Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Big Hook Orchids

Big Hook’s Orchids of the North

Every year fisherman at Big Hook miss out on the flora and fauna wonders of the Opasquia Provincial Park and the boreal forest. The Park is home to the Pink Moccasin Flower (Cypripedium Acaule), sometimes called Stemless Lady Slipper. This member of the orchid family is losing habitat all over North America. While not on any endangered list, it is nice to see them thriving around Big Hook and throughout the Opasquia.

Pink Moccasins are found in a variety of shaded, acidic habitats, both wet and dry, in boreal and temperate regions These orchids need very definite environmental conditions, rarely surviving transplanting to gardens. Root system extends approximately a meter in opposite directions from the plant, and cannot withstand severance in order to transplant. Germination from seed to flowering plant requires 10-16 years. They are pollinated by bumble bee (Bombus) queens.

So the next time the group is making the trip across a portage, stop and take a look at the plant life around you. You are so lucky to be standing in a wilderness that is virtually untouched.
Steve Hartle
Big Hook Wilderness Camps

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

200 Miles!

Take some time to contemplate on exactly how far 200 miles is. For a good reference, 200 miles is approximately the distance from Chicago to Green Bay. Now take the time to imagine 200 miles of nothing. No roads, no cities, no cars....just miles and miles of vast green boreal forest. So, take away I-94 and I-43 that run north out of Chicago to Green Bay. Take away Milwaukee, Sheboygan, and Manitowoc. Replace all of that with nature. Kind of tough to do, right?

Witnessing 200 miles of forest is an experience that one must see for themselves. As you cruise thousands of feet over the earth surface in a Cessna Caravan northbound out of Red Lake, ON your eyes continually search for signs of life. Your brain has trouble processing the simplicity of nature. You witness no human influence, just trees, rock and water; repeat that mile after mile after mile. Your mind keeps repeating "There has got to be something!" however your eyes just provide visions of pristine lakes and endless forests of pine and poplar trees.

For the past 25 years our family has operated Big Hook Wilderness Camps 200 miles from the end of the road in Red Lake, ON. Situated in the Opasquia Provincial Park, Big Hook is the most remote outfitter in Ontario. We offer guests the opportunity to witness true isolation and escape from the modern world. No cell phones constantly ringing, no daily commuters to battle, no endless hours at the's just you and Mother Nature.

On your next visit to Big Hook try an experiment to appreciate the remoteness of the Opasquia Park. While you are out fishing turn off the motor, close your eyes and just listen to nature. I mean, really listen. There will be no honking horns, no motorcycles accelerating down the street and no sirens wailing in the distance. What you may hear is the faint cry of a loon or the water lazily lapping at the side of your boat. However, most of the time, silence will consume you and your ears will begin to ring. That in my opinion, is when you can take a deep breath and relax because only then you truly know you are isolated.

For another experiment, try stepping on shore somewhere. Just pick a random shore line and dock your boat for a moment. Chances are, you are the only person to stand in that spot, ever! That is how remote Big Hook Wilderness Camps truly is. The miles and miles of forest sprawling before you probably is unexplored. The Opasquia Provincial Park has a population of three. Myself, my mom and my dad. Thus, there is extremely little human influence on the park.

All in all, what I am trying to convey is traveling 200 miles from the nearest road or town can be exciting and at the same time difficult to process. From a business point of view the distance is very challenging to overcome. Months of planning is needed for an efficient season. From a guests stand point, you are witnessing Mother Nature as she has existed for the past thousands of years undisturbed by man. On your next Big Hook vacation, take a step back and a deep breath because it is just you and Mother Nature.

Good luck on the water in your fall/winter fishing adventures everyone. Please remember to practice catch and release.
Big Hook Wilderness Camps

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Get on the Water

It has been quite the warm fall thus far in the Midwest. In my opinion, this is a great time of year to get your boat out of storage and on the water. Generally, waterways this time of year are less crowded due to the fact kids are back in school and many people are switching their focus to hunting. Plus, this very well could be the last outing before temperatures plummet and snow begins to descend from the sky. Personally I prefer fishing from a boat rather than sitting in a shack watching a tip up.

Fall is also another great time to check out your local tackle shop for great deal on fishing gear and tackle. Often retailers will discount whats remaining of their summer stockpile to clear out space for hunting season and holiday products. Great brands to keep an eye on are: Shimano for fishing reels and St Croix for rods. I'll admit these brands are rarely discounted but watch the prices closely in the fall.

Now that the Big Hook fishing season is over Mom, Dad and I begin tackling the off season projects in preparation for the 2011 season. One big project for the winter is driving supplies up the winter ice highway. A large amount of planning is invested before driving the ice highway. The first step is discussing projects for camp in 2011 and figuring out what will be needed. The second step is allocating enough materials and goods from around NW Ontario for two trips up the ice road. The majority of the trips we have more goods than we can haul. The final step is transporting the goods, which usually takes ten days or so depending on the weather conditions.

Another big chunk of the "off season" is directed to the sport show tour. Our 2011 sport show dates are as follows:

All Canada - St Charles, IL -
Jan 13-16
Canada - Milwaukee, WI - Jan 20-23
All Canada -
Madison, WI - Jan 24-26
All Canada-
Green Bay, WI - Jan 27-30
Tinley Park, IL Feb 12-13
All Canada - Dallas TX -
Feb 25-27

We look forward to visiting with many of you during our sport show campaign. Good luck on the water everyone. I am already looking forward to the 2011 Big Hook season.
Big Hook Wilderness Camps

Monday, September 20, 2010

Year End

The 2010 fishing season is officially over for us at Big Hook Wilderness Camps. First of all, I would just like to personally thank everybody (guests, friends,family and employee's) for allowing the 2010 season to be one of our best. We truly appreciate our customers loyalty over the years.

Let's take a look back at Big Hook's 2010 season. Even with the downturn in the US/Canadian economy Big Hook managed a successful season. According to numerous economist's, tourism throughout Ontario was down approximately 15%. Big Hook managed to beat the curve, maintaining an even client base from 2009 to 2010.

From an operators standpoint 2010 was a quiet and uneventful year. Ice was not an issue, forest fires never threatened our camps and overall Mother Nature provided decent weather. The season began with the earliest ice out in Big Hook history, April 20th. Throughout the years, ice normally retreats from the shorelines around the 10th of May. Overall, the weather throughout the summer was far superior to 2009. May, June and July saw many days reach into the 80 and 90 degrees. August, which is normally our most stable month, saw several low pressure systems that brought cool weather and plenty of rain.

Due to lack of snow last winter, the lake levels throughout the Opasquia Provincial Park were drastically low to begin the year. West Lake was so low we couldn't even dock the plane without touching the bottom with the airplane floats. However, the middle of May brought plenty of moisture and the lakes returned to normal level throughout the summer. Burnt Lake was the exception, with high water most of the year. Water temperatures remained in the 70's the majority of the summer. For the first time in years I was able to swim almost every day during the month of July.

Now for the fishing. Fish responded to the favorable weather. Week after week fishing reports continued to amaze me, numbers and size wise. The largest walleye of the summer, 32" inches long, was boated and released at South Lake. West Lake and Favorable were a close second with 31" monsters. South Lake broke the 30" barrier 23 times for the 2010 season, an unbelievable feat. Due to how north we are located the growing season for fish is incredibly short. According to some reports, a 30" walleye as far north as us is almost 30 years old! When you catch and release these "old timers" please make sure to handle them carefully, because they have plenty of years behind them. Beginning in 1992, Big Hook enabled a No Trophy policy for walleye and northern. All walleye over 18" and pike exceeding 27.5" are to be released. The fish above these size limits are your primary breeders, keeping Big Hook's fishery one of the top in Ontario. With 18 years of catch and release, the fishery is better than ever.
It was a three way tie for the largest pike, at 45" between Central, West and Favourable Lake. Dozens of pike were reported from 42-44" from the other camps. Surprisingly, sauger are being caught throughout the Opasquia Provincial Park. The species is expanding eastward from Island Lake Manitoba.

