Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year!

2012 has raced to an end. Despite the Mayans predicting the end of the world, everyone will live to fish another day.  The 2013 season is already off to a super fast start for Big Hook Camps, with most lakes already 80% booked.  January brings us to the beginning of the Sportshow season.  Big Hook will be attending four shows during the first month of 2013 at Chicago, Milwaukee, Madison and Green Bay.  Stop in and share some of your favorite fishing stories with us.

Just last week Santa blazed over the Opasquia Park and had to throw on several layers to combat the super chilly conditions.  The arctic air has camped over the Big Hook area with temperatures dipping as low as -15 F.  The icy December is welcomed after a lackluster winter in 2011.  The subzero temperatures are creating plenty of ice for the winter highways.  Red Lake reported 16" of ice last week.  22" is the magic number for the transports to start running fuel and freight.  As many of you know, last year not a single transport made the journey along the ice highway.  The lack of transportation caused fuel prices to skyrocket in Sandy Lake to 2.50/litre, which is 9.73/gallon! Airline fuel transports were flying fuel almost everyday into the remote community to keep up with the demand of the diesel generators.   Needless to say, Dad and I are keeping our fingers crossed for a chilly winter.

Hopefully, a cool winter will allow many of you to get out on the ice.

The Hartle family would like to wish everyone the safest and happiest New Year.  We are looking forward to visiting with everyone at the upcoming sports shows soon.  


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Sport Show Schedule

VISIT Big Hook Wilderness Camps AT THE 2013 SPORT SHOWS:

All Canada ShowsJan 10-13 — Pheasant Run Mega Center St Charles, ILThurs 5-9, Fri 3-9, Sat 10-6, Sunday 10-4

Jan 14-16 — Merriott Madison West Madison WI
Monday 5-9, Tuesday 3-9, Weds 10-3 (Free Walleye lunch for all show guests on Wednesday)

Jan 17-20 — Milwaukee County Sports Complex Milwaukee, WIThurs 5-9, Fri 3-9, Sat 10-6, Sunday 10-4

Jan 24-27— Green Bay, WI Shopko HallThurs 5-9, Friday 3-9, Sat 10-6, Sunday 10-4

Feb 9-10— Tinley Park IL, High SchoolSat 9-5, Sun 9-5

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Patience and Perseverance

I often tell guests "It is amazing how a fish can humble a man."  One moment fishing can be nonstop action only to halt abruptly and lag for what seems like an eternity.  This downtime is a true test of patience for most fishermen.  However, outlasting the lull's can pay dividends.

Fish are temperamental and are constantly shifting to different areas. I have often left hot spots biting and returned twelve hours later only to experience the dead sea. Trying to explain their feeding habits can get down right silly.  Here are some of the favorite excuses explaining why fish don't bite:

  • It's too hot.
  • It's too cold.
  • The wrong moon phase.
  • Mars is in retrograde. 
  • We need a falling barometric pressure, not a rising.
  • Wash your hands! This is an absolute must if you smoke, chew, or touch anything smelly (especially bug spray!). Fish have an incredible sense of smell, and if the bait you're using smells like a can of deet.....No bite for you! 
  • The wind is from the east.  
Most of these claim truly hold merit.  However, Mars in retrograde is a stretch.  After documenting fishing patterns at Big Hook for over twenty years I have made several conclusions about fishing patterns.  
  1. Fish love a falling barometric pressure.  I have boated more trophy fish just before experiencing a low pressure system.
  2. Moon phase can affect the fish bite, more so for the big boys.  I have witnessed more big fish boated during a full or new moon. 
  3. If there is a high pressure, the third day will produce.  A high pressure system will start with slow fishing and gradually improve.  
  4. Wind direction makes no difference.  If the wind is blowing, just go to the windy shoreline.  
  5. Bug spray and gasoline are no no's.  If you apply bug spray or recent fill up the gas tank, wash your hands! I have noticed fish absolutely hate the smell of deet and petrol.  
  6. Fishing will be tough following a cold front.  After a low pressure comes ripping across NW Ontario expect a tough bite.  Give it time, the fish are there but are not active.  
Now that Big Hook is closed up for the fishing season, I have the opportunity to explore the waters in Wisconsin.  I recently embarked on a three day musky fishing outing with several old college friends. A wicked low pressure had just pounded the Midwest and I was just about ready to cancel knowing the fishing was going to be slow.  I sucked it up because, in my opinion, being on the water is far better than sitting around the house. 

37" musky
The first two days of cold, windy elements following the front just about broke my confidence.  We saw no fish and boated no fish.  My arm was about ready to fall off from casting baits the size of a 2X4's for twelve hours a day.  However, the third day of angling, everything changed.  I should note, it was the third day of a high pressure and a full moon phase.  Our patience paid off and all within an hours time we boated a 31", 37", 38" and 48" musky.  We also missed several other fish that hit our suckers soaking boatside.  As I mentioned in the title of this article, persevere and you will be rewarded.  The following pictures are of the 37" and 48" fish we boated and released. 
48" monster

Fishing Tip

Most people replace line on their fishing reels over the winter time.  Here is a great knot for attaching line to your reel.  The arbor knot is a simple and secure way to attach your line to your reel, and it is very easy to tie. Here's how.....

1) Thread the line around reel arbor.
2) Tie an overhand knot around the line itself. Then just tie a second overhand knot in the tag end. This second knot keeps line from slipping through the first.
3) Grab on either side of the knots and pull tight. Cut off the excess. Then slide the first overhand knot down the line to snug it around the reel arbor.

Good luck in your fall fishing trips everyone.  Remember to practice CPR. 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

From Summer Straight to Winter

The north country forgot to include fall as a season this year.  A pleasant August gave way to a chilling September.  Temperatures began to plummet around the 10th of September giving way to snow and many many chilly nights.  Several mornings we woke up to powder on the ground and frozen water lines.  A short stroll to the lake with a bucket in hand is the only means to a morning cup of coffee while waiting for the day to warm the water lines.  Dad and I managed to close up camp and depart the Opasquia Provincial Park on the 23rd of September.

A nice fall walleye from South Lake

Our customer numbers begin to dwindle come September. As I have noted above, the weather this far north can be unpredictable in the fall. One day the temperatures could reach 75 F only to be followed with snow the next.  Another reason for customer decline is families with kids returning to school.

I managed to chat with Sandy Lake Seaplane this week and get a weather update.  Several heavy snow storms dusted the area early last week.  About 4-6 inches carpeted the ground.  Amazingly, the east end of Southwest Lake was already beginning to ice over!  However, glancing at the current temperatures a warming trend looks to melt the current snow levels.

A pair of swans visited us at Central all summer.
Fishing wise, falling temperatures in September can provide superb action.  Numbers are more difficult to find however size can dramatically increase.  Fish begin aggressively feeding to pack on pounds for a long cold winter.  Most walleye and pike begin exiting the dying weed beds and migrate to moving water, rocky points and deep reefs. However, once the lake turns over fishing halts for several days.

