Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Year End 2017

It's a wrap.  The 2017 season has come to a close for us at Big Hook Camps.  First off, all of us at Big Hook (Dad, Mom, myself, Shadow and Luke) would like to extend our biggest thanks to all of our clientele for choosing to share the beauty of the north country with us this season.  We look forward to swapping fishing stories with everyone at the sport shows this winter.  

Dad, Shadow and myself completed last of the projects and flew south bound to Eagle Lake on the 22nd of September in the Cessna 185. With a whopping 50 mph headwind for the majority of the flight,  I felt we were moving as fast as the geese heading in the same direction.

Overall, the 2017 season began with some unseasonably cool weather in June and closed with unseasonably warm weather in the first several weeks of September.  Historically September has been a giant question mark for weather in the Opasquia Provincial Park, you can have 75 degrees one day and 35 the next. Perfect example is having one hard frost on the 19th.  The boardwalk and waterlines were completely frozen up for a couple hours in the morning.  The very next day was 72.  Precipitation was minimal during the 2017 season; overall it was probably the driest season on record.  Water levels were at least two feet below normal at the end of the season.  Also, several forest fires burned in the Opasquia park in August but nothing was threatening.

The fall in the north is my particular favorite time of year.  I've probably stated it a million times in this blog.  The cooler temperatures are refreshing and scenic shorelines with colorful changing leaves are picturesque as they come.  Fish in the fall are still very active but the patterns change considerably.  The walleye bite becomes light and they descend to deeper locations throughout the lake. Whereas the pike become more aggressive and are fattening up for the long winter ahead.

In regards to fishing, the 2017 produced some sizable catches.  The biggest northern of the season were tied with two 45" pike, caught and released at West and Cocos lake respectively.  Six walleye at South Lake topped the 30" mark for biggest of the season.  The most 40"+ pike were caught at Central Lake and the most 25+" walleye were boated at South Lake.

Starting to raise the cabin and replace exterior stringers
at Cocos Lake 
Unfortunately, fishing time is short for me in the fall while at Big Hook.  Our goals at the end of the season is to accomplish as many projects as Mother Nature allows.  This year we decided to focus on the big cabin at Central Lake.  All new interior tongue and grove pine walls were installed along with new laminate counter tops and shelving.  The new interior certainly brightens up the cabin and makes it feel even bigger.  Another project we tackled was setting a new foundation under the Cocos lake cabin. We raised the cabin about 6" and set all new pressure treated posts and pads.  We also dug and installed a new grey water septic system.   Finally, West lake received a new shower and a fresh out house hole was dug for the 2018 season.

Now that the season is over I get a chance to wet a line.  Hopefully I'll be able to trick some trout, musky and small mouth over the next week.  Good luck on the water this fall everyone.  Once again, thank you all so very much for your business! Send pictures of your 2017 Big Hook adventure when you can.


Sunday, August 27, 2017

Late August Report

It's just unbelievable how fast a summer flashes on by.  In a blink August is just about over.  We only have a three weeks of fishing left at Big Hook Camps and suddenly the 2017 season is in the books. Unfortunately, late August doesn't want to buck the heat wave as the warm dry weather marches on.  Sunny skies and temperatures in the 80's dominated the last week. Thankfully we received our first  trace of rain last night with no lightening in what seems like forever.  Less than a 1/4 inch fell but it is better than nothing. 
A foggy August morning
Vertical jigging echotails work well for walleye
this time of year 

 The daily high temperature is supposed to reach into the mid 80's tomorrow, which is unseasonably warm for this time of year.  Fortunately, the nights have been cool; the past several evenings have dipped down into the 30's.  We even had a trace of frost at Central last Wednesday. The cool nights have lowered the water temperature into the mid sixties.  Sadly, lake levels continue to recede as we still need rain badly.  At Central the lake levels are approaching two feet below normal.  The dry conditions and several lightening storms have also caused some small forest fires in the west end of the Opasquia Provincial Park around the vicinity of Burnt Lake.  Nothing threatening, just something we are monitoring. We have had some smokey mornings when the winds shift to the west the past couple days.  The majority of the smoke is a result of the massive forest fires in central Manitoba.

Big Fish Week

The cool nights certainly triggered the big pike this week.  The surface temperatures falling into the mid sixties coaxed the big females back into the weed beds.  Spoons, glide baits and bucktails fooled many 40+" fish throughout the park this week.

The walleye continue to hover around deeper reefs and rock structures.  15-25' is where you will find the majority of fish.  As I sound like a broken record, vertical jigging 1/4oz - 3/8 oz jigs with 3-4" tails works best.  Popular colors are white, black, flouro orange and pumkinseed.
40" Central Lake trophy 8/21
Central Lake led the charge with a 44" and a 43" as their biggest fish for the week.  A couple other 40" along with a 39" and 38" were also released.  The north narrows held several of the big girls along with Husker rock.   The walleye were a bit slower at Central as guests had to search deeper water to find schooling fish.  The Stop and Go jug was holding some big schools.  
44" from Central 8/21
West Lake boated five fish over 40" with a 43" topping the week.  The weed bed in the back of the Horseshoe was a productive spot for big northern.  The SE portage was on fire for walleye.  Vertical jigging the deep humps on the north end of the lake is great for big walleye this time of year. 
South Lake boated the biggest walleye for the week at 29 inches.  They also released a 28.5", 27, 26 and a couple 25" fish.  Most were caught in the 14 -20 ft range.  Vertical jigging while back trolling worked best.   
Burnt Lake noticed the walleye were holding unusually shallow for this time of year, catching many fish right along the edges of the weeds.  Big Boy bay is still the spot to beat for big northern.  The perch bite remains hot as they are still holding tight in the weedbeds.  
Cocos Lake said the walleye this week were aggressive and plentiful.  The bigger pike were a bit timid and cautious.  The water levels are close to an all time low for Cocos causing the first set of rapids to be a bit of a challenge to navigate. Fishing the deeper pools in the Sagawitchenwan was the most productive location. 
SW Lake boated plenty of fish throughout the week.  "Hoards of 17"-19" walleye," was a quote from the guests.  A dandy 39" pike was also released.  The guests noted the northern lights were quite spectacular Wednesday evening. Jigging or trolling around the island immediately east of the cabin was incredibly productive.  

