Wednesday, December 28, 2011

2012 Sport Show Tour

VISIT Big Hook Wilderness Camps AT THE 2012 SPORT SHOWS
All Canada Shows:

Jan 12-15 Pheasant Run Mega Center  St Charles, IL
Thurs 5-9, Fri 3-9, Sat 10-6, Sunday 10-4

Jan 16-18 Merriott Madison West  Madison WI
Monday 5-9, Tuesday 3-9, Weds 10-3

Jan 19-22 Milwaukee County Sports Complex  Milwaukee, WI
Thurs 5-9, Fri 3-9, Sat 10-6, Sunday 10-4

Jan 26-29 Green Bay, WI  Shopko Hall
Thurs 5-9, Friday 3-9, Sat 10-6, Sunday 10-4

Tinely Park Show:

Feb 11-12 Tinley Park IL, High School
Sat 9-5, Sun 9-5

We look forward to seeing everyone there.  Hope everyone has a great New Year! 
Big Hook Camps

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Ontario Fishing Licenses

How to buy your Ontario fishing licence online:
Introducing the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources' New Automated Licensing System
This page is highly recommended for all guests and especially guests flying commercial airlines to N.W. Ontario. We recommend buying your licence a month in advance.
The fall of 2011 marks the introduction of the Ministry of Natural Resources' automated licensing system. Clients will see a number of improvements as a result of the new system. For example, the system will facilitate the sale of fishing and hunting licences at licence issuers, over the Internet and through a toll-free telephone application.
You can also get more information on the Outdoors Card by calling the Outdoors Card Centre at             1-800-387-7011      .  This toll-free number works from all of North America, from Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (Eastern Time).
The following web address will take you the page that allows you to buy your outdoors card and licence.

Before you start

First Time Applicants for Fishing Outdoors Card
Existing Outdoors Card Holders
  • your first and last name
  • your date of birth
  • your mailing and residential address
  • your height and eye colour
  • your Outdoors Card number
  • your date of birth
  • your postal or zip code last on file

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Tis the season....for Bowl Games!

Think you know how the college bowls will play out...then prove it by entering the Big Hook Bowl Pick'em Challenge. Test your college football knowledge against fisherman who have enjoyed vacations at Big Hook Wilderness Camps.  Top finisher wins a new fishing reel. Go to Click join league. Enter: 20603 for the league number and bighook for the password. Good luck to all. 

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Burnt Lake Project- Part 2

This building project started with a wager.  All of our workers had to predict when the exterior of the cabin would be completely finished.  Before we get to the predictions I feel it necessary to provide you with a little background on our "professional" construction crew.  Our staff consisted of 4 full time workers: Dad, Benny, Corey and Tyrol. I have to label myself as part time, due to the fact I was constantly flying materials.  Benny is a master carpenter from Sandy Lake that has built numerous houses, hands down the most knowledgeable about constructing an outpost.  Both Dad and I possess plenty of construction experience however, never have built a cabin from scratch.  Corey and Tyrol were apprentices ready to learn construction trades.

Now the project we were undertaking was a 24X32' cabin with a 8X20' screened in porch.  As you will see in the numerous pictures to follow, vinyl siding, fascia and soffiting, and steel roofing composed the exterior. Now with this information reader, what is your guess for our construction project?  Two days? Ten days?  Remember this is for finishing the exterior only.  I'll let the pictures do the majority of the story telling. *Note: I flew all building equipment i.e. hammers, skill saws, miter saws, generator in prior to building so construction was ready to begin upon arrival.
Dad: 5 days Benny: 7 days Corey: 8 days Tyrol: 9 days Nathan (the pessimist): 12 days

Day 1
Our first day of construction began with flying into Burnt around 7 am with the 1/2 the crew (Dad, Corey and Tyrol).  However, I was required to promptly fly to Sandy to pick up the brains of the operation, Benny, along with a load of knotty pine interior siding.  Concrete pads were measured out with pressure treated posts as the foundation of the cabin.  Production moved swiftly as we were able to finished the entire floor of the cabin and even started framing one of the walls.

Day 2
The amazingly warm weather greeted us for another day.  The weather was perfect for building a cabin 80 degrees and no winds. Ok, it was a tad warm but I'll never complain about 80 degree weather in September in the Big Hook area.  The goal for day two was finish building trusses and complete the framing of the walls.  
Three of us tackled creating a jig for the trusses while Dad and Benny laid out walls for the floor plan. After another 10 hour day we managed to finish hand constructing the trusses thanks to the pre-cut boards, however the trusses and gable ends chewed up most of the time.  All walls were framed although only three walls were erected with OBS boards placed on most.
Day 3
The unreal weather continued however black flies and mosquito's began hatching.  The construction paced slowed this day due to hot humid weather peaking at 90 degrees.  With rain in the days to come we really pushed to get the roof in place.  We came really close to our goal and managed to install all the rafters with strapping.  The remainder of the cabin was enclosed with OBS plywood.  With an hour left in the day we began securing the steel roofing.  Unfortunately daylight got the better of us and we only finished half of the roof.

