Sunday, June 24, 2018

2018 Wilderness Report #4

The days are running long here at Big Hook.  Our official sunrise is at 4:44 am with the skies getting light around 4 am.  The official sunset 9:51 pm and darkness doesn't truly settle in until after 11 pm.  However, our long days disappear rather quickly as the summer progresses along.  Now that we have passed the summer solstice, we lose an average of four minutes a day.

The fisherman have been taking advantage of the extra daylight.  The early bird gets the worm, right? Walleye fishing generally is better during the morning and evening hours, but not always.  The walleye around this area will feed all day long, and they have been. Reports from all the outposts this week stated the walleye fishing was amazing.  Burnt, Central, and South all released multiple walleye exceeding 27". West stated they boated the most 20-23" walleye in over a dozen years of fishing that lake.  Central had the biggest for the week measuring at an impressive 30". Most fish are still holding near the shallow mud flats, with some beginning to hold on rock reefs and windblown points.  Trolling Hot N Tots or jigging 1/4 oz jigs with Berkley Ripple shad tails were the best techniques for walleye.

Some mayfly larvae have been found in the bellies of filleted fish.  With the water temperature hovering around the 70 degree mark on the surface, I expect the mayfly hatch to begin any day now. The hatch will most likely occur a bit earlier than last year with all the hot weather we have been experiencing. 

The big northern pike were a bit finicky last week. A good number of pike were boated however, the big girls were timid.  I attribute that to the massive amount of walleye holding near weed beds and mudflats; those big northern could easily pluck all the rouge walleye they wanted at their leisure.  Also, we had a high glaring sun all week long, that allows a fish to see an artificial bait quite easily.  Now don't get me wrong, many fish between 30-38" were boated and released.  We just didnt' see those big 40+" moving as much.  The lures that were most effective were shiny spoons and bucktails.  Williams wobblers, Johnson silver minnows and Mepps #5 bucktails were some of the favorites.  Top water baits started to move some fish also.

As mentioned earlier, we had copious amounts of sunshine last week.  The temperature held between 78-94 degrees just about all week long. A sprinkle of rain dropped on Friday and that is about all the rain we have had in the last couple weeks.  The hot sunny days have caused a lot of evaporation to occur on the lake and the levels have dropped considerably from the prior week.  We really could use some precipitation.  The weedbeds, however, have enjoyed the sunlight.  Weeds sprung from the depth and are just about reaching the surface in many spots. 

Good luck on the water everyone,

Thursday, June 21, 2018

2018 Wilderness Report #3

Greetings all. Ryan here, writing for a change… Nathan has been busy the last few days flying and guiding. 

A Central Lake trophy walleye
It is currently a tale of two seasons here in the Opasquia Provincial Park. For some inhabitants it is summer - a few others are clinging on to spring. The birds have all made their nesting grounds. We haven’t seen any flights of northbound migrants for over a week. This bodes well for flying ourselves. Geese and Cessnas don’t mix well. Conversely, the Hartles and I have to prepare for a dive bomb attack anytime we try to get to the generator shed at Central - a robin has taken up residence inside and is quite protective of her chicks. 

All of the bigger critters are out and about too. There have been several sightings of moose and bear. Thankfully they have remained out in the wilds so far, but it is a good reminder to always keep a clean camp. 

Shadow’s nemesis, “The Beaver” has begun its nightly swim past the dock - a right of summer for the both of them. 

The fish, however, are still hanging onto their spring-time patterns. The walleye continue to relate to shallow mud-flats and flowing water /channels. Wind blown shores are producing well too. The fish are feeding ravenously. Many boats have reported numbers in the hundreds daily and many groups are tallying catches in the thousands for the week! Lighter jigs continue to be favored, but no reports on any preferred color combos yet - seems they’ll eat just about anything. Various colors of Berkley Ripple shad tails have been a new favorite jig tail for Nathan as they are more durable than Berkley Gulp. 

The big winner for walleyes at Central yesterday was Ellen A. with a pair of dandy’s (28” and 29”).  The outposts are also reporting great walleye fishing. South camp has reported a large number of fish between 24-27". 

Big pike are hanging out in many of the same spots - many fish in the mid-30” to low 40” range have been boated while trolling for walleyes. Casting silver minnows into the shallow weed beds on sunny days has the best technique for moving northern. Smaller bucktails, like a Mepps #5 have been out producing larger baits. 
All smiles with a walleye double. 

Summer is in the air, however, and it is only a matter of time before it is in the water too. As we near the peak duration for daylight hours, the forecast is for several sunny days back to back to back. This will help the weeds continue to develop and bring the water temps. up. Fish will catch on quick and find their usual summer spots. I know I am excited for some top-water fishing around the weed beds really soon. 

And it wouldn’t be summer in the Canadian Shield with out a few fires. The first of the year have popped up in viewing distance from our flight paths. They aren’t of concern to us just yet, but always a good reminder to be extra safe with campfires and shore lunches. 

Summer is just about in full swing here at Big Hook. We hope to hear from and see you soon!

All the best and good luck on the water, 

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Wilderness Report #2

I really enjoy watching the boreal forest come alive.  Just over a week ago most trees were just budding and emerging after a long harsh winter.  Today the poplar and birch leaves are fully grown and wild strawberry flowers are in full bloom along with the blueberry bushes.  Mother nature really blossomed last week due to having rain five of the last seven days. 