Good luck on the water everyone! Hopefully we will receive some good rains here in the near future.  It would be nice to see the water levels come up a bit.  

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Mid August Report

We are just over half way through August and it feels like we are in mid July with temperatures well above normal.  The heat wave/drought continues here in the Opasquia Provincial Park.  Temperatures yesterday reached a sweltering 90F, which is highly unusual for this time of year.  We have received next to nothing for rain for the past four weeks and water levels are continuing to drop.  The fire hazard throughout the region is still critical with the woods being so incredibly dry.  Even though there isn't an official fire ban from the MNR, I would advise all guest to please refrain from burning outdoor campfires.  The MNR isn't located in the area and does not have constant feed back from our local conditions.

A nice 40" fish from West Lake 
Water temperatures also remain on the warm side averaging around 73 degrees the past couple days.  Over the years I have noticed that temperatures over 72 degrees will move big pike into deeper waters.  The guests at Central confirmed that statement noting very few big fish were hanging around weed flats.  After chatting with most guests yesterday I learned wind blown points and rocky reefs were the places to focus on for pike over 30".  Deeper diving crank baits and of course jigs were the effective lures for bigger fish.

The walleye seem to be really enjoying the warmer water temperatures.  Typically this time of year you focus in deeper water 15+' however, last week guests were boating eyes as shallow as four feet.  Walleye seemed to be feeding in every depth regardless of sun and wind.  Jigging fish along the edges of weeds or on deeper reefs and wind blown points was effective.  Trolling crank baits along shorelines was another effective technique to locate schools.

44" pike caught 8/8 on Central
West Lake  had good luck later in the week for northern, boating several 35+" fish on reefs east of the camp towards the falls and in the horseshoe. The SE portage was on fire for 18+" walleye, focus on the weeds just above the falls.  The guests also noted some excellent perch fishing within weed beds throughout the lake.  Cocos Lake noted the water was low but shooting the rapids into the Sagawitchewan river was still very easy.  Several beefy 41" were boated near the deeper pools to the SW in the river.  Some nice 20+" walleye were consistent in those same deeper pools.  South Lake raved about the quality of the walleye this week.  Though they didn't boat the fish of a lifetime, the guests claimed the average walleye was 22".  Trolling bright colored reef runners in 15-20ft of water was the magic combination for walleye.  Burnt Lake had new guests for the week and they had a great time.  Walleye were aggressive and would often smash baits just inches under the water next to the boat.  The perch were also active within the weed beds.  Walleye were holding surprisingly shallow and along the edges of weed beds.  Central Lake found constant walleye action south of airplane island and along numerous reefs on the north end of the lake. Finding rock piles in 15+ ft of water was key for walleye.  The bigger pike were a little gun shy this week at Central, many were seen and a couple were lost.  Hippo rock was holding a couple trophy fish but none committed to a lure.

Hot Lures

Walleye-1/4oz jig with pink or pumkinseed tails. Perch colored reef runner. 1/4 oz echotail white.

Northern-3/8 oz jig with a leader.  Musky killer bucktail with orange blade/black skirt.  Rapala F18 deep diver, perch color.  Rattletrap silver.

The blueberries and raspberries are fully ripened and plentiful if you know where to look in the area.  Mom, Luke, Shadow and myself picked a couple gallons of blueberries at Burnt Lake last Friday.  Our harvesting was cut short when we smelt an all to familiar odor.  Unfortunately Shadow stumbled across a skunk and was blasted right in the face.  In an effort to reduce the smell for the plane ride back to Central, I tossed her in the lake.  Let's just say that helped very little.  It was a tough twenty minute plane ride home.  She quickly received a bath in my trusty anti skunk solution.  Baking soda, dawn dish detergent, hydrogen peroxide and water did the trick.

Good luck on the water everyone.  Keep the great pictures coming.  Can't believe the 2017 season only has a month left already.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Someone do a rain dance

Sunrise on Central 
Calling all professional weather makers, we could use a rain dance or two for our area here in the Opasquia Provincial Park.  One sprinkle of rain is all we have received the past three weeks, and more warm dry weather is on the way according to forecasts.  The forest are extremely dry and customers should avoid having outdoor fires at this time as the fire hazard is bordering extreme conditions.

Jigging up walleye with an echoltail 
The weather has been stable up here, albeit hot and dry.  With stable weather patterns comes great fishing.  Pretty much every camp has reported excellent results this week with both species.  Central is currently in the lead with the biggest pike for the week boating a dandy 44", while South is leading with a 30" walleye.  A special note should be made for South Lake, as of yesterday they had boated and released 43 walleye over 25" topping at 30".  21 of those fish were bigger than 27".  That's some hot walleye fishing indeed.  Burnt lake has also been boating plenty of 25" walleye over the past five days.  Guests noted the north end of Burnt was holding more quality fish.  SW guests were all smiles catching plenty of walleye and some very healthy 12" perch.  Cocos had several 39" pike boated along with some healthy walleye over 23".  They noted the water was as low as they have ever witnessed and it was getting tricky navigating up the rapids into the Sagawitchewan river.  West lake once again was out fishing every day I visited this week.  Guests from the previous week noted large walleye were holding on the north end, especially reefs around the only island.  They noted the
SE portage lake was excellent for numbers.

