as you can possibly throw. Really effective lures right now are bucktails with a #8 colorado blade, and 1 0z Johnson silver minnows while fishing in the weeds. Remember to always place a twister tail on your silver minnow, it increases it's effectiveness ten fold. Trolling large crank baits like a Bomber magnum or a Believer around reefs can yield surprising results.
Attached right, is a pic from West Lake of the 41" pike that jumped in the boat. Just imagine that monster jumping at you, reminds me of the movie Jaws. Pictured left, is Kathy from Cocos Lake with one of many trophy pike that she has caught and released over the years.
Good luck on the water everyone! Remember to put the big ones back. All walleye over 18" must be released and all pike over 27.5" must be put back,
Big Hook Wilderness Camps
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
This time of year Big Hook Camps in the Opasquia Provincial Park both pike and walleye are aggressively feeding to pack on pounds for the coming winter months. Larger fish can weigh several pounds heavier in late August versus early June. The declining water temperatures and shortening days both trigger this feeding frenzy. The outside air temperature has been cool this week, hanging around the mid fifties with dark skies. The water temperatures have followed suit and have declined to around 60 degrees. The last four days dense lake fog has limited boaters visibility until about 9 am.
For current weather in the Opasquia Provincial Park/Sandy Lake area visit:
During the fall feed fish are more apt to strike larger baits. For pike, big baits like Suick's, Bulldawgs, Top Raiders, Tadem Bucktails, Swimmin Joe's, and Bomber Magnums are all common to use this time of year. Bigger baits mean you need to bulk up on bigger gear. Medium heavy 6'6" rods are a minimum. I like to use 50# Power Pro with a 9 inch titanium leader. For walleye, larger Reef Runners, Rapala Shad Raps, and jigs with 4" tails are great baits.
It is often a pike will strike a large walleye boatside and will refuse to let go. Guests last week at West Lake even had a 41" pike jump in the boat after a walleye! The Pomilia group was fishing weed bed in the fish bowl (southern half of West Lake) when David Pomilia hooked a 16" walleye and proceeded to lift the fish into the boat. As he was hoisting the walleye over the side, a huge pike exploded from the depths in hopes to strike this walleye before it disappeared into the boat. David recoiled quick enough and stared in disbelief as a 41" pike was flopping at his feet. Grateful he didn't loose a hand to this fish, David got a quick picture with his "semi caught" trophy and a prompt release was made.
Every camp last week was lucky enough to boat and release a pike over 43". More proof the big boys are looking to pack on some winter weight.
Walleyes are prowling deeper waters 15-25ft are average depths. Jigging is the easiest way to reach these deeper waters. The dark skies this past week have made darker lures more effective.
Good luck on the water everyone. Remember to throw the big ones back. All walleye's over 18" must be thrown back and all pike over 27.5" must be released.
Big Hook Wilderness Camps
Friday, August 21, 2009
Water temperature's have been driven down with the dark skies and cooler temps. Temperature's are hovering in the lower 60's down from the low 70's last week.
Pike are scattered in all depths. Fishing rocky points with deeper diving crankbaits or burning a topwater bait over the weed beds have all been effective techniques for catching nice pike.
Lure's of the week: for walleye I still can't turn down the 3/8 oz jig with a dark twister. YUM baits make great dark color twisters. For pike, the surface bite has been great with the dark skies and calm waters. The Hog Wobbler boated the 43" pike pictured below on Tuesday at Central Lake. The Mepps Agile #5 copper blade has been another top pike producer.
From the Big Hook outposts
Central Lake : walleye's are deeper 15ft+. Many nice 24" fish have been caught on reefs on the north end. Several pike over 40" have also been boated and released, mainly in the weeds. (Pictured below: a nice 39" pike I boated last Friday on a black bulldawg on the south end of Central.)
South Lake: Guests last week caught 40 walleye's over 25" and many of those were between 29" and 30". (Pictured above is a awesome walleye measuring 30" caught the 5th of August.)
Southwest Lake: reported boating over 100 fish a person almost everyday of the week. "The weather certainly didn't slow the fish down" quoted one guest.
Burnt Lake: Walleye's were stacked on the windblown shorelines in as shallow as 6 ft. Many nice pike were caught in the weed bed on the NW end of the lake.
West Lake: The fish bowl continue's to produce monster pike. The north end of the lake has been a consistent producer of huge walleye.
