Saturday, October 25, 2014

Fall Fun

Fall is in fact my favourite time of year.  The temperatures are mild, Mother Natures colors are amazing, and fishing continues to be exciting.  In the fall, most people hang up their fishing poles for rifles and focus on hunting.  Since closing the camp, I was able to venture on several fishing excursions in the Dryden area this fall.  My primary objective was to seek out species that are not accessible at Big Hook Camps i.e. anything other than walleye or pike.
Chunky 41" Eagle Lake musky

I had the pleasure of fishing with several different people in my search for trophy trout, musky and smallmouth.  My wife Heidi and her father Martin drove up from Wisconsin were excited to see some of the Eagle Lake area.  Unfortunately, during their stay the weather had other plans and brought 5 days of bitter cool weather.  Nonetheless, it didn't stop us from hitting the water.  Attached right is plenty of proof of fish and the many many layers of clothes we had to wear.

Personal best 48" musky.  
The first species I searched out was Lake Trout. We quickly managed to locate plenty of trout before the season closed on the Sept 30th.  The prized trout was actually boated while fishing with my neighbor Eric for musky.  A hefty 13 pounder smashed his bait on a figure 8 boatside.  It was shocking to see such a large fish in that shallow of water.  However, we found most fish were much shallower than anticipated, roughly around 20-30 ft of water.

13 pd laker caught on a figure 8 boatside
After boating and releasing trout for two days we switched our focus to smallmouth and once again were promptly rewarded for our efforts.  The smallmouth were absolutely thick on 20 ft rock piles.  A simple 3/8 oz black or white tube jig boated just about every fish.  I can't even recall how many fish we boated over 18", I do remember the biggest was around 19.5".
Boated many 18+" smallies 

Heidi and Martin didn't exactly share the same enthusiasm for musky fishing as I.  So, I waited till they departed back to Wisconsin to focus my efforts on the fish of 10,000 casts.  I was ecstatic when my neighbor Eric invited me along to hunt the elusive muskellunge.  We managed to put several fish in the boat over a couple days.  I set a personal best with a 48" musky while fishing alone and without a net. Fortunately, I had the GOPRO with me but didn't get any decent shots. The hot lures for big fish were suspending jerk baits.

Around the Big Hook Region

There has been a mix of warm and cool weather up towards Big Hook.  Chatted with the boys at Sandy Lake and the float planes are coming out of the water in the next day or two.  Our next visit to Sandy Lake will be on the winter road. Dad and I have plenty of items purchased for the trek north.  A "new" shuttle van has been found for the drive from the runway to float base.  Now all we need is those lakes to freeze over.

Eric with a tanky 45.5" musky 
For those of you who haven't quite yet put their fishing gear away, get out there and enjoy the fall.  It looks like there is going to be several weeks left of great fishable weather.

Good luck on the water everyone,

Martin with football like smally. 

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Year End 2014

The final picture of the 2014 season
Waiting on the fog to burn off...
Another season at Big Hook Wilderness Camps has come to a close.  First and foremost, I would like to thank all of our guests for your continued patronage and loyalty.  Without everyone supporting us, we would not be able to offer the true Canadian fly-in fishing experience. The past 30 years have provided us a novel of stories and experiences; no two seasons have been identical.  Once again, the Big Hook family (Dad, Mom and I) extend a BIG thank you to everyone who visited us at Big Hook Camps.

2014 was a blueberry bonanza 
Dad, myself and Shadow (the famous tree climbing dog) departed Central Lake on the 23rd of September.  We managed to complete several projects before our exit.  Just a few to note, West Lake received a new indoor shower, a new deck was built on Cabin #1 at Central and vinyl siding along with facia and soffits were placed on the main shed at Central. Several projects are already in the pipeline for the 2015 season and I'll keep you posted as they get completed.

The weather was an absolute roller coaster during closing weeks at Big Hook.  September began with mild temperatures (50's and 60's), which allowed for some great fishing and amazing blueberry picking.  2014 will go down as one of the best blueberry crops ever at Big Hook; in particular at Burnt, Central and South Lake.  Guests who were willing to climb some rock bluffs were rewarded with fields of blueberries.  The Burnt Lake crop was exceptional since the forest has been recently burned.  Mom and I explored the NE corner of lower Burnt near the trappers cabin and after a brief climb, we were just floored with blueberries as far as the eye could see.

A nice 38.5" late season pike. 
Mid September weather brought plenty of instability.  An ice storm on the 15th just pummeled Dad and I. Temperatures that day topped at 28 degrees and winds barrelled out of the NE at 30 mph.  Ice shards pelted my skin like stinging bees and accumulated over a half an inch in a two hour span. Let's just say there was no flying that day, considering all my flight controls were completely frozen.  Two days later temperatures rocketed into the 70's. The month of September at Big Hook has always been best explained by one word, unpredictable.  

For the first time, Dad and I witnessed hundreds of snow geese flying south across the Opasquia Provincial Park. The snow flocks normally migrate west of the park and later in the year. The Canada geese completed their migration surprisingly early, around the first two weeks of September.  We witnessed many geese flying southbound with Sandhill Cranes.  The early flocks departing the north can only mean one thing, an early winter. Let us hope the geese have been misinformed.

I recorded some great footage on my Go Pro this summer and will edit up some videos for the blog. Speaking of footage, we are redesigning our brochure for the 2015 season and would love to include many of our guests shots. Send us your photos from your last Big Hook trip, not only are we looking for fish pics but nature shots as well.

