Opening Week Walleye
This year has to go down as the latest ice out on record. Even today, May 22nd, there's still lots of ice in the central basin of Lac Seul. Here on the SE end, we're iced out. Deception arm opened up on a few days ago, and as of Thursday May 22nd it's clear sailing up to Chamberlain.
On opener I dodged ice on Pelican Lake and ran the falls into Lac Seul. The water on Pelican is as high as I've ever seen it and Lac Seul is also high for this time of year.
Fishing was great with a lot of big walleye landed. It was pre-spawn, with males milting, but the females were holding eggs still. Water temps were only 39 deg.
Lindy Jigs and big minnows worked best and fish were a little deeper than normal for opener. I found that 12-to 20-feet was the best depth. Things are going to warm up this week and that'll bring the fish shallower and they'll wrap up the spawn.
Ice Out Continued...
These pictures are from Thursday morning, May 15th.
Two days before opener and the Hudson launch on Lost Lake is still iced in.
Still lots of ice at Big Vermilion too.
At Deception all the snow melted off the road since last saturday and the ice is gone from in front of the launch too. Only a couple hundred yards of open water before deception arm is iced across though. I still wouldn't count on getting anywhere on Lac Seul from Hudson or Deception launch on opening day.
Pelican lake opened up quite a bit today and it looks like you could boat from Frog Rapids under the Iron Bridge now. So even if Lac Seul is a no-go on saturday there's still options closer to town on Pelican, Abram and Sturgeon River.
Ice (Out?) Report
No need to sugar coat this… it's not looking good. There will be some fishable water around Sioux Lookout on opener but in my opinion, a lot of Lac Seul will be inaccessible.
Here are some pictures from the Deception boat launch, taken today (Saturday May 10), 1 week from opening day.
There's still about 8 - 12 inches of snow covering most of road.
The Deception arm is still locked up tight. The launch itself is covered with sheets of ice 16-inches thick.
I'm having serious doubts about using this launch to access much water on opener. Lost Lake (hudson launch) is going to be the same thing. Last year both lost lake and the deception arm went out the same day. Accessing the north shore (bear narrows) in my opinion, isn't going to happen for opening weekend. I know a lot of stuff on the lake is open right now (Manitou, Chamberlain etc.) because of the current, but getting there will be restricted by ice.
Sadly, the weather doesn't look favourable this week either. Highs in the 40's and lows down to freezing.
I'll get another report up later this week.
Its been a slow transition from winter to spring this year. The lakes are slowly opening up but with opener just around the corner it's going to be close. The current areas around Sioux Lookout and on the southeast end of Lac Seul will be open, but I wouldn't put money on being able to get to Bear Narrows on opening weekend.
Stay tuned for more ice updates as opener approaches.
Pick up a copy of the May issue of Ontario OUT OF DOORS. I've got an article about early season walleye fishing with jigs and Lindy Rigs.
Another good one is the 2014 In-Fisherman Pike and Muskie Guide. My buddy Jeff Gustafson from Kenora who is a top guide, tournament angler and writer, has an article in there on Canadian Shield pike fishing. Jeff interviewed me for the article and they ran a big picture on first page. Here's a sneak peak.
After seeing articles like these hit the shelves open water can't come soon enough.
Ben Beattie is a fishing guide and outdoor writer living in Sioux Lookout, in northwestern Ontario.