Favourable Lake/Lemonade: Guests reported amazing fishing for the week. A great balance of large walleye and big pike were reported.
Good luck on the water everyone. Remember to put the big one's back. All walleye's over 18" must be released and all pike over 27.5" must be released.
Big Hook Wilderness Camps
Sunday, August 16, 2009
Kath Woolsey---Milestone 5000th Big Hook Fish
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
August is letting us know that summer is still trying to hang around. We finally have had some sunny skies and warm temperatures. Weather has been hot the last three days, hanging around 85-90 degree's in the sun. It is amazing how fast the water temperature's sky rocket after just a few days of sunshine. Water temperatures have blasted up from 64 to about 72 on the surface.
The fish have responded to the warmer temperatures by sinking to deeper depths. We have been catching walleye's from 12-25 ft. Some of the bigger female's have been caught in the deeper waters by trolling larger crankbaits such as: White reef runners and Rapala fire tiger husky jerks. Otherwise, my favorite method is still vertical jigging on the deeper reefs. The wind blown shores are mainly where the fish are congregating. Just try to find a reef or point that has had the wind pounding it for a couple of hours. Pike are scattered between deeper weed beds and rocky reefs. During these hot hot days pike action has been better from 2 pm to 7 pm, when the sun is off the peak. We have had some tremendous surface bite's when the wind calms down in the evening. Effective lures this week have been: Mepp's Agila #5 copper blade and a Swimmin Joe, oh and I can't forget the Shallow Dawg for pike. For walleye, 3/8 oz jig and a pumkinseed Gulp tail and a blue and silver Hot N Tot.
We just wrapped up filming a TV segment for Real Outdoor Desinations. We filmed for two days and got some great footage. Several big pike were caught and many many walleye. I mostly jigged with a 3/8 oz pink head and a pumkinseed Gulp tail, while Tas (the host) casted a Swimming Joe for pike. The show is looking to air around the beginning of January on the Sportsman's channel and the Persuit network. I'll keep everyone posted on the details. ( Picture right: Tas, hostess of Real Outdoor Destinations, and I work on filleting fish for a shorelunch.)
On the fishing front.
Guests last week at West boated many pike over 35" up to 40.25". Most fish were caught in the horseshoe near camp. South Lake had a great night shortly after a thunder storm boating and releasing a 28" and a 30" walleye back to back. Two gentlemen at South West Lake tallied 597 walleye for the week. Central Lake found many honey hole's of walleye's in the 21"-24" range. The weeds in the narrows on Central are holding many big pike.
Good luck on the water everyone. Remember to put the big one's back. Please note Big Hook has a NO TROPHY TAKE OUT policy, meaning all walleye over 18" must be released and all northern over 27.5" must be released.
-Big Hook Wilderness Camps
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
It is getting to that time of year where the top water pike action can be amazing here at Big Hook Wilderness Camps. The month of August is a great time of year where pike are actively seeking prey so they can pack on pounds for the winter months. Calm cloudy days are my favorite time to unleash my top water lures. Evenings around 5-8 pm is another time where the pike are really focusing on the surface.
One factor to keep in mind while utilizing surface lures for pike is that strikes are often erratic and not to set the hook too quickly. I'll be the first to admit that I have many a time sent my lure whizzing past my head setting the hook to early on a splash. The key thing is to feel the fish before your hook set.
A couple of my favorite lures are: Top Raider (loon color), Dancing Raider, Zara Spook Magnum (white), Buzz Bait (any color). Most of these lures are "walk the dog" styles.
They take a little practice to get the optimal slash and dash action if you haven't fished this style of bait before.
Weed bed are the best place to start a top water feeding frenzy. The thicker the weed bed the better. Once that fish strikes, get ready to haul and torque that fish through that underwater foliage. Heavier line can help you combat those thick weed beds.
From the fishing front.
South Lake: is still producing big female walleyes in about 12-20 ft of water. Guests the past few weeks are using jigs and Berkley Gulp. Guests yesterday boated and released an impressive 39.5 inch pike on 6 pound test and a jig. That's a fun battle!
Central Lake: Walleyes are hanging a bit shallower. I guided yesterday and found many fish hanging on the edge of wind blown weed beds, around 7 ft. The only problem with jigging the edge of weed beds is you have to be ready to get bit off by the random pike.
West Lake: Guests last week boated and released many walleye in the 24-28" range, mainly on jigs. A dandy 43.5" pike was caught in the fish bowl (pics soon to follow).