As you probably saw during my season's fishing reports, I recommended numerous lures. Two lures in particular stood out from the rest: the fire tiger or flouro orange Shad Rap #7 for walleye and the Mann's Hard Nose Swim Shad for pike. Both of these lures combined to boat dozens of trophy fish during the 2010 season. On top of the usual array of lures, I would highly recommend adding these two in your tackle box for your next Big Hook adventure.

What is in store for the 2011 season? Big Hook hopes to continue it's leading effort in "green technologies". We plan to keep the Opasquia Provincial Park as one of the greenest provincial park in Ontario by relying on and continuing to upgrade our solar and wind technologies.
Plans for new docks at South and Lemonade Lakes are in the works. Much depends of course on a solid winter road.

As remote as our business is, 185 air miles from the nearest town, the smallest mishap is the often critical. Planning for an upcoming year is crucial and time consuming. There is no calling a plumber if the water shuts down. Electricians are not on speed dial and carpenters are not available. As a "mom and pop" operation in the remote north, our family has to take each matter into our own hands and solve the problem efficiently and effectively. I always joke that we are the "jack of all trades and masters of none." Bridging the communication gap was probably the biggest challenge for us over the years. However, advancements in technology, i.e. internet and VOIP phone communications have made the ability to operate a successful remote business. Mom, Dad and I hope our efforts in the 2010 season met and exceeded your expectations.

Once again, I would like to thank everyone for visiting us at Big Hook Wilderness Camps. We certainly hope you enjoyed your stay with us during our 2010 season. Please remember to send us your pics your latest Big Hook fishing trip and we will try to include them in our fall/winter news letter. Good luck on the water in your fall/winter fishing endeavors.
Big Hook Wilderness Camps

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

September Report

In all the years we have operated in the Opasquia Provincial Park, September has been the most difficult month to predict for weather and fishing. For example, September 2009 was the most pleasant month of the summer, with temperatures ranging in the mid seventy's and sunny skies. Fish were very predictable. Walleye were in 20ft of water aggressively feeding and pike were scattered between rock piles and dying weedbeds. Aside from fishing, we were able to close the resort wearing t-shirts and shorts. Flying the sunny skies throughout the park was relaxing and flying tree top level was never required.

However, this year is a different monster. The leaves on the birch and poplar trees have begun to yellow and fall to the forest floor. Honking geese flying south bound are now the major air traffic for us within the provincial park. On calm, clear nights the faint cry of a wolf is signals fall is on her way. The occasional moose call is audible if you know what to listen for. This September we have witnessed just one day of sunshine and consistent cool temperatures. The north winds off of Hudson Bay have been particularly strong bringing plenty of rain/mist with it. Dense clouds have hidden the sun and the ambient temperature
has rapidly cooled the water temperature to 55 degrees.

The walleye have responded to the cool weather with a light bite. Trolling in about 18 ft of water with a deep diving crank bait has been the most effective technique. Jigging has been tough due to the bite, often twister tails will be stolen. The cool weather however has invigorated the pike. Numerous trophies have been caught since the temperatures have turned cool. West Lake boated 7 pike between 40-45" for the last two weeks in a row. Not to mention numerous other large fish reported from the other camps. Pike are rapidly bulking up for the winter time, feeding on anything up to 1/2 their size. Hence during the fall, larger baits are very enticing to this toothy species. This time of year, it is often the large fish will transition from the muddy weed beds to areas with rock bottom.

Every year people ask me "When is the best time to fish for trophy pike?" It is often a topic that will spur much debate. Each month is different towards fishing technique's. In my honest opinion every month offers fantastic fishing. I know many of you will roll your eyes at that response. However, I have had the fortunate opportunity to fish this park for the last twenty years and can say the fishing holds year round. You just have to educate yourself on the tools you'll need and the pike habits for each lake and time of year. Because of our NO trophy take out policy, the fish will always be there year after year.

A key element for fishing, don't forget to try and experiment. Whether it's and new lure or jigging versus trolling. If the fishing is tough ask yourself, "is it the fish or the fish-
erman?" I often swallow my pride and admit I am doing something wrong. To this day I find new successful fishing technique's and spots that will surprise me. For example, this spring we were fishing the east rapids at Central and our jigs were frequently getting bit off by pike. I figured a simple solution would be to cast spoons or crankbaits. The result, absolutely nothing. Jig with a leader, zero. I couldn't believe it! Just on a whim, I tried a rig similar to a jig. I rigged up, in a sense, a bass worm rig. The fish went ballistic over this lure. We boated 6 fish in thirty minutes over 35". Never had I considered using this lure, however I have a feeling it will be a staple in my spring time fishing box.

The year is winding down to an end for us. The last guests departed Saturday. It is now time to close and winterize each of the outposts. The process of closing up usually takes between two and three weeks depending on the weather of course.

Good luck to everyone in your fall and winter fishing endeavors! Please send us your pictures from your latest Big Hook fishing trip.
Big Hook Wilderness Camps

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Big Hook Fishing Report Week 14

The sense of fall has integrated itself into the north country here at Big Hook Wilderness Camps. Although the temperatures have been fairly pleasant, Mother Nature is beginning to convey signs of fall. Birch trees are beginning to yellow, water temperatures are on the decline, and yesterday (8/30/2010) we even witnessed several flocks of geese on their way south bound. The late summer weather this August is indeed cooler than 2009. If I remember correctly, we saw day time highs of 78 degrees consistently and I even flew out of camp on Sept 20th wearing shorts last year.

The fish have finally begun holding in their late summer/fall patterns. Walleye are now holding on 20ft reefs and are being caught as deep as 30 ft. Jigging and spinner rigs/
worm harnesses are the best option when fish are holding deeper. My favorite set up is jigging with a 3/8 oz jig and a flouro orange Berkley Gulp. Another great setup is a Lindy Rig (attached right is pic). Most Lindy rigs with a flouro orange or a chartreuse blade are more effective. Backtrolling with these rigs is crucial for "feeling" the bottom, it allows you to slow the boat to a crawl. Thus your baits are able to reach the bottom much easier.

Pike are prowling everywhere, aggressively feeding on their prey. Larger northern were boated while fishing a variety of techniques, from retrieving topwater lures to trolling larger crankbaits in 20+ ft. With the decline in sunlight and lowered water temperatures, the majority of the weed beds are beginning to brown and thin. However, these dieing weeds will still hold numerous fish. The thinning weeds allow fisherman to burn bucktails through the foliage with ease. A great tactic for fishing a weed bed is: Find a wind blown weed bed, meaning a weed bed where the wind has been blowing into for at least several hours. Then align the boat at least 100 ft from the border of the weeds and begin to cast the outer edge. After casting the outer edge of the weeds, slowly begin to creep the boat further into the foliage. Typically the larger fish will hold on the outer edge.

As for the outposts, big pike were reported all around last week, which is normal for late August. Typically, the largest pike of the year will be caught in the waining weeks of August and into the first weeks of September. West Lake boated 7 fish over 40" and the largest of the week at 44". Burnt Lake boated and released a 42" pike. South Lake managed to duplicate another 42" fish and South West reported an impressive 41" caught on a jig. Numerous other fish between 30-39" were boated and released throughout all the outposts.

Several large walleye were reported last week. South had numerous fish
over 25" topping out at 30.5". They reported the majority of the larger fish hanging in 20-25 ft of water. Cocos boated and released a chunky 26" fish while trolling Shad Raps along the edge of the current on the first set of rapids. (Attached right is a beauty 29" walleye boated and released at South Lake).

Please remember Big Hook has a NO TROPHY take out policy. Which means, walleye over 18" and pike over 27.5" MUST be released.

Remember to send us your pics from your latest Big Hook fishing trip.