Good luck on the water this fall everyone! Time for me to sling for some musky.
Thanks again!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Fishing With a Legend

Dan and Anne with mom and dad. 
Last week I had the privilege to guide and film with a fishing legend, Dan Gapen Sr.  Those of you not familiar with Dan, he is a writer (currently published in over 100 circulated sites and magazines), TV-host and hall of fame fisherman.  He has spent a lifetime of filming, educating and just simply enjoying the outdoors.  A quick search through, you can read some of his famous stories and check out plenty of their great and effective lures they have to offer.  Now 82, Dan and his company partner "Bobber" Anne have spent the majority of their travels throughout the America's all the while journaling and filming their endeavours.

Filming during a sunset
We were honored when Dan and Anne first approached months ago us about visiting us at Central Lake to do some filming on the unique Opasquia Provincial Park.  This was one area of Ontario that they wanted to cross off their bucket list for filming. The remoteness and geology of the area intrigued him the most.

Overall, the weather cooperated enough and we were fortunate to capture some great moments on film.  Dan liked to focus on the outdoor experience as a whole, not on just the biggest and most fish we could put in the boat, which really impressed me. So many times people lose perspective on where they are and get tunnel visioned on that 40" pike or 27" walleye. Yes, we fished plenty however, we also focused on some things nature had to offer.  For example, an afternoon of blueberry picking.  Let me tell you, nothing is better than fresh blueberry muffins or pancakes.  We enjoyed plenty.

I'll keep everyone posted about our episode/videos when the editing and post production is finished.  I am especially excited to see some of our underwater footage of walleye stalking our baits on the TV.  We were fortunate enough to capture several hookups and numerous strikes in 10-20 ft of water.

Throughout the week with Dan I experimented around with his line of fishing tackle.  Three lures in particular, which I'll admit I never heard of, really produced well.  First, the Flub Dub. This unique crankbait pictured right, caught several pike over 33" and plenty of walleye.  I was a sceptic at first noticing the lone rear hook, however we never missed a single hit. Trolling this lure along 12' flats or breaklines is where it really produced.

The second lure, the Ugly Bug, looks like the name sounds.  It is a jig setup with a rubber tail that has multiple flanges darting every which way.  I had my best luck with this lure jigging along weed beds.  I had my fair share of bite offs from pike but I was out fishing everyone.

The Ugly Bug
The final lure I enjoyed for the week was the Spin-Bee.  The 1/4 oz or 3/8 oz was a blast to vertical jig on deep reefs.  Armed with a spinner instead of a twister tail, fishermen never have to worry about the rubber tail getting bit off from short striking fish.

Every year I try to find effective alternatives for walleye fishermen to try other than the straight lead head and 3" tail.  These lures previously mentioned are quality lures worth a try.  I now have several of each in my tackle box for my next outing.  Another lure that has been shining that I also blogged about is the Echo Tail.  This lure started the year sluggish however now that the walleyes are settling in deeper water it has been an absolute beast.  

The Spin-Bee


The walleye are well....going deeper, however to add some confusion, we found plenty in the weeds last week.  One day we would nail the fish in 12-20 ft of water on reefs and windblown points.  Only to return the next day and find nothing.  After some looking around we eventually found lots of fish hanging near the weeds.  The fish are obviously moving around so do not get discouraged if you strike out on a spot, try it again the next day and you could be rewarded.

Pike are starting to pack on the pounds for fall.  Most are hanging in foliage but I like to throw my big baits (depth raiders and bull dawgs) this time of year on deep reefs.  You just know they are hanging around stalking a lazy walleye. The topwater bite has been very discouraging this year, I have spent several evenings tossing with minimal action.  I would suggest focusing on bucktails or spoons during what I call the "magic hour" of 7-8 pm.  I have boated more big fish this year during that time frame.

Water levels have been falling due to lack of rain.  The surface temperatures are hovering around 67-69 degrees on most lakes. The nights have been fairly cool, dipping into the lower 40's.  This cold has had an effect on the weed beds over the last several days.  They are beginning to lose their bright green color, which means they are on the verge of dying.  Once the weeds start to fall pike will move to other areas to ambush prey.

Good luck on the water everyone,

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Mid Summer Heat

The dog days of summer have settled upon us at Big Hook Camps.  Light and variable winds with warm temperatures have graced us for almost two weeks now. Today (8/6/2014) has been the warmest day of the summer peaking at 32 Celsius (almost 90 F).  The warm days unfortunately have resulted in very little rain for the last month.  I know most fishermen do not want me to utter this next phrase, but....we are in need of some rain. 

The boreal forest throughout NW Ontario is becoming quite dry.  The water levels at Central have dropped about two feet over the past three weeks. Most rapids throughout the park are becoming small flowages as a result.  The water has warmed considerably, most lakes have surface temperatures hovering around 72-75 degrees.  


42" released at Central 8/5
Fishing tactics are still similar to the past blog.  Walleye are holding around wind blown points and reefs in 15-25 ft of water.  Jigging 3/8 oz black heads with white tails have really been an effective color combination.  Crawler harnesses are another great way to reach the depths.  Don't completely rule out weeds for walleye.  Walleye will often seek out bait fish among foliage.  While guiding yesterday at Central we found many walleye hitting Johnson silver minnows while pitching for pike in thick weeds. 

Pike have been incredibly active lately.  However, the sunny days allow northern to get a great view of your baits and result in numerous follows to the boat. The peak bite for big fish has been from 6 pm-9 pm when the sun is a bit lower in the sky.  The past several trips out I have packed only three lures for northern:  
  • Essox assualt EA-8 bucktail orange blade, black skirt
  • Johnson silver minnow with a white twister tail trailer
  • Buchertail Top Raider, black
"That's fish number 202 dad!"
Those three baits have not disappointed.
Locate your favorite weed bed  for toothy trophies and start tossing bucktails along the edge, or try your best to weave the lures through the foliage. If the weeds are too thick the Johnson Silver is the perfect bait to navigate the thickest beds.