Southwest Lake: Fishing within 1/2 mile of camp has been hot. Several points just to the east of the camp are holding massive amounts of fish.
Burnt Lake: "Fish are everywhere on this lake!" was the response of one of the guests. Many fish are hanging in the entrance to the north narrows in about 10 ft of water.
Cocos Lake: Fish are stacked up under the first set of rapids on the left or the right. Fishing in the current is a little difficult right now due to the high water levels. The second set of rapids is high and flowing fast, be careful shooting this set with the high water cause the current is extremely strong. Guests boated many impressive walleye just on the edges of weed beds near the rapids.
Favourable Lake: Pike alley is still a great spot to track down that next trophy pike. Guests are having lots of luck trolling deep diving crank baits along the south edge of the Three Sisters.
Weather has been cool and rainy the past three days. Winds have been blowing steady out of the north at about 10 mph. Water temps have actually cooled down during this time to the lower 60 degree range. We are still waiting for summer to show up, future forecast for later this week looks good.
Good luck on the water everyone. Remember to put the big ones back.
Big Hook Wilderness Camps
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
I am a firm believer, that the color of the lure should match the weather patterns. I always say "Dark days, dark colors and light (sunny) days, light colors." The past several days here at Big Hook Camps we have had cloudy days and cool weather. After guiding the past two days at West Lake, I noticed a pattern that the guests using black twister tails where out fishing the flouro orange tails 2:1 for walleye. What was even more convincing was the pike. We boated 12 pike between 30-38". Of those fish, only two were caught on a silver spoon or brighter color lure, the others were caught on a black skirted bucktail or a black Bulldawg.
Also, the fish have responded to the cool dark weather by holding in somewhat shallower depths. Walleye's are hanging in 6-12 feet, with the occasional fish in 18+. Pike are now finding some weeds to shelter themselves. Weeds are finally reaching the surface. Although it isn't a great weed growth year, they are still holding fish. Water temps are still hovering around the 65 degree range. I unfortunately don't see much change in the water temperature's according to the weather forecast. For current weather at Big Hook visit:
Hot lures: 3/8 oz pink jig head with a black and red flecked twister for walleye. Black and orange medium sized Bulldawg for the pike.
I was able to chat with several of the guests from the past week and here is a quick fishing report from the camps:
South Lake: Guest's last week boated and released four 28" walleye. The four fish were in surprisingly deep water, around 30 ft, according to the guests. Many fish in the 25" range were found shallower, mainly around 12 ft. Jig and twister are still the most effective lures.
Burnt Lake: The four guests at Burnt Lake last weeks tallied 1500 fish. Several lunker pike were recorded at 42", 38", 37" and several at 34" inches.
West Lake: After guiding there the past couple of days we boated and released a dozen pike between 30-38". Most pike were hanging in the south west corner of the fish bowl, others were in the horseshoe. Saw a couple of monsters in the northeast corner of the fish bowl. We also released a 28" and a 25" walleye. Both were in 6 ft of water on the north end of the lake.
Central Lake: Walleye are now beginning to concentrate on reefs and points. The Moore party caught a dandy 41" pike on the north end of the lake near the shore lunch island.
On a final note, we will be filming a TV segment August 8th-10th with Real Outdoor Destinations. I'll keep you posted on when the show will air and on what station.
Good luck on the water everyone. Throw the big one's back!
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
We are on the tail end of the May Fly hatch here at Big Hook Wilderness Camps. The bite is improving day by day. Water temperatures are beginning to creep up into the higher sixty's. Yesterday I recorded 65 on the surface at Central Lake. Walleye's are still hanging in the 8-12 foot range. Pike this year are hanging on points and reefs due to the lack of weed growth. Soon the walleyes will begin their decent into depth's of 15-20 ft. I have been catching some in that range vertical jigging with a white twister and 3/8 oz jig head.
Some great lures this week have been: Rapala Husky Jerk Mag, fire tiger and green color and Rapala Suspending Shad Rap Blue and Silver.
Weather has been mild. For the past several days we have seen sun in the morning and pop up thunder storms in the afternoon. Temperatures have been hanging in the high 60's and lower 70's.
I spoke with the guests at South Lake and they have recorded nice catches of 25", 26", 28" walleye. Southwest guests were amazed catching walleye "every cast" 200 yards from the cabin. Who said the best fishing in on the far end of the lake?