Good luck on the water everyone.
Big Hook Wilderness Camps

(Attached right: the impressive cliffs at SW Lake).

Monday, August 23, 2010

Big Hook Fishing Report Week 13

Guests last week had to bear down and brave some tough weather. Winds howled from the NW carrying ample amounts of rain. The barometric pressure sank to a summer low of 29.18" as a wicked low pressure sat over northwest Ontario for two days. Water temperatures began the week at 72 degrees only to plummet to 62 degrees. Fortunately, the system passed and we have been graced with warm temperatures, light winds and cloudy skies the last several days.

Even with the warm temperatures this week, Mother Nature has started the fall patterns early. Birch and poplar leaves have begun turning yellow, weeks earlier than normal. Another sign that fall is coming early are wild rose hips turning bright orange. Wild roses can be found everywhere throughout the Opasquia Provincial Park, and are dominant where a forest fire have recently burned. Bulbs from wild roses contain extremely high amounts of Vitamin C and with a little honey make an excellent tea when dried out. Rose hip tea is one of my favorite remedies to knock out those wicked fall and winter head colds. With late summer and early fall also comes the blueberry harvest. Unfortunately, the blueberry crop was rather disappointing this summer.
could only scrounge up a half gallon of berries. However, tons of raspberries flourished in recently burned areas. In my opinion, there is nothing better than waking up to fresh blueberry pancakes with a hand full of picked raspberries on the side.

As I mentioned before, we witnessed some drastic pressure changes last week. Over the 20 years of fishing here at Big Hook I have encountered hundreds of weather systems and recorded their effects on the Opasquia Provincial Park fishery. As the barometric pressure falls before a front, fish often respond with aggressive feeding. However, once the front is upon the area, fish (walleye especially) become very timid and bite incredibly light. These days you will often find walleye nibbling the ends off your twister tails. Steady barometric pressure is the key to excellent fishing. I have found three days of constant pressure will yield the best results.

The wind last week, in my opinion, was the toughest element to battle. Howling winds make it incredibly tough to back troll and jig. Water will constantly breach the transom and soak your feet while fishing the wind blown shoreline. When this occurs, I will often switch to forward trolling crankbaits along 16ft banks for both walleye and pike. In late August, pike can be found everywhere and trolling is a great tactic locating them. They spread from the weed beds and aggressively feed to bulk up for the winter. Northerns will often hold along wind blown rock shelfs and wind blown points hunting walleye and whitefish. Late season trolling I will often run one line out with a larger crankbait like a Baby Depth Raider or a Rapala Original F18 for pike and another line out with a Shad Rap, Reef Runner or Wally Diver for walleye. Remember walleye can be leader shy, so to prevent getting bit off from a pike, try splicing a 30# flourocarbon tippet for your leader.

Burnt Lake won the weekly fish bragging rights for pike with an impressive 42" fish and South continued it's amazing streak, photoing and releasing an awesome 30" walleye. (Pictured above: Heidi with an impressive Central Lake walleye. Pictured right: wild roses opened. )

Good luck on the water everyone. Please remember Big Hook has a NO TROPHY take out policy. Please release all walleye over 18" and all pike over 27". These fish are our primary breeders and help maintain a healthy fishery for future generations.
Big Hook Wilderness Camps

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Big Hook Fishing Report Week 12

The summer is winding down. Unfortunately, fall weather has prematurely graced our skies. Heavy northwest winds, cool temperatures and mist falling makes for short fishing excursions before the need for a warm cup of coffee arises. A low pressure system is forecasted to sit around until Monday.
Drastic changes in the weather can make fishing tough. However, windy days tend to push fish to the wind blown shoreline. I find a constant wind for two days is a great for predicting fish locations, especially walleye. As I have mentioned in previous Blog's, trolling along a windy shore with a Shad Rap, Reef Runner, Fat Rap or any crankbait that dives 12-15 ft is one of my favorite walleye catching tactics. The key is holding the boat close to a shore that has a good drop off and trolling forward the slowest the motor will idle. For example, today on Central Lake we have a 20 mph NW wind. I decided to fish the SE end of the lake. We trolled along a rock ledge and managed to hold the boat in 12 ft. One person was using a deep diving brown Fat Rap and the other was trolling an orange jointed Cotton Cordell crankbait. We found 16 walleye between 16-20 inches schooled up along the eastern shoreline in just a couple of minutes.
Over the remainder of the summer walleye will continue their descent. Traditionally, the last week of August walleye's are hovering in 20 ft of water. Pike will continue predictable patterns, feeding in weedbeds and suspending in deeper water. Most big pike will be caught within the weeds and on several rock piles. This time of year my favorite lure to use on rock piles is a Bulldawg or a Rapala 1 oz Storm Shad. Please remember to crimp the barbs on your treble hooks, especially the Bulldawg (that lure can be a nightmare extracting from a pike's mouth). It is always helpful to have an extra long pair of needle nose pliers to help safely remove the hooks and safely release the fish.
The weekly award for biggest pike goes to Favourable Lake, boating and releasing a 45" monster (pictured above). It was the second fish of the trip! Talk about an impressive start to a week of fishing. South Lake continue's an impressive streak with the largest walleye of the week photoing and releasing a 28.5".
Good luck on the water everyone. Please remember to release all walleye's over 18" and all pike over 27.5". Take care,
Big Hook Wilderness Camps

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Big Hook Fishing Report Week 11

I can really appreciate the warm weather this summer especially after operating during one of the coolest seasons in on record in 2009. An early ice out this spring (approx April 19th) and sunny skies have contributed to warm water temperatures and active fish. The water temps are holding at a steady 70 degrees, just warm enough to enjoy a quick dip in the lake. The majority of this week and last saw an abundance of sunshine with several days of thunderstorms. Hail was reported at a couple of camps too.
The fish are beginning to hold in the late summer patterns. Walleye are descending to 14-20 ft while pike are scattered throughout the lakes. Most larger pike are being caught o
n the edge's of weed beds while the occasional monster has been caught off of rocky points. Yesterday, I witnessed a common occurrence. While a smaller walleye was being brought to the boat a massive pike darted from the depths and smashed the little flailing walleye. When I see this scenario unfold I immediately open up the bail on my reel and allow the pike to swim away for a short while. After about 15 seconds I'll snap my bail shut and slowly, very slowly, reel the pike back to the boat. The majority of the time the fish has a better grasp on t
he walleye and will refuse to let go. Get the net handy, take a picture, release the fish and enjoy! You just caught two fish at once.
As I have mentioned in previous posts, jigging is one of the most effective ways to reach walleye in deeper waters. However, other technique's such as worm harnesses are a great alternative if you feel "jigged out". Most of the time I don't even bother with the worm and just place a twister instead. This time of year the fish move from deep rock shoal to shoal quite frequen
tly, so don't get discouraged if you cannot find the fish immediately. If the fish seem to have completely disappeared try the windy shoreline. A steady wind for two days will stack the fish on the wind blown shore.
For larger pike on these hot calm days I prefer hunt them in the late afternoon. Case in point, while guiding yesterday we witnessed about 7 large follows in the morning. None of the fish appeared to be aggressive, just curious. I gave up and switched to walleye until about 4:30 pm. Maybe we got lucky or maybe it's skill (I prefer to think the latter) but we boated fish consistently until we left at 6:00 pm including a 42.5", 40.75" and a 36" pike. Two of the fish, were boated on a Top Raider and the third was on a Mann's Hardnose Swim shad. The weedless soft plastic baits have been incredibly effective this summer for large pike. Berkley Hollow Body lures are another bait that gets a thumbs up.
The weekly big fish award for walleye once again goes to South Lake at 29" while Central wins it with a 42.5" pike. Pictured above (myself with a 27" inch walleye and Mike Radis with a 42.5 pike, look at the jaws on that pike!)
Good luck on the water everyone. Please remember Big Hook has a NO trophy take out policy which means NO walleye can be kept over 18" and NO pike can be kept over 27.5"
Big Hook Wilderness Camps