Day 4
Poor weather slowed us this day.  Rain and metal roofing are a unfavorable combination.  We held off finishing the roof and focused on a new set of stairs for the camp. We also began constructing the screened in porch.  
Day 5
Clearing weather allowed us a daybreak start.  The roofing was completed along with great progress on the fascia and soffiting.  The windows and door were installed.  The new large windows are a enormous improvement allowing ample amounts of light in.  Everyone noticed the undergrowth sprouting all over the forest bed.  Grass on the front lawn was already ankle high.  We ended the day once again sun burnt and sweltering in heat.  
Day 6 
The task for this day was to tackle the vinyl siding.  After a round of camp checks I joined Corey and Tyrol with the siding while Dad and Benny focused on finishing the porch.  We finished the vinyl siding in no time and I began siding the interior with the knotty pine.  Once again the weather cooperated with sunny skies and warm temperatures.  We started to notice wildlife in the woods. Wood peckers and robins chirped from the burnt trees.  We even spotted a moose on the south shoreline.  

Day 7
If you guessed seven days to finish an outpost cabin exterior you are indeed correct.  Below is a photo of the area right after the forest fire and a picture of the completed exterior.  Basically 70 hours of work with a full time 4 man crew and one part timer completed the exterior on the project. Tremendous weather aided the building process.    
                  Before                                                                                                      After

Below are couple pictures of the interior of Burnt Lake.  

The interior of the cabin will include two 12x12' bedrooms and an 8x12 shower room with a vanity.  The kitchen and sitting area is a massive 12x32' area.  All the rooms have doors and ceilings.  The cabin will be powered with a quiet and efficient Honda 2000 Watt generator.  

All in all, the construction of an outpost camp 200 miles from the nearest road was quite the learning experience.  We did have some hiccups but overall the process went along smoothly.  The weather cooperated, our preplanning efforts kept the errors to a minimum and most of all, we had a great group of guys working incredibly hard every single day.  

Good luck on the water this fall everyone!
Big Hook Camps

Sunday, October 2, 2011

The Burnt Lake Project-Part 1

A common question asked by our guests is "How did the cabins get here? There isn't a road within 185 miles!" In the past, I could pass on the story that whole cabins were flown in a DC-3 during the winter time.  The massive DC-3 was equipped with ski's and was able to land on the frozen lakes right at the building location.  In the frigid cold, pilots unloaded the entire cabin onto the ice and left the hauling to several builders.  The cabin was then packed board by board off the ice to the construction site before the ice melted.  At the time, that was the most efficient way to transport materials.

Present day, as many of you know Big Hook suffered the loss of Burnt Lake to forest fires this summer.  Presented with this problem, I asked myself "How do we get a cabin up here?"  DC-3's are no longer cost effective along with being few and far between. Plus, the option of waiting till winter to build a cabin was out of the question.  Our final decision was to build a cabin this fall.  Plenty of planning promptly ensued. Costs, logistics and labor help were difficult to estimate being so remote.  A magical number calculated was 17,000.  This number was the weight, in pounds, of the cabin.  Once again, I asked myself, "How do we get a cabin up here?"

12,500 lbs of materials
After countless phone calls, we developed our plan to haul the cabin in.  The cabins journey started via semi from Dryden, Ontario to the Wasaya hanger in Red Lake.  On September 5th Wasaya Airways then loaded up their Hawker, a large cargo plane with a max 12,500 pounds payload, for the first run and the remaining 4,500 on the second run.  In Sandy Lake 7 helpers plus dad and myself unloaded the Hawker board by board onto a freighter truck that looked like it had survived numerous rough winters in Sandy. Without the aid of forklift or heavy machinery, just strong hands and backs, we carefully piled the first 12,500 lbs of materials onto the truck.  After a short drive to the float base, we then lumped everything out of the truck onto the front lawn of Sandy Lake Seaplane.  No big deal, we just moved 25,000 lbs...our aching backs thought otherwise. The second run of 4,500 pds was effortless compared to the first. Everyone let out a small cheer as we were 145 miles closer to delivering our cabin to Burnt.  However, the most difficult leg of the cabins journey was upon us.

Corey marching up the hill
Without a doubt, Sept 7th was the most physical day of work I have ever experienced.  Under clear skies and cool temperatures we utilized Showalter's Twin Beech for the final push to deliver the cabin.  Unfortunately, several workers failed to show up for duty. "Off to a rocky start," I thought.  Myself and two helpers situated ourselves in Sandy Lake for the loading half while Dad and two helpers unloaded at Burnt Lake.  Countless 2x4 after 2x4 we loaded up the Beech.  The material that slowed the pace of the day was the steel roofing.  Delicately loading the 13 ft 11 inch roofing into the Beech was equivalent to parking a full size truck into a compact car spot, it's doable but takes time.  Just when everyone thought their arms and backs couldn't haul any more, we were finished.  After seven loads with the Beech and several with our 185 Cessna airplane the cabin was successfully moved to Burnt Lake.  Dad and his helpers even managed to haul every board up the Burnt Lake hill without the aid of steps, just a makeshift step way.  Not too bad for a 63 year old with one replaced knee! In one day we managed load and unload 17,000 pounds, march it all up a steep grade and get home before the sunset.  I'll admit as proud as we were of our accomplishment, no one was able to stay awake past 8 p.m. that evening.
The materials up top the hill

The final weight of the cabin...16,950 pounds.  Not bad estimating in my opinion.  Now you know the story on the grueling task of delivering an outpost cabin 200 miles into the bush.  The next task at hand is to begin construction.