At Central the East rapids is still the hot area for walleye and The Rock on the north end of the lake has been producing quality size fish.
Attached are some pics that have been emailed. (Top right: 29.5 walleye caught at South Lake. Lower left: a beauty 42 inch pike caught on Cocos by Geo. Lower right: Another nice Cocos catch from Joe S with a 25" walleye. )
Thursday, July 16, 2009
South Lake, West and Cocos incorporate the use of radio phone's similar to a CB radio. Operation is simple, just turn on the volume switch and turn it up. We are listening everyday on the other end between 5:00-5:30 pm.
Favourable, Burnt, and Southwest utilize sat phones for communication. Once again, operation is easy. We have two different types of satellite phones: Globalstar hand held phones and Glentel base phones.
Globalstar phones operation is similar to a traditional cell phone. Simply stand outside in a clearing with a southern view, rotate the antenna, press power and wait for a signal. Dial Big Hooks number 905-963-1260 when you receive a signal. Keep in mind it can take a couple of minutes to acquire a signal, so be patient.
Glentel base phones operate slightly different. Just place the dome outside in a clearing, connect the positive and negative lead to the battery, press power, and wait for the phone to acquire a signal. Once a signal is recieved, dial Big Hooks number 905-963-1260 and press send.
If we happen to miss your call and you recieve the voicemail, please leave us a message. We check our voicemail regularly.
Good luck on the water everyone.
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
We have noticed a small hatch beginning for the May flies over the past couple of days. This is good news because I believe that is all we are going to see for the year in the greater Big Hook region (knock on wood). With the hatch so late in the season could mean the May flies will be nonexistent for the summer.
I spoke with the guests at South and West Lake today. West reported an excellent pike bite in the "fish bowl" half of the lake using various plastic baits. South Lake has been boating and releasing numerous walleye's flirting with the 30 inch range.
The fish are slowly moving into deeper waters averaging around 12 feet of water for walleye. The pike are holding more on rocky points and current areas due to the fact weed development is slow this year. Soft plastics have been getting great results for pike such as: the Storm Swim Shad and medium or small sized Bull Dawgs.
For walleye, I still believe you can't beat the good ole fashion jig. It may sound boring but it has proven results. 1/4 oz or 3/8 oz jigs, the jighead color really doesn't matter, it's the twister color that counts. We have tried every color under the sun this past week and the only color that HAS NOT been effective is the clear see through chartreuse green. Every other color was walloping the walleye, yes even pink was doing well.
Good luck on the water everyone. Remember to put the big one's back!
Big Hook Wilderness Camps
Thursday, July 9, 2009
Truthfully, I never believed that a fly could be so effective for walleye, let alone in the middle of July. However, yesterday I was proved wrong in my beliefs.
Walleyes darted in and out of the swift current below the north rapids of Central Lake, striking the fly as it lazily drifted down stream. The action was convincing enough to where I now believe I need to take up a new hobby and begin practicing my 10 and 2 casting. Attached is a video as proof of yesterdays success.
On the fishing front...
The old adage says "Fish bite best before a big storm." I couldn't agree more. Today, on the verge of a nasty storm front, guests reported some of the best success of the week. One couple boated over 50 walleye in an hour and a half before the weather started darkening the skies.
Walleye are starting to move a tad deeper into the 8-12 range. Water temps are still cool for the time of year. After a full day of sun, the warmest water I could locate was about 65 degrees on the surface.
Weed growth is way behind this season at all Big Hook Camps. Weeds are struggling this year with the cooler temps and higher waters. Speaking of high waters, Cocos guests for the last two weeks have been unable to make it up the Sagewitchewan rapids due to the increased volume of water.
We are still keeping our eyes on the water and skies for the infamous mayfly. None have hatched yet and hopefully they will skip a year.
The top two lures of the week are the: Johnson silver minnow with a white twister trailer for Pike and the DOA tiny terroreyze brown jig for Walleye.
Good luck to all on the water! Remember to put the big one's back.
Sunday, July 5, 2009
It is that time of year. The time of year everyone looks to the sky and the surface of the water for, what else, May Flies. Now I'll admit they aren't quite appropriately named, I would call them July Flies for this area. The May Fly is a fisherman's mortal enemy and main competitor for the all-Canadian walleye. For roughly three days in the month of July, millions of May Flies cloud the skies and litter the surface's of lakes luring walleyes to a top water bite. In the evenings, one can witness a barrage of fish attacking the surface gorging themselves on struggling May Flies.