Monday, August 2, 2010

Big Hook Fishing Report Week 10

Temperatures have been quite warm throughout the past week. Sunny clear mornings followed with thunderstorms in the afternoon has us in the great white north feeling like it is Florida. Most guests at Central are taking advantage of the warm water with an afternoon dip to cool off. Amazingly, loads of walleye are huddled up under our floating docks dodging the sunlight. I recorded water temperatures around 74 degrees down to approximately 6 feet.
Surprisingly, walleye are still holding throughout the water column. Fish have been caught as shallow as 4 ft and as deep as 20 ft. The larger walleye are holding on points close to deep water access or rocky shoals. Jigging has been most effective with Berkley Gulp or just plain white twister tails. The largest walleye last week were boated and released on West and South , tied at 29". Many 24-27" walleye were reported throughout all the other outposts.
Pike are holding tight to weedbeds most days. However, on sunny calm mornings and afternoons you will find many many fish following up to the boat. If you see a fish follow to the boat and it doesn't take on a figure eight, try dropping a jig on a leader. You will be quite surprised with the results. I find hot calm days to be very difficult fishing for pike. On these days I prefer attacking pike in the afternoons and early evenings, especially with top water baits and bucktails. Find you favorite weed bed and wait for the fire works to happen. Top water strikes can be unpredictable and very exciting. Rattle traps are great lures to toss on rock piles in deeper water while the sun in high in the sky. Central and West tied for largest pike for the week at 43.5". One fish was boated on a white musky killer and the other on a soft plastic swim bait covered with a water proof band aids of all things! Attached right is a pic of the lucky lure.
Fishing Tip
Typically, August is the month when walleye begin their dive to deeper depths. It is common for fish to hold in water around 20 ft. Jigging is the primary tactic to reach walleye in deeper waters. Several crankbaits such as Shad Raps, Wally Divers, Hot N Tot's and Reef Runners reach to depths of 16 feet. Great colors are blue and silver, flouro orange and fire tiger. Troll these slowly along deeper mud flats and rocky shores. If you happen to catch a fish try turning around and making another pass. If the fish continue to bite, consider dropping some jigs on the school of walleye. Remember walleye will school up in like sizes. If you happen to boat a 20" walleye chances are some big fish are holding throughout the area.

Good luck on the water everyone. Please remember Big Hook has a NO trophy take out policy. All walleye over 18" must be released and all northern over 27.5" must be released.
Take care,
Big Hook Wilderness Camps

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Big Hook Fishing Report Week 9

Just rolled in from guiding several days at West Lake. Sunny humid mornings and stormy afternoons have been the norm all week long thus far. Air temperatures have been flirting with the 90's earlier in the week. Today is cooler with wind blowing from the north and mist falling from the skies. Water temperatures are averaging a pleasant 72 degree's down to about 15 ft.
Weather is fore casted to remain warm with a day or two of rain peppered in.
Surprisingly, the walleye's have not begun their dive to deeper cooler waters. The last week I found fish holding as shallow as 4 ft and as deep as 18 ft. However, the majority of the fish have been caught holding between 10-12 feet. Trolling has been quite disappointing the past couple of days, I often find that changes frequently. Most walleye have been caught jigging on the edges of the weeds and on top of rock piles. Yellow was a hot colored twister on a 3/8 oz jig head. We haven't had a dark day lately so dark colors such as black and purple have been rather ineffective.
Pike have been extremely active in the weed beds. Calm afternoons are an exciting time to fish for monster pike held up in thick cabbage beds. Try finding weeds that grow in 6 ft or deeper for the larger fish. The majority of trophy pike are caught just on the edge of the foliage. While holding the boat off the weed bed, try casting your bait deep into the cabbage with a medium retrieve. Mann's Bullnose Swim Shads, Johnson Silver Minnows, Buzz Baits and Bucktails are all great baits to work through the weeds. Once that big fish is hooked get ready to battle him through the weeds, this is where most big fish are lost. Let your rod do most of the work, NOT your reel. Pull back and reel down to get that fish out of the weeds. However, if you are tired of cleaning cabbage off your hooks, try switching tactics and cast for pike on rock piles. Hunt down a rocky shoal that reaches up to about 10 ft from deeper water, especially one that you have been catching walleye on, and start slinging larger crankbaits, Rapala Wild Eye, or Bulldawgs. Pike often prowl rock piles waiting for a stray walleye to separate from the school.
Fishing Tip
This is the time of year where depth finders can be incredibly effective. Locating deeper rock piles can be key to a successful trip of catching fish. Fishing these deep reefs usually require jigging or bouncing a worm harnesses. Fish often will hold on top of the reef. However, if no fish are found directly on top of the rock pile, slowly back troll around each side. I find anchoring frustrating due to the fact the boat cannot stay mobile and chase the schools of walleye.
Tackle Tip
Fishing the weeds can be frustrating. Without the right bait or proper retrieve hooks will snag weeds every cast. As mentioned before, great weedless baits are the Johnson Silver Minnow or the Bullnose Swim Shad. Bucktails are a great bait to work over the top of the weeds and retrieve around the weeds. Keep your rod tip high when retrieving bucktails so you can navigate the bait throughout the foliage. A #8 Colorado blade bucktail is one of my favorites.

All of the camps had similar reports to which I addressed above. Central won the weekly trophy (7-17 through 7-24) with both the large pike and walleye for the week.
(Pictured above: Alan grinning from ear to ear with a great looking 38.5" pike caught and released on Central).

Good luck on the water everyone. Please remember Big Hook has a NO trophy take out policy. Which means all pike over 27.5" and walleye over 18" MUST be released. Take a picture and gently put the fish back in the water.
Take care.
Big Hook Wilderness Camps

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Big Hook Fishing Report Week 8