For example, on September 19th I took a trip to South Lake and managed to fish for about 4 hours. During our short time we trolled some deep cut banks with Berkley Flicker Shads in about 18-25 ft of water with decent success.  We really started pounding the walleye on a deep rock pile in about 26 ft.  A simple 1/2 oz jig with a 4" yellow twister was the magical combination.  We didn't catch a ton but the numbers between 20-26" were amazing.  Just two days later we began noticing murky water throughout the park, sure enough, the lakes were beginning to turn.  Those were the last fish I caught this season.

Year End Projects    

Despite some sub par weather Dad, Tryol and I managed to accomplish some projects among the camps.  The first project tackled were renovations at South camp. All the old particle board interior was removed and replaced with tongue and groove knotty pine.  In the process of renovating I managed to fire a 3 1/2" nail into the palm of my hand with our Paslode Nail Gun.  A quick trip to the nursing station for a tetnus shot and some anti-biotics and I was good to go.  The new interior siding really brightens the cabin.  A new crib and pressure treated dock was also constructed at South.

Another big project that required much coordination was replacing the solar grid at Central.  I discovered this July, that the 18 panels powering our main camp fell into a warranty recall.  After verifying the poor power output, submitting numerous forms and explaining to the solar company where exactly these panels had to travel, 18 brand new panels were shipped from Scottsdale AZ all the way to Central Lake.  Now that is a journey!  After taking dozens of pictures of the current system, I had the confidence to replace the grid.  Two days later I gave myself a pat on the back, the new system was performing like a dream.


In the video I have posted to the right are a couple of moose that decided to play across the lake at Central.  It truly was a unique experience.  I have never witnessed moose so tame.  For two days they played and frolic'd while we worked on closing up the camp.  You can hear Shadow barking like crazy in the video, all her noise didn't seem to bother the young moose one bit.

We Thank You

I cannot express my deepest gratitude to our guests enough.  I sincerely enjoy visiting with everyone over the course of the summer.  From myself, Mom and Dad, we extend our biggest thanks to all of our clientele for choosing to share the beauty of the north country with us.  We look forward to swapping fishing stories with everyone at the sport shows this winter.

Good luck on the water to everyone in their fall adventures.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Late Summer Attack

It is amazing how quickly the days shorten here in the north country.  Just last month the sun was setting around ten p.m. and was high in the sky by six a.m.  The sun now just barely starts to crest the tree line at 6:15 and remarkably we are still losing 5 minutes of daylight every passing day.  The shorter days generally mean cooler temperatures.  However, weather forecasts are looking promising.  The week is predicted to hover around the mid seventies with nights dropping as low at 40 degrees.

so glassy, which way is up?
Water is flowing again at the West Rapids
Last week we received plenty of rain to raise the water levels.  A stubborn low pressure descended over the Opasquia Provincial Park last Wednesday and Thursday.  The system dropped about 2-3 inches of rain, cooling the water temperatures to 65 degrees.  The cooling water didn't seem to affect the fishing.  Both the walleye and pike bite remained constant


Fish have been descending through the water column to about 20 ft.  Most big fish have been caught jigging on rock reefs.  3/8 oz jigs with solid  chartreuse tails seemed to favor the trophies last week. However, I had tremendous luck trolling wind blown shorelines in about 18 ft with Wally Divers (white, blue) and Shad Raps (perch colored).   I have never seen so many pike strike walleye at the side of the boat as last week. South Lake boated the largest fish of the week at 30.5".  Central boated and released a 26.5" and a 27.75" just off Airplane Island.


Quite the bear scratch on a Central Portage
Pike were extremely aggressive this past week.  As mentioned before, all lakes reported big pike striking walleye at boat side.  This aggressiveness is a sign of pike attempting to bulk up for winter. The shorter days coupled with the drop in water temperature has triggered the fall feed. 

Lots of big fish have been located circling schools of walleye.  When fishing on a hot walleye spot, it is common for the action to suddenly stop. This is a sign a big pike has rolled through the area.  At this time, I like to start tossing large deep water baits such as Depth Raiders, Bull Dawgs or large plastic jigs to entice the toothy trophies. 
Top water action last week was also amazing.  Top Raiders, Zara Spooks, Giant Jackpots, and Dancing Raiders all sent pike flying out of the water.  The top water action was superior during the evening (6 pm-9 pm) bite.  For example, a 30 minute nonstop top water blitz last Tuesday on Central was just jaw dropping.  Just about every cast resulted in a fish blowing up on the bait.  We (I should say my fiance)  boated a 25, 27, 29, 31, 33, 34 and 36" fish during this short period.  I just ended up being the net man. The only reason we stopped fishing was to remove a hook that became buried underneath my thumbnail from a thrashing pike.  All I have to say is "thank goodness for barbless hooks!" 

The biggest pike last week was boated and released at Cocos at a whopping 43".  Central, Burnt and SW came close with respective 40", 40.5" and 42" fish.  

Good luck on the water everyone!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

August, in like a lion

A great night for top water. 
August has brought us ample amounts of moisture thus far.  Ten of the eleven days have provided some form of rain in the Opasquia Provincial Park.  The rain is welcomed considering the fire situation we experienced in July.  Now the fires have been extinguished and the lake levels have begun rising.  At Central Lake the water levels have risen approximately six to ten inches.  The rain has cooled the water temperatures slightly.  Water temperatures range from 67-69 degrees.


Walleye are descending to their late summer patterns.  Most fish are being caught on rock reefs and deeper points.  Smaller fish have been found on the edges of weed beds. Locating 16-20 ft spots are key.  These deeper reefs and cut banks will hold the bigger fish.  Trolling crankbaits along a shelf is a favorite tactic of mine.  Today for example, we caught fish jigging on top of a reef however, we could not break the twenty inch barrier for walleye.  We switched to trolling a jointed Rapala Shad Rap (black/orange) and a Berkley Flicker Shad (blue/silver) and promptly boated five walleye between 20-22".  


The big pike have been scattered between points and deep weed beds.  Many big fish have been following schools of walleye.  While fishing for walleye on reefs, anglers should be pitching for pike at the same time.  As I have mentioned in previous blogs, deep diving baits such as Depth Raiders and Bull Dawgs are great for fishing deeper rock reefs.  Large jigs coupled with 5-7" tails are also key baits in a fishermen's arsenal this time of year.  Working weed beds can be frustrating.  Some fish embed themselves deep within foliage and reaching those fish can be cumbersome.  To combat heavy weeds I utilize the infamous Johnson Silver Minnow with a white twister.  The Silver Minnow glides through the slop with minimal hang ups.  In deep foliage I also prefer braided line over mono.  The lack of stretch braided line possesses cuts weeds with little effort.  Two other baits in my tackle box are a Rapala Gliding Rap and a Top Raider.  

Several forty inch pike were boated and released last week.  An impressive 28" walleye was also boated and released up on Sabourin Lake.  Bigger fish were caught in the northern half of Burnt.  

