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