Camp dog Shadow helping me find blueberries
Coupled with the lack of rain and above normal temperatures, the water levels have dropped dramatically and are still falling.  We are approaching two feet below normal water levels.  Surface temperatures are hovering in the mid 70's range.  The warm water has most of the big pike in search of cooler water.  Most of the trophy fish being caught are holding off of deeper weed beds directly adjacent to deep water.  Shallow weedy bays are only holding small fish at the moment.  Jigging with a wire leader has been very productive for pike on deep reefs.  Bucktails, top water baits and silver minnows are still my preferred the baits to toss, maybe toss in a deep diving crankbait.

Walleye are in their typical late summer spots.  Most rock piles and wind blown points ranging 15-25 ft of water will be your best areas to attack.  Vertical jigging or dragging crawler harnesses will yield best results.  Walleye will ascend the water column on cloudy days into 5-10 ft of water, trolling crankbaits can be effective then.  Consistent wind is a key to finding the bigger schools of walleye.  If the winds have been blowing into a certain area for a couple days, concentrate your efforts there.

Keep on sending the great pictures everyone and good luck to you all on the water.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Early August Report

An August sunset 
August is my favorite month up here in at Big Hook Wilderness Camps.  The first couple weeks of the month typically act as a transition from hot summer temperatures of July to fall like conditions of early September.  One of several reasons I enjoy fall is, the northern lights.  Daylight begins to fade quickly in August. Gone are the sunlit nights until 10:30 pm like we experience in June.  At 10 pm you can actually enjoy the night sky while getting lost in the stars and milky way. If you get lucky the northern lights will throw on a really great show.  Keep your eyes focused to the north for best aurora borealis action.  I should note the Perseid meteor shower is the 11th-13th of August this year and should be amazing if the night skies remain clear.

A chunky 35" pike caught on a silver minnow
Another reason I enjoy August so much is the lack of bugs.  On an average year the mosquito quits buzzing around the end of July and by August they are pretty much obsolete.  There are a couple mosquitoes here and there at the moment but they are disappearing rapidly.  Bugs and northern lights aside, the fishing in August is pretty darn good too.  I actually prefer August fishing to any other month.  The pike are throwing on the feed bag and are packing on the pounds for the quickly approaching winter. The walleye are rather predictable in August.  Most walleye are holding in 10-20 ft of water on rock piles.  Vertical jigging under the boat is the absolutely no questions asked the best way to catch boat loads of walleye in August. If the weather holds stable, the fish stay aggressive.

It has been rather pleasant here in the Opasquia Provincial Park.  Highs in the mid 70's and light winds have made fishing fairly easy throughout the week.  Conditions are still extremely dry and we are badly in need of rain.  The lack of rain has the lake levels incredibly low at the moment.  Be super careful when having shorelunch and out door fires.  Please make sure your fire is completely extinguished when you are done.  

Outpost Reports 

Waiting on the lake fog to lift 
Fishing at Central Lake has been pretty spectacular this week.  When you can boat and release 100 walleyes in three hours of angling, you have the ability to brag about the fishing.  Guests have been catching hordes of 16-20" walleye this week jigging in 10-20 ft.  1/4 oz pumpkinseed jigs have been the go to bait. Numerous walleye have also been in the 22-25" range.  The pike have been active when the clouds pop out and several 35-38" fish have been boated on Johnson silver minnows.  Top water action has been electric for northern. Smaller propellered Zara Spooks have been amazing. 

Burnt Lake popped a couple big northerns when I last checked in with them.  Big Boy bay is the place to be at the moment for trophies.  The walleye bite has been steady with a couple topping out at 25" were photo'd and released. Don't forget the amazing perch fishing in the weeds if you want to take a break from walleye and northern fishing.  

Cocos Lake guests have been focusing on the the deeper pools located in the Sagawitchewan river and have been doing really well for both species.  They noted the water was the lowest they have seen in almost twenty years.  

West Lake has been hitting the water super hard and I haven't been able to chat with the guys this week.  The rock in front of the dock is always one of my go to spots this time of year.  Also, the numerous walleye reefs on the north end of the lake should be holding some huge walleye this time of year.  

Southwest Lake never seems to slow down with the quantity of walleye.  The last guests trolled crankbaits along all the shorelines and claimed they boated fish wherever they went.  Nothing huge was boated last week but a ton of fish were caught.  

 South Lake admitted the week began on the slow side.  The numbers were down but there were some quality fish boated and released.  Several 27" walleye plucked 1/4 oz jigs with orange tails.  The fishing picked up however mid week and the guys said Wednesday was great.  

Good luck on the water everyone! 


Friday, July 28, 2017

Summer Sun and Fun

One of many trophy South Lake walleye boated and released
the week of 7/15
I'm not going to lie, it has been hot this past week here in the Opasquia Provincial Park.  Daytime highs peaking into the high 80's and 90's has everyone sweating on the water.  The heat wave this past week has shot water temperatures into the mid seventies in most locations. The water I might add is just perfect for swimming.  A quick dip in the lake is the perfect remedy to cool down after a hot day on the water.