The north narrows once again produced several 40 inch trophies last week.  Trolling Wind Sock island was effective for walleye.  The deep reefs on the north end of the lake also held some big fish.  Jigging walleye in 18-20 ft with a 3/8 oz tube jig was favored by bigger walleye.  

The majority of bigger fish were boated in the Sagawitchewan River.  The deeper pools in the SE sections were "impressive" according to guests.  Duckling Island is harboring several large pike at the moment.  

The deeper water of Favorable located closer to the camp have been great for walleye.  The Three Sisters have held some amazing walleye over the past couple days.  Pike Alley and Wally Point have been other notable spots.  Lemonade is still churning out quality walleye.  

Once again South has produced another 30" walleye.  Several 28" fish were also boated and released.  The bigger fish were boated in 25-30 ft of water.  The weeds just NE of camp were productive for both walleye and pike.  

SW lake held up it's reputation as the fish factory in the Opasquia Provincial Park. Spoons are still incredibly effective for walleye in the shallows.  

The north and east end of the lake have been outproducing the "fish bowl".  The deeper sections of West have been holding quality walleye.  Last week several 25", 27" and 28" walleye were released. 

-Good Luck on the water everyone. 

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Rain relief....finally!

Nothing puts me to sleep faster than the pitter patter of rain on the steel roof.  The hypnotic sound immediately clicks my brain into rest mode no matter what time of the day.  As I have mentioned in previous blogs, we have lacked any sort of moisture for the whole month of July.  However, August is a new month and some much needed rain has finally graced the Opasquia Provincial Park.  For the past 12 hours a steady saturating rain has fallen from the densely clouded skies.  While bailing the boats this morning I would guess we have received close to an inch of rain with this system thus far.  I know rain isn't a favorite condition for fishermen but this is surely welcomed by us camp operators; as forest fires were beginning to pop up all around NW Ontario.   This amount of rainfall should really dampen and/or extinguish the majority of our fires in the area.  I also expect to hear from the MNR in the next couple of days, lifting the fire ban in the park.

The past weeks weather has provided warm days and cool nights causing the water temperatures to drop to 70 degrees.  The water levels have remained steady and I would expect them to rise a bit after this dousing of rain.


Walleye have still been holding the same patterns as last week.  Most fish are holding from 12-20 feet of water.  Rock piles and wind blown points are the consistent spots.  Some weed edges are holding fish. Jigging still produces more fish than most other methods.  A 3/8 oz jig head with a 3-4" tail (black, white chartreuse, pink, orange, pumpkinseed) have all been deadly.  Worm harnesses have also been effective.  I had excellent luck Sunday while guiding, trolling a blue/silver Berkley Flicker Shad, while my boat mate used a Fire Tiger Shad Rap #7. We made 12 passes along a rocky point/mud flat and boated 16 fish in about 14-18 feet of water.


The pike have certainly turned on with the cloudy skies the last couple of days.  Top water presentations have been absolutely awesome.  Twitching Zara Spooks or retrieving Top Raiders have resulted in plenty of explosions.  Fish are holding tight in the weeds and have been extremely active when the skies cloud over.  When trying to battle lures through the slop I like to use braided line with Johnson silver minnows.  The braided line cuts through the weeds more effectively and the Silver Minnow is one of the best weedless lures out on the market in my opinion.

Some deeper fish have been located alongside walleye schools on the rock reefs.  Pitching Bull Dawgs, Depth Raiders and larger shad tail jigs are a great technique to catching pike in deeper water.  I have heard plenty of stories this week where pike have nailed walleye boat side.

The planes ready to roll on a Saturday morning. 
The upper end of Burnt has been producing larger fish this past week.  Although, a 40" was boated on the reef just 1/4 mile south of the dock.  Walleye have been located on just about every wind blown point throughout the lake.

The west end of the lake has been producing the larger pike this week.  The guests have seen a ton of huge follows on the sunny days.  Husker Rock has been a notable spot for trophy fish.  Airplane Island and the NE side of Dump Island are still top spots for walleye.  Just about all the fish have moved away from the rapids.    

The river has been consistently outproducing the main lake. Plenty of fish are still being caught in the rapids.  The SW section of the river has been tops for both species.  I haven't chatted with the guests but I expect the deeper bowls in the SE would be the go to spots in the river.

The most productive area of Favorable has been around the camp.  Pike Alley and the three sisters have been the top two spots.  The islands just to the east of camp have produced some of the best walleye all summer. The north arm of the lake has been hot where the Severn starts to exit.  Lemonade is the usual, fish everywhere.

A South Lake sunset. 
Impressive walleye have been caught in 12-25 ft.  Mostly on rock points and reefs.  The narrows just south of camp produced a 29.5" fish last week.  I'll get a better report this Saturday from the current guests as they have been on the water when I have visited.

Some really nice pike were boated this week.  A 38" and 39" pike were boated on the large weed bed in the north arm of the lake.  Tons of walleye are holding on the island just east of the camp.  The five of diamonds is still dominating for walleye.  Strange to see walleye holding so shallow on this lake.

The Horsehoe is the place for big pike.  Numerous 35-40" have been boated there.  Bucktails and top water have been the popular baits to use. The big walleye have been hanging on the deeper reefs in the north end of the lake.  The "fish bowl" has still be quiet the past week as water temperatures are still a bit warm.  The narrows entering the fish bowl however has been producing in the northern sections.

Good luck on the water everyone!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Start Rain Dancing

Like much of North America, dry conditions are affecting us here in the Opasquia Provincial Park.  It has been about three weeks since our last good dowsing of rain.  The dry conditions have resulted in a fire ban imposed by the MNR.  This means open fires are not allowed, controlled flames such as grills and fish cookers are permitted during a ban.

The water levels have dropped noticeably over the past week.  However, several cool nights have lowered the water temperatures to a fish friendly 72 degrees.


The sunny skies and heat haven't deterred the walleye from biting.  Guests at Central yesterday were amazed they were boating fish at high noon with a blazing sun overhead and temps flirting with 90 degrees.  According to multiple guests reports, walleye have been boated in just about every water depth.  For example, I made it fishing last night for a couple hours and boated 4 walleye while casting weed beds for pike.

Most sizable fish are holding off of rock structure in 10-18 feet of water. Slow back trolling into the wind while bouncing bottom with a jig or worm harness is one of my favorite techniques to locate walleye.  Another method to find some big eyes is to troll a weed line with a Rapala F18, Bomber Magnum Long A or any other large shallow diving crank bait.  You will boat several pike, so having a minimum of 40# flourocarbon or mono leader is essential.  Guests have also reported walleye suspending over deeper mud flats.  Once again, trolling cranks is a great way to locate this fish.  I like Shad Raps and Reef Runners.


Mom's biggest pike yet.  Caught on a pink jig of course. 
The calm waters and hot days have had the pike acting finnicky.  Sunny days have caused the pike to dive into deeper waters during the daytime hours.  Most big pike are being caught off of deeper rock structures holding walleye.  Deep diving cranks and larger plastics are deadly when pike are hugging the bottom.  I like to use black Depth Raiders or 1/2 long shanked jig heads with 5-6" plastic shad bodies.
 Fishing windblown rock points is a favorite way for me to catch monster pike.  Of course holding the boat is a different story.  Cast, position the boat, cast again, repeat.  When the clouds, which have been rare this July, grace their presence the pike have been noticeably more aggressive.

