Sunday, December 29, 2013

And a Happy New Year!

Hope everyone is enjoying the holidays.  It is a great time of year to swap fishing stories with friends and families. Here is a quick list of the sport shows Big Hook will be attending in 2014.  Best wishes to everyone in the New Year and best of luck on the ice/water throughout the winter.

VISIT Big Hook Wilderness Camps AT THE 2014 SPORT SHOWS:

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

Feb 8-9 — Tinley Park High School-Tinely Park, IL
Sat 9-5, Sun 9-5

February 28-March 2, 2014--NE WI Sport Fishin' Show, Players Choice W3035 Edgewood Trail-Appleton, WI
Fri 3-9, Sat 10-6, Sunday 10-4 

March 5-9, 2014--Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Sports Show, Milwaukee State Fair Grounds Expo 8200 W. Greenfield Ave-West Allis, WI 
Wed, Thurs, Fri 12-9, Sat 10-9, Sun 10-6 


Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Happy Holidays!

May the spirit of Christmas
be with you throughout the New Year

The gift of love, the gift of peace
The gift of happiness...
maybe a fishing trip to "Big Hook Wilderness Camps" in 2014?
May all these be yours at Christmas.
Thank you for your business and
may your New Year be joyful and happy.

Our best
Steve, Evie, Nathan, Heidi and Ricky

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Holiday Treat

Have some left over walleye fillets taking up freezer space? Here is a great recipe alternative to a fried fish dinner for walleye or even pike.  Mom made these walleye cakes several times last summer and have become our favorite dinner alternate to a deep fried walleye. The recipe is simple, incredibly flavorful and would make a great main dish or appetizer for the holidays.


2-3 lbs of boneless, skinless walleye filets  
½ cup dry white wine

Preheat oven 375F.  Place filets in a baking dish, pour on the white wine.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Bake approx. 20 minutes.  Let fillets cool.  Break fish into large chunks, place in bowl and set aside.
(You could also choose to poach your fish in the white wine in a covered skillet)

Mix for walleye cakes:
½ cup shredded carrots                  ½ cup of celery diced                  ½ cup of red onion diced
2 cups of Panko bread crumbs       1 Tbs of Seafood Seasoning        ½ tsp tabasco
1 tsp salt                                        1 cup Mayo                                 Chopped parsley to taste       
1 egg
Add cooled walleye chunks to mix and shape into patties.   Add more bread crumbs or mayo if needed.
Heat 2 tbs canola oil in skillet and fry patties until golden brown.  3-5 minutes per side.

Serve with mayo and pickle relish mixed.  Or mayo, dill and a 1 T. of lemon juice mixed.
Great with a slice of provolone cheese and lettuce as a sandwich or alone.


Good luck on the ice or water this winter.  The sport shows start up next month and we look forward to seeing everyone.  Will post the show schedule soon. 


Friday, November 8, 2013

Autumn waters

As I sit on the stretch of Fox river between De Pere and Green Bay I glance around and am comforted by the fact I am the only fisherman on the water this morning.  Yes the temperature is a crisp 28 degrees; yes I am constantly chipping ice from my guides on my pole; and yes my feet sorta feel like blocks of ice.  However, I quickly forget all of that as I reel in my second small mouth bass of the morning.

Fall is one of my favorite times of year for fishing.  Most people begin winterizing their boats and storing their fishing gear for the winter exchanging their fishing rods for camo and guns in preparation for hunting season. Granted I could do the same, however I have always preferred freezing in a boat on the water vs sitting in a deer blind. Those of you who don't feel like tackling the woods with hoards of other hunters, grab a fishing line and head down to the water.  Trust me, there will be far less people and you will have a much better shot at catching that fish you battled for during the summer months.

Happenings in the North Country  

According to the crew up at Sandy Lake Seaplane, snow has begun to stick around.  Several good snowfalls have blanketed the area since Dad and I departed in the end of September. All the float planes have been pulled from the docks and wheel planes are all that remain.  

Decent amounts of snow are welcomed since we have departed the Opasquia Provincial Park. Those of you who visited us in August witnessed all time low water on most of the lakes.  We will need a slightly above average snowfall for the winter to bring the water back to normal. 

Holidays and Fishing 

The holidays will soon be upon us.  The Thanksgiving and Christmas are the perfect times of year when friends and family are together and can discuss summer fishing travels. Keep in mind we book up early at Big Hook Camps.  With one cabin on most lakes the available weeks disappear quickly, especially right after the holidays.   

Thanks to all who have been sending in their 2013 Big Hook fishing photos.  You just may get placed in the winter newsletter.  Be safe and have fun on the water or in the woods this fall. 


Thursday, September 26, 2013

That's a wrap.

The lakes have turned, the trees have yellowed, flocks of geese have begun their migration southbound and moose have started bellowing calls throughout the night.  Fall landed upon us at Big Hook about a week ago.  Frosty nights started freezing water lines around the 14th of September and snow squalls swept through the Opasquia Provincial Park on the 19th. Since then, a warm front has crept back into the area.  However, the locks are on the doors and the Opasquia Provincial Park is now a population of 0.  Dad and I departed the north country on the 23rd of September under cool but sunny conditions.  A two hour flight brought us back to Eagle Lake, where the plane will sit briefly before I take it back to Selkirk, MB for winter storage.

It is amazing how quickly the daylight disappears. In June fisherman can stay on the water till 11 pm without any trouble of navigating the waterways.  However, the sun is down and it is pitch black outside at 8 pm come September.  Not only did the daylight disappear as the summer progressed but so did the water.  2013 was probably the driest year we have ever experienced in our 27 years of operation.  We began the year with a late ice out and record high waters only to finish the fishing season with record low water levels.  Several forest fires sprinkled the countryside due to the lack of rain, but none blossomed into raging infernos.  Most fires just sat and smoldered for weeks on end burning minimal area.

