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!