As the sun lowers in the sky, the big pike migrate back into the weeds.  On calm nights, nothing beats throwing top water baits over thick weed beds.  Buzz baits, Jackpots, Hog Wobblers and Top Raiders encourage some of the best top water action.  The peak evening bite has been between 6 pm to 9 pm.

Fish are located in their typical summer spots.  Pike in the weeds and on rock structures flanking walleye.  The current guests have been on a mission to located jumbo perch.  Vertical jigging in the thickest weed beds in the NE corner of the lower half of Burnt is a great place to locate perch.
The west arm was hot for 20-22 inch walleye yesterday.  Jigging 12 ft points with white or pink has been popular.  The bigger pike have been hugging deep rock structures on the north end.  The weed beds have been heating up in the evening.  The NE corner of Dump Island is still producing some larger walleye
I have not had the chance to speak with the guests this week.  This time of year the Sagawitchewan river tends to be more productive than the main body of Cocos.  Guests should focus on the deeper pools in the southern half of the river.
A huge 31.5" walleye from South Lake. 
Favorable had a rare open week.  Last week guests had great success trolling for walleye.  Reefs and points nearby camp were holding plenty of fish.  Lemonade still produced copious amounts of fish everywhere in the lake.
The current guests have been experiencing great success with worm harnesses along weed lines for big walleye.  Gazing at the bragging board yesterday I noticed they had already boated and released 2-26, 2-27, & 2-28" walleye.
The guests fishing report this week is as follows:  "Tie on a lure, doesn't really matter what, cast at a rock reef and retrieve fish."  Tons and tons of fish are being boated and released.  The majority of fish have been located off of rocky points.  Guests have reported difficulty reaching the east arm of the lake due to lower than normal water levels.
The fish bowl has slowed due to the hot weather.  Fish have moved to the north end of the lake and deeper, cooler water.  Reefs on the far north end of the lake have been the hottest for big walleye.  The Horseshoe continues it's dominance as the hot spot for big pike.  However, if I were a guest I would commit some time to the rock just in front of camp.  There is some amazing structure, weeds and deep water all around this trophy producing reef.

Good luck on the water everyone!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Hot and Dry

The heat wave continues throughout the Opasquia Provincial Park.  Average temperatures over the past couple of days have been in the 80's-90's accompanied with sunny skies and calm winds.  The abundance of sun and heat has sent the water temperatures skyrocketing and the water levels plummeting.  The lake level here at Central has dropped a good foot over the past nine days, while the water temperature has shot up from 70 degrees to 76 degrees.  A swim in the lake has been rather pleasant I must say.

The lack of rain combined with the heat has caused the MNR to impose a fire ban in the Opasquia Provincial Park as of yesterday.  This means no outdoor fires of any kind are allowed.  Controlled fires such as outdoor BBQ grills and fish cookers are acceptable.

The heat has not slowed down the fishing.  I was able to chat with most of the guests this morning and the consensus among all the camps is simply... excellent fishing.  The peak bites seem to be early in the morning or late at night just before sunset.  Guests at South Lake commented the majority of the trophy walleye were boated right before sunset.  Central Lake's fishing patterns are very similar, the current guests have boated numerous big pike in the narrows after 7pm.  

I fully expected most of the fish to be holding in 15-20 ft.  However, to my surprise many of the lakes are reporting fish in 4-8 ft.  The weeds have been holding a lot of smaller fish during mid day but the big females move in once the sun starts setting.  Numerous bigger pike have been holding of deeper rock structure during the mid day hours.  Deep diving crankbaits have been productive however the most effective bait has been a simple over sized jig with a 5-6" shad tail.  

Hot lures

PIKE: 1/2 oz jig with 5 inch shad tail, 3/4 oz johnson silver minnow with white twister, giant jackpot 

WALLEYE:  1/4 oz to 3/8 oz jig head with a chartreuse tail,  rattle trap silver, hot n tot perch colored 

I haven't seen the guests all week at Burnt Lake, so unfortunately I don't have much of a fishing report.  I would imagine the sandy beach on the north end to be producing plenty of big pike.  The submerged rock piles just south of camp is a go to spot this time of year. 
41" Central Lake pike
Airplane Island has been hands down the best spot for walleye this week.  Jigging or trolling the shelf has been awesome.  The north narrows has produced numerous 35-40" fish in the evenings.  Husker rock has also produced some nice pike.  The "reef in the middle of nowhere" on the north end is another walleye producer.
The guests have boated more fish than ever over the past couple of days, however the big trophies have been tougher to locate.  Some success was had throwing deep baits around the rapids.  The rapids have been navigable for some time now.
Guests have focused their efforts all week on Favorable.  I only managed to speak with one gentleman yesterday, he was grinning ear to ear having just recently boated a 40" pike in Pike Alley.  The islands right in front and to the east of the dock have been awesome for walleye.  Numerous 20-22" fish have been boated on worm harnesses and Hot N Tot's.
South Lake:
South has had a heck of a week for big walleye.  The count was 31.5, 30, 29.5, 29, 28.5 and many many 26" fish for trophies so far this week.  The big fish are surprisingly shallow, 8-12 feet.  All the big fish have been caught jigging with smaller presentations.  1/4 oz jighead with a chartreuse Gulp Tail has been the big producer.  The only information the guests provided was the fish were nowhere near camp.
A foggy Central Lake morning
The boys at SW have been enjoying themselves all week.  They estimated each boat was catching 100-150 fish per day.  I asked where the hots spots were and they responded with "just find a rock pile and the fish will be there."  The five of diamond has been the hot lure for....get this...walleye.  Not jigs, not crankbaits, spoons of all lures have been boating more walleye than anything.
The north end of the lake has come alive with the warm temperatures.  The deeper cooler waters have been harboring some great walleye.  Jigging the islands and submerged reefs have been yielding great rewards.  The fish bowl has slowed due to warm water temperatures.  The horseshoe continues to produce nice pike.

Please remember Big Hook Camps has a No Trophy take out policy.  This means all walleye over 18" must be thrown back and all pike over 27" must be released.

Good luck on the water everyone!

Friday, July 13, 2012


A snippet from Evie Hartle

July 11 was another birthday for me at Big Hook in the great white north.   A special evening dinner was planned but the days first objective was to meet the Hawker fuel tanker with 8100 L of fuel at Sandy Lake at 8:00 AM.  This is a year where the ice roads to Sandy were poor, so all of our boat fuel has to be flown in by plane to Sandy Lake, transferred into a holding tank and then into five gallon jugs and flown to each outpost camp. This is incredibly challenging and labor intensive. Planning the logistics involved to fly in fuel was a new event for us and was surprisingly difficult.  The first step was reserving fuel from Winnipeg, then contacting an airline to haul said fuel.  Once the fuel arrives in Sandy how do you transport it from the airport to the float base? We managed to locate a fuel transfer truck.  The whole process was quite the learning experience. 