The sunny skies aided weed beds this summer. The healthy weeds helped produce great numbers of trophy northern pike.  Biggest pike of the summer from all of the seven outposts was boated and released at Cocos Lake topping at 48".  Biggest walleye this summer was boated, photo'd, and released at South Lake measuring an impressive 32".  

Dad and I completed several year end projects in the past couple of weeks.  One of those projects included constructing a new shower addition for South lake.  Also, another 16' X 8' floating dock was constructed for use at Central Lake.  More projects will follow once the winter road starts running and we are able to haul the necessary materials.

Mom, Dad and I would like to extend our thanks to everyone who helped make our 2013 season great. We are so thankful for so many gracious guests and look forward to visiting with everyone in the years to come.  

I hope the fall treats everyone well, especially on the water.  It is now my time to angle for trophy musky. Let the fish of a thousand casts begin at one this evening.


Friday, August 16, 2013

A Beginners Guide to Portaging a Shower

Here in the north country logistical issues arise daily.  Getting Item A to Point B isn't as simple as placing it in a car and driving down the road.  Since we lack cars and roads in the area, we must focus on solving our transportation issues with airplanes and boats.  Yesterdays issue was getting lumber for a new shower addition from Central Lake to our South Lake outpost. Problem: 4' x 8' sheets of plywood do not fit into our 185 Cessna and are difficult/dangerous to externally load.  My proposed solution: transport the plywood via 12+ miles of waterways and carry the lumber plus boat/motor over three portages.  After some debate (actually very little at all) we eventually decided we didn't want to charter an airplane for six sheets of plywood.  So, I give you a beginners guide to portaging a shower.

Step #1: Find a strong back.
You are going to lift, haul, push, pull and struggle 100's of pounds over various terrain and numerous portages. Tyrol and I are the young bucks here at Big Hook and gladly accepted the challenge.  Well...I kinda had to go since it was my idea.
Ty properly demonstrates proper plywood carrying technique.
Next came pulling the boat and carrying the motor/gas.
 Step #2: Bring a guard dog.  Who knows what you will run across when portaging?

Shadow carefully approves of the boat load

We didn't encounter much wildlife but did see signs of bear on one portage.  Shadow made sure the rabid squirrels stayed up in the trees.

Step #3: Enjoy the scenery.
One of three waterfalls we came across.

The Central/South Lake riverway is an incredibly scenic boat ride with multiple twists and turns, waterfalls, and stunning views.

Step #4: Take a break to catch a fish or two along the way. By far the most important in my book.
A man's gotta fish. 

Below is one of the many 30+" fish we boated after we had delivered the shower materials to South.

There you have it an easy beginners guide to portaging a shower.

A quick fishing report.

This week was warm, still and dry. Daily high temperatures ranged from 70 to 88 degrees.  The majority of the week was dominated with a high pressure system. The fish responded kindly to the weather stability.  No rain all week means the water levels did drop but just a fraction of an inch.  Lake levels at Cocos, Burnt and Central are probably the lowest in at least 15 years.

The magic number for walleye was 20.  20 feet was the depth where most fish were found all week long. Jigging rock piles/points and mid lake humps was by far the most effective technique for finding schools.   Last night pink jigs with a 3/8 oz black head was dominant at Central.

For pike the name of the game is Weeds.  Find a weed bed close to deep water and you'll find a big pike.  Guests have been pulling bucktails through thick weeds and having great results.  Last night I casually tossed a Hell Hound while mom jigged for walleye and was surprised to see pike holding on rocky points.  Most nights have been still and calm, which means top water has been a ball.

Good luck on the water everyone.

Friday, August 9, 2013

The Low Pressure Has Left the Building

One of the biggest thrills about being in this business for 29 years is to meet so many great people and learn about their lives.  This year we have seen a significant increase in the numbers of young people coming up to fish at Big Hook.  AND THESE KIDS DO FISH!!   We enjoy hearing their daily fishing stories. The children that have fished here this year have been great and very mannerly.   I think the "Special Bonding" that is reinforced when fishing together with their families and friends really shows.  Catching the big one is only part of the trip.  Thank you for sharing your passion of fishing to the next generation. -Evie Hartle 


Finally, finally and finally a massive low pressure system hovering to the north of the Opasquia Provincial Park moved eastward this morning (8/9/2013).  This chilling low pressure crept its way in last Sunday night and camped out over NW Ontario all week.  The system brought plenty of clouds, rain, wind and chilly temperatures.  The majority of the week, average daily highs peaked around 50-55 degrees, highly unusual for the first week of August.  Water temperatures dove into the mid to low 60's depending which body of water you were on.

Most of NW Ontario was in great need of rain.  The majority of our lakes in the park are flirting with all time lowest levels; this last bout of rain should have provided our water levels a decent boost. Fortunately, the system has moved on and sunnier skies are forecasted for the week ahead.


Despite the weather, fisherman have been getting out on the water and catching some nice fish.  The weather did disperse the large schools and caused the number to drop on some lakes, however numerous trophies have been boated and released this week.  So a long story short, last week numbers were down but the sizable fish were still feeding. 

Most walleye were holding in around 16' of water on most lakes.  SW and Lemonade were the anomalies where guests are still boating fish in 6-10'.   Jigs and Rattle Traps seemed to be the consensus effective lures for fisherman.  Flouro-orange will always be one of my favorite colors on dark days.  Bigger fish seemed to be isolated from the schools, holding in around 20-25' on gradual drop offs.  

When focusing on bigger walleye 25"+, the trick is bringing your patience, as these fish are generally roaming areas alone or in small schools.  When I locate a wind blown point holding lots of fish in the 16-20" range I'll slowly maneuver the boat into 5-10' of deeper water for the bigger females.   