July has been a complete flip flop from June with very little rain and sunshine just about every day. Conditions are extremely dry and please use caution when having campfires and shore lunches.  Please make sure the fires are completely extinguished when you are finished.  The hot weather has been taking it's toll on the lake levels as they are continuing lower due to evaporation.

Another beauty South Lake eye.
I received several reports from the outposts this week.  Most camps reported a slow start to the week, however the walleye bite especially improved as the week progressed.  Fishermen mentioned walleye were deep in 22+ feet of water to begin the week and then moved up in the water column as the week continued on.  I managed to hit the water at Central three times over the past couple days and can attest the walleye were running shallower yesterday than at the beginning of the week.

Lake quick reports 

We had amazing luck yesterday at Central for walleye in 8-10 feet of water and even boated a dandy 26" walleye in a weed bed in 4 feet of water.  Many 32-40" pike have been boated and released also at Central, mainly coming from wind blown weed beds.  South continues to boat trophy walleye week in and week out, topping out at 30" this week.  West has had amazing luck with big walleye this week, numerous fish coming from the north end of the lake.  Burnt started hitting the fish fast and furious on Wednesday.  The current guests were almost able to land a 40+" fish on an ultra light rod.  Cocos was enjoying better luck towards the burnt lake rapids with several big walleye over 24+".

1/4 oz jigs with either orange, pumpkinseed, pink or white bodies have been out fishing every other lure.  Vertical jigging while back trolling over structure has been most effective.  There has been some action casting onto reef tops for walleye.  Walleye have also been schooling adjacent to wind blown weed beds the past several days.

The pike top water bite was amazing yesterday.  High flying action was abound during the afternoon hours. Buzz baits and zara spooks with propellers were the hot baits.  Sunny skies and calmer waters typically result with lots of follows.  Switching to top water will often bring about more aggression  from lazy fish.  Bucktails and silver minnows are other hot lures to toss.  Jigging larger shad type plastic baits have caught lots of northern off of deep reefs.

Good luck on the water everyone.  It is a hot day out so I am off to jump in the lake to cool down.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

The Sounds of Summer

This morning I awoke early and wandered down to the dock at Central Lake.  The sun was making its daily journey over the tree line while faint wisps of fog danced over the water.  I took a moment to just sit and listen; the sounds of summer were overwhelming.  Well, just after the mosquito buzzing in my ear was quickly silenced, the forest came alive.  Fish splashed at the surface trying to gather the last remaining may fly; a loons hypnotic cry broke out in the distance while our local Merlin falcons screeched out hunting early morning prey.  All of these sounds intertwine to create a unique boreal forest here in the Opasquia Provinical Park.

Small jigs work great for full
bellied walleye
My favorite sound of summer however, is rain falling on the metal roof of my cabin.  As odd as it may sound, the soothing noise of rainfall puts me in a trance and I can fall asleep in a heartbeat. Today, is the first true good rain we have received in the month of July.  Warm weather and several days of wind have cause conditions to become rather dry here in the north country.  Our water levels have fallen about a foot since the beginning of July.  Water levels though, are at about normal for this time of year.  Water temperatures are a bit cool, ranging in the mid to high 60's through most lakes.  The cooler water and a gloomy June hampered the weed growth this year.  There are mature weed beds but they are somewhat sparse compared to last year.    

Just when I thought the mayfly hatch would end last week, another batch would arise.  All in all, the hatch this year was sparse and in stages.  After cleaning several walleye today I noticed no signs of fresh mayfly, however most of the fish had full bellies. Walleye will digest mayflies rather quickly and become aggressive feeders within a couple days.

After the mayfly hatch walleye will traditionally migrate away from the mudflats and weed beds in search of bait fish.  Typically this time of year, they hold off of rock reefs and wind blown points in about 10-15 ft of water.  Vertical jigging 1/4 to 3/8 oz jigs right over the side of the boat is the most effective technique to catch fish.  Dragging crawler harnesses and trolling bigger lipped crank baits like Reef Runners or Shad Raps work great also.

A dandy Cocos Lake pike 
Pike are now holding tight to weed beds and wind blown points.  Bucktails, johnson silver minnows and top water baits are my favorite three lures to toss for those toothy critters.  Low light times have been better than mid day with a high sun.  Five to eight pm has been a good feeding period for bigger northern.

The Cocos Lake crib going
I chatted with most outposts today. West Lake was experiencing a little mayfly slow down for walleye but had boated several dandy pike.  South Lake was the front runner for walleye numbers and quality.  Monday evening alone, they boated and released a 26.5, 28, 28.25 and a 29.5" walleye.  That is a fantastic evening indeed, hopefully some great pics to come.  SW Lake was catching lots of fish just trolling cranks around an island east of the cabin.  Cocos Lake had a 40" boated yesterday evening along with a 26" walleye.  Burnt was having no problem locating walleye and perch with plenty of pike in the mix, however nothing huge....yet.  Central has been catching lots of walleye over the East portage and finding lots of schools around the north narrows and shorelunch island.

We have been getting some projects accomplished over the course of the summer.  A new crib at Cocos Lake a couple weeks ago; framed and trimmed in the windows at South Lake and replaced the entry way door with a more modern steel door with a sliding window; all the boardwalk at Central is now completely pressure treated.  New windows are coming to Cabin #1 at Central along with a new floating dock for Cabin #1 very soon.

Good luck on the water everyone!
Remember to keep those pics from your last Big Hook trip coming.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Mid July Report

Summer has taken hold here at Big Hook Camps in the Opasquia Provincial Park.  Bluebird days ranging from 68-82 degrees have graced us throughout July. During the past two weeks we have only witnessed about an hour of rain.  The water levels have dropped considerably due to lack of rain and evaporation.  Lake levels are down about a foot since July began.  We are to the point where a couple days of rain would do us plenty of good.

