Tuesday, September 27, 2016

That's a Wrap!

The vast boreal forest of
birch and poplar were changing fast to fall colors
For me it is always a sad day to close the doors at Big Hook Camps for another fishing season. I sigh when I realize it'll be another six months until I get to experience the calming effects the Opasquia Provincial Park offers.  The lapping of the water on the boats, the distant cry of the loon or just the huge smile on a fisherman's face when they land a quality fish are just a snippet of what I reflect on during the winter time.  However, in the grand scheme of things six months really isn't all that long and as we speak I am getting excited to know the 2017 season is just around the corner.

Cool misty weather settled in during one of our final days
at Big Hook
First off, a huge thank you is in order to all of our guests.  Steve (dad), Evie (mom), camp dog Shadow, and myself wouldn't be able to offer the Big Hook experience without the support of all our wonderful clientele.  Thanks again for choosing Big Hook Camps as your NW Ontario fishing/outdoors destination.  We already have an incredibly busy 2017 lined up; the weeks are filling amazingly fast.

Dad and I put the final closing touches at Central Lake and departed with Shadow in the 185 Cessna for Eagle lake on Friday September 23rd. The fall colors were really beginning to pop last week.  Birch and poplar leaves quickly changed to vibrant yellow and oranges.  Several days, flocks of geese and sandhill cranes continued south bound over head.  We also woke up two mornings to decent frost and lake fog.  The day before flying southbound to Eagle Lake I witnessed a cow and bull moose standing side by side south of Central Lake, the moose rut is another tell tale sign fall has arrived.

Fall Close Up  

New walls at Cocos
Overall, we experienced decent weather for shutting down all the outposts and main camp. We also managed to accomplished the majority of our projects among the camp closings.  One of such projects was tearing out the old interior paneling at Cocos Lake. New tongue and groove pine was installed and it truly brightens up the cabin along with a new entryway door.

Chunky fall 26.5" wally at Central Lake CPR Sept 13th
Another chilly project we undertook was replacing the old dock crib at West Lake.  After spending a day in the frigid September water pulling rocks from the old crib and winching the saturated logs from the lake; we were able to set the dock on a newly crafted crib foundation.  Several other projects such as replacing rotten foundation boards at SW lake and leveling the battery shed at Central we also completed.  Many more projects and updates are in line for the 2017 season.

We have a long list of items for our next adventure up the winter highway.  Fingers crossed for a some cold weather...well maybe just after I get a chance to catch a couple musky first.

Good luck on the water or in the woods this fall everyone!


Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Winding Down

With just one week of business left on the schedule here at Big Hook Camps, we are in the initial stages of closing up shop for the year.  The 2016 season has just absolutely rocketed by.  As we enter the month of September, fall is truly in the air. The leaves on birch trees have suddenly turned a
Cedar waxwings are cleaning the berries
from the mountain ash trees
 striking yellow, flocks of geese and sandhill cranes can be heard flying south and temperatures have descended with day time highs in the 50's.  Weather wise, September is always a volatile month here in the Opasquia Provincial Park.  This month sees every season; sun, rain, ice and snow are all possible.  Today's forecast: mist and rain with clouds in the tree tops and a high expected around 48 degrees.  While tomorrow we are forecasted to see sunshine and 70 degrees; typical September


Despite some windy conditions last week fishermen were still boating some quality fish.  Several large walleye were pictured and released.  A dandy 28" eye from West and another 30+" walleye from South topped the list.  Fish however were extremely deep, with most being found around 25 ft of water.  Vertical jigging 1/4 oz or 3/8 oz jigs while back trolling to hold on a spot was by far the most effective way to entice those deeper fish.  Trolling deep diving reef runners also managed to catch walleye.  

41.5" Central pike (CPR August 23rd)
Pike have been transitioning away from weed beds as the foliage begins to die.  After guiding
yesterday I noticed the weeds are beginning to brown and wither away.  Casting or trolling crank baits along rocky shorelines has been the most productive technique.  Also, plenty of pike are hanging around deep reefs with the walleye.  Using a leader, try jigging for the deeper pike with a 4" or 5" rubber tail.  The cooler water temperature, yesterdays surface temperature was 62, has pike favoring slower retrieved baits.  A 42" pike was boated and released at South Lake, caught on (you guessed it) a jig.  