Last week Mother Nature played some tricks on us. The week began with pleasant skies and favorable temperatures. However, that all turned south for Wed, Thursday and Friday. Numerous thunderstorms and torrential downpours made for interesting fishing. Also, the barometric pressure dropped to the lowest I have seen in years, 29.36. I have found that frequent big swings in barometric pressure makes for tough fishing. Walleye turn lethargic and have a tendency to just "tail bite" the jigs. During these periods, it is common to retrieve your lure with just half a twister remaining. Smaller presentations often is a way to combat the light bite.
Fishing Tip
The Figure Eight often gets overlooked when fishing pike. Last week at Favourable, this little tactic boated an aggressive 37.5" pike. The Figure Eight is a maneuver where at the end of your retrieve, you place your rod tip in the water pull your lure alongside the boat in the pattern of an eight. Often, those following pike will turn around and strike. Pike often will hide just under the boat and surprise fisherman. The Figure Eight maneuver is not necessary
every cast, just once our twice on a spot will suffice.
Tackle Tip
Top water baits are probably the most exciting method of fishing pike. Watching a pike surge through the water and strike a bait still gives me goose bumps after all these years. Calm afternoons and early evenings are my favorite times to toss topwaters. Great lures are: buzz baits, Zara spooks, Dancing Raiders and Top Raiders. Remember not to set the hook until you feel the weight of the fish. So many times I have excitedly sent my lure zinging back at my boat in an attempt to set the hook prematurely.
Burnt Lake
Weed beds are holding both perch and pike. Try fishing the edges for the bigger fish. The shoals just 800 meters off the dock will start to hold larger fish this time of year. Large crank baits, bulldawgs, rapala wildeye shads are all great for reef fishing.
Cocos Lake
As noted for Burnt, weed beds are holding a great number of fish. There are great weed beds close to camp that are not to be overlooked. Remember the best fishing isn't necessarily on the far end of the lake. Several reefs in the middle north of the rapids were holding large amounts of walleye. Jigs are still my favorite way to fish walleye at Cocos, whether in the rapids or on the edge of weed beds.
Central Lake
Nice walleye are holding on reefs close to camp. Airplane island and Hippo rock have been very productive. Several 24-27" fish were caught last week. Trolling floating Shad Raps along 10-14 ft breakline's have been effective. I have started seeing some monster pike prowling the thick weeds in narrows on the north end of the lake. If there is a consistent wind for at least two days, remember to fish the windy shorlines.
When in doubt, fish Lemonade. So far this year, the fishing on Lemonade has been nothing short of great. This shallow lake is impervious to weather systems. Consistent walleye over 20" and more pike than you want to deal with. Walleye Point and the Three Sisters on Favourable held great walleye action early in the week. Several of the reefs east of camp held big pike. Tossing a Gold Bomber Magnum was effective but the trophy lure was the Johnson Silver Minnow last week. Three pike over 37" were boated and released on the Silver Minnow.
South Lake
The size of walleye at South continue to amaze me so much that I forget there are monster pike in that lake also. Weed beds close to camp, straight across the bay from the dock, hold some big fish. The narrows to the SE of camp continue to hold both large pike and walleye. Many big walleye 27-29.5" were photo'd and released last week. Jigging reefs with a Wild Eye Shad can be fun, because you'll never know if you'll boat a big walleye or pike.
Southwest Lake
I honestly don't think the fishing ever slows at SW. This lake doesn't seem to get affected by weather fronts. Walleye are in typical summer patterns holding on the edges of weeds or rocky points deeper than 10 ft. Pike are anywhere you can find weeds. The eastern arm of the lake is a scenic boat ride, not to mention great fishing.
West Lake
West Lake boated and released both the big pike, 43" and the big walleye, 30" last week. Fish are beginning to descend into deeper waters. As noted above, fish are now in typical summer patterns. Weed beds in the NE corner of the fish bowl hold amazing pike. Bucktails and topwater are my favorite ways to fish those beds. The rock just off the dock should not go unfished this time of year. It is amazing how many big fish will hold so close to camp.

Good luck on the water everyone. Please remember Big Hook has a NO Trophy takeout policy. Which means NO pike over 27.5" and NO walleye over 18" can be kept. We want these fish to be in the waters for generations to come. Remember to send your pictures!
Big Hook Wilderness Camps

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Big Hook Fishing Report

Big Hook Wilderness Camps
I apologize for the late blog this week, I was stationed at Favourable for the last three days. For this post I'll try condense the last ten days of fishing. (Pictured right: A beauty 40" pictured and released at Favourable 7/12. Below: Awesome 40" released on West Lake 6/21.)
I awoke this morning to the soothing cry of a loon under a red sunrise. You all are most likely familiar with the term, "Red skies in the morning, sailor take warning. Pink skies at night sailors delight." Storms indeed are on the horizon. Thunderstorms are very common this time of year and can roll in abruptly. Keep your eye's on the sky as 99% of the storms will roll in from the west or southwest. If you see dark clouds with plenty lightening and thunder, common sense should tell you to get off the water.
Weather over the past week has been erratic. We had a mix of all types. Several days last week the wind blew out of the north bringing chilly temperatures from Hudson Bay, only to change immediately to southern breezes and 80 degree temperatures. As a rule of thumb here in the northwoods, north winds mean cooler temperature and southern winds will bring warm temperature and the thunderstorms.
Fishing Tip
Since we are on the topic of storm fronts. Generally, I have found fishing picks up hours before a band of weather arrives in an area. As mentioned before, you shouldn't be trying to catch your next trophy while lightening is striking down all around you. That being said, storm fronts have a way of exciting the fish. The skies darken which give fisherman the advantage, fish have less sunlight to distinguish the bait. The old fisherman's saying is "The worse the weather, the better the fishing."
Tackle Tip
I have preached many lures in this blog. In my cabin a closet is dedicated to fishing tackle, but every fisherman has one lure they turn to in a time of doubt. Mine, the Johnson silver minnow. The lure itself is very bland, just a hunk of curved silver metal with a single hook. However, when tipped with a 3" to 4" twister tail, the lure turns deadly. It is so crucial to add that little piece of plastic. With weed beds getting thicker throughout the summer, this little lure is the perfect way to combat the foliage. You can do a straight retrieve through the weed beds or even turn it into a top water dancer. An immediate retrieve the instant the lure strikes the water and keeping your rod tip high will allow the spoon to slide on its back on the surface over the top of weeds. The larger sized minnows I have found to be more effective, i.e. 1 oz or bigger.
Walleye are beginning to descend to deeper waters. Over the past couple of days I found the best depth ranging from 10 to 14 feet. Jigging has been effective on rocky points and submerged reefs. Trolling wind blown shorelines with Shad Raps and Hot N Tot's have produced lots of fish. Flouro orange and perch colored crankbaits have been hot colors.
Pike are beginning to follow predictable patterns. Most fish are found in weed beds or along the edges. The best ways to tempt a pike out of the weeds is to use a silver minnow or burn a bucktail over the top/around the weeds. Some pike are also scattered along submerged reefs among the walleye. Reefs that top out around 10' is where I love to cast my bulldawg.
The fish patterns above seem to be holding true for all of the outposts. South again topped the weekly walleye at 29.5" and as far as I know Favourable released the large pike at 40". Many fish from other outposts came close.

Here is a great recipe that mom makes with every fish fry. Her famous Jalapeño corn is as follows:
-3 cans of kernel corn, drained
-1 8 oz container of soft Philadelphia Herb and Garlic cream cheese
-1 seeded fresh jalapeño or canned is fine, amount varies to personal spice limits
-Optional: throw in some parsley and chives for color. About 1/2 tablespoon of each.
Bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees covered in a casserole dish. Enjoy with walleye.

Good luck on the water everyone. Remember the size limits: Walleye must be kept under 18" and northern must be kept under 27.5".
Big Hook Wilderness Camps

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Big Hook Fishing Report Week 6

Have a great Independence Day everyone! Here at Big Hook we are celebrating with some delicious fresh from the lake walleye. Mom mixed up a batch of tasty home made ice cream, a rare treat here in the north considering the closest Dairy Queen is over 300 miles away. Tonight we will ignite some fireworks purchased from Sandy Lake to cap off a great day.
Mayflies continued their hatch throughout the week. Fortunately, stiff north winds on last Sunday and Monday prevented the winged nemesis from landing on the water and thus into the bellies of walleye. The hatch should be on it's tail end here. Remember a healthy mayfly hatch is a sign of a healthy body of water.
Overall, the weather trended warmer throughout the week. Last Thursday and Friday brought plenty of sunshine and warm temperatures. Continued humid warm weather with thunderstorms is fore casted throughout this week. Water temperatures are
again flirting with 70 degree's on the surface. I even jumped in the lake Friday three times to cool off, lets just say the water is a tad cooler 4 feet under the surface. Water levels have peaked on most lakes and are hanging around normal levels for this time of year.
Tackle Tip
First time fishing at Big Hook? The most valuable piece of luggage other than a fishing rod, in my opinion, is a depth finder. Depth finders can tell you water temperature and show you reefs that would go otherwise undiscovered. The Eagle Cuda 300 is a great portable depth finder, make sure to purchase the rechargeable battery.
Fishing Tip
Jig fisherman are you having trouble locating a school of walleye? Try jigging the edge of a weed bed or lilly pads you would be amazed how many walleye will hang around foliage. Keep the leader in your tackle box and not on the end of your line. Take the risk of a bite off from pike. Walleye's are leader shy and will strike more often when no leader is present.