Hot spots #5 and #6 are where I would focus my efforts for a big pike.  Throwing bucktails at the thickest parts of the weeds will produce some great fish.  Walleye can be found jigging on any reef in around 15 ft of water. 

The north narrows has begun to really heat up for trophy fish.  Also, while guiding on the west end of the lake recently (8/6) we released 10 fish over 30 inches not including a 38.5" and a 42".  Every fish was caught on a Johnson silver minnow 1 1/4 oz with a white twister tail.  Several guests attempted the south portage 8/5 and returned home with big smiles.  "Fishing was so good, we boated 60 walleyes in 60 minutes," exclaimed one gentleman.  

The deeper pools around Hot spot #9 have been great for nicer walleye.  Hot spot #8 and several nearby weeds have held great pike.  The water is beginning to drop throughout the Sagawitchewan river, motorist should use caution as numerous reefs become exposed.  

I'll be redundant, because it is difficult to offer variable reports for Lemonade, but the lake is still producing plenty of 18-22" walleye.  Favourable produced some nice sized pike including a 38" out of pike alley recently.  Hot spots #2 and 4 are among my favorite for pike as the summer progresses.  

Some amazing numbers for trophy walleye were posted again last week. Roughly 30 fish were released over 25" up to 29.5".  The fish were more spread out among different locations however the majority of the fish were boated between 7-9 pm.  Deeper waters (20-25 ft) still held the larger females.  Some great pike fishing gets overlooked at South Lake, don't be afraid to pitch those weed beds. 

The Beach party has been coming to Canada since the early 90's and exclaimed Southwest lake offered more fish than any other trip.  Hot spots #2 and 4 were the go to areas. 

Hot spot #2, 6 and 10 should be focal points for guests.  #2 is a large weed bed along an island that is perfect territory for trophy fish.  #6 is a long stretch of narrows that leads to the fish bowl.  Slowly work the northern half of the narrows beginning in 10 ft of water, motor gradually to the shallower water.  #10 is a great reef that top out at 9 ft with 60 ft of water nearby.  Jig this reef or pitch deep diving cranks for big walleye.  Big pike prowl this area also. 

Good Luck on the water everyone,

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Shine On

Central Lake evening troll.  Courtesy of Happy Pharwaha
The sun has been shining for about two weeks now on us in the Opasquia Provincial Park.  The lazy days of summer have finally graced us here in the north country.  Thankfully, the warmer temperatures have decreased the bug activity allowing fisherman to focus more on the fish instead of swatting flies. The bugs haven't completely vanished, but the annoying creatures have drastically reduced their assault on us fishermen. 

The current weather we are enjoying is typical for this time of year.  I have always enjoyed the last two weeks of July into the first two weeks of August.  On average, the weather during that time is the most stable and one thing fish love is weather stability.  

The great weather has allowed Dad, Tyrol and myself to complete several summer projects.  The boardwalk at Central Lake has now been completely renovated with pressure treated lumber.  Also, a new 32 foot floating dock is now in operation at the big cabin.  Cocos, Southwest, and West Lake each received a boost in power with an additional 240 Watt solar panel. Furthermore, all three camps refrigerators have been switched from propane to green and economical solar powered Stecca fridges.   


Remington party 30.5" walleye 
Typical summer patterns for walleye and pike are now in play.  Walleye have can be found hovering around reefs and wind blown shorelines in around 10-20 ft of water.  Larger fish have been caught in waters as deep as 30 ft.

The hot lures for walleye are rather simple.  I could stock my tackle box with just a couple of baits.  3/8 oz jigs with a variety of twister tails or gulp would take up most of the space, however I would have to leave some space for Shad Raps #5 and #7. Chartreuse and fire tiger are my favorite colors but they all work.

The Echotails I mentioned in a previous blog have really started to shine now that the walleye have moved to deeper waters.  Of all the six different color combinations I purchased all have been just as productive.  I highly recommend these baits for vertical jigging.  They take a little tuning as I have found the hooks will often tangle.  A simple solution to avoid this is to tuck the rear hook into the plastic tail.  

One of 20 South Lake walleyes over 26" for the week of 7/19
Pike have been hovering in the dense weeds as of late.  We are finding at Central Lake the peak bite has been later in the afternoon from 6-9 pm.  Last night for example, we couldn't keep the fish off of Musky Killer bucktails and Esox Assault double blades.  Slash baits like Suicks, Delong Eels and Hellhound are also doing well.  I can't forget to mention Johnson Silver Minnows for those thick weeds, and don't forget those twister tail trailers!


Burnt Lake
Hotspots #5, 6 and 10 are the place to be for nice pike.  Windblown points are the most effective spots for walleye.
Central Lake
The west portage continues to offer up trophy pike.  Three fish over 40 have been boated in the last seven days.  Trophies are prowling around hotspot #3, one of my favorite weed beds on the lake.  Last but not least is to always take a couple casts on the windsock if you are passing by.
Cocos Lake
A 44" monster was boated and released on the Sagiwitchewan river.  The deeper pools near the Burnt Lake rapids are starting to produce some great walleye action.
Hard to make the Lemonade lake reports not sound redundant, but the lake continues to churn out the quality walleye. As usual, fish the west side of the island.  Pike alley gave up several nice 38+" fish over the past couple days.  Hot spots #4 and 12 are great place to focus for those monsters.
Two guests, 20 fish over 26" up to 30.5" last week means south lake is heating up with lots of big walleye.  The current guests had 12 over 25" up to 28.5 on Tuesday.  Bigger fish are deeper in 22-30 ft.  Slow jigging techniques have been best.
Excellent numbers continue from this body of water.  Watched a guest battle a nice 37" fish on 6 pd test and a jig the other day, nothing more fun to see.
Work the upper half of the narrows towards the Fish Bowl.  I guided there on Tuesday and rolled a fish that was pushing 48".  I got a good look at the old girl and she got my heart beating.  Bucktails in the Horseshoe also yielded plenty 30+" fish.