Back to the day at hand, our plane taxied and departed the water at 7AM from main camp.  Steve and Nathan flew to Sandy Lake to meet the Hawker, however to their surprise the arrival time had abruptly changed to 4:30 PM.  So, change in plans for the day.  The guys decided to fly over to Southwest Lake to build a boat ramp in the sweltering 90 degree heat.  The warm humid air held all the correct conditions for thunderstorms to build.  At 4:30 the transfer of fuel was on schedule (for the second time) at Sandy and was completed. However, Mother Nature deterred the guys from flying home to the Hook. The main camp had thunder and lighting from 4:30-7:30, so the special birthday meal was put back in the refrigerator for another night.  Nathan and Steve did manage to fly back to main camp around 8:30PM when the storms moved east.  To my surprise, they had flown a bakery birthday cake in for me.  Everyone in the camp enjoyed the birthday cake at 9:30 pm on a day that was no piece of cake.  Then, the real fireworks began.  What a wild and crazy lighting storm we had! Never in our 22 years up here have we ever seen such dramatic lightning storms. West and Cocos reported golfball size hail and three to four inches of rain in 30 minutes from that super weather cell.  The water level at West Lake shot up a foot in a matter of hours.   

Fishing News

As Mom mentioned earlier, we have been sweating through a heat wave in the Opasquia Provincial Park.  The average temperatures the past week have been hovering in the high 80's to low 90's.  Yesterday, I did see the thermostat peak at 101 degrees.  No air conditioning in the cabins means the lake has been frequently visited.  The warm humid weather has developed some interesting thunder storms the past couple of evenings.  

The water temperatures have been climbing through the low 70's up to 74 in some shallow bays.  The water levels, with the exception of West Lake are sitting around normal.  Answering the big question is: are the mayflies done hatching?  The answer is.... yes.  The mayfly hatch started to falter early this week.  The fish have had a chance to digest the winged insects and have begun to acquire an appetite again.  The walleye have been surprisingly scattered through the water column.  In this heat, I fully expected fish to be hanging around 20 ft. However, while guiding yesterday afternoon I located massive schools anywhere from 4-25 feet and they were hungry aggressive fish.  

Pike are now holding consistently in weedbeds.  With the hot sunny weather the evening bite has been the most productive.  Top water baits have been explosive.  The top bait the past week though, has been the Johnson Silver Minnow with a white twister trailer. 

Burnt Lake
A 44" Burnt Lake Pike
The fishing at Burnt has been fantastic according to the current guests.  A monstrous 45" pike was boated and released along with several other cruisers.  Moose Creek held several large fish.  The larger walleyes have been boated on the north section of lake.  Another amazing fishing story, is the huge perch being boated.  Perch topping at 13" have been boated on worm harnesses and small spinners. 
Central Lake
Central battled mayflies the beginning of the week but the hatch has ended and the fish are getting aggressive.  The north narrows has shrugged off a slow start to the season and has been producing numerous trophy fish.  Walleye are moving from weed beds to deeper reefs.  I have located fish at every depth and on just about every spot.  The West rapids is holding massive amounts of fish.  Frisco bay is great with a south or east wind.  In this heat we have been swimming a lot off the dock.  An amazing amount of fish have been schooling under the floater.  Yesterday, no joke, I chased school of 30-50 fish while snorkeling.  Tyrol, our camp hand, landed a 5 pound walleye while jigging off the dock.  
The rapids has been navigable for the past several weeks.  Fishing in the river has been hot.  Under the rapids is always a great spot to try for a last minute pick up for dinner. Duckling Island gave up a 42" pike.  The weed edges in most spots have been holding some nice walleye.  
Another Burnt Lake monster
Not much new to report from Lemonade, fishing has been excellent.  Favorable has been producing nice pike in the usual spots, Pike Alley and spots to the east.  Pike have moved from the shallow creeks into deeper weeds.  Walleye point is still one of my favorite spots for big walleye. 
I haven't spoke much with the guests at South.  They have been pounding the water sun up to sundown.  They noted in a message the fishing was picking up after a massive mayfly hatch.  
The mayfly's didn't slow down the bite one bit according to guests.  Four guests reported they boated and released 150 walleye in one single spot! Lighter jigs 1/4 oz with yellow tails have been the magical lure along with a perch colored Wally Diver.  
The deeper reefs are coming alive with the hot weather.  Guest have reported schools of 20-25 inch walleye have been located jigging along 8-16' humps.  Weed beds in the fish bowl and the horse shoe have been great in the evening.  

Good luck on the water everyone!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

The Mayflies Rise

Warm weather has brought the inevitable to the Opasquia Provincial Park....mayflies.  Fisherman hate them but ecosystems love them. The adult Mayfly (with wings) will live for about two days - some species only last a few hours. The job of the adult is simply to mate and get the eggs deposited back in the water.  Adults don't even stop to eat.  Because of its short lifespan, the mayfly is often called one-day or one-day fly in several languages. Mayflies play an important role in the ecosystem, a lake with a large mayfly hatch shows that body of water is extremely healthy.  We certainly have some healthy lakes! Especially the last two days.  

The onset of a mayfly hatch can kick off a walleye feeding frenzy.  The fish become extremely active striking everything.  However, several hours after the hatch begins their bellies become full and the walleye become lethargic.  Smaller presentations often help encouraging walleye to strike.  I prefer scaling all the way down to 1/8 oz jigs and two inch tales.  The bite is often super light, to where the fish just holds the jig in their mouth.  Half the time you raise your rod tip and experience dead weight.  Walleye's digest mayflies rather quickly which is good news for fisherman. Within two to three days walleyes are back to their typical patterns.  

As noted before the weather has been warm the past several days.  Surface temperatures are finally reaching the high 60's and even low 70's in some locations.  Weed growth is strong as the lake levels are beginning to subside to normal levels.  

Hot Lures over the past week:

Walleye: Jig pink head, white twister tail 3", fire tiger rattle trap,  Hot N Tot Flouro Orange. 