Central Lake 27.5" released 
The sunny days have warmed the water into the upper 60's and lower 70's, depending on the time of day and location in the lakes.  As predicted, once the water temps began creeping into the upper sixties the mayflies emerged more consistently last week.  The good news is, the mayfly hatch has been spotty and sporadic over this year.  Walleye's bellies haven't been packed full which is a good sign for fisherman.  Today (friday the 14th) we haven't seen much mayfly activity at all.

Central Lake 27" released
The walleye fishing, at least at Central Lake, seemed to hold consistent throughout the week. Some parts of the lake would slow where the mayfly hatch was more intense, and fisherman would have great success in areas of water away from the hatch.  Lots of big walleye at 22"+ with a 26.5, 27, and a 27.5" were boated and released this week at Central.  The only other outpost I've had a chance to talk to was Cocos.  All the other outposts were out on the water enjoying the beautiful weather. Cocos reported the lake was a walleye factory despite a fair amount of mayfly activity.  Walleye were crushing even northern baits.  The falls was a great producer along with any windblown rock reef.  Lots of walleye were holding on the edges of weed beds.

Now that we are post may fly hatch the walleye should start to transition to rocky shoals and reefs.  I would also expect to see more fish in the 10-15 ft range especially if the water continues to warm.  Vertical jigging 1/4 oz to 3/8 oz jigs while back trolling is my favorite technique to boat walleye this time of year.  Trolling Shad Raps or Reef Runners along 10-15 ft break lines will help locate schools.

 Hot lures for walleye were Rapala jigging raps (orange), 1/4 oz jigs with orange gulp tails and fire tiger number 7 Shad Raps.

A fat Burnt Lake trophy pike released
The high sunny skies and calm waters caused the northern fishing to slow somewhat during this week.  Glassy water and bright sunshine will often result in follows vs strikes while northern fishing.  The fish can easily see the boat and decipher the bait during sunny conditions.  Early morning and late afternoon will be more productive when weather like this occurs.  Working top water presentations with Zara Spooks, Buzz Baits or Top Raiders are also a great method to induce strikes from timid fish.  Smaller baits are still being favored by larger pike.

Central has had several 30+" inch fish and a couple over 35+". It should be noted that the guests at Central are primarily walleye fisherman and have been catching these pike while targeting walleye.  Cocos noted the pike were timid mid day with the high sun, witnessing lots and lots of big fish follows but few connections.  On cloudy days those fish will feed.  Hopefully I'll get more reports tomorrow when I have a chance to talk with the other outposts.

Hot lures for pike this week: small silver spoons johnson silver minnow or little cleo (3/4 oz) , mepps agila #5 bucktail, zara spook.

Good luck on the water everyone!

Thursday, July 6, 2017

A Taste of Summer

The common mayfly has
emerged at Central
The summer furnace finally decided to ignite here at Big Hook Wilderness Camps.  July has begun with a beautiful week, especially after a damp and cool June.  Thus far in July we have had temperatures over 75 degrees and ample amounts of sunshine.  Future forecasts are predicting plenty of pleasant days to come.

With the sunshine has come plenty of other influences from Mother Nature.  The mayfly of course, is the main concern for most fisherman.  Yes the hatch is occurring as we speak; however the mayfly have been few and far between.  After filleting several walleye today, very few stomachs had any food within, which means they are still hungry and feeding.  Chances are we could experience an extremely mild hatch this year.  Another note to be made is, after a wet June the mosquito's and black flies have been rather...feisty, unfortunately.  Continued warm and dry weather will diminish their annoyance.

The ample sunshine has caused an explosion in weed bed growth.  Empty mudflats have suddenly turned into lush habitat for aquatic species.  The water temperature has rapidly sprung from 60 degrees to 70 in shallower bays.  The warmer water has
triggered plenty of feeding from both walleye
and northern.

A south lake trophy walleye 
The walleye have sunk a tad deeper in the water column and the majority have migrated away from the rapids.  Most fish are holding in 6-10 ft around rocky reefs and are grouped on the edges of weeds.  Jigs are still my favorite lure to toss for schools of walleye.  1/4 oz with a white twister was hot today at Central Lake.  The winds have been howling out of the west for three days now so the east shorlines and mud flats are holding lots and lots of fish at the moment.  Trolling Shad Raps along the edges of weeds will catch plenty of walleye but will also boat a considerable amount of pike.  Having a flourocarbon leader or mono leader will help with the bite offs.

After several days of sunshine, the pike really turned on today.  Pike were smashing anything that was moving near a weed bed.  Smaller baits still were more effective than larger.  3/4 spoons or 4 inch shallow diving cranks were getting the most action.   Central boasted two fish in the 40 inch range the past couple days.  Both were boated and released on smaller lures, one being a jig and the other a small black cyclops.  The top water bite has begun to get exciting and will only get better as the summer progresses.  Pack a couple "walk the dog" baits for an evening extravaganza.
A dandy Central Lake walleye from the
Bauer group. 
Good luck on the water everyone! And keep on sending those pictures.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Cool weather, Hot fishing

Ready to move guests 5 am Saturday morning
The cool weather trend continues here at Big Hook Camps.  We are anxiously awaiting the arrival of summer as today's high is topping out at a very mild 52 degrees. North and East winds are a primary culprit of keeping the temperatures down lately.  However, warmer weather is being forecasted and some nice days were peppered in throughout June, but nothing like we have had in the past.  

