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.