Pike are beginning their fall feed right on schedule.  Numerous large fish have been boated and released with whitefish still hanging out of their mouths.  The fact fish are still feeding with full bellies tells me that they are looking to put on some wait before winter arrives.  Larger baits are now becoming more and more effective for boating that toothy trophy.  My favorite lures this time of year are Bull Dawgs, Bomber Mag Long A's and Depth Raiders outside of the weed beds.  Fishing in the slop you still need to stick with the old faithful Johnson Silver Minnows, Bucktails and assorted topwater baits. 

According to several camps, early mornings and late afternoons seem to be the hot hours of the day for fish in the weeds; both are low light conditions.  Days with high sun and calm I will often try 8-12' rock reefs, casting big deep diving baits. 

Good luck on the water everyone, 

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Staying cool

One of the top factors affecting a fishing trip is the almighty Mother Nature.  Here in the north country you can have sunshine and temperatures in the 70's one minute followed by 40's and rain the next.  As close as the Opasquia Provincial Park is to Hudson Bay (about 200 miles), weather can flip like a coin.  This summer has been no different and predicting the weather has been downright maddening.
25" wally (July25); notice the three layers
 of clothes

Overall, the 2013 summer has been cool and extremely dry; two uncommon elements together.  Generally, rain is associated when the temperatures dip. The past two weeks weather has brought winds from the north with days in the 60's and cool, almost frigid nights.  I cannot remember the last July where we encountered nights dipping into the 30's and 40's.  Water temperatures have dropped considerably; into the lower 60's.

Our days have been a mixture of sun and clouds with very little rain.  The lack of rain has most lakes sitting 2 to 3 feet below normal.  One positive from the low water is weed growth.  Cabbage beds this year are probably the healthiest I have witnessed in years.  The pike and perch are loving the dense weeds.


Walleye- Time to start the descent for walleye.  The bigger fish are now being found in 20' of water, so get ready to get your jig on. 3/8" oz black headed with pink, orange, or pumpkinseed tails have been hot.  Pick that windy shoreline and start bouncing bottom in search of  schools.  Reefs associated with open water have been holding nice fish.  This time of year a portable depth finder is your best friend.

To contradict everything I just wrote, don't forget to try weed edges from time to time.  Walleye love coming out of the deep waters to chase bait fish throughout the foliage. Trolling some shallow diving crankbaits along the weed edge can yield some big fish.  Don't forget to splice on at least a 30# mono or fluorocarbon leader to thwart the toothy pike from biting off your $8 crankbait.

Pike-Most of your efforts for pike should focus around cabbage weeds.  Try to find 6-8' weed beds associated with open water.  Small bays with shallow water this time of year will yield smaller fish.  Two of my favorite baits remain the Johnson silver minnow and the orange bladed #8 colorado blade with black skirt bucktail.  Navigating these through the thickest of weeds will produce great results.

Now what should you do when you hook a monster in the dense cabbage?  First, set the hook, HARD! A good hook set will ensure your trophy remains on the line.  Second, get ready to PULL...but not too hard.  The dense cabbage is going to become your biggest opponent; getting your monster out is going to require some finesse as they dart, roll and wrap your line every which way.  A gentle tug to uproot or slice the weeds while the fish is docile is necessary.  Finally, no slack EVER! Never let that fish wrap you through the weeds to where your line goes slack; that my friends, is game over should it happen.  Obeying these rules should help you land, smile, photo and release your trophy.

Notable catches and hot spots from last week:

Burnt- The Ridge was electric holding lots of walleye and pike.
Central- 41" pike off of Beaver Hut bay. Nice walleye holding near airplane island.
Cocos- North on the Sagawithcewan towards east lake held many 38"+ pike.
Favourable-42" pike near the dock.  Lemonade was hot on the windy shorelines.
South-Loads of 23-25" walleye and a monster topping at 30".
SW- Hoards of 18" walleye caught near the Twin Towers.
West- The rock next to the dock is the best overlooked spot on the lake. Two 38" fish in thirty minutes boated and released there.

Good luck on the water everyone.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Once In a Lifetime

Often there are instances during a vacation that are remembered for an entire lifetime.  This week at Central a father and 16 yr old son were on their first trip with Big Hook. To learn the waterways better and get better acquainted with fishing techniques, Steve (dad) was hired for a day trip. That day at about noon everyone in the boat encountered a moment that they will probably never forget. Steve and the guests were discussing how often moose are witnessed at Central Lake.  As if prompted by their conversation, a cow moose sauntered out of the woods in the distance and began rooting around for lilly pads.  Dad had everyone retrieve their lines and slowly motored the boat towards the cow. Cameras were snapping and popping like crazy as the boat crept up to the feeding cow.  Finally, when they had reached a distance of about 100 ft the moose started to pay attention. Rather than galloping back into the woods the cow calmly stood fast and analyzed the floating vessel.

After determining there was no real threat, the moose glanced into the woods and out meandered one calf.  Cameras continued to click and shutter as the guests couldn't believe what they were witnessing.  The calf walked up to the mom and after a quick nuzzle began to nurse.  Just then another calf came sprinting out of the woods and immediately began feeding alongside.  For two minutes or so Dad and the guests witnessed an event that would be straight out of the pages of National Geographic.  Attached to the right are a couple of the shots they managed to record.

The weather over the past week has been far from stable.  High pressures have quickly been followed by low pressures only to return to a high pressure the very next day.  Huge swings in the barometric pressure were common the past seven days.  We did finally received a couple good dousings of much needed rain the past two days.  Last Monday night was the storm of the summer providing winds of 45+ mph and enough lightening to see clearly at 3 am.  We lost 18 trees at Central Lake due to the winds.   The winds the past three days have been peppy out of the west and southwest at around 20 mph.

Our temperatures have been all across the board with the unstable weather.  Temperatures peaked this week at 88 degrees and today (July 19th) our high is supposed to reach 59 degrees.  The cooler weather has dropped the water temperatures about 4 degrees on the surface to around 68 degrees.


The huge swings in the barometric pressure have the fish biting light.  Numerous guests have commented the walleye are finicky and just tapping jigs.  Many times a fish were striking resulting in half twister tails. Over the years, a pattern I have found is stable pressure results in great fishing.

