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