I managed to chat will all the guests this past Saturday and obtained some valuable fishing information from each lake, which I'll now pass on to you.
Burnt Lake
Lots of fish reported. Weed growth has been solid and fish are all holding tight to the beds. Large walleye can be caught on reefs just 400 yards straight south from camp. Fish are still holding in the narrows. 8-12 ft is still the magical depth for Burnt for walleye. Pike are holding in all water columns. Perch are still hanging in weed beds with the pike. Try yellow or white beetle spins for best results.
Central Lake
The topside of the north rapids was the hot spot of the week. Jigging just above the falls resulted in hundreds of walleye. With water temperatures warming walleye can be found throughout the water column. Schools of fish were found as deep as 20ft. Pumkinseed and flouro orange twisters/gulp were great lures. Trolling a blue and silver shad rap in twelve feet of water over rock piles was successful too.
Pike were hanging in the north narrows where weeds are continuing to develop. Many pike are suspended right now feeding on whitefish. Whitefish come to the surface to feed on Mayflies and are great targets for hungry for monster pike. Try tossing some deep diving cranks or a Bulldawg over reefs to target the suspended fish.

Favourable or Lemonade didn't disappoint last week. Tons and tons of fish were boated on Lemonade. Many walleye between 18-21". Any shoreline with a depth of 8+ feet was producing fish. Favourable hot spots were "walleye point" just before you make the turn to the first arm. Trolling an orange crankbait along this point was very productive. For pike, "pike alley" was still the hot producer. Bucktails and johnson spoons are the best way to retrieve through the weeds.

The rapids as usual held the fish. Weed beds just 1/2 mile to the SW of the rapids were holding nice pike. Remarkably, one of the best pike spots was a giant weedbed straight across the bay from camp. Walleye were also holding on the edges of weed beds. When in doubt finding fish, try the windy shoreline. If a wind has been blowing to that shore for more than one day, chances are the fish will be stacked there. The rapids is still navigable, remember to stay just left of center for the first set of moving water. For the second, just giver and stay in the middle.

The south guests handed me a list of impressive catches from throughout the week. The list is as follows: Pike 1- 40", 1- 39", 3-36" and a number between 30-32". Walleye 2-29", 4-27", 4-26", 20-25" had too many to keep track of. Jigging with Berkley Gulp along the weed edges was most productive. Some of the bigger fish were holding on drop off just away from the weed beds.

Southwest produced the usual plethora of fish. Hundreds and hundreds of eye's were boated between 18-20". Yellow jig tails once again were the most popular lure. Weed beds in the north arm of the lake produced the largest pike. The tiny island just west of camp was amazing for walleye.

The west lake crew reported great fishing despite a dominant may fly hatch. A 40" was boated and released in the fish bowl. The sunken island just east of the camp produced some large walleye, a 26" was photo'd and released. According to the guests, "big bertha" was hooked but won the battle, snapping the line and returned to the depths. The weed beds throughout the lake are heating up. Lots of sunshine has attributed to excellent weed growth. Try tossing top water baits in the "horseshoe" in the afternoon for an exciting pike strike.

Good luck on the water to everyone. Send me some pictures to post on the blog here.
Big Hook Wilderness Camps

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Big Hook Fishing Report Week 5

Overall, the weather held up well last week. One storm squall brought us ample amounts of lightening and even some hail. Typically, fish will bite like crazy just prior to sweeping fronts. Just keep in mind you should get off the water when you see lightening crashing in the distance.
Water levels finally seem to be topping out. It is amazing how fast the water has shot up in one week. Central is the highest of all the lakes with water almost over the tops of the docks. Cocos is usually the last to peak because the lake is at the end of the river system.
Fishing tip: You have probably heard this before, but while pike fishing don't forget to do a figure eight at the boat every couple of casts. You would be amazed how many fish will shoot up from the depths and slam your bait boatside. Also, if you have a big pike follow your lure, try slinging a jig on a leader immediately after that fish swims out of site. Chances are that timid fish will strike a smaller lure.
Tackle recommendation: Flourocarbon leaders can make a huge difference for fishing. Flourocarbon is a monofilament fishing line thats doesn't reflect sun light, thus making it invisible to fish. 50# flourocarbon leaders are great vs traditional steel leaders for boating timid, lethargic pike.
Central Lake
Central boated and released the largest fish of the week, a beautiful 45" pike. Caught by Wally from the Cook party on his first trip boated the monster just 400 yds from the camp on a small Mepp's spinner. With the high water walleye's are holding tight to all four incoming rapids. Husker rock was a hot spot for eye's bigger than 23". Trolling a silver fat rap through the West narrows was really effective. Other large pike were caught on the west portage and in the north narrows.
South Lake
The walleye's cooperated all week long reported the Brutcher party. Many fish were caught and released over 25". The topside of the rapids on the north end was superb. The narrows just south of camp was also excellent. Weeds are beginning to thicken on the north end of the lake. Water levels have come up about a foot throughout the week.
West Lake
The high water has the waterfalls flowing and the fish holding tight to the current. Don't be afraid to fish well away from the rapids for big prowling pike. The narrows again were the hot spot for monsters. Largest pike topped at 43" with several others larger than 40". The guests managed to net a 40" fish that T-boned a smaller 18" pike at the boat. That is a rare feat, normally the big fish let go. The weed beds in the fish bowl are heating up with thicker foliage holding many fish. The north end of the lake is producing, reefs on the east side are holding large walleyes.
Cocos Lake
The Mroz party submitted an awesome list of pike caught and released during the week. For example here are some of the fish caught. 14 pike caught over 35" and two pike reaching a staggering 43". Several 25" walleye were photo'd and released also. Many of the fish were caught in cabbage beds. Hot lures were doctor spoons and johnson silver minnows. The rapids are still navigable, although more and more water is spilling through daily.
Burnt Lake
The Long party had huge smiles on their faces after a week of great fishing. According to them, fish were holding on points and everywhere the lake narrows. Several large perch were boated. Perch were holding in the weeds. As usual, the narrows held thousands of fish. Pike are prowling between reefs and weeds.
Lemonade produced hundreds of walleye along with many perch and saugers. Pike are always striking on Lemonade, however it is typical just to catch fish around 20-24". For pike Lemonade always has the numbers but it is tough to get the size. Nice walleyes between 18-22" are common on both Lemonade and Favourable. Fish are holding both in mud flats and rocky points. The creeks on the "elbow" of Favourable were holding plenty of both species. Pike were a little timid throughout the week, commonly following the lures to the boat. Note the fishing tip at the beginning of the blog. Several nice pike over 35" were boated and released. I'll be guiding on Favourable in the near future and will be able to report specific locations.
Good luck on the water everyone. (Pictured above: A nice walleye boated and released from Burnt.)
Big Hook Wilderness Camps

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Big Hook Fishing Report Week 4