I'll admit, fishing during this time can be tricky. Walleyes with full bellies, are lethargic and unambitious.
There is hope for the avid angler during this time. The main focus is size. Scaling down is a primary concern. I found using smaller baits and brighter colors can be very effective while combating the May Flies. 1/4 oz jigs and small, I mean SMALL, Rapalas.
I'll keep my eye on the sky and let everyone know when the flies start clogging the skies.
Water levels have shot up in the last week. Rapids are now gushing more than ever, thus drawing fish into their currents. Many guests have been focusing their efforts around areas with current and flow, often with great and pleasing results.
The increase in water levels has made it tough for weed growth. Coupled with a cool cool spring, weed growth is slow and behind. Weed beds have begun growing however are no where near there usual levels.
Weather has been cool thus far in July and water temps have dipped slightly. For current weather at Big Hook Wilderness Camps visit:
Fish are still holding shallower than normal. Focusing on mud flats and shallow grassy bays are yielding best results.
Attached are various pics from the Bauer Party at Central Lake during the week of June 21st. Thanks for the pic's guys! And I had to sneak one in of myself. Remember to send us pics of your latest fishing trip and I'll post them on my blog.
Good luck on the water everyone. Remember to practice catch and release.
(Upper right: DJ 40" pike, Upper left: my 37" pike, Lower left: Richard 42" pike, Lower right: Nick 25" walleye.)
Monday, June 22, 2009
The bite has been fast and furious here at Big Hook Wilderness Camps in the Opasquia Provincial Park. Walleye and pike are cruising the mud flats and flowages together in search of bait fish. Water temperatures are quickly warming into the high 60's due to a nice couple weeks of pleasant weather.
I was able to chat with numerous guests last Saturday and all reports had thumbs up.
Favourable boated a dandy 44" pike caught in a random spot. "Pike over 35 inches were common place," quoted another Favourable Lake guest.
Cocos came in a close second with a giant 42.5" gator. Hopefully pics will soon follow.
All guests from the outposts said fishing was outstanding. It was unanimous that the fish are still hold shallow and enjoying the sun.
I have been guiding here at Central the past couple of days and the fishing has been outstanding. Today we left the fish biting and the count was 153 for the day. Many big fish were seen and caught, and released. Above is a photo of a big ole 41.5" pike caught and safely released by Kurtis on, of course, a jig and twister. Several 25" walleyes have been boated and released also here at Central. Top lures have been 1/4 oz jig and pumkinseed twister for walleye. For pike has been a flouro orange daredevil copper spoon.
The other photo attached is a young master angler in the making. Joel is showing off his prize fish for the week. Great shot Joel!
Good luck on the water! Remember put the big one's back.
-The Big Hook Wildernness Camps Team
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Get them while there hot!
The new Big Hook T-shirts are available to order!
Each shirt is custom made to match your favorite fishing outpost.
Only $19.95. Shipping included in the total price.
Attached are pictures of the front and back.
Order the T-shirt with the lakes you have fished: Central, Cocos, Burnt, Favourable, South, Southwest or West.
Colors available are: Ice gray, sand, natural and white.
Janis or Dan at Embroid Me
Check www.BigHookCamps.com soon for links.
Sunday, June 14, 2009
I was able to speak with a number of guests yesterday on change over day. The consensus was that pike fishing was amazing and walleye fishing was about to explode. All the outposts had great luck catching trophy pike in shallow bays and currents.
On their first day, the guests at Central here had an easy time locating and catching and releasing horde's and horde's of walleye's. It just show's that the walleye's were waiting and wanting the sun as bad as everyone else.
Attached below is short video of a nice 41" pike that was caught and safely released in the East rapids at Central Lake.
Here at Big Hook, we are always looking for new picture's of your latest fishing trip to use on our website and/or new brochure's. If you have any great shot's of nature or fishing please email them to us. Take care everyone and good luck on the water.
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
On the fishing front. Pike seem to be impervious to the cool weather. Guests at Central are boating and releasing numerous 34-39" fish. Walleye were (earlier in the week) a bit on the slow side. I would like to admit every day produces hundreds and hundreds of fish but in reality fishing does lag from time to time. Many factors contribute to walleye aggressiveness: weather, moon phase, whether you are jigging with your left or right hand, the list goes on and on. Unfortunately, Monday and Tuesday were tough for walleye. Guests had no problem catching male walleyes around rapids and flowages for those days but finding the bigger females have been tougher. However, as it always does, the walleye bite came around today (Wednesday). Like a flip of the light switch the bite turned as soon as the sun popped out.