Pike: Johnson Silver Minnow, Red and White Daredevil, Rapala F18 Firetiger 

 Burnt keeps rolling with big fish.  A 44" pike was boated and released just down the shore from the cabin. Another fish, 39.99999" (just couldn't stretch it to 40") inches was boated by the youngest in the Guyette party.  Fish are starting to move out of the narrows into the larger areas of the lake.  Weed beds are growing strong along the beach on the north end.  Fish are still holding in the current below the narrows pouring into the north end of Burnt. 
The rapids on every end of the lake continue their production.  The narrows on the north end has been surprisingly quiet so far this year, usually it is the go to spot in the lake for big pike.  I expect this area to explode with production over the next couple of days.  Many of the reefs and wind blown points are beginning to hold fish.  Dump Island has been a great spot for eyes.   
The rapids continue to gush and guests are still unable to run into the Sagawitchewan river.  I expect that to change over the next several days.  Water levels are dropping at all the lakes flowing into Cocos, which means the waterways will be navigable soon.  Weed beds very close to camp have been productive for large pike.  The outgoing rapids on the north end of the lake held more walleye than the guests could count. 
A Favourable Monster
Lemonade is still chugging out the numbers of fish this season.  I have been amazed with the numbers of nice perch and sauger caught.  I was chatting with the guests one day and we witnessed a mink struggling to pull an eel pout from the lake.  I never knew eel pout existed in Lemonade.  Favourable weed beds are beginning to hold some nice pike.  Attached right is a beautiful 40" fish caught and released by the Hurt party last week.   Johnson's Island has been holding some large fish. 
The week kicked off with a beautiful 28" walleye.  The fish have been holding in 12-16 feet of water. With the mayflies hatching in full tilt, the bite has been lethargic.  Bigger fish have been caught trolling Hot N Tot's along the deeper sections of mud flats.  The guests noted good luck in deep sections of weed beds for walleye.  The rock points have been hit or miss. 
South West
Even mayflies can't slow down the juggernaut of southwest lake.  Guests still reported great fishing despite a lake covered with winged insects.  A pair of lynx were spotted last week gazing upon the fisherman.  I saw the pictures and can't wait to post them to the blog.  
The biggest fish of the year so far was boated and released last week.  In the bottom of the ninth with two outs, a just one more fish, one more cast monster was boated on a Rapala F18.  The 45.5" was caught in the narrows just south of camp.  Guests noted that fishing was great in the Horseshoe and on several of the reefs in the fish bowl basin.  

Good luck on the water everyone!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Big Hook Fishing Report

It simply amazes me how much the weather can differ from year to year.  Last year at this time we were begging for rain and cooler temperatures.  The temperatures were so warm I was living in the lake to stay cool.  This year thus far I have camped in the sauna for my warmth.  I am exaggerating of course, the temperatures have not been that cold but there certainly hasn't been much in regards to a heat wave.  Cloudy skies and rain have dominated this week.

Last Saturday we received 3-5" of rain.  12 hours straight of heavy downpour has caused the lake levels to skyrocket.  I advise fisherman to use caution navigating the water ways.  The high water has now hidden numerous reefs.  A plus side of the high water is the raging current at the numerous rapids.  Fish have corralled themselves in the current chasing smaller bait fish.

The narrows on the north end of the lake is flowing fast.  The result is, thousands of fish camped below.  I had the chance to talk with the guests yesterday and they were all smiles.  A 41" pike and 27" walleye were boated and released on Tuesday.  The guests grinned and claimed the numbers were a little low.   That morning they boated 60 fish between the two, hmmmmm high standards?  The perch have been a little difficult to locate with the rising water.  I would recommend locating wind blown weed beds and tossing beetlespins.
The numbers of fish are down so far this week, however the size is up.  A 43" pike tops the list so far.  Several 40", 39" and 36" have also been boated and released.  Trolling crankbaits along weed lines have brought sizable walleye into the boat.  Yesterday I guided two gentlemen on the West end.  We trolled past Husker Rock 6 times and boated 12 eyes between 18-23".  A Chartreuse #5 Shad Rap was the hot lure.  We tried every other color combination in the box and the chartreuse/white beat them all 2 to 1.  The west portage was extremely muddy due to some blowing winds the previous day.  We still managed to boat a fat 38.5" pike and a feisty 35".  The north narrows have also been impressive, giving up the majority of the trophy pike this week.  The current guests have been throwing mostly doctor spoons for the big pike.
The high water has guests struggling to get up the second set of rapids.  The amount of current has been to strong.  A couple of guys pull the boat around the beaver damn to access the Sagawitcheawn River.  Several  nice pike have been boated just off the Eagles Nest weed bed north east of the camp.  As usual, the rapids is producing large amounts of fish.
Lemonade is self explanatory: put jig in water and retrieve fish.  Just about everywhere in the lake has been producing fish.  A favorite spot for the guests this week has been the West side of the island.  As for Favorable, the winds the past couple of day have hampered the fishing a tad.  Pike alley produced some 35"-40" fish.  Walleye point has plenty of walleye milling about.  Trolling an orange 10' diving crankbait along the shore adjacent to the dock is killer. You certainly don't have to wander far to catch fish.
The guests chalked up two impressive 29" walleye along with a 42" and 39" pike. Trolling Hot N Tot's was the method of choice for catching the big walleye.  Big fish are still surprisingly shallow.  Trolling 8-10 ft weed lines and mud flats with Shad Raps is one of my favorite ways to boat big fish.  Jigging rocky points is getting more and more productive as the season progresses.
The lake known as the "walleye factory" has been producing some large pike over the past several days.  Guests have been focusing their attention on the east arm of the lake for walleye and have been pleasantly surprised with some large pike.  The large mud/weed flat east of the camp has been hands down the most productive spot in the lake thus far.  A couple adventurous guests made the long run all the way to the outgoing falls.  They boated tons of fish above and decided to see what the bottom of the rapids offered.  After a brush battled walk (there is no beaten path to the bottom of the falls), another ton of fish was caught from shore.  
The guests last week touted 60 pike between 34-43".  Most of the fish were boated in the fish bowl.  Several were caught just over the east portage, in the bay adjacent to the boat launch.  I chatted with the current guests on Monday, they had already boated and released a 42" and 41" pike along with a chunky 27" walleye.   The guests noted the Horseshoe has been quite the productive spot.

Hot Lures
Pike:  Johnson Silver Minnow with a twister trailer, Mepps Agila #5,  Five of Diamonds, Silver doctor spoon
Walleye:  Jig white head/yellow body (3" twister), Shad Rap Chartreuse/white #5,  rattle trap silver/blue, actually most color combinations for jigs have been effective.  1/4 oz or 3/8 are best sizes for jig heads.  

Remember to email some pics so I can post them to the blog! Good luck on the water everyone,

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Week in Review

The cool weather certainly hasn't deterred the fish from biting.  All the camps are reporting excellent fishing despite cool temperatures. Last week (June 2nd-9th) brought warm sunny days that elevated the water temperatures into the mid sixties.  This warming trend kicked off a feeding frenzy in the fish that has carried over into this week.

As mentioned before, the past two days have been windy and cool with scattered showers and *gasp* snow.  Believe it or not, but we experienced about an hour of snow showers yesterday.  The fish however didn't seem to mind.  Most fish are still holding in the the shallows and in the current.  Few have migrated out to the rock points but the bulk of the schools are still holding in the shallow muddy bays.

The positive about cool weather is the lack of bugs.  I haven't witnessed a mosquito or black fly for several days. The bugs were sporty last week in the warm weather.  The black flies were driving moose into the water for great photo ops.  On a side note, we have been experiencing an amazing amount of swan sightings here in the north country.  Pairs of swans are now camped out on just about every lake.  Swans are very uncommon in this area. 