To be continued......

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Burnt Lake

Steve, Nathan and the boys are busy at Burnt Lake building a new cabin.  The new cabin is being constructed in the same location, however everyone should find the new upgrades very pleasing.  Today was day 5 of the project and the vinyl siding, soffeting, windows, and door were installed.  The exterior should be done tomorrow. Pics and more details will follow soon once Nathan returns.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Summer is holding on

Summer is still holding on here at Big Hook.  The mercury has been holding strong in the mid 70's in our final week of August.  In the past once September arrives, it's a crap shoot for the weather.  I have witnessed temperatures up to 90 degrees and been blanketed in snow.  One can tell the fall is about to grasp the area.  The birch trees are now yellow and just yesterday I had to avoid a flock of Sandhill Cranes flying south for the winter.  Several strong storms pushed through last night providing howling winds, a tad of hail and a ton of rain. Every bit of moisture that falls from the sky is rapidly absorbed into the ground.  I have yet to see any run off this summer.
The lake levels have been holding steady.  Albeit, lake levels are still 2-3 feet lower than normal.   The surface temperatures have been hovering around 64-68 degrees, which is quite warm for this time of year.  The warm water has been creating some odd fishing patterns for pike.  They are holding primarily in the deeper water but guests have found them in the weeds in short bursts.   It seems the fish are just coming into the weeds for short periods to feed and quickly darting back to the deeper water.  Trolling deeper running cranks was an effective technique to boating larger fish.

Walleye are best found in 20 ft of water. Jigging has been the most productive on reefs and shoals.  With walleye holding in deeper water it is crucial to have a depth finder to locate those rock humps.  Fishing without a depth finder in August can be extremely difficult.

Burnt Dad and I finished construction of the most crucial part of this outpost yesterday...the outhouse of course.  The new cabin is en route to Red Lake as we speak and will be shipped up via Wasaya's Hawker on Friday.  15000 pounds of lumber, roofing, nails, etc. will then need to be transferred to float plane.  I feel a sore back coming soon.  The sauna will be getting some use regularly next week.

27" walleye released on Central's East Portage

Central The east portage was a hot little lake last week.  A fat fat 27" walleye was boated and released, the lunker fell prey to a blue and silver Hot N Tot.  Several 30-35" pike were boated while trolling.  The narrows is beginning to heat up.  The weeds are starting to fall allowing fisherman to cast baits.  I see some intense top water action starting soon.

Cocos The Sagawitchewan has been the hot spot.  More particularly the SW section of the river towards Burnt Lake.  The weed beds near camp have been frustratingly slow.  In my opinion, as the cooler weather approaches pike will once again prowl these weeds.

South Who says you need to go far from camp to catch fish? Some of the hottest spots were just a stones throw from the dock.  The island just 300 yards north of camp held the most fish.  Weed beds in the NE bay from camp were also dynamite.

Southwest Hundreds of 16-20" walleye were the story from SW last week.  As usual, every rocky point and deeper hole held fish.  Four moose were also spotted roaming the lake.  The NW arm held the larger fish.    

West The "fish bowl" was for once the slow half of the lake.  The deeper north half was hands down more productive.  Larger fish were boated while trolling rock reefs and ledges.  The Horseshoe has still been producing quality fish.

Good luck on the water everyone! Remember to practice catch and release.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Big Baits Do Catch Big Fish

For us at Big Hook camps fall is quickly approaching.   Considering we are just 200 miles south of Hudson Bay, fall arrives early for us.  Typically, around the end of August Mother Nature starts sending signals that fall is on the way whether we like it or not.  The trees begin to change color and nights cool down into the 40’s with ample visions of Northern Lights dancing in the north sky.  Soon we will hear the honk of the Canadian geese migrating southbound. 

One of my favorite aspects of the approaching fall is the aggression in pike.  As the temperatures cool, the gators of the deep awaken with a sense of urgency that winter will soon arrive.  Pike often turn into feeding machines this time of year.  Their primary objective is to put on weight before the freeze occurs.  No bait is too small for trophy caliber fish.  I'll begin to raid my tackle box for Bulldawgs, Depth Raiders, Reef Hawgs, Bomber Magnums, Williams Whitefish, Musky Killers, Top Raiders or any bait of size to throw.

When targeting late season pike I'll begin my efforts on my favorite weed beds.  Within 20 minutes I'll know whether pike are feeding in the weeds or focusing on chasing schools of walleye around reefs.  Last week pike were shunning the weeds up until a couple of days ago.  With a couple of cool nights under our belts the pike have rose from the depths back into the foliage.  

Weather Patterns 
As mentioned earlier in the blog, the weather is showing signs of fall.  Days are ranging from the 60's-70's while the nights having been dipping as low as 45 degrees.  The westerly winds have dominated for the past three days pushing fish into the east shoreline.  A couple days of rain are forecasted for Tuesday and Wednesday.  Water temperatures are beginning to cool as a result of the cold evenings.  