Two days of solid rain sent the water levels sky rocketing last week. Water levels are now above normal. The rising water has stunted weed growth over the past week. Hopefully, the weeds will catch up to the rising levels with the ample amounts of sun we have been receiving. Overall, the weather has been warm with scattered thunder showers in the afternoon. Water surface temperatures are starting to flirt with 70 degree's. May flies have been spotted on several lakes over the past couple of days. The main hatch still is looming.
A key tactic to combat the may flies is to try scaling down on tackle size. Just switching to 1/4 oz jigs from 3/8 oz can yield great results. Smaller crank baits like baby fat raps and small husky jerks are great for trolling. My favorite colors are blue and silver.
Central Lake
The Walker and Buck party boated tons and tons of 20+" walleye. Lots were caught trolling crankbaits
in about 8-12ft of water. Pike were active on cloudy days, smashing bucktails on the mud flats.
Dave from the Cook party hit the grand slam of fishing boated and releasing one of every species
(walleye, pike, whitefish, sucker and perch) in one afternoon. All rapids are gushing with the high water. Fish are
holding tight to the current. The West and South portages have been amazing according to several
guests. Yesterday, we boated and released 12 walleye between 23-26" in one hour while trolling
over a twelve foot mud flat.
South Lake
Over 40 walleye between 25-30" were boated and released last week. Several pike over 38" were released also. The hot spot was just south of the camp in the narrows. Another hot spot was above the falls on the north end of the lake. Like most other lakes fish were holding in 8-12 ft of water. Weed growth has been minimal.
West Lake
The north end of the lake was surprisingly effective for big walleye. Trolling and jigging in 8 ft of water in the east bays on the north end produced many walleye pushing 25+". The north end of west is usually a slow starter due to the deeper cool water. The fish bowl produced several monster pike. The camp ground hogs kept the Sellner party company.
Cocos Lake
As usual the rapids churned out thousands of walleye. Jigs with flouro orange gulp hammered many larger female walleye. Johnson silver minnows tipped with white twister tails brought in nice pike. A number of larger pike were caught on the north end creeks near duckling island. The water is flowing heavily through the rapids and is getting border line accessible. Please use your best judgement running the rapids.
Burnt Lake
All three species are slamming at Burnt Lake. Fish are beginning to move from the narrows to the main bodies of water. Jigging or trolling any point was effective. Weed beds were holding all pike, perch and walleye. Smaller tackle for perch yields numerous fish. The Koehler party reported many 25-28" walleye along with pike topping 38".
South West
"Thousands of fish!" raved the Smith party last week. When I asked "where did you catch them?"
"Everywhere!" was their response. The popular lure was a 1/4 oz jig with a yellow twister for walleye. Just about anything was effective for pike according to guests. Many spots within eyesight from camp boated the most fish.

(Pictured above: Dave with a nice 25.5" walleye that was promptly released on Central Lake 6-21)
Please remember Big Hook has a no trophy take out policy, which means NO walleye over 18" and NO pike over 27.5" can be kept.
Good luck on the water everyone.
Big Hook Camps

Monday, June 14, 2010

Big Hook Week 3

Today is a beautiful day here at Big Hook Camps in the Opasquia Provincial Park. Temperatures are hanging around 72 degree's and the sun is shining. This past Saturday brought us plenty of rain to raise the water levels. Finally, water is on the rise at most lakes. Hopefully we have seen the lowest levels of the summer.
Water temperatures should spike drastically with the sunshine we are supposed to receive this week. Yesterday I was marking 58 degree's consistently throughout Central. Walleye were biting light due to the nasty weather pattern. We switched from jigs to crankbaits and the fish were striking much more aggressively. Pike are still holding shallow along with most of the walleye. It seemed any rocky point or mud flat that was 7 ft held fish. The Newburn party last week boated numerous pike between 36-40", mostly on the north end of the lake. The Bunting party found much success for 20-25" walleye within 1/2 mile of camp. Jigging is still the most effective way to boat walleye. Yellow tails and a 1/4 oz or 3/8 oz head were most popular.
Burnt Lake
The boys at Burnt exclaimed they boated over 3000 walleye last week! Fishing was great, walleye and pike are still holding in the "bottleneck" to the NE of camp. Any point was holding fish and the perch are hanging in the shallower weedy areas. Weeds are now becoming visible in shallower areas. The weed beds should spring to life with this weeks sunshine.
West Lake
The falls towards the SE end of the lake held several big pike. The guests were often surprised when a huge pike would T bone a small walleye on the end of their lines. The narrows towards the "fish bowl" still are holding plenty of pike too. The north end of the lake is still slower due to the cool temperatures but that should change quickly. Johnson silver minnows were effective in the shallow weedy bays. Walleye are holding shallow 8 ft or less.
Cocos Lake
The rapids continues to impress guests week after week. Thousands and thousands of walleye continue to hold in the current and should remain there the majority of the season. Several of the rock piles south of the current will hold big prowling pike. Be careful running the rapids with the low water, new rocks are hittable! Weeds are growing quick and pike are finding their way to the weed beds.
Guests claimed they the best fishing spot was within eyesight of the dock on the Lemonade side. Fishing in about 8 ft of water, each guest claimed they boated a 100 fish just drifting and jigging within 400 yds from the dock. Favourable produced some great pike action in Pike Alley. The big fish are also holding in the creek mouths chasing suckers and perch. Water on Favourable is about a foot low so keep your eyes open for new reefs. Walleye are hanging around points and around Pike Alley. One of my favorite spots this time of year is Pike Alley for both species.
South Lake
Nice walleyes were being caught in the narrows SE of camp. Pike were in the weed beds around the area also. The rapids on the north end of the lake were holding tons of walleye. Walleye seemed to be favoring flouro orange colors. Guests boated an impressive 38" pike on 6 pd test line and a jig. It never fails to catch big pike while walleye fishing.

Hope all is well with everyone. Good luck in your fishing endeavors! Remember to throw the big ones back.
Big Hook Camps

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Big Hook Fishing Report Week 2

Fisherman had to battle some rough weather last week. Last Sunday brought in a "north easter" weather system with wind and rain. Those who braved the weather for two days did manage to boat plenty of fish. Remember fish don't care if they get wet.
Tuesday morning brought plenty of sunshine for the rest of the week and the water temperatures skyrocketed. Weed growth on most of the lakes is minimal. Fish are still holding in the current or mud flats.
Majority of the fish caught at the outposts last week were in 8 ft or shallower. As usual, jigs were the effective bait for walleye. The johnson silver minnow and Mepps Musky Killer were top baits for trophy pike.
Burnt Lake
I guided at Burnt for three days last week and found some success for both species. The Magna party boated a 40" fish the first night in the narrows NE from the camp. The "bottleneck" as we called the spot was holding thousands of walleye. No kidding, thousands of walleye's would be an understatement. When in doubt, anyone could drop a jig and find a walleye on the end of their line in seconds. Pike were holding on the sides of the "bottleneck" prowling for their next meal. Perch were holding in the shallow mud flats. Small jigs with white twisters, Mepps 0 agila, and beetle spins were great baits. Walleye 14-20" were everywhere in 8 ft of water or shallower.
Cocos Lake
Cocos rapids were unstoppable. Fish were holding all around the current. Many of the bays close to the cabin were hot spots for pike. The key was finding the sun soaked bays. Water for Cocos is still extremely low, approximately 2 ft below normal. Careful shooting the rapids, new boulders are hittable.
West Lake
The narrows to the south of the camp was the spot of the week. The Grady party boated and released many fish from 35" up to 42.5". According to the guests, walleye were holding everywhere and striking just about ever bait. Many of the guys tried every bait in their tackle box and found success. The "fish bowl" is usually the more active end of the lake during the early months of the summer.
Central Lake
The Newburn party boated and released a 41.5" fish on the second cast of the trip. Many fish were holding on the wind blown shoreline, an east wind for the last three days has stacked the fish on the west shorelines. Water temperatures are on the rise with some shallow area's reaching into the mid 60's. .

Good luck on the water everyone. Remember to throw the big one's back.
Big Hook Camps

Saturday, May 29, 2010

First week report

Been awhile since I have posted a blog report and I apologize for that. I have been running around to all the camps and opening up with our pilot Graham. I have noticed water levels are extremely low, so I urge guests to be very careful the first time out on the water. Cocos, SW and West are at least 1.5 ft lower than normal. Flying over the lakes, new reefs are appearing with the lower water. We are in need of rain. There is no fire ban as of yet, so be extremely careful when having a shore lunch and make sure the fire is completely out when you depart.
I have had a chance to wet a couple of lines and figure out the fishing patterns. Fish seem to be will out of the post spawn patterns. Most are holding on the shallow mud flats or any sort of current. Walleye and northern have been mixed together in most areas. Smaller baits have been rather effective for both species. The 3/4 oz five of diamonds has been Graham's choice of lure. Thus far in the few hours of fishing we have accomplished he has boated a 35", 37" and 39.5" on it, not to mention many in the 30-33" range. I have been trying some new technique's for pike in the shallows. Last few trips out I have thrown a twitching shad, very similar to bass fishing style, and have had excellent success. I have been surprised at how shallow the pike are holding 3 ft or less. Any place with weed growth or dead weeds from the winter has been packed with fish. The water temperatures have fluctuated between 58-63 degree's over the week. We have had a cool and cloudy finish to the week and the water temps have dropped a bit.
We chatted with the crew at Cocos Lake and they managed to give us a good report. Fish are stacked in the rapids right near camp. They commented that about 90% of them were over 18", which means the bigger females are aggressively feeding. Pike were in the shallow sun soaked bays and holding just outside the currents. Once again the giant lures are still ineffective and scaling down to smaller sizes were producing better results.
Aside from fishing we have managed to knock out some spring projects thus far. Both Cocos and West have received new docks. Favourable's dock and stairs are currently being rebuilt as well. I'll be at Burnt Lake for several days and will be able to give a great fishing report when I return.
Good luck in everyone's spring fishing endeavors. Remember to throw the big ones back. Looking forward to visiting with everyone over the course of the summer.
Big Hook Wilderness Camps
PS if you are on Facebook don't forget to become a fan of Big Hook Wilderness Camps. We post quick updates on the happenings here at the resort and outposts. There is a link on this blog page to the Facebook page.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Ice out.

