Monday, June 29, 2015

Kiss the Fish

Central Lake trophy 
My goal every time I debark on a guiding trip is 100 fish.  Now as a rule, which ever guest is lucky enough to boat the century mark gets to plant a big ole kiss on the fish with photo evidence for everyone to witness.  Well, this past week there were plenty of opportunities kiss the fish.  The walleye action just absolutely exploded on every lake.  The main contributing factor for the aggressive bite was weather stability.  Five straight days of  70-80 degree weather just sent the fish into a feeding frenzy.  Hopefully, the bite continues into our first ever Big Hook Canada Day Fishing Tourney at Central Lake.

Another Central Lake, West Portage trophy. 
Many of you are probably asking an important question....what about the mayflies?  Well, they are another contributing factor to the walleye activity.  The fish could be feeding on the larvae in the mud flats.  However, there haven't been any sightings of the winged creatures just yet.  Our water temperatures have surged past 70 degrees which is the magical number to stir the mayfly larvae.  I believe we will start seeing carcasses in the next day or two.

Now don't fret, walleye fishing doesn't completely just shut down when the mayfly take flight.  Fishermen just need to adjust their tactics slightly.  First of all, scale down on jig size, 1/4 oz heads and 2"-3" tails should be on the end of your line; not 1/2 oz heads or 4" tails.  Lots of fish are going to be full on mayflies but their predatory nature will still keep them feeding, just on smaller fare.  Second, the bite will be light so having the right line is key.  Full walleye will lazily strike lures and it is up to you to detect that teeny tiny tap on the line.  Braided line is better at sensing extremely light strikes.  Finally, I have found spinner rigs/worm harnesses encourage great bites during the momentary slow down. Fortunately for fisherman, the mayfly only lives for 24 hrs.
Delong Eels catch....walleye?


Some great perch opportunities exist here.  Finding the thick weeds are key for a great perch bite. Walleye are also moving on the edges of weeds and transitioning to rocky points.  Big boy bay and moose creek continue to produce trophy pike. 


The West rapids have been absolutely on fire for walleye.  Guests have sat for hours boating and releasing fish after fish.  The north narrows produced many big pike last week.  The west portage has one spot and one spot only for your next big pike.  Johnson silver minnows take the award for lure of the week.  Fish are beginning to smash top water lures. 
A terrific father/son trophy pic.  Congrats Alec on the 41" fish. 


The See party had a blast searching out big northern.  Most were found in four feet of water basking in the warm shallow weeds. The rapids is still holding large amounts of walleye.  Current guests are tossing #7 Shad Raps into the flow with a slow retrieve for big walleye.  The water levels are slightly down, so shooting the rapids is a breeze. 


Guests last week focused on Lemonade Lake boating fish just about everywhere.  Fish weren't schooled up in huge numbers but were found every single spot.  Numerous sauger were boated in the deeper waters and perch were caught along the western shoreline within the reeds.


Trolling Hot N Tots were key for finding big walleye last week. Color wasn't much of an issue just finding the right windy mud flat to troll along.  The big pike have been elusive but that should change now that the weeds are growing strong and are almost at the surface.  


The guests last week tried to find lures that didn't produce a strike and were stumped.  The walleye were found just about every where.  According to the guests, the island just east of camp was far and away the most productive spot in the lake.  


 The Steeves party raved about the fishing last week at West. They have been customers of ours since 1989 and claimed this year was the best fishing EVER.  Many big fish were found in the Horseshoe and in the SW corner of the Fish Bowl.

Good luck on the water everyone!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Mid June Report

We are about a month into the 2015 fishing
Timber Wolf spotted at South Lake 
season and it has been great visiting with all the fishermen and women that have visited us thus far.  Some exciting fishing stories have already been exchanged ranging from giant northern smashing walleye at the boat to the BIG one that got away. "I swear that pike was 50+!" shouted one electrified fisherman.