Walleye are hanging in 17-20 on many of the reefs in the north end of the lake.  Several hotspots were in fact just a golf club swing from camp.  Many 16-20" fish were caught jigging and trolling along Frisco Bay.  Today (August 22nd)  a 27" walleye was boated and released on the East Portage.  
Late last week, Thurs and Fri, the big pike turned on.  Most big fish were found in the SW section of the Sagawitchewan River.  The rapids continued to churn out ample amounts of walleye.  Many fish 35"-41.5" were boated and released, the majority hanging in deep weed beds.  
Lemonade is on the slow down, which is typical for this body of water late in August.  Favorable has been notching some big pike in Pike Alley and Sandy Bay.  The north arm was also a hot spot for big pike in the weeds.  
South had the numbers last week and five walleye over 25" were boated and released.  An impressive night bite occurred with the full moon in effect.  Worm harnesses over 20+ of water were the most effective bait for the week.  Trolling Reef Runners Lil Rippers also produced. 
Southwest surprisingly produced the biggest walleye of the week last week at 28.5".  The deeper water in the north arm is where the larger fish were located.  Several points to the east of camp held hundreds of walleye 16-18".  
The Horse Shoe held a number of nice fish, while the NE side of the fish bowl was also productive.  The north end of the lake kept producing walleye 25-27" on the eastern shore.  Look for structure rising to 15'.  Yesterday, a 45" monster was released.  

Good luck on the water everyone. 
Big Hook Wilderness Camps 

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Mid August Monsters

And boom just like that we are in the middle of August.  It is head spinning how quickly the season blazes past.  It seems like I was just flipping boats and battling frost heave's.  Fortunately, the end isn't here just yet, there are still 4 great weeks of fishing left in the 2011 season.

The daylight is getting shorter and the birch trees are even beginning to change color.  Temperature wise the days have been warm with cooler nights.  Great sleeping weather! It has been very common to see lake fog for a bit every morning.  The Northern Lights have been astounding on the cool clear nights around midnight.  Just peer to the north and look for the dancing colors.

The weather the past several days has been warm 75-80 with calm winds.  Water temps have been hanging in the 68-70 degree range. The water is heated through quite deep.  I personally believe the nice weather is for the dogs for fishing.  The nastier the weather the better the fishing, or am I just a glutton for punishment?  I love days just before the leading edge of a low pressure front.  Because on bright, sunny, calm high pressure days those pike will become following machines.  More often than not they will just follow to the boat, smile and turn away teasingly.
Fishing Patterns 
Walleye patterns have been fairly consistent throughout the lakes.  Most walleye are hunkered down in deeper water.  The sizable females are holding in 20+.  Plenty of fish can be caught between 15-20 ft but those big girls are prowling in the depths. Wind blown shorelines and points have been effective locations.  Anything with deeper water nearby.  With the water temperatures  I have been pulling lil ripper Reef Runners, which dive about 16-18ft until I catch a fish, then immediately turn around with jigs.

At least on Central, the pike have been boycotting the weed beds.  Guests were skunked on every attempt.  However, the rock piles were on fire.  Pike are chasing walleye throughout the water column.  With cooler nights coming the pike will eventually return to the foliage.  Other lakes had more positive reports with boating pike from weeds.

This time of year the narrows on the north end will be the go to location, however that hasn't been the case.  8 fish between 35-39 inches were boated on BIG crankbaits all off of rock piles.  The rolling reefs throughout the north end of the lake have been prime locations.
The deep water in the SW end of the Sagawitchewan river was the prime location for ample walleye.  The rapids remains navigable.  Water is still dropping throughout the lake.  The rapids will hold fish throughout the year into the fall.
39" was the big pike for the week and 27" was the big walleye.  Lemonade lake has begun to get weed choked as is usual for this time of year.  The deeper water on Favorable close to camp is my prime stomping grounds for big walleye this time of year.
South put together another impressive resume not only for big walleye but also big pike.  Three thirty inch wally's were boated and released along with pike topping out at 40".  Those big fish were boated in deep water around 30 ft.  Rattle Traps and jigs were effective baits.
The boys at SW were able to find the big pike notching many over 30" up to 38".  The fish factory pumped out the usual plethora of walleye 16-18".  Points nearby camp held many fish, whereas the deeper water on the north end of the lake held some of the larger fish.    
The big fish of the week was caught right off the dock, go figure.  Who says the best fishing is on the far end of the lake?  The fish bowl was slow with the fish harboring in deeper waters.  Reefs east and north of camp were the hotspots.  The Horseshoe was a producer in the evening hours.

Hot Lures
Walleye: Rattle Traps, lil Ripper Reef Runners, as usual jigs
Northern:  Depth Raider, bulldawg, bucktails, suicks, Bomber Long A Magnum (gold)

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Big Hook News and Fishing

Last week brought plenty of wind and water to the Opasquia Provincial Park.  Numerous rain fronts doused the area heavily.  Fires are still burning to the south around the Red Lake area.  However around the park, 99% of the fires are out.   Guests traveling into the Red Lake area will notice smoke in the air.  As of right now, smoke is undetectable in the Opasuia Park.  With the several days of rain, the water levels have remained stable the past two weeks.