The ice is long gone at Big Hook Wilderness Camps and throughout the Opasquia Provincial Park according to Sandy Lake Seaplane. The warm temperatures we have had this spring helped the ice disappear about three days ago. Water levels in Northwest Ontario are severely lower than previous years. Estimates are that the lake level in Sandy Lake is about two feet lower than the last two years. Lack of precipitation over the past six months has drastically lowered the water levels, dried out the forest, and have caused the Ministry of Natural Resources to place a fire ban on Northwest Ontario. However, rain and even some snow flurries are in the forecast for the next week to come. On a good note, the last two days the Eagle Lake area has received about 2 inches of much needed precipitation.
Tuesday I'll run to Winnipeg, pick up our pilot (Graham) and fly XZK back to Eagle Lake for a night or two. Hopefully I'll begin opening camp as early as this upcoming weekend, as long as the weather cooperates of course. I'll keep everyone updated with our progress as we open each outpost and main camp. Hopefully the winter was kind and no bears decided to make our cabins their winter domicile.
Good luck on the water everyone,
Big Hook Wilderness Camps

Monday, April 19, 2010

Heat Wave

Mother nature has brought warm temperatures to the north this spring. The last few days have been pushing 70 degrees in the Eagle Lake area. The same is for Sandy Lake and the Opasquia Provincial park. Water in the north continue's to be extremely low due to lack of precipitation. Eagle Lake itself is about one foot low, while waters in the Opasquia park are pushing two feet down. If no precipitation arrive's soon the NW Ontario could see some early fire bans, we will keep you posted.
Low water and warm temperatures could change the fishing patterns for the spring. The walleye and pike will likely spawn earlier due to the warmer water temperatures. Weed growth will boom also, creating some nice beds for pike to ambush their prey in. The fish could be at deeper depth's than you are normally accustomed to fishing due to the increased water temperatures. Motorist's BEWARE, a number of reefs/rocks could now be hittable due to the low water. So be careful your first time down the lake and keep your eyes open for new structures.

On a separate note, the Real Outdoor Destination's Ontario episode featuring Big Hook Wilderness Camps has been posted to You Tube. Those of you who didn't catch it on the initial airing, visit this link:

With this great weather, now is the time to get out and test all your gear and make sure it is up to par. Enjoy some spring fishing.
Good luck on the water everyone and remember to throw the big one's back.
Big Hook Wilderness Camps

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Weather Report

Saturday 10, 2010

Evie and I finished our drive to Eagle Lake , Canada today around 2:00 in the afternoon. The temperature is 51 sunny and windy, when we pulled into the driveway. The air is fresh and 90% of the ice is out on Waldhof Bay . There are small pieces and flows of old rotten, black ice moving around with the wind. On the bigger part of the lake around The Barberpole there is still a fair amount of ice. But, the cracks were 10 yards wide, and the ice will be gone in a couple of days. The lake level is about 12 inches lower then last November, when we left for the sunny south. The bush is dry and the firefighting crews are gearing up for fire season already. I might put the 14ft aluminum boat in the water and see if I can't pick up a Laker over around the point on Sunday.

Steve and Evie

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


First of all, I would like to thank everyone for participating in the Big Hook Tourney Pick'em. Congrats to Zeke for the top spot and taking home the Flip Book video camera. This years tourney was one of the best I can remember. Butler had a chance to be the Cinderella team. It is great to see a championship game come down to a last second shot.
Second, GeoCaching is an underground hobby that is exploding throughout the world. Big Hook wants to offer all fellow GeoCacher's a chance to explore the Opasquia Provincial Park. Throughout the summer I'll be placing caches throughout the park, some easy to find and others a little more difficult. GeoCaching is a perfect side activity during a week of vacation. Those of you unfamiliar with this new trend the basic concept is a treasure hunt with a GPS. For more information and to stay updated on Big Hook's caches visit:

Finally, Mother Nature is being kind to us this spring with warm temperatures throughout March and April. Ice is already beginning to shift around and crack according to many sources in Ontario. It is looking to be an early ice out this spring, the first in many years for Big Hook. Water levels are still extremely low due to lack of snow. With low waters new submerged reefs are revealed. If the lake you are visiting is low, be careful boating on the first day. Many reefs will appear that you have never seen before!
I, like many other fishermen, have noticed the warm temperatures and spring fever has struck. This is a good time of year to check your fishing equipment i.e. change you line, grease your reels and look at the guides on your rods. For fishing line there are tons of options. My favorite for walleye is 6# P-Line mono filament and for pike 40# Power Pro. If you are having trouble with line curl and memory try spraying your spool with Reel Magic line spray. It works wonders for line memory. As for servicing your reel, take your spool off and make sure there is no grit and dirt underneath. Take note if your bail flips adequately, is there grinding in the bearings? All of these symptoms are an easy fix. Also, spray a little WD-40 on the internals to ensure dirt displacement. As noted before, make sure to check all the guides on your fishing rod. One little nick in a guide can snap line in a heartbeat, which means a lost picture opportunity. Your local fishing shop can aid you in your spring cleaning of fishing equipment.

Good luck to all in your spring fishing endeavors. Remember to throw the big ones back and we will be seeing you soon in the great white north.

Big Hook Wilderness Camps

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Selection Sunday

Time for March Madness, join the Big Hook Tourney Pick'em for great prizes. Top three places are winners.

Group Id#: 19613
Password: bighook

Good luck to all.
Big Hook Wilderness Camps

Thursday, March 11, 2010

ESPN radio

For you early bird fishermen (aren't we all?), dad will be part of an ESPN Outdoors radio interview at 6 am on Saturday March 13th.
Here is a link to the radio broadcast.

Also if you are in the Rochester MN area, I will be attending the Pheasants Are Forever Banquet at the Rochester International Event Center on March 20th. For information on the banquet:

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Big Hook Pick'em

The Big Hook Tourney Pick'em is open for enrollment. I know it is a bit before the tourney begins but register your team for great Big Hook prizes. Top three are winners.

Group Id# 19613
Password: bighook

Good luck to all!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Winter Road

For those of you that are not a fan of Big Hook Wilderness Camps on Facebook here is a link to the latest winter road video.

Overall the winter road this past February was in rough shape. Lack of snow is the prime culprit. Water levels at Sandy Lake are very low due to lack of snow. So it is to be expected that the water levels with all of our outposts will also be low. I was told December and January were too cold for snow.
We were able to drive in about 9800 pds of freight (lumber, propane, building equipment, etc) over the course of a week.

On a separate note, March Madness is approaching quickly. Look for a Big Hook Tourney Pick'em Bracket to be posted soon. Compete with fisherman from throughout the USA for the top spots for great prizes.

Take care all and remember to practice catch and release.
Big Hook Wilderness Camps