Walleye have begun to move deeper to around 12-17 ft of water.  Jigging is still the most effective way to reach these depths.  If schools are difficult to locate, try trolling a Shad Rap #7 along 12 ft of water.

Hot Lures for walleye: Shad Rap #7 Chartruese, 3/8 oz jig with pumkinseed Gulp tail, crawler harness with orange blade, Rapala Mag Rap Perch Colored (thats right a musky/pike bait was catching big walleye).

38" Central Pike
The pike have been present but also hesitant to slam baits.  Plenty of fish are being boated and released in the 32-36" range at all the outposts, but guests are having to work for strikes.  I guided twice this week and saw probably 4 or 5 fish in the 40" range but none would open their mouths.  The follows have been quite common the past several days and the fish have been lazily chasing the figure 8's next to the boat.  Sooner or later they will get hungry.

Hot lures: black bucktail, johnson silver minnow with white twister trailer, rattle trap blue/silver.

Most islands in the lower half of burnt were holding larger schools of walleye.  Locating 12 ft was key. Big Boy Bay still has plenty of trophy fish holding along the weeds.
The East portage has continued a hot streak for nice pike, which is really unusual, as the lake is known for better walleye fishing.  A 40" and 36" fish were caught back to back on the West portage.  Nice walleye have been boated around NE of the Big Island on the north end.  Husker Rock continues producing fish.
Surprisingly, Cocos had a secondary mayfly hatch this week, which is really uncommon.  That slowed walleye fishing down as most fish were packed full of larvae.  The rapids still held fish and are easily navigable.  6-8 ft weed beds throughout the lake were holding pike.  Several nice fish were located on Duckling Island.
Lemonade=good fishing.  The weather systems haven't affected that body of water. Favourable hotspots were Pike Alley, Three Sisters and the Mouth to the Severn River.  Several of the reefs in the Eastern half of the lake were holding nice walleye.
I haven't chatted with the guests at all from South this week as they have been out fishing on every visit.  My guess is the walleye are holding in the 12-16' range on various reefs throughout the lake.
Southwest has probably reported the best walleye fishing of all the lakes this week.  Guests have found numerous schools of 18-22 inch walleye.  Jigging the wind blown points on the north end of the lake was the most productive.  The low water has made traversing to the NE section of the lake difficult but still possible.  Guests just need to tilt the motor into shallow drive and navigate slowly.
Guests boated and released several 38"+ fish on the first night in the Horseshoe.  The narrows to the Fish Bowl are holding nice pike. The reefs on the north end of the lake are now holding some trophy walleye.

Good luck on the water everyone!

Friday, July 12, 2013

In search of rain

It has been hot, dry and windy the past several weeks here in the Opasquia Provincial Park.  I don't mean to jinx everyone's up and coming weeks but I have been performing the rain dance the past several days.  Temperatures have been climbing into the high eighties for quite a while now causing plenty of water from the lakes to evaporate.  Evaporation, coupled with plenty of water exiting through rapids and streams have caused the lakes water levels to drop substantially.

Central Lake has the lowest water of all the lakes, thus future guests need to be extra alert while navigating the waterways.  Rain has been often forecasted however, little to none has made it to the surface.  The lack of rain also means guests should be extra careful when having shore lunch or bonfires.  Please, please make sure the fire is completely extinguished before you leave it unattended.  The backcountry and woods is in an extremely dry state.  


Walleye are beginning to hold more on wind blown points and rock reefs.  Daytime water temperatures on mudflats are getting up to 75 degrees which is much too warm for walleye.  Most fish have been found in 8-16 ft of water. Jigging is still the most effective way to find large numbers of walleye.  A 3/8 oz jig with a pumkinseed Gulp was the hot lure at Central last week.  For crankbaits, we have been having excellent results with the firetiger Berkley Flicker Shad.

South Lake 38" pike. 
Pike are holding tight to weed beds and have begun striking top water action aggressively.  My favorite tactic to catch big pike is topwater action on calm evenings.  Zara Spooks and Dancing Raiders are my two favorite topwater lures.  I always get too excited when I see a fish blow up on the surface and set the hook before the fish latches on.  Bucktails and Johnson Silver Minnow are two other lures in my tackle box that I use when combatting thick weed beds.

The Ridge and Big Boy Bay are still two great spots for pike.  Walleye are still hold around weeds in the southern half of the lake.  Perch have been spotty, but can been found in the thickest part of weed beds with small jigs. The rock reef just in front of camp, literally 400 yards, produced many nice walleye.

The north narrows is the place to be for big pike right now.  Cast until your heart's content in that spot, the weeds are thick this year so plan on using Johnson Silver Minnows or Top water baits.  Hippo rock has held some great number of walleye and pike.

As usual, you can find plenty of fish holding around the rapids.  Both sets are easily navigable, just use caution when shooting the rapids for rock hazards.  The Sagawitchewan river has plenty of mature weed beds now to cast for pike.  Guests last week boasted an impressive 44" pike just north of camp on the rock pile before the rapids.

Guests last week poured all of their efforts into fishing Lemonade Lake, with great success.  Their motto was "Why leave when the fish are biting?"  Favourable's weed beds should be holding some nice toothy pike.  Pike Alley would be a great place to begin your quest for a trophy northern.

Start focusing your efforts just a bit deeper for the trophy walleye at South Lake.  The Three Sisters Reef was an excellent producer.  Also, trolling the southeast narrows held plenty of 27+" fish.  Pike have been on the slim side since walleye fisherman have dominated the past couple of weeks.  Hot lure was the firetiger Shad Rap #7.

Numbers, numbers and more numbers is what SW posted.  Fish were holding on just about every single rocky point with 10ft of water. Yellow jigs and tails were the key color.  Many moose were spotted on the east narrows, keep your camera at the ready when boating around this area.