Burnt Lake had similar stories to report. Walleye's started slamming today with the arrival of the sun. They weighed and released a beefy 18.5# pike.
All in all, the fish are still very shallow. Pike and walleye are both hanging in about 4 feet of water. Future forecasts show lots of sun, that only means the fish will be sunbathing for the next couple of weeks.
On the building front. We are taking advantage of an off week at Cocos Lake, Dad and I relocated the shower and made it accesible to the inside, no more walking outside to take a shower. We have also built new boat ramps and a new floating dock.
The new solar systems and freezers are working out very well. Nothing but thumbs up from everyone.
Good luck on the water everyone.
Friday, June 5, 2009
This time of year I like to experiment with different lures. One such lure that has brought much success thus far is a Sebile slow sinking white double jointed crankbait. So far, a slow retrieve out of the shallows has resulted in a couple of trophy pike this spring.
Our pilot Andre and I just got back from West and Southwest Lake. Guests reported no problem of catching walleye and pike. Although, several customers said fish are moving a bit slower due to the inconsistent weather we have been experiencing. Guests at Central Lake boated two 35" pike and several in the 30-34" range in the past couple of days. I'll get a report tomorrow from guests as it is change over day.
Aside from fishing, guests are really enjoying our new solar systems that we installed at Burnt, West, Cocos and Southwest last year. Also, the new generator and porch at South Lake has received many praises.
Take care all and good luck on the water.
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Today's project included installing power at South Lake. South now has a brand new fridge and freezer along with 4 lights that all run on a quiet and efficient Honda 2000 generator. South is also getting upgraded with 5 new Yamaha 4-stroke 15hp motors.
On the fishing front......Central guests have been hammering the walleyes in the current and shallow muddy bays where the water temps are rising. The walleyes look like they have spawned already. I made it out with our hired help from Sandy Lake (Anthony and Corey). In just an hour we managed to boat a 37" and 41" pike in the East rapids. Lots of big pike were cruising the area chasing and scaring all the walleyes out. Smaller baits and slow retrieve's are still key to catching big fish. The fish are still pretty cold and won't hit a bait that is being retrieved to quickly.
Burnt Lake quoted "they are catching more fish than they can handle." I'll hear more tomorrow when we stop in for a camp check.
Hope everyone is well and look forward to seeing you soon.
Monday, May 18, 2009
Everyone has made it into camp safely. Freezing rain and blowing snow were not enough to keep us from arriving at Big Hook last Saturday (May 16th). For the past two days all of us here (Mom, Dad, Myself, Andre, our two helpers Elvis and Anthony) have been lugging motors, cutting wood, cleaning cabins, flying freight, etc... as fast as we can.
Saturday night was a chilly one. The lake actually froze over again over night! Again this morning (May 18th) Mother Nature decided to play another joke on us today by dumping another inch of snow in our front yard (see the attached pic). Fortunately, warmer temperatures are along the way.
I am itching to get on the water but for now it's time to put on a layer of under armour and get back to opening camps.
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Mother Nature always has her way of letting you know she is the boss. Today, she is having her way with us here at Eagle Lake. Lashing us with 45 +mph winds and stinging rain, Mother Nature is telling us spring has just begun.
On days like today winds only stress out pilots and aggravate outpost camp owners, mostly because we have to succumb to the weather. The only thing we can do is sit back and wait.....and wait.
When the gusts top 45mph our stress levels elevate and our eyes turn to the dock where the wind and water pitch our float plane around like it was made of paper. We can only hope that the dozen ropes we have lashed to everything in sight will hold fast and keep our only means of transportation stationary and grounded.
As a guide, I do enjoy foul weather of sorts. Dark skies often increase the bite and trophies are more often caught. However, when the howling winds are splashing gallons of water over your boat and temperatures are hovering around 35 degree's and lower, I draw the line. I am a tough tough fisherman, I'll guide through most of Mother Nature's tantrum's. I'll admit though, the wind...it is my enemy. Nothing is more disheartening than seeing three foot rollers lumbering down the lake. At that moment my fishing instinct is turned off, I set my rod down and sulk back to the cabin for a nice warm cup of coffee.