However, out of all the big fish stories that have entertained me this season, it has been the little species that has truly surprised me.  2015 has been the season of the perch, thus far.  Southwest, West, Burnt, and Lemonade/Favourable Lakes have strung together some impressive perch totals.

Just this past Tuesday (June 16th), I flew to Favourable for a camp check and the guests were just raving about the fishing.

I commented "So you guys are catching some impressive walleye and pike?"

"Not at all, the PERCH are biting like crazy!" Replied the guest.

Perchin at Lemonade/Favourable Lake Outpost
After another camp check that day at SW Lake, I received a eerily similar report.  "What is making the perch so active this year?" I asked myself.  Truthfully, I don't have an answer. Perhaps several years ago a record hatch occurred throughout the area, or maybe the early ice out has something to do with it.  All I know is I am excited to see a healthy perch population exploding.  Various lures are enticing this species; from a simple hook and worm to 1/8" jigs with 2" tails to tiny silver rattle traps.  Just about all the perch have been boated in 4-6 foot muddy/weedy flats.  For those of you that are planning your trip for this summer, don't count out a couple perch baits for the ole tackle box.


The past several days have been cooler that average.  Day time highs have crept to the mid 60's with nightly lows into the high 40's.  A massive low pressure spinning over Hudson Bay is the direct cause of the cooler weather.  Water temperatures have slipped to about 60 degrees on the surface.  The lake levels have come up a tad after receiving some decent rain showers last Saturday, Monday and Wednesday.  Weed growth has begun in the shallower bays, with some small amounts of cabbage being seen in the deeper beds.


Great numbers of perch were found in the far SW section of the lake along with walleye and pike.  Some larger pike have been boated on the beach of the north end.  Hotspot #5 should be a must when fishing this lake.

The south and west rapids have been the place for big walleye.  No Fish Bay, despite the name. has been another productive place for both walleye and pike. The West portage has been giving up numerous active trophy pike. 6-8 ft and mud should be a starting focus for anglers.

Dandy 27" South Lake Walleye
The rapids is active for walleye all year round and should be one of your first stops.  The creeks near Duckling Island will hold big pike for another week or so.  A dandy of a 37" northern was boated off the dock last week along with a 40" from the north rapids.

Lemonade fishing reports are rather repetitive,  fish near the west side of the island and enjoy.  Plenty of other shorelines will produce walleye. The west shoreline has been the magic spot for perch.  Favourable's top pike spot has been Pike Alley.

The guests yesterday showed me a pic of a dandy 28.5" walleye caught and released from a secret location.  I was told the north end of the lake was holding large schools of walleye.  The bigger fish seemed to have moved a tad deeper into 10-12' of water.  Trolling #5 Shad raps along mud flats were productive.

SW Lake perch dinner. 
Perchin has been great just about 1/2 mile from the cabin on the north shore.  Shallow muddy/weedy flats are areas to focus on.  Walleye are hammering 1/4 oz jigs with 3" yellow tails.  Yellow has been the hot color.  A dandy 40" pike was boated in Hotspot #4.

The horseshoe has begun to turn on, bot pike and walleye are beginning to congregate where the deep cabbage grows.  The narrows towards the fish bowl has been holding several large northern.  Hotspot #6 is a go too area this time of year.

Good luck on the water everyone!

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Northwoods creativity

About a month has passed since I arrived at Big Hook Camps Central Lake.  Mom, Dad and myself were incredibly thankful for an early opening this year.  The early season scramble is always a tense and busy time.  Flying freight until dark is a common scenario for me as we have over 15000 pounds of goods to transport from Sandy to the main camp and outposts.

Shadow inspecting the East Portage on Central Lake
Diagnosing the winter damage every spring opening can be a bit overwhelming.  Two significant mishaps occurred this past winter, both at Central Lake.  First, two windmills were inoperable as a major windstorm fried the internal electronics.  Having two of our three out of service is a huge deal since solar and wind are our primary sources of power. After many phone calls we were able to track down some Oklahoma. Turns out we purchased the last remaining parts that exist for our particular windmills, at least we lucked out on that! Now, ponder this, take a guess how long it takes to receive a shipment from the Oklahoma to the Opasquia Provincial Park.  I'll let you stew on that and will answer at the very end of this blog.