Good luck on the water everyone!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Mad Season

A crisp Central Lake morning
Our summer has been running about two or three weeks behind this year.  Typically these following seasonal events have already occurred.  First and foremost is the mayfly hatch, which has now finally finished on all the lakes.  A typical year the mayflies hatch around the end of June to the fourth of July.  Second, the growth of plants and berries has been at a snails pace.  At the moment wild strawberries have just ripened enough for a tasty topping on pancakes.  I see a great potential for a bumper blueberry crop this year, as there are a ton of green berries throughout the boreal forest.  However, it takes a long time for them to ripen here and I fear we will have our first frost before then.  Finally, the water temperature is cool.  We still have not cracked 70 degrees at Central Lake, and if we do not get a round of warm weather soon it will not happen this year. Keep in mind our warm season ends in about five weeks.


The weather has been far from stable over the past ten days.  We have transitioned from high pressure to low and back again at a rapid pace this summer.  The past week has been filled with cloudy skies, warm temperatures and thunderstorms.  The forecast for the next several days is some much needed warmth along with variable cloudiness and continued warm temperatures. For updated weather info you can click the Environment Canada weather banner in the upper right corner of this blog. 


Nice pike from SW lake. 
Walleye fishing was slower last week as a result of a dense mayfly hatch on the majority of the lakes.  However, camps managed to find some great pike fishing action.  The weeds are not as dense as years past but they are holding some quality pike.  The sparser weed beds are allowing anglers to cast a variety of baits without worries of getting fouled on foliage.


The pike fishing was great up in Big Boy bay with several 39+” fish released.  Walleyes were stacked in hotspot #5.  Most fish have been found shallower than normal in around 8 ft.  This has probably been one of the best years for perch fishing at Burnt.


The west portage was hot for pike.  Six fish over 38” were released in two days.  All were caught in the same weed bed, and if you have fished the west portage you know which spot I speak of.  The falls are still pushing lots of water and the walleye have been congregating to the current.


A nice catch and release from Cocos Lake. 
The rapids have starting flowing at a slightly higher rate over the past several days.  Great walleye action is still found around both flowages.  The rapids that exits the north of Cocos is one of my favorite places to fish in the entire park.  There is just something about standing from shore and catching walleyes. 


Weeds are still pretty spread out on Lemonade so the walleye action has been very active.  The east points seem to have been slightly more active than the rest of the lake.  A nice 43” beast of a pike was boated next to Johnson’s Island last Tuesday.  Trolling shad raps in about 12 ft of water was a great way to locate schools of walleye. 


Just last night two gentlemen boated a 29.5”, 27.5” and four 26” walleye in a period of two hours fishing.  The spot unfortunately was kept under secrecy however they said the big fish were boated in 25’ of water. 


I don’t think there has ever been a bad day of fishing on Southwest Lake.  It is probably the most productive outpost we have for numbers.  Yes, the fish may lack some size but you will catch more 16-19” walleyes than you can ever imagine.  The points to the east of the camp have been just stacked with fish.  A nice 37" pike was boated on Hot Spot #4. 


With the cooler water temperatures the bulk of the action still lies in the Fish Bowl.  Walleyes have been holding on the perimeter of weeds while the pike stalk within.  With some warmer weather the north end of the lake will turn on like a light switch for big walleye.

Good Luck on the water everyone,

Thursday, July 10, 2014

They're Heeeere!

The little girl from the movie Poltergeist quoted it best with "They're Heeeere!"....and no I am not talking about ghosts.  Another entity has risen from the depths in the form of an insect to torment fishermen, the dreaded Mayfly.  I should begin to call these short lived bugs July flies because the last four or five years the hatch has occurred around the 4th of July.

About five days ago Lemonade Lake exploded with the winged creatures, covering the skies and surface of the water.  Cocos and Southwest Lake hatch followed a day later (last Sunday). While, last night (July 9th) Tyrol and I witnessed a big hatch on Central while trying for some top water pike at 8 pm.  Needless to say, the hatch is in full swing throughout the Opasquia Provincial Park.

If you'll reference some of my previous blogs from years prior I note some tactics for combating those pesky Mayflies for the prized walleye attention.  In a brief recap: 1. Scale down on your size, if you love to jig remove those 4" tails and use 2-3" tails.  Many of the walleyes that you'll be targeting will have a full belly and will be quite lethargic on their strikes.  Often they will just barely hang on the tail and attempt to slowly swim away with your jig.  2. Note where Mayflies hatch, in the mud.  Go there cause that is where the walleye will be congregating.  3. Don't get discouraged with a slow bite for a day or two, walleyes digest mayflies quite quickly and will be on the prowl before you know it.


The woodchucks of West Lake do a great job of mowing the lawn
Sunday July 6th, we received roughly 5" of rain.  It was quite possibly the most rain I have ever witnessed in a 24hr period at Big Hook Camps.  The result is the lakes are still rising, some faster than others.  Waterfalls and rapids drastically changed overnight into raging currents.  The rain however, was well received as we had begun to experience several forest fires popping up throughout the park.  

For the most part, the torrential downpours last Sunday was the only weather to discuss.  The temperatures are still cooler than normal, directly resulting in cooler water temperatures.  We have received an occasional 80 degree day but they have been few and far between.  And yes, because of the cool weather, the bugs are still feisty.