As the season winds down we are able to accomplish some projects at the outposts.  The new grey water systems have been installed at every outpost.  Cocos will be getting an interior face lift with new tongue and groove knotty pine walls. A new entry way door will also be installed at Cocos.  Hopefully the weather cooperates tomorrow and I'll be able to set a new crib for the dock at West Lake. We have several other projects lined up however, the weather is always a limiting factor as camps close up.  A snowy and wet fall can prohibit us from accomplishing everything we have planned.  Such is life in the north woods, here you are completely at the mercy of Mother Nature.  

Good luck on the water this fall everyone!
Cool wet weather brings out hundreds of species of mushrooms


Friday, August 26, 2016

Fall Approaching

38" Central Lake, boated on a silver bladed bucktail
I say it every year, "Where did the summer go?" It seems just days ago I was just landing the Cessna 185 in May on a half frozen Central Lake and now we are already approaching the end of August.  You can sense a change in the seasons as we near September.  Fall comes pretty quick here in northwest Ontario, without much transition from summer.  The days don't slowly cool, one day is 80 degrees and suddenly you have frost the next night.  If you look closely throughout the Opasquia Provincial Park, the birch trees are showing flecks of yellow in their leaves, the best tell tale sign fall is imminent.


Summer is holding tight as fall looms.  We have had numerous calm days in the mid 70's over the past week.  Nights are descending into the 50's, perfect sleeping weather in my opinion.  As the days grow shorter (we lose approximately 4 minutes of daylight everyday till December 21st),  the stars and northern lights grow more and more vibrant in the evening hours.  In the past we typically receive an August frost.  Water temperatures are holding around 65 degrees on the surface.  


Nice catch! Central Lake walleye
 Walleyes continue their descent into deeper waters.  Best techniques for success has been SLOWLY back trolling and vertical jigging 3/8 oz or 1/4 oz (my preference)  jigs, in 20 ft + of water, with a white, pink, orange, black or pumpkinseed tails.  Blade baits such as Echotails or Zips are also catching fish.  Trolling deeper running crankbaits are a great way to locate where the schools are present.  Perch colored reef runners handily out fished all others last week, however color preference seems to change daily.

Pike are still favoring the smaller baits.  I have thrown and thrown my arsenal of big stuff at them only to be out fished by a jig or small spoon.  More and more big fish are being found on reefs and wind blown rocky points vs weed beds.  This means pike are chasing walleye and white fish in attempt to bulk up for fall and winter. Big billed crankbaits are a great way to get into the pikes strike zone in deeper waters.   Northern however, seem to move back into the weed beds in the late afternoons. Spoons, 3/4 oz johnson silver or gold minnows, buzz baits and bucktails are best to throw when fishing foliage.  

Fisher women have been dominating the scene over the past week with some awesome CPR (catch, photo and releases).  See photos attached.  Just about all the fish were boated on jigs, yes the pike are still favoring jigs.  Just a couple nights ago a dandy 41.5" pike was boated on a spoon at Central by Mrs. Rae Nigh, hopefully we will see pics soon.

Back to back fish, a 38" pike and a 23" walleye below


Good luck on the water everyone!

Thursday, August 18, 2016

August Waters

A nice 39" released at Central
This week has been a prime example of the typical Canadian weather scenario,  "Wait six hours and the season will change."  That phrase could not be more true the past several days.  The beginning of the week brought us misty, cloudy and still waters only to be followed by blazing hot and wind.   Weather has been hot/humid littered with passing thunderstorms the last three days, hanging around 85-90 degree's in the sun. It is amazing how fast the water temperature's sky rocket after just a few days of sunshine. Water temperatures have blasted up from 64 to about 72 on the surface in just a couple days.

The walleye have responded to the warmer temperatures by sinking to deeper depths. Most guests have been catching walleye's from 12-25 ft. Some of the bigger female's have been caught in the deeper waters 20'+.  Trolling crankbaits such as: White reef runners, Rapala fire tiger Shad Raps, and clown wally divers along 15-20 ft breaks has been effective. Prime example is from the current guests at SW lake. Three gentlemen trolled blue and silver hot N tots for three hours one afternoon,  boating over 75 walleye often with double and triples. If trolling doesn't strike your fancy, my favorite method is vertical jigging while back trolling on the deeper reefs and wind blown shores. A reef or point that has had the wind pounding it for a couple of days will always produce fish.