The Horseshoe continues its dominance for producing big pike at West.  The reefs on the north end of the lake are starting to hold many 22+" walleye.  Also, the narrows to the Fish Bowl has been very good.  Casting the narrows with bucktails is one of my favorite techniques to finding trophy northern.

Good luck on the water everyone.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Winged creatures take flight

This time of year I begin to sound like a broken record. Over the past few seasons the first week of July has become the Mayfly ritual.  The past several days I have begun to see several stationed on the airplane as I complete my morning pre-flight checks at Central Lake.  After flying to the outpost camps this afternoon I have been informed from several guests that the hatch is growing by the day.

These short lived flies are like caviar to walleye. The fish will absolutely gorge themselves on mayflies.  For three or four days mayflies will begin their transition from the mudflats in larvae form up through the water column only to transform into winged flies fluttering dozens of feet in the air.  During this transition period when mayflies are in their larval stage fish are active and relentless feeders.  However, as the hatch progresses walleyes fill their bellies and become lethargic.

To truly combat the mayflies fisherman can arm themselves with several weapons. First, you can learn to fly fish.  Fly fisherman have reported many many successful weeks of fishing to me during the mayfly hatch.  A dry fly mimicking a mayfly on the surface will boat you many fish.  Second, go small! The mayfly larvae are small, between 1" and 2" long. So why use big 4" twister tails on 1/2 oz jigs? Employ 1/4 to 1/8 jigs and small small small tails.  Finally, if the above doesn't work; go pike fishing. You just have to let the walleyes digest for a day or two; they will get back to their old feeding habits before you know it.

The Outposts Report

 Burnt Lake- Guests last week found fish just about everywhere throughout the lake. 8 feet seemed to be the magical depth.  I have guided there the past two days and have great success despite the mayflies.  The Ridge was holding numerous big pike and lots of walleye.  Big Boy Bay also held several large pike.  Be careful traversing through the narrows to the upper half of Burnt, the water is low and you need to tilt the motor up!

Central- The north narrows and husker rock have heated up for both species.  Walleye are holding on a number of reefs throughout the lake.  The West portage has been great for sizable pike.

Cocos- Huge numbers were boated, over 2200 for four fisherman in seven days.  Lots of fish around the rapids.  The huge weed bed in front of the Sagawitchewan was holding big pike.

Favourable/Lemonade- Once again Lemonade is...well, Lemonade.  Fish are hitting everywhere throughout the lake.  Favourable was a bit on the slow side for walleye and pike.  As the weed beds mature I foresee Favourable getting hotter and hotter.  I like walleye point and pike alley this time of year.

South Lake- Lots of nice walleye have been boated and released.  Several 28" fish, a monster 31", and many many over 22".  Jigs were the weapons of choice.  Fish in 12-16" for the bigger trophy walleye.

SW- Lots of fish were boated everywhere.  Guests claimed it was some of the best numbers they had ever. Guests today found a giant school of perch and enjoyed a delicious perch lunch. The perch were found up near an incoming creek towards the outflow of rapids.

West- The Horse Shoe and the narrows have been the hot spots.  Top water in the Horseshoe in the evenings have produced numerous trophies. The reef east of camp towards the incoming falls has started to hold many 24" walleye.

Hot Lures- 

Walleye- Chartruese Shad Rap #5, Pumkinseed tail on a 1/4 oz jig, Rattle Trap.

Pike- Perch colored Rapala Giant Shad, Orange and black bucktail, Dancing Raider, Buzz Bait, Johnson Silver minnow.

Good luck on the water everyone.

Monday, June 24, 2013

June 15th-22nd Report

Our continuous east wind is still prevalent here in the north country.  However, the old saying "Wind from the east; fishing is the least" is being thwarted.  Fisherman over the past week have raved about the fishing.  Some big fish were caught last week however, the staggering numbers reported showed fish were in full feeding mode. For example, the guests at Lemonade/Favourable boasted an impressive total of 2891 walleye for the week.  They chose not to count the pike because they were slimy.

Summer is in full swing, todays (june 23) temperatures peaked at 84 degrees. Water temperatures are steadily climbing into the mid sixties.  Once our water temps start flirting with the seventies we have to be on the lookout for the dreaded mayflies.  As of right now no sightings have been made.  Unfortunately, plenty of mosquito sighting have been reported. So as a helpful suggestion, bring bug spray and mosquito coils to keep the annoying insects at bay.

Weeds are starting to develop in most lakes but are far from mature.  Lilly pads are flowering, enticing moose into the shallow bays for great photo opportunities.


The climbing water temperatures have started to affect the walleye; as they are starting to hold on rock piles and wind blown points.  Plenty of fish can still be caught on mud flats and immature weed beds.  Most fish are still found in around 6-8 ft of water.  Trolling Hot N Tot's along windblown shorelines was a productive technique on Central Lake.  Some guests reported bigger fish staging on mud flats as the sun begins to set.

Hot lures:
Hot N Tot (blue/silver)
1/4 jig blaze orange with black tail
Reef Runner Lil Ripper shallow diver crystal


Pike are still wandering throughout most of the lake searching for weed beds to stage in.  Most fish are still chasing walleye in current and along mud flats.  My favorite tactic for pike this time of year is fishing the windiest muddy bay I can find on an overcast day.  Yes it is tough to hold the boat but one big fish makes it worth it. Tossing glide baits this time of year in the shallow mud can provide some amazing strikes from pike.  Utilizing a different approach, guests at Central had plenty of success with a fly rod for big pike around rapids.  Casting 4-6" streamers produced a 41", 37" and 35" fish standing on shore below the north rapids.

Hot Lures:
Johnson Silver Minnow
Bomber Long A White
Bucktail #8 colorado blade Black/Orange

Good luck on the water everyone! Start sending us some pictures of your latest Big Hook trip and I'll post them on the blog.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

June 8-15th Report

Summer will soon be upon us in the Opasquia Provincial Park.  Signs of summer are everywhere: deciduous trees have fully regained their foliage, dandelions now cover most lawns and unfortunately the mosquitos have taken flight.  Just last week clouds of pollen were so thick most people thought forest fires had begun.  However, there is an old saying up here in the north country, "When the pollen flies, the fishing gets good."


