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,