Dad and I have been extremely busy making preparations for the Burnt Lake Project.  We are hoping to begin building within the next two weeks.  Aircraft's are lined up and ready to haul in the cabin once we receive clearance from the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) on the new building site.
Some fishing tidbits
I wish I could say fishing was simple last week, however Mother Nature provided some challenging winds.  Those who could hold a boat on the windy shorelines in about 15' of water were rewarded with ample fish and wet feet from waves over the transom.  The winds had both walleye and pike pinned to the rocky points and shorelines.  If a spot contained several walleye, a big pike was guaranteed to be prowling the area.  A great technique for catching both species was having the motorist jig while the other fisherman tossed a deep diving crank bait for pike.
Weed beds were on the slow side last week.  The fish preferred the rocky points with deep water nearby.
Water temperatures are still very warm, hence the fish have been descending to deeper depths.  Start fishing walleye at 12 ft and work your way deeper for best results.  A depth finder is essential this time of year.

Wreck Island and Frisco bay yielded numerous quality walleye.  The windblown shoals topping at 12 ft on the north end of the lake were also effective.  The north  narrows should start producing trophy pike any day.  The east portage will continue to produce trophy walleye until year end.  

The rapids is low and very navigable.  Trolling deep cranks along the rapids channel will boat quality fish.  Heading southbound down the Sagawicthewan river seemed to be the most productive.  The deeper holes two to three miles down the river were holding plenty of fish.
Pike alley will hold some nice pike this time of year.  Trolling the south side of the Three Sisters in 15-20 ft of water is effective for walleye.  Walleye  Point is another productive spot.  The outflow of the Severn River before Shallow NO Go has been producing awesome pike action.
The deep water near camp has been hot.  The small island on the west shore a stones throw from camp had fish everywhere.  Look for windblown points with 15 ft of water for those trophy's.
As usual the fish factory produced.  Fish really truly are on just about every point.  More sizable fish have been boated around the Twin Towers and the north finger.  It has been difficult navigating the east end of the lake due to low water.  Weeds are extremely thick and choke the propeller instantly.
Visited the guests this morning 8/7 and as we taxi'd up with the airplane they were releasing a 40" pike boated right from the rock.  Many many nice fish have been boated and released there. The fish bowl has been somewhat disappointing with fish seeking deeper water.  A couple of cool days will return fish to the area.  Reefs on the north end of the lake along the east shoreline have been hot for trophy walleye.

Hot Lures: Walleye: 3/8 oz jig with flouro orange or pink twister, 15' Reef Runners  Pike: Depth Raider black, black bucktails, bulldawgs.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

All quiet on the Western front.

It was a quiet week from July 23rd-29th.  The majority of Big Hook was closed due to civil orders from the MNR requiring camps to be shut down because of the threat of forest fires.  Not much fishing occurred last week so the big topic of this blog will be the status of the fires burning in NW Ontario.  Truly, the fire status can be summarized down to one sentence.  As of yesterday, the fires affecting us in the Opasquia Provincial Park are 95% down and out.  Dad and I spent much of last week surveying the park and the puffs of smoke determining if there was any real threat.  The sufficient rain that fell last week took away any doubt about reopening the camp to guests.  

Temperatures have remained warm, however several large rain clouds sat over the Opasquia Park last week dousing us for hours.  The rain was welcomed by all.  The water levels did not drop last week with the sufficient precipitation.  On a side note, the MNR lifted the fire ban in NW Ontario.  However, the bush is still very very dry so be vigilant if you have a camp fire.  Make sure all embers are out before you leave the fire unattended. I would not recommend any burning on a windy day. 

As far as fishing is concerned, I would expect walleye's to be continuing their decent to deeper waters.  15-20 ft have been optimal in years past around this time.  I have several guiding afternoon's lined up this week and will be able to better report where the walleyes are holding.  Pike are scattered and prowling everywhere from rocks to the edges of weeds.  As I have reported before, the weedbeds are extremely thick due to the low water and sunny skies.  Weedless lures and top water baits are the best to combat the foliage.  

Good luck on the water everyone.
Big Hook Camps

Friday, July 22, 2011

The good and bad news.

The week of July 16th-23rd has been a chaotic one for Big Hook Wilderness Camps.  However, let us first start out with the good news. We finally received a good dousing of rain Thursday and Friday.  Last night the first steady rain of the summer fell from the skies and we could not have been happier.  I stood on the dock and let myself get absolutely soaked through.  Mom and dad both cheered at the moisture that was accumulating in the back of the boats.

Mom with a 28" walleye on Central.
Now for the bad news.  The fire situation was elevated to critical last week.  Between Saturday July 16th and Wednesday the 20th fires spread out of control with heavy winds and 96 degree weather.  Mother Nature threw us a curve ball at Burnt Lake and the cabin was lost to the flames.  Everyone was pulled out safely way prior, however the cabin perished.  Dad and I tried to defend the cabin with sprinklers lashed to the roof, but in the end the flames won out.  We are already planning on rebuilding the cabin and need to work out some serious logistics.  Ordered by the MNR, Cocos and Favorable were also evacuated mid week as a precautionary measure.  

Unfortunately, the fire ban is still in effect until further notice from the MNR (Ministry of Natural Resources).  It will take a couple of good rains before that is lifted.  As a precautionary measure advised by the MNR, several of our outposts that are closer to the affected fire areas will be closed next week July 23rd-July 29th.

Back to the good news.  

As mentioned before, we received approximately 2 inches of rain last night, ousting and knocking down the fires in the area.  With such a heavy and steady rain, the MNR lifted a tourist travel ban that was implemented  48 hrs prior.  Rain is forecasted to continue into Saturday and Sunday which will deliver a one, two punch to the dry ground.