The summer patterns for both species are slowly developing.  Walleye will gradually making their way to the reefs as soon as the mayfly hatch has expired.  Pike are holding in the weeds and windblown points.  Weed growth is picking up steam, however with all the additional water from the rain the weeds are far below the surface. As I noted earlier the water is still cool, hanging around 63 degrees at Central.  This time of year I usually see 70-72 degree temperatures on the surface.   

Some outpost snippets:

Big Boy Bay or Hotspot #5 is the place to go.  Several nice pike were photo'd and released from the Kennedy party while standing right on the beach.  The perch action is still holding strong.  

The action below the north rapids has been steady.  With lots of water flowing the walleye are congregating in the current.  Two 40+" were photo'd and released near Trophy Bay.  When the winds change to the South fish Husker Rock for trophy walleye.  Guests have seen five moose in the last two days. 

43" from Cocos
Guests should use caution when attempting to shoot the rapids this week, the current is getting stronger everyday.  Walleye have been flocking to the rapids with the increased flowage.  Duckling Island has been holding some great pike. 

Lemonade has slowed a bit with the ample mayfly binge.  The action should only be a temporary lull with the hatch on the tail end. Favourable's weed beds have been harboring just about all the fish.  Fishing has been slower on the rocky points and ledges.  

Great release shot. 
The big walleyes woke up with the rains, lots of 25+" fish being boated and released.  7 yr old Tate from the Cox party even boated a 26.5" on a surface bait.  Now that shows the fish are feeding!  Fish are shallower than normal, try 12' or above if you aren't catching anything in the deeper water. 

Southwest Lake has just been on fire with numbers this year.  I can't really expresses the hotspots because everytime I ask the guests where to go they just respond with "Everywhere!"  Several dandy 37" pike have been boated and released in the last two days.  

Fish still seem to be holding in the Fish Bowl half of the lake.  The windblown mudflats in the fish bowl are dominating the action. The narrows leading to the Fish Bowl have been consistent.  

Good luck on the water everyone!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The Numbers Are In

If you are patient, the Grey Jays will eat from your hand. 
Last week Mother Nature finally, and I mean finally blessed us with some superb weather. Pleasant temperatures and blue skies dominated the week of June 21st to the 28th.  The fish responded positively to the warming waters.  A couple camps reported some astounding numbers, which I'll get to in just a bit.  The bugs, unfortunately are still hanging around.  So, as I mentioned in a previous blog....bring your spray and coils.  This has been the summer of the black fly and the mosquito.


The streak of stable weather patterns recently departed for our current guests.  The past two days (6/30 and 7/1) have been chilly with far belwo normal temperatures and howling winds.  I woke up this morning to 38 degrees, misty skies and 30 mph winds barreling out of the north.  Future forecasts however, are positive and show a warming trend will return to NW Ontario.  

Those of you who have not been following the weather trends for NW Ontario, the Dryden and Ft Frances area has been under flood watch for the past several weeks.  The waters in those areas are extremely high. It was recently brought to my attention there are sections of HWY 105 that have short detours around water over the highway. So just be advised you might have to add another 20 minutes or so to your drive to bypass some flooded highway. 


The water temperatures on Central crept into the high 60's yesterday with some bays even touching seventy for the first time this summer. The warmer waters have finally encouraged the weed growth.  I am starting to see many lilly pads and grass beds while flying over all the lakes throughout the Opasquia Park. 

Still no signs of the pesky bug that emerges this time of year.....the Mayfly. 

As I noted earlier, some camps reported just amazing numbers last week.  Southwest and Cocos were the frontrunners for action.  The guests at Southwest set a new Big Hook record for fish boated in a week.  The Valley party of eight, clicked their way to 5503 walleye, a did not include pike in their total. The See party of four at Cocos had an impressive 3250 fish, with a 44" and 43" pike to top the list.  

 Those Burnt Lake perch will make a tasty dinner.
Guests last week focused on boating some perch and were rewarded with great stringers of fish.  The schools were spotty but you could catch 3-6 fish before hopping to the next spot.  Most fish were tight to the weeds.  A nice 38" pike was boated and released next to Moose Creek. 

Above the north rapids produced several nice walleye topping at 27".  Weed growth in the north narrows is good and is starting to hold trophy pike. 

Lower Cocos outfished the Sagawitchewan River last week.  All the big fish came off of wind blown points and the weeds north of Duckling Island.  

Lemonade was in prime form with plenty of nice 18-22" walleye being caught.  Favourable produced best along the two sections of the Severn river. 

South known for it's walleye fishing, offered some great pike action last week with many fish over 36" caught and released.  The north end being shallower than the rest heated up with warm temperatures. 

The guests tried to find spots on the lake that didn't have fish and failed.  Just about every nook and cranny held and walleye or a pike. The east arm held great fish and Hot Spot #5 was one of the top locations.  A giant 45" pike was released.  

The fishbowl was the place to be.  According to the guests, the rest of the lake was super slow compared to the action in the fishbowl and the narrows leading into it.  This makes sense since the fishbowl is shallower than the rest of the lake and the fish were craving warmer water temperatures. 

Good luck on the water this summer everyone.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Bring your bug spray.

Unfortunately the title of this blog is not an attempt at humor, the bugs are bad.  All the proper conditions have fallen into place this season for a bumper crop of mosquito's and black flies.  Cool, damp temperatures have created the perfect storm, so to speak.  Day time conditions are fine, but when the sun starts to set the buzzing begins.  The black flies and mosquitos should dissipate as the summer progresses along and as the temperatures warm.  So here is some simple advice for our guests.

  • Pack some bug spray that contains deet.
  • Head nets are a cheap alternative to spray and they keep the bugs from diving into your ears and face. 
  • Mosquito coils near entrances are great at keeping the bugs at bay as people enter and leave.  