As a result of the cooler weather, fishing patterns and weed growth are mimicking mid to early June.  The weed beds have begun to grow, however most beds are still laying low and/or sparse in the water column.  Today at Central Lake the surface temperature is hovering around a mild 61 degrees. One should also note there have been no signs of the notorious Mayfly. They usually grace us with their presence around this time of year.  The Mayfly will typically hatch when surface temperatures reach 70 degrees. 
West portage at Central Lake 

The walleye are still active and feeding like crazy.  A couple of fishing reports from yesterday confirms that statement.  Two guests at Central boated 150 fish EACH on the south end.  Fishing were feeding so fast and furious that one of the guys caught two fish on ONE crankbait! Another report from South Lake boasted 120 walleye in an afternoon with one topping at 27.5". The fish were stacked in the far SE narrows and hitting on jigs with yellow tails.  

Jigs are still the weapon of choice when hunting walleye.  1/4 oz heads with 3 or 4 inch tails (white, brown, black, yellow and flouro orange).  Fish are still holding shallow in roughly 6-10 ft of water.  The majority of fish are still located in rapids and mud flats.  Although, some are starting to migrate to rock reefs and points.  If you get tired of jigging, try pitching some Shad Raps in the rapids or troll them along the edges of weeds for great results.

More and more sauger are being caught
The northern have been hot and cold like the weather.  On nicer days they are in the shallows chasing bait fish and are extremely active. Then, on the cooler days their patterns have been in deeper water around rock reefs.  For example, yesterday was 72 degrees with blue bird skies at Cocos and they boated a 45", 38" and 34" in a shallow just across from the rapids.  Today in the cool wet weather, guests have reported catching pike jigging on 15 ft reefs.  Most fish are still chasing smaller spoons with the cooler water.  Lots of pike are being caught on jigs while fishing for walleye.  Pike will get more active, chasing fast bucktails and slash baits as the water warms throughout the summer.  

Hot lures thus far this week:
Walleye: 1/4 oz jig with a black tail
Pike:  3/4 oz silver spoons with a white twister tail trailer.

Good luck on the water everyone.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

First Days of Summer

A great sunset pic at Sandy Lake
Summer is finally here! Well, at least according to the calendar.  In truth, actual temperatures are still feeling like spring here at Big Hook Camps.  With the exception of the past two days, cool rainy weather has dominated.  Temperatures are running below normal and future forecasts show the trend continuing throughout the next week. The rain has surely cut down the risk of having forest fires anytime soon and has also brought the water levels back above normal.  Sandy Lake water level are higher than I have ever seen in the past 20 years.
Central lake 26.5" in the south rapids

The walleye are certainly enjoying the higher water levels. The rapids throughout the Opasquia Provincial Park are gushing and attracting all species of fish.  Minnows are crowded under all five sets of rapids at Central lake and the walleye are close behind.  Jigging or casting crank baits in the current are the best techniques to combat the current and locate the walleye.  Walleye haven't been as shallow as weeks past, they were best located in 8-10 ft the past couple days, with some schools even in 15 ft of water.

The pike have been sorta scattered all over the place.  Several nice fish have been boated near rapids while fishing for walleye.  Weeds are starting to green up and grow in shallow bays.  Guiding last Tuesday at Central resulted in one fish topping at 41.5" and another 36" but the big fish made us work for them.  After a bunch of trial and error, pike began to strike small (3/4 oz) spoons or johnson silver minnows in 5 ft weed flats. They shunned bucktails and any bigger baits.  .

Water temperatures are slowly climbing back into the 60's.  Yesterday guests noticed most of Central lake was holding around 62 degrees.  Weed growth is slower than normal. Something to note, no sign of the pesky may fly yet.  There is potential for a late hatch this year with the cool weather hanging around.

Guests have had no problem locating schools of walleye.  The bottleneck heading north bound is holding plenty of fish.  Several 24" walleye were caught in the narrows spilling into north Burnt Lake.  The perch have been excellent as well.  Small beetlespins or 1/8 oz jigs tipped with a worm have been working best.  Moose creek and Big Boy bay are starting to churn out some nice pike.

Central lake trophy on a small silver spoon. 
The east and south rapids are where the big female walleye have been hanging out.  Lots of 22+" fish have been boated and release in each area.  The 20 ft falls on the north end is also holding lots of fish. The west portage along with the north narrows are areas to focus on for 40+" pike.

The rapids close to camp has been holding thousands and thousands of walleye.  Guests were boasting 16 casts in a row with a fish.  The water is flowing pretty good but the rapids are still navigable.  The burnt lake falls is holding big walleye also.  The creeks near Duckling Island on the north end have had huge numbers of pike.

Some nice walleye were boated yesterday at south.  Several 24" fish and a dandy 27" were logged.  Trolling Shad Raps and Hot N Tots in 10 ft were key.  The narrows on the far SE end of the lake is has been the hot spot. Plenty of nice walleye have been caught above the outgoing falls as well.  Not a ton of fish have been located on deep rock reefs yet.

The fish factory continues to pump out thousands of walleye and even some nice perch.  Guests this week have been focusing on the flats in the east arm of the lake. Pitching shallow diving crank bait in the mud flats has boated all species.  Shallow rock reefs have been holding big schools of walleye.  

The entrance to the fish bowl has been lights out for walleye fishing.  Huge schools of walleye are congregating there.  The shallow huge weed beds in the NE and SW corners of the fish bowl have yielded huge pike.  Never forget to hit the rock right in front of camp, it always gives up the biggest fish of the year.  Also, cast the narrows towards the fish bowl for pike.