Moose cooling off from the hot temps. 
The fishing reports from the camps that were able to finish out the week (South, Central and West) were great.  The walleye are descending quickly though the water column.  Most were caught in the 15-20 ft range, however some surprisingly large fish were caught on the edges of weeds. For example, the two biggest walleye at Central, a 28" and a 25.5", were caught in the middle of lilly pads.  Go figure, just when I think I have the fish figured out they surprise me in the shallows.  Pike are holding everywhere from weeds, which are incredibly thick this summer, to rock piles chasing walleye.

Hot lures are the usual suspects for summer patterns.
Walleye: Hot N Tots, Shad Raps SR7 firetiger while trolling for walleye.  1/4-3/8 oz jigs for vertical jigging with yellow, white, fluro-orange, pumkinseed tails.
Pike: Orange bladed bucktails with white or black skirts dominated the big fish for the week. Check out Mepps Musky Killers or Skimmer Lures.  Weedless lures like Berkley Hollowbody's did well along with Johnson Silver Minnows.  Bulldawgs and larger deep water baits are starting to catch big fish on rocky points and reefs.    

Good luck on the water everyone. Thanks to everyone for understanding the fire situation.  We are lucky to have such terrific and loyal guests.  
Big Hook Wilderness Camps

Friday, July 15, 2011

Bring Your Weedless

The heat and dry weather is still camped out over the Opasquia Provincial Park.  With the exception of Monday, which we saw a splash of rain, temperatures have hovered around 85-90 degrees.  The outlook is more of the same hot, dry weather.  The fire ban is still in place.  No outside fires are allowed.  Burning inside the stove is permissible along with using the fish cookers.

A West Lake 42.5" Pike
Water levels are still dropping due to lack of rain, evaporation and rapids outflow.  Be careful boating! New rocks are strikable with the low low water.  Weed beds are flourishing with the sunny skies and low water.  Raid your tackle box for weedless lures.  Johnson silver minnows, top water baits, Berkley Hollow Body's, and bucktails all are great for maneuvering through and over the thick foliage.  When a pike strikes in the thick weeds constant pressure and even a little force is a must to avoid a spit hook.  Pike are notorious for throwing the hook while battling in the slop. 
West Lake Walleye

I knew the Mayflies would strike back right after I stated in a previous blog "the may fly hatch is over and gone." South and West Lake experienced a second hatch last Tuesday. Fortunately, the walleye have still been aggressive.  Due to the hot weather, walleye have been slowly descending through the water column.  Fish have been found as deep as 20 ft.  Jigging over reefs and rocky points has been the most effective techniques.  Trolling a wind blown shorelines with a Hot N Tot or a Shad Rap is yielding results.

Pike are hunkered down in the slop challenging fisherman to come and get them.  Numerous fisherman have also reported fish holding around rocky points.

Hot spots for the majority of the lakes are the same as my last report.  Remember to focus on the windy shoreline.  Pick out a wind swept rocky shoal or a weed bed.  Two days of wind beating a shoreline will stack up bait fish and predators will follow.    

Hot Lures:
Pike: Johnson silver minnow, Mepps Musky Killer, Top Raider
Walleye:  Flouro green Hot N Tot, 3/8 oz jig with yellow twister.

Good Luck on the water everyone!
Big Hook Wilderness Camps

Friday, July 8, 2011

Could you spare some rain?

After over a week we are finally back online. It is amazing how lost one can feel without internet for seven days.  No weather forecasts for flying, $2.00/minute satellite phones are our only communication with the outside world, and most important the ability to write a blog suddenly vanishes.  The culprit to our problem was the external modem on our satellite dish and extreme weather temperatures. The temperatures on the roof were so warm a teeny tiny little piece of plastic in the electrical board melted and POOF, we were shut down.

Simple fix right? Just run down the street to the local electronics store and grab a new external modem....wait a minute.  Turns out the satellite internet is not a booming business here in the north country with ownership changing hands about every three months.  For example, one such call to Red Lake where two Xplornet dealerships are to exist resulted in finding each has changed hands TWICE only to be sold off to a company in Thunder Bay. Only a modest 10 hr drive away to the Bay from Red.  Keep in mind during this modem treasure hunt each phone call costs $2 bucks a minute.  You would think Xplornet (our internet provider) main support would be able to find a dealer for us, that my friends, would be too simple. Oh, did I mention there is also a mail strike.  Canada Post is just coming back online, however due to extreme mail overload parcels could take weeks to reach there destinations.  Looks like we will be flying our modem in once we can locate one.

After scouring all of NW Ontario (Using a phone book? I almost forgot how to use one with my excessive dependence on the internet) we are able track down a helpful local gentleman out of Sioux Lookout.  In 20 minutes we convince him we are competent enough to remove the four screws to the external modem and perform the 30 second repair ourselves. Although, he was quite adamant we should hire a tech who starts charging $70 an hour from the minute he departs the office.  In the end he writes up the work order and ships the part via Wasaya Air from Sioux to Red.  Long story short, 7 days and about $400 in phone bills later we are up and running.

Now to the important stuff....the fishing! 