Pike are scattered between deeper weed beds and wind blown points. Trolling larger cranks like 6" Jakes and Rapala F18 Husky Jerks are a great way to cover ground when casting gets to be a bit tiresome.  Burnt Lake boated a dandy 42" fish just trolling to the south west of the cabin.  During the hot days pike action has been better from 3 to 8 pm, when the sun is off the peak. We have had some tremendous surface bite's when the wind calms down in the evening.  Buzz baits and dancing raiders are always entertaining.  
Rule is...you have to kiss fish #100 of the day. 

MVP lures of the week have been:

For pike: #8 silver bladed/black skirted bucktial, and the smaller 3/4 oz johnson gold minnow has trumped the 1 1/4 oz silver minnow as pike continue to chase smaller baits this summer.  Black and orange 6" jake. 

For walleye, 1/4 oz jig and a pumkinseed or white Gulp tail, orange bladed worm harness and a blue and silver Hot N Tot.

Good luck on the water everyone!

Friday, August 5, 2016

Walleye Domination

One of my favorite August lures, the 1/4 oz echotail


The reports from most outposts and Central lake are in and the consensus is pretty unanimous, walleye fishing has been superb.  Trolling, vertical jigging, or casting have all been effective techniques the past couple days for NW Ontario's bread and butter species.  Most large schools of walleye have been harboring around 12-16 ft rock reefs.

However, while guiding this past week I found an alarming amount of walleye in the weeds.  As guests targeted pike along weed edges I'd drop a jig boat side and try for walleye.  Quite often, most anglers in the boat quickly switched to walleye after witnessing frantic action.   Central, SW and Burnt lakes seem to be the top for walleyes in foliage.  Whereas, South, West and Cocos seem to be catching more fish on traditional rocky shorelines and reefs.
Another great NW Ontario sunrise

Northern fishing has been a bit more sporadic the past several days.  They are hot one day and a bit reserved the next.  Guiding last Tuesday and Wednesday resulted in several decent fish but the high sun and calm waters caused many of the big fish to follow and not strike.  I found smaller fish camping in the weed beds while the bigger pike are prowling rocky drop offs and windy points.  Tossing a Bomber Magnum Long A was the bait that resulted in quality fish.  Any lipped large crankbait will do.  Gold, black or perch were hot colors.

Projects Happening   

West Lake drainage basin 
Digging, lots of digging.  Most of you will notice new septic trenches being dug next to the outposts.  According to government regulations, grey water pits next to cabins are no longer an acceptable form of drainage.  New concave plastic weeping drainage basins have been installed at all the outposts over the past month.  My shovel and arms are in a need of a break after tackling thousands of pounds
of densely packed clay.

Other projects, such as remodeling the interior of Cocos and a new solar shed at main camp are on the horizon.

Nature Shots 

Mother good warming her chicks at West Lake
We have received some great photos lately from our guests of nature around Big Hook.  Thanks to all who have submitted photos.  Here are a couple of my recent favorites.  

Keep the photos coming in. 

Good luck on the water everyone! 
A great Canadian shore lunch next to a falls  

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Luck of the Jig

Year after year pike fisherman arrive at Big Hook Camps armed to the teeth with baits the size of a 2x4 to entice a trophy.  Heck I am one of them, I have a closet full and I mean FULL of countless pike baits that catch ME in the store.  "Yeah, I'd totally eat that if I was a fish," I mumble to myself while standing in my favorite fishing shop.  I have so many baits for pike that I could probably start my own tackle business.  However, it never fails, year after year one simple lure quietly boats more forty inch fish and undermines every pike fisherman's strategy.  This mythical lure of legendary status is none other than....the jig.

A beast of a pike boated on a jig at Central
The simple jig and twister combination is lethal for those big pike. However, 99% of the time fishermen are targeting a much different species. Catching trophy northern while walleye fishing is often referred to as an accidental catch. Boating those big pike on a jig reverts to one factor, luck.  The jig location among all those sharp teeth determines whether one will hoist a fish in jubilation for a memorable photo.  