An east wind with warm temperatures has dominated for the past five days.  Such a prolonged easterly breeze is an unusual weather pattern for us here in the Opasquia Provincial park and it has caused some interesting fishing patterns. I can't even remember the last time we experienced a west wind. Temperatures have been stable "ish" for us here in the great white north.  I say "ish" because as north as we are, the weather can turn in a heartbeat.  The pleasant weather has heated the water temperature to an average of about 63 degrees.  Low 70's are forecasted for the week ahead with moderate sun.


Weeds have begun to pop in some of the shallow bays but are far from mature.  Some pike are starting to hold in these premature weed beds.  As the weeds keep growing the pike will continue to migrate into these areas.  Most big fish boated last week were still in warm shallow muddy bays.

Walleye are still really shallow chasing baitfish throughout bays.  They are also holding in current.  Stick to depths around 8 ft.

The narrows north of the camp was the hotspot last week and should continue to produce well into July.  Jigging here is the method of choice for catching plenty of walleye.  Moose creek held plenty of pike.  The narrows leading northbound held some scattered perch.

Above the north rapids produced numerous 40" pike over the course of the week.  All the portages, with the exception of the north, held lots of fish. For some reason fish were not present below the north falls, I blame the east wind causing the unusual fishing patterns. South narrows were holding lots of walleye late in the day as they moved into the mudflats before evening.   

A 43" and 41" pike were boated on the last day of the guests vacation last week.  Talk about going out with a bang! The water has dropped considerably over the last week and guests should now finally be able to navigate both rapids. Bays adjacent to the cabin were producing a surprising amount of walleye.  Fishing just off the flowage from the rapids was consistent.

Lemonade was producing plenty of walleye on the west side of the island.  Ample amounts of perch were holding on the west shoreline along the weeds.  One of my favorite spots is still 100 ft off the dock. Favourable's hot spots were in Pike Alley, and numerous creeks flowing into the big arm of the lake.

Five fish over 40" were boated and released last week.  The horseshoe was the hottest area of all, holding plenty of both species. The narrows to the Fish Bowl began to get active as the week progressed.


Guests found best success to the east of the camp.  The large mudflat/weedbed about one mile east of camp was a mainstay the entire week.  Trolling or casting along this large area produced great results.  The guests also commented that they enjoyed a perch dinner just about every night.

The narrows just southeast of camp was a go to spot.  The hook near the portage was also hot. A 27" was the biggest walleye for the week and lost of 20+" fish were boated and released. As mentioned before all fish are still rather shallow, but getting more and more active as the week progressed.

Hot Lures

1/4 jig with white gulp tail
Hot N Tot
Lazy Ike

Perch Shad Rap #5
Doctor Spoon Silver
Mepps Agila #5
Hell Hound

Good luck on the water everyone.

Sunday, June 9, 2013


Finally, Internet has returned to Big Hook.   After three weeks of living in the stone ages, i.e. flying to Sandy Lake in order to send an email, we again have service.  Three weeks of begging and pleading service technicians to make the long trip into the bush fell on deaf ears only with the technicians deciding to cancel at the last minute.  Fed up, Dad and I took matters into our own hands and remounted the satellite dish that was knocked awry from the snow.  After inching the dish left/right and north/south for what seemed like days, we painstakingly found a lock on the satellite.

What's happening with camp you ask? The massive snowfall from the winter skyrocketed the lake levels across the whole Opasquia Park.  We arrived to record high water levels at Central.  Water was up past the fish shed and had removed our main dock from the cribbing. Since our arrival the water has dropped considerably and current lake levels are slightly higher than normal. However, Cocos Lake remains high, as all the water in the park is still exiting through the double rapids.  The guests still have not been able to shoot the rapids into the Sagawitchewan river at Cocos. However, as the water returns to normal, the flow should become more navigable very shortly.

The weather has been absolutely gorgeous over the past 6 days, almost too nice.  Sunny 70 degree days have dominated the forecast and even peaked at 84 today.  A little rain would be appreciated just to keep the boreal forest saturated.
Central Lake 41" 

Now, it is time to talk about the important topics, like fishing of course.  Without too much backstory, the late ice out has altered fishing patterns slightly.  Just late last week we were experiencing post spawn activity from walleye, they are now getting hungry.  The pike fishing has been lights out amazing (to be discussed later). As a whole, fish are chasing bait fish on shallow mud flats and in current.  Weed beds are nonexistent, but we may see some green beginning over the next week as water temperatures rise.  With a little searching you can find 63 degrees in shallow bays.


As mentioned before, the walleye have spawned and have regained their appetites. Lots of fish can be found in sunny wind swept bays with mud bottoms.  The mud bays are heating so much faster than the rest of the lakes and hoards of minnows are clogging the warm waters.  Hot lures in mud are small jigs (1/4 oz) with twisters, along with floating shallow diving crankbaits.  A personal favorite is the Rapala F18 (firetiger) and slow twitch it for the bigger fish. Apart from the mudflats, plenty of fish are returning to the rapids since spawning.  There hasn't been much success yet on rock piles.  As the lakes heat over the next couple of days fish will begin to move out into the main lakes.


Pike have been on a feeding frenzy over the last ten days.  Every spot guests at Central fished were overrun with pike.  Fish have been tagging just about every bait thrown.  Popular lures have been smaller Daredevil spoons along with spinner baits.  Anything you can move slower and keep relatively shallow.  Since there are no developed weed beds this time of year the walleye and pike go hand in hand. Where you find one you will generally find the other species nearby.