An eagle takes flight at Central. 
The perch have been active in the shallow bays where the cabbage weeds have been sprouting.  The narrows exiting into the north end of the lake has been exciting.  Thousands of fish are schooled below the moving water.
A south wind will bring huge walleye into Husker Rock on the west end this time of year.  Trolling shallow crankbaits like Shad Raps and Reef Runners along the rock and adjacent weedbed will boat a trophy.  The east rapids has produced several trophy pike already this week.
Everything is about the rapids right now at Cocos. Thousands of fish are schooled below both sets.  The water levels have dropped and shooting the rapids is more manageable now.  Shallow bays and creeks in the Sagawithewan river has been excellent for pike.  Fish patterns are holding to shallow wind swept bays.  Cocos has plenty to offer just start casting, if you find nothing within 10 minutes, motor over to the next bay.
Lemonade continues to impress all the fisherman with the amazing walleye fishery.  Guests this week have been focusing on the sauger and perch also in Lemonade.  Favourable has been producing excellent walleye off of Walleye Point.  Hole in the wall has held some pike in the 40" range.
Loon's on South lake. 
The big female walleye have been striking on trolled crankbaits this week.  The Rapala Original F18, Rattle Traps and Hot N Tots all have been boating some impressive fish.  Fish are still rather shallow.  Trolling the fresh sprouting weed lines is a great technique to boat those trophy fish.
The east arm of the lake has been electric. Chatted with two guests today and they boated close to 300 fish in one day.  Small jigs with yellow tails have been the bee's knees.  Trolling along the expansive flats is a great way to locate the schools.  One of my favorite spots this time of year is the tiny island just to the west of the camp.  You don't have to travel far in this lake to catch fish.
The "Fish Bowl" has been hot.  Focusing on the windy bays seems to be the tactic for finding the big pike.
The walleye have been mixed into the same areas and fisherman are connecting with large walleye while angling for pike.  The weeds are growing slowly but are holding fish.  The north end of the lake has yet to produce much for quality fish yet.  A little sunshine will change that quickly.

Good luck on the water everyone!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Here fishy, fishy!

Funny, it is June 6th and I can finally write a fishing report not mentioning snow.  Hot humid days have set upon us in the Opasquia Provincial Park.  The past four days have peaked in the low 80's with scattered thunderstorms developing in the afternoon.  The good news is, the warm temperatures in NW Ontario over the past five days have driven the fish into feeding frenzies.  The bad news with warm temperatures and plenty of moisture...that's right you guessed flies and mosquito's.  The bugs during the day time have been minimal, however once the sun starts to set (which is around 10 pm) and the wind calms, the buzzing begins.  Advice, bring some bugs spray for the evening hours.

Okay, back to the good news. Water temperatures have risen on average around 12 degrees.  At the beginning of the week I recorded temperatures on Central hovering around 50 degrees.  Today, (June 6th) temperatures off the dock were grasping the 63 degree mark.  The warmer water has the weeds beginning to pop.

The walleye are holding in two locations, wherever current is present and mud flats.  According to most of the outposts, only some fish are scattered on rocky points.  6-8' is the optimal depth for located walleye.  Small jigs 1/4 oz with 3" tails have been most effective for fish.

Most pike are holding in the same locations as walleye.  Warm sunny bays and rapids have been producing trophy fish. Bucktail spinners and twitching Rapala's have been excellent lures for catching toothy trophies.

The final touches were applied to Burnt this week.  Some final trim was placed around the doors and hand rails for the steps was installed.  Corey, Tyrol and myself spent a day constructing new boat ramps.  The cabin looks great and is ready for the 2012 season.  We attempted fishing one evening, however we only had one fishing rod.  With a little engineering, Tyrol boated 19 fish with some fishing line attached to a section of PEX water line and a jig.  He was the provider of our dinner in a matter minutes.
The East and West rapids have been the go to walleye locations. Several large 36"+ pike have been boated and released while jigging throughout the area.  The extreme north end of the lake has produced ample amounts of walleye.  For guests that are willing to portage, the East Rapids has been hot for walleye. Be prepared to get your feet wet with the high waters flowing over the rapids.
One word: rapids.  Guests could sit below the rapids and catch fish until their hands turned raw. A number of 22-28" walleye have been photo'd and released this week.  For those that want to explore, above the north rapids has produced plenty of fish.  The shallow bays adjacent to camp have been holding an amazing amount of fish. As of today, the second set of rapids is sporty for shooting.  The rising water has made it difficult for guests to navigate up to the Sagawitchewan river.  A week without rain should lower the water levels enough.
Guests at South have had great luck on the north end of the lake the past couple of days.  Jigging the windy shoreline has been a favorite technique.  As usual, the narrows to the south of the camp is hot.  Not many pike have been reported.
A simple lake for a fishing report.  The fish have been caught everywhere.  Off the dock, across the the lake, you name the spot and the guests claim fish were holding there. Lots and lots of walleye.
I chatted with the guests on Monday.  They reported Favorable was on the slow side for fishing, however they admitted to focusing more on Lemonade Lake.  In one day four guests claimed boating and releasing 500 fish, wow!  Most were walleye, however lots of jumbo perch were caught along with sauger. They were planning on fishing Favorable more later in the week.  This time of year, when the water temperatures are below 65 degrees.  I like to focus on the creeks in the south arm of Favorable.  Pike alley will be a go to spot as soon as the weeds start popping.  Several Merlin birds have set up their nest around the cabins and have been providing plenty of entertainment for the guests.
A 44" West Lake monster pike. 
I talked with the guests today and fishing has been explosive in the Fish Bowl (southern end of the lake).  Plenty of 36"+ pike have been boated and released.  Two guests last week boated and released a 44" and a 41" fish along with 30 fish between 30" and 40", most located in the Fish Bowl.  Jigging about 400 yards back from the east rapids has been a great way to catch walleye.

Good luck on the water everyone,

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Fishing Observations Week 1

Last week kicked off the 2012 season for Big Hook Camps. Overall, the week was cool and rainy.  The big news was the two days of snow that fell from the sky Thursday and Friday.  With all the moisture, the lake levels have shot up over the past three days.  Central Lake alone has risen about 6 inches.  The increased water volume has the rapids gushing.  The rushing water is great for fishing.  The high water levels wash down plenty of food for bait fish, which in turn draw more predatory species to the flowing water.  The rapid rise in water may stunt the weed growth, but it is a little early in the season yet to make that determination.    

The cool weather last week actually dropped the water temperature slightly to 47 degrees on the surface.  However, plenty of sunshine the past two days has graced us and started warm the water once again.  The sunny skies instantly activated the pike, drawing them into the shallow mud flats.  Guests at Central yesterday had incredible luck with pike just trolling flats with crankbaits.  According to several customers, the pike were so active in most spots that it was tough getting baits to the walleye.  Some tried deeper waters (12 ft) for a more consistent walleye bite and were rewarded.

Guests at West Lake boated and released an impressive 43.5" pike yesterday trolling the western edge of the Fish Bowl with a black and white daredevil.  The walleye were also reported tough to find with increased pike activity in the shallows.  Once that sun begins to shine consistently the walleye will turn on.   When the water temperatures creep above 52 degrees the walleye will become more active.