Perfect Saturday morning for a flight
As I mentioned in an earlier Facebook post, the jig has been the lure for picture worthy pike this week.  The big girls have been shunning bigger baits and striking smaller fare.  Lately, I have been implementing jigs and 4" tails into my guiding tactics, with great success.  While using jigs to target pike, I like to splice a 24 inch section of f pound flourocarbon line to act as my leader. This combo can withhold several nicks from those nasty teeth.  

Jigs are not the only lure catching pike at the moment.  As a matter of fact, the top water bite has been very exciting as of late.  7-9 pm when the wind and waves have finally calmed is a great time to attack the surface.  Top raiders, dancing raiders, zara spooks and buzz baits all are great
lures to toss. 

Action on the walleye front has been positive.  Fish are slowly descending the water column, as we have seen water temperatures finally rise past 70 degrees on some lakes. Most are being caught in 12-16 ft of water, with some bigger fish in 20 ft.  A 1/4 oz jig head with a 3" flouro orange tail has been the bread and butter combination of the summer.  Another bait I'll begin using more often this time of year are echotail blade baits, 1/4 oz silver, red or black.  Focus on those rock humps and wind blown points and vertically work below the boat.

Aside from fishing, the blueberry crop is just about ready for picking and it looks to be a bumper crop this year.  South facing bald rock faces and old burn areas (Burnt lake outpost hands down is the best) are premium locations for this tasty fruit.  In my opinion nothing beats fresh baked blueberry muffins or pancakes.  Raspberries are also in season.

Good luck on the water everyone!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Dog Days of Summer

Big Hook Camps is experiencing our first official heat wave of the summer.  Highs in the upper 80's and lower 90's are expected to occur for the next couple days.  Until recently, the weather patterns have been all over the board.  Just last Sunday the days high temperature was a chilly 52 degrees.  Sundays cold front plummeted water temperatures from 68 to 62 degrees.  However, the water temps should come sky rocketing back with this latest warm front.
A West Lake 43" released 7/17,
caught on the rock next to the dock


Walleye are now staging in their typical summer locations.  Wind blown points and rock reefs from 8-16 feet of water are common hot spots.  Not as many fish are being found among the weeds over the past week.  Back trolling while vertical jigging 1/4 oz heads will always be my favorite technique locating walleye.  Flouro orange and black seem to be the hot colors this summer for tails.  Lots of nice walleye 22"-27" have been boated and released among all the lakes over the past week.  Just about all big fish have been caught vertical jigging. 
A view from the water at Central
I have heard mixed reports on trolling for walleye this week. While guiding Sunday at West Lake most fish shunned the crank baits and would only attack the jigs.  The trolling bite should pick up as the water temps warm and the walleyes descend into the depths.  Focus in 12-15' while navigating break lines.  

Loons nest on the west end at Central
Pike fishing has been successful later in the day.  4-9 pm seems to be the feeding window the past week.  Top water action has been exciting lately, also in the afternoons.  Pick your favorite weed beds and get ready for the smash, remember the bigger fish will hang on the outside of the weed edge.  Bucktails have also been equally effective among the weeds and out performing one of my favorite lures, the Johnson Silver Minnow.  Bright colors such as flouro orange and fire tiger have been triggering bites.  Also, this time of year while fishing for walleye on deeper reefs I like to have one person throw deep running baits for northern. Usually there is one pike lurking on the edge of the walleye school. 

Burnt, Cocos and West all notched 40" + fish in the last week.  The last weeks of July and into August should produce some bruiser pike now that the water levels have returned to normal and our weed beds have matured. 

Good luck on the water everyone! 

Monday, July 11, 2016

Post Hatch

A beefy South Lake pike. 
 The warm days of July have arrived.  The past three days, humid weather with temps in the 80's has stalled over the Opasquia Provincial Park. Weather forecasts have been predicting rain and cloudy weather. However, as I sit on the deck writing this blog, I am basked with sunshine under blue skies .  The pleasant days are very welcomed after a cool and wet June.  The lack of rain this past week has allowed the lakes to drain a fair amount.  As I mentioned in a previous blog, most lakes were at record high levels.  Thankfully, lake levels have dropped close to 6".   Our lake temperatures are beginning to creep back up to 70 degrees on the surface once again.

A nice 37" SW Lake pike. 