Sunday, May 10, 2009
Also, tomorrow I'll be heading to Winnipeg to pick up our pilot Andre and our 185 Cessna. We will fly the plane back to Eagle Lake here and wait for the green light. Once we get the call that an airplane can get into Central Lake, Andre and I will jet out of here ASAP.
Here's to warmer weather and a non icey future. Take care all.
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Yesterday I woke up a little chilly. I didn't think much of it, just another cool spring morning crossed my mind. Still bleary eyed I walked down to the most important kitchen appliance, the coffee maker of course, and began my daily routine. Raising my eyes to the kitchen window only to see two inches of snow on the ground caused my jaw to drop. Fortunately, several hours later the snow disappeared and the yard was once again the typical spring field of mud.
Waking up this morning I experienced an entirely different sensation. I sprang out of bed, my feet touched the floor and amazingly I didn't recoil with ice cube toes. I rambled downstairs once again to the coffee maker, looked outside at the thermometer to see the morning temp was pleasant 45 degrees already at 7 am.
The temperatures today will perhaps flirt with the 60 degree range, which is excellent news for all of us who are waiting to get on the water. I decided to take a couple of pics of Eagle Lake to show you all the progress of the melting ice. As you can see, the ice is pulling away from the shoreline and has thinned drastically. The temperatures in Sandy today are slightly cooler than here in Vermilion Bay. Many people are starting to take bets on when the ice will "officially" remove itself from the water. With weather like this today and rain in the forecast for tomorrow, look for the ice to take some major damage in the next couple of days. So once again, fingers crossed and hopefully we will be on the water soon.
Friday, April 24, 2009
The parents and I are now stationed at Eagle Lake, Ontario waiting on the ice to disappear from the waters. Weather has been moderately warm(high 40's/low 50's), with some rain showers doing some major damage to the ice. The ice here on Eagle pulled away from the shores yesterday and is thinning.
Everyone is anxious to arrive at Big Hook and get the season underway. I have several projects that I would like to complete before the walleye opener kicks off. We all are patiently waiting for the phone to ring and hear from Sandy Lake that the ice is breaking up. Hopefully the waters will soon look like the photo.
On a side note, we received news that out pilot Andre will be returning for his second season at Big Hook.
Thursday, April 2, 2009
All of us at Big Hook are keeping a close eye on the current conditions in the north and have our fingers crossed for an early ice out and a smooth opening.
To keep track of the current conditions in the Opasquia Provincial Park click on the following link:
Here's to a warm spring and we look forward to seeing everyone soon.
Friday, March 27, 2009
Why am I mentioning this unique program? Many people, including myself, utilize Google Earth to research their favorite fishing spots and familiarize themselves with new bodies of water. With this application you can show your best buds where exactly you caught 100 walleye's in a ten minutes (OK that may be an exageration, but we all know how fishing tales grow).
Also, those of you with this program may have found Big Hook pictures I have posted throughout the Opasquia Provincial Park. If anyone has any photo's of the greater Big Hook area and would like to have them posted to Google Earth, please email us at email@example.com
Keep your peeled for more Big Hook pics of your favorite lakes and fishing spots in the near future.
Monday, March 16, 2009
Saturday, February 21, 2009
Sunday, January 18, 2009
Jan. 18, 2009
This is a busy time of the year. We are in the middle of the sport show season and we are also making preparations to travel up the Canada in St. Charles , IL was very well attended, considering the 12” snowfall and groups were shopping. Bookings are doing very well, considering all the gloom and doom the media bestows on us every day. We enjoyed meeting with all of our regular guests and hearing about their fishing stories and families. We also had a great time talking to new prospective guests, describing the advantages of Big Hook. It’s not just the superb fishing but the great environment of the Opasquia Park , with it’s rivers, rapids, boreal forest and wildlife. It’s not a just fishing trip it is an adventure.. The All
Just incase no one has noticed, it has been cold this winter. I just talked to the pilots at Great White North. and the winter road will be opened Jan. 18. This is the earliest that anyone can remember the winter road being opened. Right now we are planning the logistics of moving 80 sheets of 12 ft metal roofing, 7 new motors, 5 freezers, 25 bottles of propane, 100 2”x6”x10’ boards, 25,000 liters of gas and 10,000 liters of Avgas up the 237 miles of ice roads. Right after the Green Bay All Canada show, I will head for the
I look forward to seeing everyone at the Milwaukee and Green Bay shows.
Good fishing to everyone,
Steve, Evie and Nathan