The second major issue we faced from winter damage was, no internet.  A shift in the cabin from  ground frost and an ice sheet from the roof caused the dish alignment to point awry.  Now calling a technician to come and tune in a dish is no small matter, as only TWO exist in NW Ontario.  An area almost the size of Texas and only two people are able to assist thousands of customers.  Needless to say Dad and I took it upon ourselves to solve the problem and after dozens of hours on the roof we managed to snag a signal from the sky.  It was an enjoyable moment to say the least.

Blue filter shot while having lunch.
Just yesterday (June 6th) after an excellent Saturday change over.  Dad and I stopped at our Cocos Lake outpost for a camp check and a chat with the customers.  After some friendly bantering we all decided to go our separate ways; the guests drove off in search of trophy pike while myself and Dad hopped into the plane...which did not start.  After a crank or two, the battery was dead.  Uh oh! First diagnosis, we have a faulty alternator on our hands. Hmmm now what? Our McGuyver instincts kicked into full swing.  After a sweep through the outpost Dad and I determined we had enough materials to jump start the airplane.  With my Leatherman pocket tool, I disconnected a line of 14/2 wire from the solar system while Dad removed the two 6 Volt batteries from our solar water pump.  After a couple brief minutes of stripping wire and combining the two batteries to make 12 volts we had our jumper system ready.

Those of you unfamiliar with 185 Cessna airplanes may find it interesting that the battery is located in the tail.  So, for our jump to work, one person (Dad)  had to sit in the tail of the aircraft and touch the wires to the old dead battery while the pilot (myself) starts the plane.  Well, sounds easy right?  Mother Nature decided to challenge us by suddenly notching the winds up to 20 mph right in our direction. After several different dock tethering scenario's we successfully started the plane and were able to make it home for a late dinner.  Sometimes it just takes a little creativity in the northwoods to solve a problem.

Numerous other fix-this and repair-thats have been performed in the last month and progress is being made.  All the camps are fully operational and customers have been enjoying the beauty of the north woods for a couple weeks now. The weather for our season opener was interesting to say the least;  32 degrees was the high for our first Saturday of the year.  Flying through ice pellets and snow showers left everyone longing for warmer weather.  Fortunately, warmer weather has settled upon us and the winter coats were shed in exchange for t-shirts.  The bugs have started to pop at bit and are no where near as bad as last year during this time.  During the evening they can be feisty so bring your spray if you intend to be out late.
A beautiful Burnt Lake CPR 


Fishing the week of May 30th-June 6th started rather slow after a wicked cold front.  Water temperatures fell 17 degrees from May 28th-May 30th after snow, ice pellets and sleet bombarded us.  However, the week ended on an uptrend after stable warm weather moved into NW Ontario.  Water temperatures are now back around 60 degrees on most lakes and the fishing has been excellent.  Walleye are holding in shallow mud flats or areas with rapids or current.  Pike have invaded sun struck shallow bays chasing bait and can also be found close to schools of walleye.

Most lakes reported several 40+" pike being boated and released; with hot lures varying from bucktails to delong eels.  Baits with slower presentations seemed to have the best success for trophy fish.  Largest pike reported to me was a 43.5" from West Lake on a jig.

Walleye have been hot after 1/4 oz jigs with smaller 2 or 3" tails.  Color hasn't been much of a factor as they seem to be striking just about everything.  I always have white, yellow, pumkinseed and flouro orange tails stashed in my tackle box.  Slow trolling #5 shad raps has been effective along 5-8 ft flats.  Fish should continue to hang in the shallower water for the next several weeks until the may flies hatch.

Good luck on the water everyone and make sure to send us your best fishing pictures.

Oh takes 22 days to receive windmill parts from Oklahoma to the Opasquia Provincial Park, the windmills are now in full operation.