The walleye bite is back on schedule.  After a several day lull due to the inconsistent weather and a mayfly hatch, our bread and butter fish has grown hungry again.  Last week we witnessed the tail end of the mayfly hatch and most fish were stuffed with the winged creatures when caught.  However, after a day guiding on the Central yesterday, I would say one in five fish showed any signs of mayflies in their throats.  Furthermore, I filleted four fish up for shore lunch and on closer inspection did not see a single carcass in the bellies.

Surprisingly, many fish are still being boated in shallow water.  4-8 ft was the magic depth finding walleye schools yesterday at Central.  Creeping deeper than 12 ft nothing was found but dead water.  Vertical jigging below the boat while back trolling was the most effective way to locate schools.  1/4 oz jigs were out performing 3/8 oz  as walleye were still preferring the smaller presentations.  According to most guests I spoke with, Flouro orange, white and pumpkinseed have been top twister/gulp colors.  Casting Flicker shads and Rapala Shad raps on top of shallow reefs have also been productive.  Walleye should begin transitioning to deeper reefs (15-20 ft)  over the next couple weeks.  

Yesterday while guiding I knew the pike were going to be aggressive when two walleye were           T-boned boat side within 20 minutes.  Pike were holding tight on wind blown weed beds.  Silver minnows and bucktails were top baits.  Some top water action was to be had; Buzz baits and Bucher dancing raiders produced some great explosions in the late afternoon hours.  West, Burnt, Cocos, and Central all reached the infamous 40" mark for northern last week.  Fisherman are having an easier time locating the weed beds with the receding water levels.

Good luck on the water everyone and don't forget to send us pics of your stays at Big Hook Camps.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Raging Waters

June is about to come to a close and it will go down as the wettest month we have encountered in our 26 seasons at Big Hook Camps.  This past week, we again were blasted by pounding rains for consecutive days.  Lake levels as a result are the highest we have witnessed in years and some lakes are still rising.  Every rapids in the Opasquia Park are gushing to rid the lakes of the excess water.

Rainy days provide some amazing rainbows
How are the high lake levels affecting the fishing you ask?  After chatting with the guests at Central and the outposts, the majority of reports have been favorable.  However, another player has just entered the fold, the mayfly.  Yes, it is that time of year and they have begun hatching.  We began witnessing mayfly carcasses on Monday and thus far it has been a pretty weak hatch.  Typical hatches will cover bays and here at Central you'll stumble across a couple dozen here and there.  Only time will tell on the hatch, hopefully the rising waters have put a damper on the yearly insect invasion.  This morning (June 30th) surface temperatures were a rather cool 60 degrees. I have always noted that mayflies hatch heaviest when the surface temperature is around 70.  

A nice 23" Central Lake walleye.
As I mentioned before, the fishing reports have been overall positive.  Walleye have been aggressive as ever.  Most fish are still holding close to the rapids and edges of weeds.  Some larger fish have been boated on rock shelves, but it still may be to early for reef fishing.  Fish are harboring close to the mud where the mayflies are hatching.  Jigging has been the hands down favorite for catching walleye. 1/8 oz or 1/4 oz are best.  After filleting a couple walleye yesterday I did not notice much for food in the bellies, which means they are not filling up on mayflies.

Camp dog Shadow captains an evening cruise.
Those of you not familiar with the weed beds may struggle to locate them this week due to the high water.  The weeds are growing and were nearly at the surface just a week ago.  Pike are slowly positioning themselves in the beds.  However, most big pike are being caught while jigging for walleye this past week.  Northern seem to be chasing smaller baits, so as a last minute addition to the tackle box toss in some smaller spoons to catch timid fish.  A plus to the low weeds is you can sneak baits over the top of the beds without worry of catching plenty of salad.

Good luck on the water everyone!

Friday, June 24, 2016

Walleye Bonanza

It has been quite a week here at Big Hook Wilderness Camps.  The Saturday (June 18th) began with stiff winds and warm temperatures. The fish were responding extremely well to the warmth and stable conditions. However, things quickly changed last Sunday evening with a wicked storm front.  Our entire area got pounded by a massive 12 hour downpour with plenty of scenic lightening to boot.  When the skies finally cleared Monday afternoon over 2.5" of rain had fallen. 