Flying around the Opasquia Provincial Park yesterday I witnessed a unique event.  For the first time, I observed a moose and a bear in a standoff.  The bear was maybe 250 pounds, this is a true guess because I was at 1000 ft above the ground, and was sizing up a 1100 pd moose.  I was not able to make out any antlers on the moose, so I assume it was a cow.  The bear barreled out of the woods towards the cow, which was standing beside a river, and then the left to right pacing began for both. Unfortunately, I didn't get to see how the showdown panned out as I was traversing from Cocos to Central.  The half a minute event however is permanently engraved in the mind.

Today May 27th, Dad, Corey, Ed and I tackled opening our Southwest outpost for the season.  We arrived to a busted up dock and knew it was going to be a loooooooong day.  Dad began opening the cabin up while Corey, Ed and I began peeling logs and constructing the new crib.  Dad was quickly confronted by a red squirrel that had decided to declare SW as his winter residence.  The squirrel was promptly evicted. After 5 hours of wading and forging for rocks in 47 degree water, our crib was built and runners were in place.  Pics of the new completed dock coming soon.

Hope the spring is treating everyone well,
Good luck on the water everyone,

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Walleye Opener

Wow, where did the time go. I have been at the resort now for 15 days and it seems like just yesterday I landed the plane at Central Lake under sunny skies, calm winds and best of all, no ice on the lakes.  A flurry of projects and flying have consumed every minute of my days.  After having a chance to inspect some of the outposts, it appears everything has weathered the winter rather well.  A couple of downed trees and a pushed dock or two seem to be the major obstacles Mother Nature threw at us over the winter.  The water levels throughout the Opasquia Provincial Park are up from last year, however relatively low for after the spring run off.  Water temperatures are hovering in the high 40's.  The weather has been all across the board so far this spring.  We have witnessed temperatures already in the 80's and as low as 20.  Rain is needed as it has been a dry spring thus far.

The fishing season is now underway.  Big Hook kicked off the 2012 fishing season yesterday with....a low pressure system providing weather in the tree tops, temperatures hovering at a numbing 38 degrees and copious amounts of rain.  As dismal as it was, the rain was actually welcomed.  We received almost an inch or two, which should bring the lake levels up at tad.  Today was a pleasant 62 degrees with a 10 mph west wind.  Perfect flying weather.  
East Rapids

Okay, let us get back to the fishing.  I managed to hop out pike fishing three days ago with some of the staff for an hour on Central Lake.  We boated over to the East rapids so see if any big females were feeding on the spawning suckers.  After ten minutes of casting, Tyro boated a fat 37" pike, the largest of the evening, on a Gold Rapala J18.  We boated about 11 other pike in the area before calling it quits.  Not bad for the first night on the water.

We also boated and released several walleye while pike fishing.  The two we caught were males still milting.  My best guess is the spawn has passed and we will be in post spawn patterns for the next week.  The walleye will be lethargic and are best approached with small baits.  A couple of days of sunshine should increase their appetite.

Plenty of projects have been accomplished thus far.  Several we have completed over the past couple of days are: installed the new battery bank at Central for the solar system; Burnt Lake is nearing completion, with only a couple small updates to finish.  The new cabin looks great. Today, we opened West Lake and constructed a new boat ramp.  The camp ground hog welcomed the company.

Tomorrow night I should have a chance to scope out the walleye scene better and will provide updates on the spawn.  Good luck on the water everyone,

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Ice Out

Mark it on the calendar, because yesterday was the official ice out for Big Hook Camps.  Sandy Lake Seaplane managed to land a 206 Cessna at the main camp (Central) and inspect the dock.  According to Tom Brotherston, "A large amount of slush is still floating over the majority of the lake." Water levels are about normal for this time of year, however Tom mentioned the woods is extremely dry and in need of moisture.

From a management perspective, the early ice out will allow us to complete numerous projects before the fishing season kicks off on the 19th.  Some finishing touches need to be applied to the Burnt Lake cabin, along with some dock projects at South and SW are on the list.

From a fishing perspective, the early ice departure will mean the walleye post spawn should occur in mid-May. The fish should be hungry and aggressive come May 19th.  I'll make sure to start posting water temperatures and fishing observations as soon as I arrive at the camp.

Good luck on the water everyone,

Friday, March 30, 2012

Weather Reports & Red Lake Information

Warm temperatures have been dominating NW Ontario. Thus, the  ice  (click for a picture of yesterdays ice conditions) is retreating quickly from the shorelines in the north country.  Also, ample amounts of moisture this winter should push up the historically low water levels we witnessed last fall.  The warm weather has caused fishing fever to set in for many anglers, unfortunately the walleye opener is still months away.

A warm spring should accelerate the spawn.  An early spawn is always promising for Big Hook angling.  Post spawn lag can be a factor for fishing late May.  After the spawn, walleye typically are lethargic for several days.  However, shortly after fish turn aggressive and consume everything in sight.  An early spawn should eliminate lazy fish for Big Hook anglers.

Red Lake Info
The new Tim Horton's is open for business and is booming. However, the Super 8 is still awaiting completion.  Dad chatted with the new manager of the establishment today and received some information regarding the opening date.  The timeline for the grand opening is currently between May 15th-June 15th.  The manager is attending a meeting this weekend and should acquire a definitive opening date soon.

Hope the spring is treating everyone well.

Good luck on the water everyone,

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Big Hook Pick'em

It's that time of year for the Big Hook Pick'em March Madness 2012. Test your NCAA basketball knowledge against other Big Hook Camp fishermen. It's free to join and better yet, the top three places win!  Top prize is a Cabela's gift card, while second and third receive Big Hook apparel. Click on the following link to register your team.

Group ID#: 35064
Password: bighook

Good luck to all!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Plants of the Opasquia Park

Fireweed at Central Lake
The Opasquia Park is abundant with fireweed in 

purple and white flowers.

Fireweed derives from the species' abundance as 

a coloniser on burnt sites after forest fires. The 

young shoots were often collected in the spring by 

Native American people and mixed with other 

greens. They are best when young and tender; as 

the plant matures the leaves become tough and 

somewhat bitter. 

The southeast Native Americans use the 

stems in this stage. They are peeled and eaten raw. When properly 

prepared soon after picking they are a good source of vitamin C and pro-vitamin A. The Dena'ina add 

fireweed to their dogs' food. Fireweed is also a medicine of the Upper Inlet Dena'ina, who treat pus-filled 

boils or cuts by placing a piece of the raw stem on the afflicted area. This is said to draw the pus out of the 

cut or boil and prevents a cut with pus in it from healing over too quickly.

A flowering fireweed plant

The root can be roasted after scraping off the outside, but often tastes bitter. To mitigate this, the root is 

collected before the plant flowers and the brown thread in the middle removed.

In Alaska, candies, syrups, jellies, and even ice cream are made from fireweed. Monofloral honey made 

primarily from fireweed nectar has a distinctive, spiced flavor.