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!