Needless to say, the lake levels immediately shot up and have been still rising here at Central Lake.  Rapids throughout the Opasquia Park are gushing torrents of water.  Following the deluge of water fishing, as expected, took at hit for several days.  The cool rain knocked the water temperature down considerably on most bodies of water.  Fish turned lethargic until about Wednesday.  However, Wednesday the walleye bite came back with ferocity.  

A beauty 31" walleye released on South Lake Wednesday
I managed to guide several times this week and got a great feel for the fishing patterns on Central Lake.  Also, after chatting with numerous guests at the outpost, my diagnosis for the patterns were reaffirmed.  Walleye at the moment are staging heavily in current or quick moving water and around the weed beds.  Although we still have not witnessed a single mayfly, I believe the walleye have begun feeding on some early larvae coming out of the mud today June 24th.  

Burnt Lake baby moose. 
The walleye bite today was absolutely electric on Central.  My clients notched over 142 fish and we left them biting in every single spot.  The most effective lure today was without a doubt a 1/4 oz jig head stuffed in a pumkinseed tube jig.  Some notable walleye were also caught at the outposts, South Lake in particular.  The guests there boated and released many between 24-27 inches, along with a 31" behemoth.  Most fish were caught while trolling Hot N Tots.  Also, SW lake on Thursday had already tallied over 3000 walleye, incredible! 

Basically targeting techniques for walleye until we see the major may fly hatch is to look for weeds, muddy flats and areas that have current (ie rapids or quicker moving water).  Pitching or slow back trolling 1/4 oz jigs with a black, brown, chartreuse orange, or yellow twister works effectively.  Heck,  the walleye are aggressive enough at the moment to smash bucktails and johnson silver minnows.  

I have heard of catching "snakes" but never the real thing!
Pike fishing on the other hand has truthfully been disappointing the past several days.  The big boys have been timid and quick to dart away from sight.  It hasn't shut down, it has been just slower than usual.  However, not to be discouraged, several nice fish have been boated and released, most notable a 39.5" and a 44" pair of beasts caught on jigs at Central. Burnt Lake and West have tallied several nice fish in the 36-39" range also.  Some success for the big boys has been found trolling along rock shelves with larger crankbaits, like jakes or bomber magnums.  The big fish just haven't been as aggressive in the weeds recently.  It's as if the walleye have kicked them out of their own stomping grounds. 

However, don't fret.  Northern are creatures of habit and will surely return to the weedy flats after a brief hiatus.  I'll keep pitching those bucktails and silver minnows in the weeds, the fish will be there soon.  As the water keeps warming, current surface temperature is around 66 degrees, top water action should begin to take hold.  It is by far my favorite way to attack trophy nothern, nothing is more exhilarating that witnessing a 40" fish explode from the depths. 

Good luck on the water everyone!

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Pollen Skies

Central Lake afternoon
There is an old fisherman's adage "When the pollen falls from the skies, fishing gets good."  Over the past several days the pollen has been thick.  A yellow veil has coated the lakes here in the Opasquia Park lately.  While flying throughout the park gusty winds lift the pollen into the skies so cloudy that you'd swear a forest fire has started.  Oh and yes, the fishing has been pretty good.

The weather is finally on the warming trend.  Warmer weather means warming water, which means the fishing is warming up.  After a cool start to the season, the future forecasts are favorably showing temperatures holding above 70 degrees for the first time this summer.

Hopefully the summer remains warm, so we don't need to chop
any more wood. 
A cool damp spring had kept a specific winged species at bay. However, the recent warmth has invigorated them.  I think you all know what I am referencing....bugs.  Yes, the black flies and mosquitoes have popped.  Don't forget your bug spray or coils for the next couple weeks. Let us hope the next couple weeks stay dry and then bugs should dissipate quickly.


The weeds in most lakes are finally beginning to grow.  Some Lilly pads have even been spotted in back bays.  Fish will begin to traverse away from the open mud flats towards the weedy bays over the next couple weeks.  

Water temperatures were on the rise today with plenty of sunshine booming down from the sky.  Most areas around Central are holding above 62 degrees and rising.  It's still early and there is no evidence of Mayflies.  


The weather hasn't seemed to affect the walleye, huge numbers are still holding in shallow waters.  Plan on hunting in 4-8 ft of water, around areas of current or on windblown mud flats.  I like to pitch small jigs (1/8 oz) and short twister tails (2-3") this time of year, pick your color.  Trolling shallow diving cranks along the muddy flats is a great way to locate the schools.  Walleye will continue to hold in these areas until the may fly hatch. 


