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.