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.
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