A nice 35" pike caught in the Central Lake east rapids. 
The wind has been the main talk amongst the fishermen.  An east wind has blown for the last seven days now.  Immediately fishermen turn to the old saying "Winds from the west fishing it the best, winds from the east fishing is the least."  It holds true to some respect, however I find it alters the fishing patterns and I'll get to that later.  Most days last week held in the 60's with some light rain and drizzle.  Today, (June 23) is misty and cool around 48 degrees.  However,  a warming trend is finally in the forecast with temperatures jumping back into the 70's and 80's.  


As mentioned before the dominant winds has been an east wind for some time now.  Generally an east wind means cooler temps and unstable conditions in this neck of the woods.  I find fish don't quit feeding however they will tend to hold in deeper water when winds blow from the east.  I backed this theory up with some deep trolling of Shad Raps last Thursday.  Myself and a guest trolled one spot for five hours and boated around 70 fish.  All different species and sizes were caught and released.  10-15 ft was the magic depth along a big mud flat. We had tried the shallows earlier in the day and found them to be a complete waste of time.  

Some nice perch from Burnt Lake 
Now after saying all of that, the weather is supposed to warm and the sun should get those shallow bays back up and running.  The weed growth is still very minimal, although some areas are starting to show some green. 

Burnt Lake
Moose creek and the narrows have been the spots to note.  Great pike action last week, the pike seemed to be pushing the walleye off most the spots.  The perch bite was great around fallen timber and weed edges.

Central Lake
Husker Rock was on fire, trolling crankbaits about 100 feet away  in 10-15 ft of water produced some great aciton.  The south narrows was probably the second most productive spot for the week. 

Cocos Lake
The Burnt Lake rapids that flow in held some great fish.  The guests  last week boasted a 29" walleye along with many 23-25" fish.  They also boated and released dozens of pike ranging from 30-42".  With water levels hovering around normal the rapids are navigable.  The four gentlemen who arrived Saturday boated and released 192 pike in the first half day. 

Lemonade still is churning out those nice 18-21 inch walleye.  However, the guests last week were impressed with some decent perch and sizable sauger.  Favourable was producing nice pike in the bay south of hotspot #6.  Walleye Point and Pike alley were two other fish packed spots. 

South Lake  
The fish moved to deeper structure last week.  Guests had more luck fishing 12-20 for larger walleye. Some nice walleye were released near the outgoing rapids on the north end. Hot spots #1, 2 and 3 were top producers. 

Southwest Lake 
Here is a great stat for you.  8 guys, one day of fishing, total count....1000 fish.  Needless to say the fish are hitting.  Best spot was the narrows NW of the twin tower rocks. 

West Lake 
The best spots were #4 and #6 by far for nice pike.  Just yesterday I flew over #4 and got to witness guests photoing a giant pike.  The Horseshoe has been productive as usual along with the SE rapids.  The narrows to the Fish Bowl should be a focal point for anglers as the water temperatures begin to warm. 

Good luck on the water everyone! Please send pictures from your latest trip and I'll post them on the blog. 

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Pollen Storm

Your sinuses may not agree with Mother Nature this past week.  The pines have begun shedding their pollen and right on cue.  Usually, in the first or second week of June, huge clouds of pollen can be seen surging from the forest.  The pollen can get so thick this time of year that locals will often think forest fires have started. The yellow haze will hang around for several days and cover the water in a thin film before washing ashore.  The pollen will adhere to the rocks and make a great water level indicator for the years to come.  


The weather patterns have been quite erratic this past week.  Saturday began with a low pressure bringing howling winds from the SW and cool temperatures.  The temps quickly warmed through Monday into the 70's with calm winds. While today (Wednesday), we have experienced fall like weather with cooler temperatures in the 50's and NW winds around 10-15 mph. 

The cooler weather today lowered the average water temperature into the low 50's on the surface around Central Lake.  However, weather forecasts indicate warming trend is on the way with plenty of sunshine.  Since the majority of our lakes are tea stained color, the sunshine will quickly heat the water back into the 60's. 


The up and down temperatures had minimal effect on the fishing.  After chatting with several different guests, today was one of the slower mornings of the week, otherwise excellent reports have come from the lakes.

Fish for the most part are still holding in spring patterns.  6-8 feet for walleye and don't be afraid to try 3 ft or shallower for pike.  Lots of fish are holding in mud flats and around current.  Much of the time schools of walleye will be mixed with pike as they both battle for warmer water temps.  No weed growth has been reported yet. 

Slower presentations still are favourable for both species.  If you prefer trolling for walleye try to slow down as much as possible. 
A male grouse struts his stuff at West Lake
The narrows connecting north and south Burnt Lake has been the primary focus for fish. The entrance to the narrows and the exit should be fished often for both walleye and pike.  The far SW corner has been holding sizeable perch. 
The east rapids and south narrows are both producing great for walleye.  The top of the north rapids has held many 40+" pike. A surprising amount of perch have been caught so far this spring. 
Under the first set of rapids has been excellent for walleye.  The flats around Duckling Island in the north end of Cocos has produced some great pike.  Guests have had no problem shooting the rapids with average water levels. 
Lemonade has been the norm, lots of nice walleye especially on the west side of the island. The creeks flowing into the elbow on Favourable have been holding nice pike.  Hole in the Wall is another great spot for pike this time of year. Pike Alley should be heating up very soon.   
Cedar Waxwings make a rare visit to Central
The north end has been productive for good numbers of walleye, however sizeable fish have been boated at the narrows in the far east end of the lake. Numerous fish over 25" have been boated and released according to the guests. 
The numbers don't lie at Southwest Lake, so much great fishing exists just withing a half mile from the cabin.  Fish the flats running towards the east arm and you won't be disappointed.  
First of the year to jump in at Central
Some nice 38+" pike have been released, along with a 27" walleye.  The narrows towards the Fish Bowl has been electric.  The East falls is a good bet for great walleye numbers.  