Good luck on the water everyone!
It is great to be blogging again,


Monday, May 20, 2013

Ice Watch 2013 (The Sequel)

Just a quick update:

Steve made it into Central Lake this morning.  The plane had to taxi through some slush to make it to the dock. On a good note, the temperatures were very warm; 72 degrees and melting the ice quickly.  In just an afternoon about 200 yards of ice disappeared.  According to dad, the water is the highest he has ever witnessed.  Unfortunately, the main dock at Central was swept away from the heavy ice flows and the high water.  I see some heavy labor in the near future.

Since there is enough open water to get a plane into Central, I have been given the green light to head northbound from Eagle Lake.  Unfortunately, I will not be able to update Facebook or the Blog for several days; the heavy snow over the winter knocked our satellite dishes off of our roof.  It will take a couple of days to get a technician to our location for re-installation. We will be able to check our emails and voice mail when we visit Sandy Lake.

Good luck on the water everyone,

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Ice Watch 2013

A couple of nice days has caused the ice to shrink in our bay here on Eagle Lake.  Winds and some rain are predicted for tomorrow.  That should create a nice break up, especially if the winds kick up from the SW. Weather has been a tad milder up in the Opasquia Provincial Park but fortunately the nights have been above freezing.

Sunday, Monday, Tuesday is calling for temperatures ranging into the 70's.  Can't wait for the 2013 season to kick off.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Ice Update

The big question this year in NW Ontario is, "When will the ice go out?"  After a chilling long winter the ice has been slow to retreat from the shorelines here in the north country.  Weather this spring has been erratic and unpredictable thus far.  A 15" snow storm one week ago in Sandy Lake certainly did not aid the cause of opening up water.  However, nice weather has finally settled in and has started some thawing.  

Temperatures the next couple of days are predicted to hover in the upper 60's and lower 70's in most parts of NW Ontario.  Most of the snow has finally melted in the Eagle Lake area (see pic right taken 5/5/2013). As you can see, the ice has a long way to go but it is starting to retract.  I am certainly chomping at the bit to get into the airplane and get crackin at opening the camp.  

With a later ice out comes changes in the fishing patterns.  Pike and walleye will most likely spawn later causing a shift in some fishing spots.  The weed growth will also begin later, so look to find fish in the moving water and warm mud flats early on.  

Over the next couple of weeks I'll keep snapping and posting pics of the ice retreating to our Facebook Page and here on the Blog.  Keep thinking warm thoughts. 

Good luck in your spring fishing adventures. 

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

All eyes on the weather

This "spring" the weather is the talk of the town.  Stubbornly cool temperatures have camped over NW Ontario sending signals for a late ice out this year.  Trumping the cool temperatures is 4-5 feet of snow blanketing the lakes and the boreal forest providing plenty of insulation for the ice.  Mother Nature will have to provide some heat soon to chip away at that deep snow.  Fortunately, deep snow creates a good run off when it melts, causing the ice to separate from the shoreline promptly.

Let us flashback twelve months.  Last March and April NW Ontario was graced with temperatures soaring into the mid seventies.  The weather was so unbelievably warm that Sandy Lake Seaplane had a float plane in the water on the 29th of March, the earliest ever the ice retreated from the banks of Sandy Lake.

On an average year, the ice departs the lakes in the Opasquia Park around the 10th of May.  Historically Central and Cocos are the first two lakes to clear due to more current moving throughout.  The last late ice out in NW Ontario occurred in 2004.  To qualify for a late ice out, the ice has to disappear after the walleye opener, which is the third Saturday in May.  The ice in 2004 didn't vacate the water until June 1st.

For those of you familiar with Central Lake, in 2004 we were forced to land a plane on the East Portage and hike a mile through the bush in order to begin opening up.  Our first objective was to begin cracking ice.  After a couple days, the ice pulled slightly away from the shore and we prepped our battering rams.  These included several boats loaded full up with logs and a motor on each with a less than stellar prop.  No need to have good prop on a motor when you are chewing through 50000 pounds of ice. To crack the ice, one just gets a full head of steam and drives the boat up onto the ice wherever possible.  After some rocking and jumping in the boat and plenty of of swings of an ax the ice usually caves.  Do this for 8-10 hrs a day and you are one tired/sore person.  Breaking the ice into sections causes the melt to increase exponentially.

Needless to say we do not want another 2004 and we are keeping our fingers crossed for some sunshine and warm temperatures for the next couple of weeks.  On a brighter note, I hope everyone is getting a chance to break out their gear and get out on the water this spring for a little early water action.  Good luck to everyone's fishing endeavors.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Big Hook Knitting

In an effort to broaden our customer base we are now offering knitting classes to customers during their week stay at Big Hook Camps.  We realize fishing can be tedious and boring after a couple days.  Our newly hired specialists, Sven, is an accomplished knitter with his PhD from a mountainous university.  He will be able to teach knitting techniques such as block patterns and grafting.  He is also practicing on holding his breath in order to instruct the highly demanded underwater basket weaving class.

Big things are happening at Big Hook Wilderness Camps.
Good luck knitting to all!

Oh yeah,  APRIL FOOLS!  

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Sport Show & NCAA Tourney

South Eastern Wisconsin Fishing and Hunting Expo

Big Hook has picked up one more sport show for the 2013 season.  Come visit Nathan at the Olympia Resort in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin.  Hours for the show are:

March 15th    2 pm -   8:30 pm
March 16th    9 am  -  6 pm
March 17th    10 am - 4 pm

For more information on the show visit the SE Wisconsin Fishing and Hunting Expo website.

NCAA Tournament Pick'em 

It is that time of year again for March Madness to ensue. Top three places are winners in this years Big Hook Pick'em. Good luck to all!

Big Hook Wilderness Camps would like you to join their group in

To accept the invitation, just click HERE 
For reference, here's the group information.
Group ID#: 34570
Password: bighook

Good luck in your fishing endeavors.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Winter Road Travels

Last week Dad, myself and Ed Carson traveled the ice highway from Red Lake to Sandy Lake.  The road was in superb condition.  Ample amounts of snow and frigid temperatures allowed proper grooming for the first time in many years.