The hot weather is still settled over the Opasquia Provincial Park.  We have not received any considerable amount of rain since the first days of June.  Water levels are the lowest I have ever witnessed here in the park.   Be careful navigating your boat!  Due to low water conditions rocks not marked on the map exist and are hazardous to lower units health.

Conditions in the woods are extremely dry. *SPECIAL NOTE* There is a FIRE BAN in place.  No external camp fires are allowed.  Bird dog fire spotters are flying everywhere at the moment and any sign of smoke is considered a threat and a hefty fine.

With water temperatures now holding steady in the 70's the may fly hatch has come and gone.  The hatch was very mild this year and only tormented us for about two days.  Just enough to drive the walleyes into a feeding frenzy and not completely fill their bellies.

One benefit of the low water,  the weed beds are looking as healthy as ever.  Pike are enjoying the ample amount of coverage, holding tight in the slop.  They have been very active in the warm water.  With the sunny skies the peak bite has been in the late afternoon.

Walleye are holding throughout the water column from weeds to rock piles.  Most fish are found at about 8-10 ft and ranging as deep as 18'.  Both jigging and slow rolling Lindy rigs over the bottom have been effective.   Trolling cranks are a great way to locate the schools.

Burnt Lake
With the dominant south winds, Moose Creek has still been the hot spot for pike and perch.  I have been  amazed with some of the massive perch in that lake.  Small beetle spins and Mepps spinners are perfect for catching tasty perch.  Wind blown weed beds have led to the best results on Burnt, pay close attention to the winds.  

Central Lake
Colton with a 42" on Central
The Wilford party had a ball in the north rapids boating 204 walleye in just over two hours.  The narrows on the north end of the lake was also productive for trophy pike.  Spinner baits were the key to luring pike out of the weeds.  One evening resulted in 15 pike over 30" in that spot alone.  More and more walleye are starting to congregate on the numerous submerged reefs throughout Central.  The East portage was on fire for walleye.

Cocos Lake
The rapids is usually the main story to the Cocos Lake fishing report.  Low water is allowing guests to navigate the flowage.  Fish are stacked throughout the current.  Duckling Island yielded the largest pike this past week.  Several weed beds in the southern half of the Sagawitchewan River were productive.

Favourable Lake
Owl Hawk visiting Central Lake
Lemonade was covered with mayflies the past couple of days, causing a rare slow down on that body of water.  Favourable picked up the slack producing awesome walleyes on the shore adjacent to the dock.  Trolling 8-12' cranks produced.  Pike Alley was on fire for both species.  Several 38-41" fish were boated and released.

South Lake
South Lake continued the dominance of biggest walleye for the week with a 29" fish and many many over 25"+.  The weeds just east of the narrows held some 40+" pike.  Guests the past couple days have boated large walleye trolling cranks on shorelines close to the camp.  Just goes to show you that the biggest fish are not located the furthest away from camp. 

Southwest Lake
The "producer" churned out thousands of fish yet again.  Southwest will never cease to amaze me with the shear numbers it contains.  Some larger fish were located on the very north end of the lake where deeper water exists.

West Lake
The "pike bowl" held some quality fish in the NE corner.  South winds have been blowing fish into weeds along the northern shores.  Deeper shelves just east of the camp were hot for walleye.  Never forget to cast a couple of times on seagull rock just in front of camp, it holds monsters.  The Horseshoe was another hotspot.

Hot Lures
Walleye: Fire Tiger Shad Rap, Worm Harness (orange or silver blade), 1/4 oz jig with Berkley Gulp
Pike: Mepps Musky Killer, Doctor Spoons, Berkley Hollow Body

Good luck on the water everyone!
Big Hook Wilderness Camps

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Thar be monsters in the waters.

Central Lake rapids
Sunny skies and hot temperatures certainly did not deter any of the fish from biting last week.  Light SE winds and temperatures sailing into the high 80's dominated throughout the week.  Water temperatures skyrocketed and water levels plummeted.  Central Lake was recording temperatures up to 75 degrees in shallower bays while the level of the lake dropped almost 10 inches.  It has been almost three weeks now since we received any significant rain.  Now I know rain on a vacation isn't the most pleasant aspect, however any drops of rain will be welcomed.

Fish are still holding shallow, 6 feet or less, windblown shorelines.  Both species are beginning to migrate away from rapids to typical summer habitat.  With the ample amount of sunshine, weed beds are springing to life and holding toothy pike.  All camps I chatted with had huge smiles and plenty of fish stories to tell.
Excellent fishing was reported around the "Bottleneck" NE of camp.  Perch Bay, was holding numerous large pike prowling for...well perch.  Moose Creek held several large fish, however fish were holding further out from the creek.  Walleye were reported "everywhere."

