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.