Although the rain can put a damper on fishing trips, we really needed the precipitation.  Thanks to ample rain we no longer have a fire ban in place.  Guests can once again have shore lunches and burn outside.   A downfall to warming temperatures and precipitation guessed it, bugs.  Yes, its that time of year where the black flies and mosquitos too, have emerged from their winter slumber.  Make sure to pack some bug spray and/or mosquito coils to help keep the bug bites at bay.

With the rain, water levels are holding steady at about average height.  A cold front at the beginning of last week really knocked the water temperatures down.  After peaking at 62 degrees on the surface the water temps sank back into the lower 50's.  However, they are on the rise again and should continue to climb with warm weather in the forecast.  Weeds should be developing soon with the ample sunshine and warming waters. 

Fishing started off on the slow side last week.  Heavy easterly winds and cold rainy weather shocked the fish into a light bite.  However, as the week progressed and the temperatures stabilized; so did the fishing.  Central led the charge with numerous pike between 32-40" while Southwest dominated the walleye catch.  Biggest walleye was once again boated at South measuring 27.5".  The perch at West, SW, and Burnt really heated up last week with lots measuring in the 12-13" range.

Typical hotspots for walleye are still in the moving water and shallow windblown mudflats.  Small 1/4oz jigs and shad raps seem to be the favorite among fisherman.  The pike are roaming with the walleye schools at the moment.  Small bucktails like a Mepps #5 copper blade or a floating Rapala work great in the shallow water.  The perch are holding in developing weedy areas and are caught with 1/8 or smaller jigs. 

Top Spots for Each Lake the past week. 


The perch were hitting in shallow weed beds.  While the walleye were slamming in the skinny narrows to the upper end of Burnt.


The channel leading to the South rapids and the South falls were the top areas to catch both species at Central.  The shallow mud and current were holding millions of baitfish. 


Guests had great luck around duckling island and the burnt lake falls.  As usual, the Cocos double rapids held walleye throughout.


Fishing started slow and ramped up at the end of the week.  The incoming water at the far SE end of the lake was a continued hotspot. 


When asked where was fishing the best, guests replied: "Everywhere, just get your bait in the water." The perch bite was on fire just to the west of the cabin on the north shore. 


The walleye came alive in the narrows heading to the fish bowl.  The islands and bays along the north shore of the fish bowl seemed to hold the best schools of walleye.

Good luck on the water everyone! Remember to send some pictures.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Wilderness Report

A Central Lake glassy sunrise.
My apologies for a delayed blog. Mid May to the first of June is always a mad dash to open up Big Hook Wilderness Camps and I have very little time to sit down at the computer.  However, around the end of April to the beginning of May, I am glued to about 20 different weather sites hoping for one to report warm weather around the Opasquia Provincial Park.  Once the ice begins melting at Big Hook in early May the long days begin.  For the 2018 season, I arrived at the Central Lake dock in good ole XZK (our camp airplane) on May 15th.  May 15h will go down as an average ice out. We have had the ice disappear as early April 30th to as late as June 2nd.

The flight north from Vermilion Bay to Central was tense as I watched a snow storm descend from the west and just about forced me to land on an unnamed lake somewhere between North Spirit and Sandy Lake.  Fortunately, as I pressed north I was able to outrace the storm and land safe and sound at Big Hook.  The storm did eventually catch up to me at Central and dumped 3-5 inches of snow leaving me socked in at Big Hook with camp dog Shadow.  Since that first day of arrival, everyone here with Big Hook has put in long days and nights readying every camp and wiping away signs of winter damage.  Just about every camp survived the harsh winter. Central must have endured a harsh ice/snow/wind storm as dozens and dozens of trees were snapped.

The weather has been all across the board this spring for opening camp.  We have seen nights as cold at 24 degrees and days as hot as 96 degrees.  Water levels are average due to a heavy snow runoff but May only brought one sprinkle of rain.  Fortunately, we are finally seeing some of our first spring rains today.  Conditions are extremely dry as NW Ontario was under a burn ban last week. However, I suspect that to be lifted after today's rain.

We have had one full week of guests so far in the 2018 season.  Reports from all guests were positive.  No reports of post-spawn activity from walleye were mentioned as fish were hungry and grew more aggressive as the week progressed. The biggest walleye was boated and released at South lake measuring at just shy of 30", with many other big females released.  Largest northern went to West Lake at 44", caught on...a jig.  Northern pike was striking smaller baits, which is typical of this time of year until the water warms.  Both species were found to be grouped together on shallow mud flats chasing bait.  Some walleye were returning to the rapids and should continue to do so for the next couple of weeks.

Central Lake

Best action for both species at Central Lake took place at the south rapids and the west narrows.  I managed to fish an hour last Wednesday and boated twenty pike in an hour near the east rapids.  Tossing and slow twitching a suspending F18 Rapala was deadly.  Several 32". 33" were released accompanied by a chubby 38".  Walleye are striking small jigs in the shallows right next to the pike.  Water temperature in the sun-soaked shallow bays peaked around 59 last week.

South Lake

The far SE end of the lake was holding the most active fish.  As mentioned before, pike and walleye were mixed together.  The north end of the lake was slower as heavy winds Wed, Thursday and Friday churned up the shallower water.  I expect that end of the lake to heat up as the week progresses.

West Lake 

The north shore of the Fishbowl produced the most action.  The East portage had an active perch bite along with hungry walleye.  A 40, 42, and 44" pike were all caught in an hour on the same spot.  Those big female pike were hunting a huge school of walleye.  Guests claimed they were catching walleye just about every cast and then nothing.  Suddenly, the pike moved in and began smacking their jigs.  The deep north end of the lake was slow as the water was almost ten degrees cooler.

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