Despite some mechanical problems with our vehicles, the trip progressed rather well. We managed to transport about 11,000 pounds of materials for this up and coming season. Attached below is a quick video about this years travels.

Sonar imaging showed ice thickness of roughly 20 inches.  The five feet of snow blanketing the lakes has not allowed the bitter cold to penetrate the ice.  The fuel tankers and transports need a minimum of 22 inches of ice before they are allowed to travel the road. 

The days are slowly getting longer and the temperatures are beginning to rise.  Spring is just around the corner.  Now is a great time to get your summer gear tuned up.  

Good luck on the water everyone. 

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Let It Snow

Big Hook Winter Conditions

The snow keeps on falling in the Opasquia Provincial Park.  After chatting with Sandy Lake Seaplane this past Sunday, we learned the area has over five feet carpeting the ground with more on the way.  Uncharacteristically, this massive amount of snow has accrued with temperatures and wind chills reaching as low as -55 C.  Historical data has shown that snow amounts have tapered with such cold temperatures.  Cold temperatures are often associated with very little moisture.  While the area has been affected with extreme cold, it has also witnessed drastic temperature fluctuations.  Fluctuations of 40 degrees Celsius in some cases have resulted in the record snowfalls.  These snowfalls have placed a damper on the winter highway activity.  

According to Sandy Lake Seaplane, the ice highway to Sandy Lake is still not open.  Dad and I had plans to traverse the frozen tundra this Wednesday with approx 13000 pounds of goods. One reason for the delay is the road crews responsible for maintaining the Sandy Lake ice highway are having difficulty with several blow downs about 30 miles south of Sandy Lake.  Two wind storms in early December fell miles of trees.  Furthermore, the deep snow is not allowing the cold to create ice over North Spirit Lake and Duckling Lake.  These are two crucial bodies of water that consist of about 10 miles of winter highway driving.  As of Sunday, only 8 inches of blue ice was found beneath the snow along with almost a foot of slushy ice.  Many of you know slush ice can be very dangerous to commute.  So now all Dad and I can do is wait and wait...  

Fishing High Water

Heavy snowfalls this winter could make Big Hook waters this spring very interesting.  With five feet of snow currently on the ground in the area, it is safe to assume water levels will be the highest we have witnessed in years.  The intense run off from the melting snow and rising water levels can have positive and negative effects on fishing.  

The Bad
First the negative issues with high water.  First and foremost, rock hazards will change.  Remember those boulders that just peaked out above the water line.  Those are now new prop busters that should concern you while navigating the water.  Also, weed beds are greatly affected.  The high water blocks out sunlight to once fertile weed beds.  One foot of water can be the difference to a thriving weed bed.  Weed beds will take longer to grow and mature. Bait fish also look to weed beds in the summer time for cover. The lack of foliage impacts pike fishing.  Weed beds are a favorite hunting ground for the toothy predator and without weeds pike will focus on deeper water hunting tactics.  Thus making them more difficult to locate.  

The Good
High water brings numerous benefits to a body of water. The heavy run off from melting snow will bring nutrients into the lake.  These nutrients will encourage weed bed growth in new areas.  Also, increased water means rushing rapids.  One of my favorite places to fish is below a roaring waterfalls.  Bait fish and predators are drawn to the current as nutrients and oxygen saturated water rushes by. Furthermore, new creeks and watersheds will be created for prime spawning areas for pike.  Pike love to spawn in warm muddy areas with steep banks.    

We will keep everyone posted on our winter highway travels.  

Good luck on the ice/water everyone.

Monday, January 14, 2013

New Lures to Ring in the New Year

Each year tackle companies flood the fishing markets with hundreds of new products.  Many anglers, including myself, are hypnotized  by flashy new holographics or a manufactures claim that this new lure will  boat you a trophy fish on every cast.  As I have often told my guests while guiding, "Lures catch the fisherman and not the fish." This past weekend I had the pleasure of roaming the endless tackle isles at Cabelas and stumbled across three promising lures released in 2013 that could really produce specifically for walleye.

The first product that landed in my shopping basket is Rapala's Ultra 
Light crank (pictured right).  This little guy has the potential to really produce when the walleye bight gets tough.  A crank that dives from 4-8 ft is also promising for when walleyes are corralled in shallower waters during the months of May and June.  Generally, during those months walleye are chasing smaller minnows and are apt to be more aggressive towards smaller baits.  I picked up three colors: Shad, Silver Blue, and Firetiger.

The second item (pictured right) I added is more of a rigging than a lure.  Known as an Alabama type Rig, this setup is a multi-armed rig that allows an angler to fish from one rigged lure up to five lures on.   Labeled with bait school technology, this particular rig is manufactured by YUM called the YUMbrella Ultralight Flash Mob.  Four blades team with a realistic-looking head to mimic a group of baitfish swimming in tight formation. Trolling the Rapala Ultra Light cranks behind this sort of rigging could lead to a heck of a good time.  

The final product I purchased is called the Johnson Thinfisher (black/silver).  This small blade bait has a built in rattle that should just drive those walleye crazy.  I have had plenty of luck jigging blade baits for finnicky walleye in the past.  The extra vibration in these lures is just enough to entice stubborn fish. Unlike a jig, you try to keep this lure about 6-12" off the bottom, as these lures are prone to snagging.  

I hope everyone is enjoying the new year.  In two weeks Dad and I will be rambling along the ice highway to Sandy Lake with roughly 13,000 pds of materials including pressure treated lumber, new 4 stroke Yamaha motors for Burnt Lake, and plenty of other equipment.

Make sure to stop by and visit us at the All Canada shows.  Mom and Dad are currently in Madison at the Marriot West.  The show runs Monday/Tues/Wed.  I'll be joining the family in Milwaukee and Green Bay the following respective weekends.