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