The cool spring has altered the pike much more than the walleye.  The lack of sunshine baked warm bays are holding the majority of big fish out of the shallows.  The majority of trophies have been found hanging on the deeper edges of the mud flats alongside the walleye schools.  Silver spoons, smaller buck tails, and single hooked rubber shad baits have seemed to trick the big boys into biting.  Areas of deeper immature weed beds have also been effective.  The warm days will bring the big ole females into the shallows quickly as the bait fish will flock to the muddy flats.  After chatting with several groups today, the warm sun this morning has the trophies already moving back into the shallows.  

Welcome our new pilot Fred from Belgium 
Big Hook has a new employee joining us all the way from Belgium.  Fred, a pilot, arrived last week and will be assisting us this summer.  So please give Fred a big North American welcome.   
Good luck on the water everyone!

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Chilling Out

A day of moving freight 
On May 9th, I arrived to Big Hook Camps under sunny skies and temperatures of around 80 degrees Fahrenheit.  Immediately it was looking like a blazing hot, dry summer. I mentioned in my previous blog that the area was suffering from low water and dry conditions. However, since then Mother Nature has unleashed a roller coaster of weather our way.  Around a foot of snow fell May 12th following a day where we received over an inch of rain.

A skinny 37" Central pike 
A persistent east wind has camped over NW Ontario for the past week now bringing plenty of moisture.  Since last Wednesday, we have had rain five days and temperatures have not cracked 60 degrees.  The plus side to all the rain and moisture is the lake levels are now back to normal.  The bad side to all the rain and cold weather is water temperatures are far below average.  The past six nights have dipped just above freezing, rapidly cooling the surface of the lakes.  Water temperatures currently are hovering around 50 degrees in most spots.

You are probably asking yourself, "How has this weather affected the fishing?" The fish have moved out of the shallow muddy bays and into areas that have current such as rapids or creeks.  Deeper mud flats where dead weed beds are also holding fish. A common depth most guests are finding fish are 8-10 ft.  There are minimal signs of any weed growth.

A chunky gator from Central
The cool weather has the fish somewhat lethargic.  Many fish are being found however, the bite is lighter than usual and they are not grouped in huge schools.  For both walleye and northern, smaller baits have been out producing larger fare.  1/8 to 1/4 oz jigs with 2-3" tails have been the favorite for walleye.  For pike,  silver or copper spoons and 4-5" Rapala crank baits have been effective.  Slow presentation is key.

However, all of these fishing tactics are going to change rapidly as soon as the sun comes out.  A day or two of sunny skies will send the bait fish hording into the shallow muddy bays in search of warmer water and forage.  Quickly on their heels will be the predator species of pike and walleye.  Future forecasts show our cooling trend is going to break and warm weather is on the way.

With that warmer weather, fishing is going to get really exciting.

Good luck on the water everyone,

Friday, May 13, 2016

2016 Season Begins

Launching the plane at Riverside Air
The 2016 season is underway for Big Hook Camps.  I (Nathan) arrived at Central Lake main camp with my trusted flying partner Shadow on Tuesday afternoon (May 9th).  This is the second earliest recorded ice out for Big Hook, the earliest is May 7th.  The sun was shining with temperatures hoovering around 74 degrees, a perfect day to begin opening camp.

Upon arrival, the first thing I noticed was the dry conditions.  The water is very very low for this time of year.  A mild winter with below average snowfall coupled with an early ice out is the cause.  Water levels are about a foot low, and are at stages typically scene in late July.  Dipping my hand in the lake I also noted how warm the water temperatures were.  Most likely the pike have spawned, however the walleye are to be determined.  

After a quick scan of the main camp, it seemed everything had weathered the winter OK.  No trees fallen on cabins or the windmills, the docks were in place and frost heaves were normal.  A busy day of running diagnostics on the power system, firing up the water lines, establishing communications, emptying out several cabins, and so forth, I found only a couple malfunctions.  Thus far, one malfunctioning charge controller on the solar system and a split water line near the pressure tank have been the primary reparable ailments.  