Good luck on the water everyone.  Remember to send us your pictures and I'll post them here on the blog.


Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Mid June Report

Bog Labrador Tea blooms early June
It truly feels like I arrived in camp just yesterday, and here we are already half way through the month of June.  June is behaving, well, like June in the far north.  Weather wise, the first several weeks of June are quite unpredictable.  Prime example, last week was 75-85 degrees with sunny blue bird days and we were envisioning a hot dry summer ahead. However, that promptly changed last Saturday and Sunday with a cold front bringing chilly temperatures into the 30's and copious amounts of rain.  Furthermore, today a low pressure system has bestowed 30-40 mph winds upon us with more rain. The several day forecast also predicts....lots of rain.  It's an up and down month for sure.  I guess I could only blame myself for posting in the last blog that we were in dire need of rain.

With the rain comes another staple of NW Ontario, the mosquito.  All was quite on the bug front until last Saturday.  Add to your packing list: a can of bug spray of choice, mosquito coils and a head net if you plan on portaging or walking through the woods to keep the little pests at bay.  


Sunset flight in XZK
The fishing has been superb the past seven days.  South and West Lake led the camps notching a pair of monster 44" pike.  South Lake also had the biggest walleye at 27.5".  According to the guests, the passing cold front I mentioned early hasn't deterred the walleye bite.  They have been aggressive the past several days, even with the water temperature dropping back to the high 50's and low 60's.  The guests at Central mentioned they had trouble locating walleye small enough for dinner (remember you can only keep walleye under 18").  This means the big females are back in the shallows hungry and feeding.  As mentioned in the previous blog, the majority of the walleye are still shallow and hanging around mud flats or rapids.  You typically do not have to venture deeper than 6-8 feet of water and in most cases you'll find fish as shallow at three feet.  Small jigs and small crank baits still your ace in the hole for walleye.  1/8 or 1/4 oz jigs with three inch tails (white, yellow, flouro orange, pink or pumpkinseed).  Perch, fire tiger, or chartreuse Hot N Tots and Shad Raps have been hot crank baits.  

Numerous 40+" pike have been boated photo'd and released the past week.  The hot lure....a jig, go figure.  Never fails, the biggest northern pike of the year are always caught on a jig while walleye fishing. However, some of the big girls are falling for more traditional lures like the Johnson silver minnow, shallow mini bull dawgs and Mepps Musky killers.  The pike are relating in close proximity to walleye. Find a school of walleye in the mud flats this time of year and you'll find a big pike nearby.  Many walleye have been hammered at the boat by northerns this week.  One fish was even so determined it leapt two feet out of the water to steal a walleye right off a guests hook at Central Lake.  Scout shallow bays and areas adjacent to rapids or creeks for trophy fish.  Weed growth is continuing as typical with some shallow bays sporting a few lily pads already.  

Next week will bring the longest days of the year; which means more time on the water for everyone. Good luck to everyone on the water! 


Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Blue Bird Days

Central Lake sunset 
Summer heat has arrived early here in the north woods.  Mother Nature has brought plenty of warmth and sunshine this past week.  Temperatures have hovered in the mid to high 70's, with yesterday (6/6/17) topping out at a sweltering 86 degrees.  Hot temperatures this early in the season have happened before but are uncommon.   Conditions throughout the area are dry and as nice as it is to see the sun, we really really could use some rain.

The water temperature has spiked the last couple days with all the sunshine.  Yesterday, the surface temperature was almost 70 degrees already in shallow back bays.  The fish are enjoying the sudden warmth and have flocked to the shallow mud flats.  Both pike and walleye are located in about 2-6 feet of water in muddy bays or areas with current.  Weed growth has just begun on the bottom of some shallow bays; only a matter of time before the cabbage weeds start.

The walleye have been slamming small jigs and are very active.  1/8 oz heads, color doesn't seem to matter, with 3 inch twister tails have been the hot combo.  White, yellow, pumpkinseed, flouro orange and pink have been great tail colors.  Smaller, shallow diving crank baits seem to be more effective lately.  The classic three inch Rapala, Shad Rap SR5 or small perch hot N tot are great casting cranks in the shallows for walleye.  As mentioned before, focus on the mud flats or locations near rapids for most walleye.  If you do find walleye close to the rapids, back away about 100-200 yards. Walleye will hang around on the flats until the May Fly hatch occurs, which I expect to see early this year.
Sometimes you just have to enjoy the moment. 

The hot still days have caused the big pike to become cautious and many casts result in follows vs strikes.  With the high sun and calm water the pike can see us as easy and we can see them.  Customers have noticed pike being more aggressive early in the morning or late in the afternoon/evening.  Shallow diving stick baits such as a Rapala F18 perch, silver minnows with white twister tails, and shallow or surface twitch baits are great for tossing in areas with little water.  Keep your rod tip high to avoid weeds laying on the bottom. Yesterday, I witnessed some pike hanging in as little as 18" of water soaking up the sunshine.

I haven't been able to chat with the customers much this week to obtain a quality fishing report from the outposts.  Can't blame the guys for enjoying the weather.

Good luck on the water everyone!

Monday, May 29, 2017

A Good Start

We are off and running here at Big Hook Camps.  The Hartle family and company made land fall in the Opasquia Provincial Park on May 18th and have been frantically opening up main camp along with all of the outposts.  In comparison, we arrived last year on May 9th.  Aside from today, we have been fortunate to have some terrific weather for start up.  Sunny skies with highs in the 70's have warmed the water considerably.  Just yesterday some black flies popped out to annoy us during our projects and we even witnessed pollen blowing off the trees which is earlier than normal.  