Good luck on the water everyone! Looking forward to visiting with you this summer. 


Thursday, June 5, 2014

Open Season

After a late opener, we are well underway into the Big Hook Camps 2014 fishing season.  With plenty of ice still on the lake, I arrived into Central late Friday night on the 23rd of May.  Over half the lake was still iced up, this required some crafty iceberg dodging upon landing and taxiing.  My camp hand Tyrol and I made landfall after pushing some heavy ice chunks around. And thus, the season began.

Upon first arrival, we immediately noticed a black bear had destroyed our fish cleaning house in search of some spring food. Thankfully, that and a downed internet dish was the extent of the damage Central Lake received over a long and harsh winter.  With little time to soak in the Canadian wilderness, Ty and I had to promptly begin opening camp.  Our time frame was limited considering we had to open six camps in seven days.  Mom, Dad and Shadow arrived with some more help the next day and we hit the ground running.

Fortunately, Mother Nature was on our side, granting us favourable weather to accomplish our task at hand. The whole week of May 23rd to May 31st temperatures hung in the high 60's to mid 70's with ample sunshine.  Flying from sunup to sundown, we were able to open all of the outposts just in the nick of time.  The biggest issues we've encountered from the harsh winter thus far is a couple of cracked solar batteries at West Lake, a chewed up water line at South West and the dock at Burnt Lake pushed a couple feet from the ice.  


Now that the guests have arrived and have had a couple of days of fishing under their belts, I can provide a better fishing report. I unfortunately, have yet to cast a line but have had a chance to chat with a number of people.

44" on a Killer Eel
The pike have been the talk of the town here at Central Lake.  So far, over 30+ fish have been boated and released over 30" topping at 44".  The magic lure has been the Delong Killer Eel.  The big fish have been passing over just about every other bait and favoring the slow presentation of the Killer Eel.  The only problem.....Delong went out of business and they are no longer manufactured.

As the water temperatures warm, the pike will become more aggressive and hit quicker moving baits. The shallow bays have warmed to roughly 50 degrees and it has been crucial finding those warmer water temps for fish.  Not a lot of fish have been found near the rapids yet, even though suckers have been spotted spawning.

Walleye fishing started off the week very slow.  Male walleye were being caught with lots of milt.  This tells me that the walleye spawn occurred earlier this week.  However, some big females are now getting boated and released the past two days.  After chatting with the boys at South Lake yesterday, the fishing is improving every day, which is another sign that the fish are coming out of the post spawn.  Small jigs 1/8oz and 1/4 oz with white tails have been most effective thus far.  Areas with moving water and narrows have been the best locations for walleye.

The water levels are about average for springtime conditions, a little higher than normal. I expect them to drop over the next couple of weeks as the winter runoff is depleted.

Looking forward to a great season and seeing everyone soon.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

May 20th Ice Update

Signs of winter have been quickly disappearing around Eagle Lake.  The ice on the majority of the surrounding lakes has completely melted and only trace amounts of snow can be found in the darkest parts of forest. Eagle Lake still has some ice but warmer temperature has caused the ice to recede at a rapid pace.

Winters grip however, is still present 500 kilometers north in the Opasquia Park. Yesterday (May 19th), a pilot from Sandy Lake seaplane flew towards Central Lake to observe the ice conditions throughout the Provincial Park.  According to his reports, the ice is sluggishly melting.  A small opening exists in the west arm of Central, around the east rapids and west rapids. See pics from May 19th right. The open water you see is just south of main camp.

Local weather is calling for cool temperatures and a fair amount of rain for today and tomorrow. However, future forecast models show temperatures Friday, Saturday and Sunday are supposed to skyrocket into the mid 70's in the Big Hook area. Gauging the pictures, three days of 70 degree weather should take care of the ice in a hurry. Another plus, fairly gusty winds have blown over the last two days.  Those winds should have pushed the ice away from the shorelines.

Fortunately, the bay at Sandy Lake has opened up enough for float plane traffic. My plan is to grab the airplane from Selkirk on Thursday or Friday and fly north to Sandy.  From Sandy Lake I can at least begin staging goods to be flown up to Big Hook.    

 Think warm thoughts for us everyone.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Ice, Ice baby!

ICE, it is THE story amongst fisherman in the north country every spring.  The big question, is it out yet? Well, no...unfortunately, not even close.  However, two positive ingredients are finally on the way:  warmer weather and rain.  Those two elements will deteriorate the ice rather quickly.  According to forecasts, highs this week in the Sandy Lake/Big Hook area will be hovering in the 50's and overnight lows will finally hold above the freezing mark.

A historically cold and snowy winter in NW Ontario caused ice to reach 36+" on many bodies of water.  Coupled with a cool spring, the ice is certainly taking it's time to melt.  Fortunately, the majority of the snow has melted in the bush causing a decent run off.  Photo'd right is a pic along the shoreline at Eagle Lake.  As you can see the ice is still tight to the shore and after a quick stroll across the bay, I estimate about 8-12" of ice still exists.  In the past, ice out on Eagle Lake translated to ice out at Big Hook (250 miles north) about 4-5 days later.

Everyone here at Big Hook is excited and anxious to get the 2014 season underway.  The family here has a bet on when the ice will disappear at Central and throughout the Opasquia Park.  My guess (May 23), Dad (May 24), and Mom (May 20).  I am wishing and hoping to pick up the airplane (good ole XZK) from Winnipeg by next week.  My fingers are crossed that Mother Nature will cooperate and send us some tropical weather over the next couple days.  I'll keep posting photo's and updates as the ice diminishes.