Wednesday morning I made a flight into South Lake and dropped of a load of supplies.  The camp also looks to be in good condition after a long winter.  I spent a couple hours at South Lake readying camp, and it was off to meet Mom and Dad arriving in Sandy Lake that afternoon.  After unloading several airplanes of freight and several trips back and forth from Sandy to main camp our day was over at 8 pm.

Weather takes a turn

We will be able to make a snowman today. 
Wednesday night into Thursday a massive potent low pressure settled over Big Hook, bringing driving rains and howling north winds.  Today (Friday the 13th), we awoke to roughly 5-6" of snow with temperatures hovering in the mid 20's, the high is supposed to climb to 32 degrees.  It is not the first winter storm we have endured, weather is always a risk mid May this far north.  Unfortunately, the rotten weather has grounded me for the past two days.  I am hoping to get to West or Cocos once the weather break.  

I'll keep everyone updated as the camp opening progresses.  As of for now, it is time to perk another pot of coffee and throw another log on the fire. 


Saturday, April 30, 2016

Ice Update

The warm temperatures have crept their way into NW Ontario.  Nights are finally beginning to hold at or above freezing while days have been creeping towards 60 degrees recently.  Sunny skies and warmer temperatures have been pummeling the ice over the lakes in northern Ontario the past several days.

Eagle Lake, located 300 miles south of Big Hook Camps, is where we stage before heading north and is just about clear of ice.  Reports from the north country around Sandy Lake are suggesting rapid ice degradation.  Future temperatures in the Opasquia Provincial Park are looking very positive with possible temperatures inching towards 70 around Monday (May 2nd).

This week I am planning on picking up the plane from Winnipeg and if all the weather forecasts hold true, am hoping to be northbound to Big Hook on or before the 10th of May.  Dad and I are also planning a trip up to Red Lake next week with thousands of pounds of food items to drop at Wasaya Air.  These two trips will also provide us with plenty of information on the ice progress up north.

I'll have more information as the week progresses. If anyone has drink or food orders and/or special requests, now is a great time to submit them.  Fingers crossed for warm weather and sunny skies.  We are looking forward to at great 2016 season.

Take care,

Monday, March 14, 2016

Driving the Winter Road

As I sit here in Green Bay Wisconsin basking in the 65 degree weather, it is difficult to envision that just a couple weeks ago I was enduring -20 degree temperatures on my way back from Sandy Lake Ontario. Dad and I completed our yearly migration the last week of February to the northern tundra of Ontario with minimal complications.  For those of you unfamiliar with the ice highway connecting Red Lake to Sandy Lake; the voyage is a 225 mile winding and mogul filled road that runs 90% through the remote woods of NW Ontario.

Pit stop on the Berens River 
A mild winter caused us to delay our journey till the end of February as we waited for more favorable conditions. Typically, we run the road in Mid January.  This year we managed haul approximately 14000 pds of freight to Sandy between our three trucks and one trailer.  Our load consisted of a new floating dock and front door for SW Lake, tongue and groove interior, oven range and entry door for Cocos, and oven range for West. Also in the mix was a new boat, lots of pressure treated lumber and four new Yamaha motors among many many other items .

As I mentioned earlier, this trip was a fairly uneventful drive.  Aside from receiving a mix of ice pellets and rain the first day, the ice highway was in excellent shape due to lack of transport and semi traffic.  We were able to make close to record times on the first three legs of the trip.  On our final leg out from Sandy to Red Lake we met about a dozen fuel tankers.  These heavy vehicles quickly deteriorate the road conditions.  

The first leg up the winter road is usually the most troublesome as our trucks are typically overloaded and we have to crawl at a snails pace.  The only issues we incurred the entire four legs of driving were a bad rim on our trailer and one temporarily stuck vehicle due to a soft spot in the ice on a small creek. Attached is a quick video I made documenting our drive. As you can see the weather was amazing, our first day was approximately -30 Celsius (-22 F) and sunny.  The other three days of driving the temperatures held around -10 Celsius ( 14 F).

Join Big Hook for March Madness

It is that time of year again for March Madness.  Join our yahoo tournament bracket for a chance at three prizes.  Top prize like last year is a $20 Cabelas gift card.  2nd place receives a Big Hook T shirt and third gets a Big Hook baseball hat.  Good luck to all.  Click HERE to join the pool.
Pool: 107271
Password: bighook

Good luck on the water everyone!