Aside from numerous fallen trees at Central and one malfunctioning windmill, everything weathered the winter rather well.  I have spent most days hauling considerable amounts of necessary freight back and forth from Sandy Lake. Last Thursday, with the help of Showalters Beech 18 we moved around 8,800 pounds of goods to Central Lake.
Cocos Lake trophy walleye 

Catching pike in the setting sun. 
Unfortunately, I have only made it out fishing for a total of 30 min one afternoon last Tuesday and had some great success.  The walleye were still spawning and the bite was rather light.  We boated about 20 walleye on small 1/8 oz jigs with three inch white tails.  Talking with the guests at West lake yesterday (5/28),  they confirmed all of the walleye boated had finished spawning but the bite was still light.  Walleye are typically sluggish a couple days after the spawn.

The water is a bit on the low side for this time of year and conditions are dry here in the north woods. Only about 1/4 inch of rain has fallen in the days since our arrival.  Please be diligent when having shore lunch during these dry conditions and make sure your fire is completely out when finished.

We have a new pilot working with us this summer.  Luke hails from Brighton in the United Kingdom and is hoping to learn all about the boreal forest here in NW Ontario.  During his first fishing outing he managed to pick up the technique rather quickly and out fished everyone in the boat.

Luke with his first stringer of walleye 

Looking forward to seeing everyone for the 2017 season and good luck on the water!

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Spring in the North

May is just around the corner and the calendar indicates spring has arrived and should be in full swing.  The ice here at Eagle Lake had vanished, however winter has returned gripped NW Ontario with hopefully one last gasp. Last Monday a brutal low pressure dumped approximately a foot of snow in the Dryden/Red Lake region and blasted the area with an arctic freeze for days.  Yesterday morning (4/29) I awoke to see Eagle Lake once again coated with a thin layer of ice.

Looking forward to open water and amazing sunsets. 
Thankfully, warmer temperatures are on the way and the snow is quickly melting here at Eagle Lake.  Temperatures are forecasted to climb into the 60's over the next few days, even up in the Sandy Lake/Opasquia park region.  This is great news as we patiently wait for the ice to recede at Central Lake along with the outposts.  All signs are pointing to a typical ice out year at Big Hook, which usually falls around the 12th of May.  I would love to see the ice disappear tomorrow but that is a far fetched dream at this moment.

We have staged all the remaining goods for the 2017 Big Hook season and have them ready for transport to the north.  I am hoping to pick up the plane sometime this week from Selkirk and bring it back here to Eagle Lake; very excited to get back up in the air and soar the blue skies.

I thought I'd pass on some information for hotel lodging in Red Lake.  We received a letter a couple days ago from the Super 8 in Red Lake offering a special rate to Big Hook guests for the 2017 season.  The camp rate is $100 per night for two queen beds.  If you haven't booked your room in Red Lake before you fly out take advantage of these prices.

Looking forward to seeing everyone soon.  The season 2017 is almost underway.


Monday, March 13, 2017

Winter Updates

Mother Nature has thrown plenty of curve balls at us this winter.  Roller coaster like temperatures in NW Ontario the past couple of month made it nearly impossible for dad and I to predict a date for our annual winter road run.  After some deliberation and schedule shifting, we eventually gambled on making our voyage to Sandy Lake with 15,000 pounds of freight around mid February.  Unfortunately, due to record setting weather, we lost.

February 17th Dad and I made our annual pilgrimage to NW Ontario with hopes to ferry roughly fifteen thousand pounds of materials to Sandy Lake from Red Lake via the ice roads.  As we began our journey from Green Bay northward, forecasted temperatures for the week ahead looked dismal.  Future weather reports were pouring in claiming record heat and even several days of rain.  Despite those deflating reports, we stayed the course and kept hope that the weathermen would get this forecast wrong.

While we gathered our supplies in Dryden on Feb 18th, the mercury on the thermostat kept climbing and climbing.  The day ended peaking around 52 degrees and snow levels on the ground took a massive hit.  The following day as we secured our trailers and payloads, NW Ontario saw warmth peaking around 60 degrees, destroying historical recorded temperatures.  On top of the heat, plenty of rain was forecasted for the next day.  Sure enough, the following day NW Ontario received over an inch of rain and it was then we decided running the ice road would be unsafe.

Wisely, officials shut down the road until cooler temperatures returned.  Dad and I waited several days for the cold to return to NW Ontario and solidify the road however, mild temperatures persisted and our time ran out.  Reluctantly, we stored our materials in Vermilion Bay and began to work on alternative shipments for our freight.  Flying goods northbound is a huge expense and roughly breaks down to around $1 per pound; which is the primary reason why we run heavy materials up the ice highway.  Thankfully several good friends declared they would truck the goods northbound when cooler temperatures returned.

Yesterday (3/12/17), we received great news that our friends (Ed and Wayne) reached Sandy with several truck and trailer loads of materials.  They reported the road was solid but quite bumpy due to lack of snow on the ground.  Temperatures have been well below zero the past several days allowing a good freeze.  Ed and Wayne are returning to Red Lake today to grab another load of goods. On a sad note, I was unable to obtain any video footage of our winter road journey this year; we even bought a drone to capture unique footage.

March Madness 

Join our 2017 March Madness Tourney Pick'em!  Test your knowledge of NCAA basketball against other Big Hook Camps guests.  Top three win prizes.  First place is a $20 Cabelas gift card, second gets a Big Hook T-shirt and third place gets a Big Hook baseball cap.  Good luck to all! 


Group # 102820
Password: bighook 

Good luck on the ice/water this spring everyone!