A Canadian 40" pike released on Central
The south rapids was holding numerous large walleye between 23-26 inches. Trolling shallow diving cranks along wind blown mudflats was effective for large walleye, Husker rock is a great example.  Pike were holding around the Stop and Go Jug.  The west portage started to produce large pike.
The Mroz party boated and released 28 pike over 30" and several over 40". Cocos now leads all Big Hook outposts with the largest pike of 45.5".  The doctor spoon was the hot lure for the week.  The lower water is allowing motorists easier navigation through the rapids.
Numerous reefs east of camp were holding quality walleye between 22-26".  Trolling Walleye Point was probably the most effective fishing technique all week.  Johnson's Island held numerous walleye and large pike.  The weed growth behind Johnson's Island is excellent and harboring numerous fish.  A highlight of the week was a huge pike hammering a fellow 26" northern.  Guests estimated the monster to be in the 45-47" range, unfortunately the monster finally released the smaller pike right when the net was placed in the water.
As usual numerous large walleye were reported, topping out at 29.5".  A large 44" pike was boated and released while jigging for walleye.  Fish were still holding 12 ft or shallower in muddy areas.  As the year progresses fish will transition to rocky structure versus the mudflats.
200 fish per boat was the highlight for the week.  Between the three boats, guests reported having 6 fish on at the same time.  Walleye were holding on shallow rock reefs and mudflats.  According to the guests, every lure was a hot lure.
A week of awesome weather led to many fish boated and released.  The highlights were a 42.5", 41" and numerous fish over 30" for pike.  For walleye a 28.5" was the top fish with several over 25".  Wind blown bays in the Fish Bowl were hot.
Hot lures:
Pike: Doctor Spoon, Spinner Baits (black with silver blade),  bucktails
Walleye: Jig/gulp, Little Ripper Reef Runner (fire tiger), Hot N Tot (pink)

Good luck on the water everyone.
Big Hook Wilderness Camps

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Great Fishin!

Last week brought great walleye fishing throughout the Opasquia Provincial Park.  Guests at every lake boated and released fish after fish after fish.  Most fish were reported in shallow mud flats.  Attached is an amazing quote from the guests last week at South Lake:

"Our group at south lake boated 2,229 walleye. Actual numbers counted on clickers. 170 northern by accident. We had 80 walleye over 20 inches. 13 walleye over 25 inches. 29 1/2 , 29 1/4, 29, 28 1/2 , 5- 26inchers, and 4 -25 inchers. The fishing was simply amazing. We were at South from June 11th through the 18th. Wish I was still there. What an amazing place."

Thanks guys! Glad to hear you had a good time. Check out the Big Hook facebook page for more photos on the amazing week from South Lake.  

Hot weather is dominating the week thus far with strong easterly winds.  It has been unusual wind for the past 5 days.  Water temperatures are rising back up into the 70's.  The water temperatures in the 70's means we have out for the mayflies.

Also weather related, it has been very very dry the past two weeks.  Lake levels are dropping quickly and the  forest is getting extremely dry.  Be extra careful when having a shore lunch and make sure your fires are extinguished.  

I was stationed at Favourable for the past 3 days.  Walleye fishing was fantastic, we had no problem boating 18-22" walleye every day along with a 24" and 26" on Monday.   Pike were a bit finnicky, the calm water and sunny skies didn't help our cause.  Many pike were following to the boat but strikes were difficult to achieve.  Walleye Point and Johnson's Island were the hands down best spots.  Lemonade Lake, especially the dock, was great for numbers.  We boated numerous large perch and quality walleye just bobber fishing off the dock with a worm and a hook.  

Good luck on the water everyone, 
Big Hook Wilderness Camps      

Friday, June 17, 2011

Walleye, walleye everywhere

Normally I like to post my blogs Sunday morning after I have had a chance to converse with the guests on Saturday.  This way I am informed how the fishing on individual lakes progressed and fared for the week. However, this up and coming week I'll be stationed at Favourable Lake, which is about 55 miles from my laptop.  I figured I'd better give a quick update on the fishing throughout the Opasquia Provincial Park and Big Hook Wilderness Camps.

The weather included copious amounts of sun and heat the past week.  A couple of days brought howling winds from the south with the warm weather.  The water temperatures have skyrocketed into the 70's on the surface.  The water does cool rather quickly just a couple of feet down.  Forecasts show the warm weather will continue with a possibility of rain this up and coming Sunday and Monday.  

We are in dire need of rain here in the North country.  Water levels have dropped about 10 inches in 5 days.  If rain doesn't fall soon, fire bans could be placed upon NW Ontario. It is amazing how quickly the landscape here dries out when hot weather arrives.  Be careful when having shore lunches and fires.  Make sure the fire is completely extinguished.  

Unfortunately I can't list all the lakes and hot spots this blog because I haven't had the chance to speak with everyone.  Here is what I know:
-walleye are everywhere, from 2 ft-12ft of water.  Guests are having best luck on mud flats in shallow bays throwing crank baits (blue and silver in particular), tossing light jigs 1/4 oz (white and pumpkinseed) above the mud has been effective.  Central has boated and released 20+ walleye between 24-28 inches.  
- pike have been huddled right with the walleye.  Here at Central, guests had multiple pike smash walleye boat side.  Spinnerbaits are great lures to work through the shallows for pike, along with buck tails and larger floating crankbaits. 
-rapids and quick moving water have been just absolutely dominant.  Bait fish are back in the fast moving current with larger predators hot on their tails.  The fish won't remain in the current for too long, once the water temperatures get too high, fish will sink to cooler water.  
-as long as the weather stays will the fishing.  Fish love weather stability.  Abrupt changes in the weather changes feed habits and water temperatures.  

Hopefully I'll have some great news to reports in the up and coming days from Favourable Lake.  Until then, good luck on the water everyone.  
Big Hook Wilderness Camps