Good luck to those of you who have open water.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Anxious For "Spring."

Weather Woes 

Here in the greater Green Bay area we have witnessed only a small glimpse of spring since March 20th.  The snow is melting, robins have been spotted along with flocks of sandhill cranes and fisherman have been begun bobbing along the Fox River.  However, "spring" is a ways off in NW Ontario.  Just yesterday most of the area was blasted with a massive blizzard.  35-47 cm of snow (10-16 inches)  blanketed an already buried region.  Highways from Winnipeg all the way to Thunder Bay shut down due to the ferocity of this weather system.  

There is a glimmer of hope on the horizon for NW Ontario as temperatures look to finally creep above the freezing mark. Beginning Thursday temperatures in the Sandy Lake area will be around 37 F.  These warmer temperatures will ensure a massive amount of snow melt and should create high waters for fisherman this spring.

Last spring Big Hook dealt with the highest water in recent memory.  However, within weeks the waters subsided and returned to normalcy.  The gushing rapids created some exciting spring time fishing for anglers.  Walleyes, suckers and pike all flocked to the massive rushing waters for weeks and created some great memories for fisherman.

New tackle for 2014 

Every winter during the sport shows I comb the isles for a new lure to test in the Big Hook waters.  The Echotail from Vibrations Tackle is a fresh addition to my tackle box for the 2014 season.  This blade bait looks like an amazing lure to persuade walleye. These baits are similar to Zip lures, however Echotails are extremely versatile with interchangeable tails. This unique feature provides fisherman the ability to create their own infinite color combinations.  

I am counting down the days to open water.  Hopefully within six weeks I'll be landing the ole 185 on Central Lake.  In the meantime, those of you who have open water....good luck on the water and keep wishing for warmer weather. 

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Ice Road 2014

Dad and I have returned back to the USA for our final round of sport shows.  We are extremely grateful
to be navigating smooth highways after traversing approximately 4517 moguls scattered throughout the winter highway. Posted below is a link to a short video of our winter road travels to Sandy Lake.

Each ride to Sandy Lake and back usually surprises you with numerous unforeseeable challenges.  The first leg of our journey this year was a unique run.  Starting out from Red Lake at 3 am we slowly plodded along the bumpy winding 356 kms to Sandy.  We quickly found out dragging two loaded trailers over the bumpy winter highway proved too much for the straps securing our goods.  Just one hour into the drive we had already busted 4 ratchet straps (so much for the Home Depot special, 8 straps for 18 bucks).  After an adjustment to heavier straps we were well on our snails pace crawl.

Several hours down the road we encountered an extremely slow and rough patch that caused the load in one of the trailer to pitch forward and blow out the front wall.  Stacked in front of the lumber was our reserve fuel (5 jugs) and a case of 10W-30.  Since we drive the majority of the road in the evening it was impossible to tell which bump destroyed the trailer and where our fuel was scattered.  Surely, one of the passing cars we encountered accepted some gifted fuel and we had to accept an unfortunate loss.

In the final 40 kms (24 miles) of our journey, several more incidents occurred.  The metal bands on a ton of lumber broke, scattering 2x6x10 treated wood down the icy road.  Shortly thereafter, a mogul caused that same trailer to jump the hitch.  No problem, an easy fix until we realized the trailer jack was located next to the fuel and oil we lost hours prior.  After digging out a tire jack from one of the trucks we were again rolling.  Not thirty minutes later Dad was on the CB claiming he was hearing a grinding noise.  Sure enough, a strap gave way and a boat we had secured to the top of a trailer was being drug along.  Once again we stopped put on our layers of clothes since it was -37 out and struggled the boat back onto the trailer.

After a 13 hours, we crept into Sandy Lake.  One truck was running on fumes and we were delighted to see a gas station, even with gas costing $7.50 a gallon.  We unloaded our goods the next day and began back down the road.  Taking a chance, we stopped to chat with some crew members doing some routine maintenance on the highway and casually asked if they had seen any fuel jugs scattered along the road.  To our delightment they produced five jugs of gas and a case of motor oil from their trailer.  That put a smile on our faces for the remainder of the drive back to Red Lake.

Stop by the NE Wisconsin Sport Show or the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Show to hear more of our winter road stories.  Looking forward to seeing the looooooong winter end and getting on some open water.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

The ice road cometh.

The Ice Highway 
The winter road to Sandy Lake is open for business, and has been for several weeks now.  As you are well aware, most of the north has been experiencing frigid temperatures this winter; the Sandy Lake area has been no different.  Arctic air began hammering NW Ontario in early December and has not relinquished its frosty grip.  Temperatures (not including wind chill) have dipped as low as -42 degrees F. 

Snow accumulation has been minimal due to such cold temperatures.  Little snow and plenty of cold results in ample amount of ice for the winter road.  A minimum of 22" of ice is necessary for transport operation on the winter highway to Sandy Lake. One of the latest reports had most lakes with 30+" of ice.  Thus, semi's full of fuel and building supplies have been shuttling to the remote communities since mid January.  Word is, the ice road is in terrific shape and transport times have been quicker than most years. 

Dad and I are planning our yearly endeavour up the ice highway next week.  Eight new yamaha four strokes, building supplies and propane are just some of the items we are planning on transporting to Sandy Lake.  As usual, I'll bring along the trusty video camera to hopefully capture some entertaining footage.  

Tinely Park Show

Big Hook will be in the greater Chicago area.  Stop by to visit Heidi and I at Tinely Park High School this weekend (Feb 8 & 9).  Visit this link for more show information: .  We hope to see you there. 

Good luck on the ice or open water (if you are lucky enough to have some) this winter.