What's not to like about fall?? Opening hunting seasons and the biggest Lac Seul muskies. It makes it hard to decide if you should be in the woods or on the water. Such tough decisions!
First things first - I drew my first bull moose tag in 9 years so filling that was a priority. Thanks to my partner at Winoga Lodge, Troy Mansfield, we got it done. It's far from a monster bull, but it was an exciting hunt that ended up filling our freezers with the best meat you can get.
Ontario OUT OF DOORS magazine continues to feature my writing. I'm proud to share the Pike & Muskie column with my buddy JP Bushey. Here's a snapshot of my fall column "Casting Big". This is especially cool for me because of the lead picture with 2 of my best buddies, Graham Coulombe and Mike Battistoni.
I've also got into doing my own European Mounts. My moose is whitening right now and earlier I finished a bear and a wolf. Check it out - it's fun to do and I think they look awesome.
Last but not least - muskie fishing! It's been an awesome fall so far and it's not done yet. November 8th is my last day with clients for the fall giant hunt on Lac Seul. A couple weeks ago I set a new personal record for biggest muskie in my boat. Client Dave Fowler hauled in a super tanker FIFTY FIVE inch giant! What a thrill. I'm reasonably certain I was more excited than Dave was.
There's no doubt in my mind that fall is the best time of the year. There is so much to do in the outdoors, with open hunting seasons and the years best chance to catch a giant muskie.
October got off to a tough start with muskie, however. My good buddy Mike Owen and I chased dragons for a few days and despite some close calls we came up empty handed. Water temps were in the low 50's and I always find that time of the fall to be challenging.
The Rice brothers from Barrie arrived just in time to see the water temps cross into the 40's. We were facing an awful looking longterm forecast with rain, snow, cold and wind coming our way. We caught a window on the first afternoon and put 2 muskie in the Beckman.
The same bait, a 12" white Big Game, got crushed again an hour later and both the Rice brothers were on the board.
The weather turned nasty and those were the only muskie we caught. We did get some nice pike, including this monster for Jim.
Next up was our annual moose hunt on Lac Seul. I figured it would be a good year after I got a limit of ruffed grouse on the way into camp.
Some years you really work for a moose, and some years it happens fast. This year was the fastest I've ever seen our bull tag get filled. Cory drew our groups tag and fittingly he filled it - about 2 hours into the first afternoon! Great bull!!
There's still more muskie fishing to come and deer hunting to look forward to in November.
Here's some more exciting news - another awesome muskie cover shot. This time it's Hooked magazine. Thanks to Mike Owen for snapping this awesome picture and to Steven at Hooked for putting it on the cover. I'm honoured!
Its been a great fall in Northwestern Ontario. I spent a lot of time chasing muskies on Lac Seul but also visited Eagle Lake and Lake of the Woods. We are so lucky here in NW Ontario to have three world-class muskie destinations within a few hours from each other. Read more about my muskie adventures next fall in Ontario OUT OF DOORS magazine.
Overall the fishing was pretty good. I had my share of fish-less days - but the days where you catch one or two makes up for that in a hurry. I broke my personal best twice this fall - both on the same lucky 10" Jake.
Trolling dominated for big fish once the water cooled down to the low 50's and into the 40's. I rigged my boat out with Salty Down-East rod holders, mounted on Bert's Custom Tackle bracket and track. My new Thorne Bros custom trolling rod turned out to be a big fish magnet!!
I definitely had luck on my side, or maybe it was just that white Jake that did it all, but I got my share of nice fish. Here's a few shots of some fall-time muskies.
This next fish I caught while out with Ontario OUT OF DOORS writer and photographer Tim Allard. Tim was up for a muskie photo shoot for the magazine and this big girl decided she wanted to be a star! You'll have to wait for next fall to see more pics in Ontario OUT OF DOORS. Thanks to Tim for coming up and capturing some incredible shots!
This next fish stands as my personal best muskie to date at 53". It was the only fish of the day and it came on the last run of the day... I was literally 100-yards from pulling the chute and heading home. I guess the old saying is true - 'It ain't over 'til it's over'.
I had the chance to fish Lake of the Woods with Ryan Marlowe, owner of Figure 8 Baits in Kenora. Figure 8 Baits is the premier muskie shop in Canada.
We battled some rough weather with high winds, cold, rain and snow - but got 5 muskies to the boat. Here's a couple of the better fish.
Ryan with a nice fish that slammed his lure seconds after he popped it free from a snag.
With temperatures remaining below freezing and a few inches of snow on the ground its time to call and end to the 2011 muskie season. Time to start the count down to June 16th 2012!
Shifting gears to another favourite fall past time - Hunting - makes putting away the muskie rods a little easier. After a moose-less moose hunt in October I was really hoping to get a deer for the freezer.
I was more than happy to see this nice buck walk out the other morning. 50-yard shot and he dropped where he was standing.
Looking ahead I see -18C in the forecast and that means one thing.... ICE FISHING is coming soon! I already fired up the snowmobile and I just got my Lindy order in the mail so I'm all set for another season on the ice. Darters, Slick Jigs, Rattlin' Flyer Spoons and much more - check out their awesome selection of ice fishing tackle on their web site www.lindyfishingtackle.com
You can also hear my audio fishing reports for the upcoming ice fishing season on the Lindy National Audio Fishing Reports page. Look for the first report sometime in early-mid December.
See you on the ice!
Fall is my favourite time of the year. What's not to love about big muskies, fat walleye and open hunting seasons? There's so much to do on the water and afield that it sure makes the weeks go by quickly.
Lately I've been putting in time on Lac Seul chasing muskies. Casting with big rubber baits and trolling plugs has been getting fish into the Beckman net. I'll get some pictures going, starting it out with a good one! This is the biggest muskie I've ever caught - 52.5". It hit a 10" jake while trolling just after sunset. My good friend Mike Owen was with me and got some great photos - thanks Mike!
This fish ate a Bulldog on the first spot of the morning. Great fight from this chunky 49-incher!
Had the pleasure of fishing with George Clark, from Thunder Bay, for a few days on Lac Seul. George boated this nice muskie trolling a Jake.
Here's a big Lac Seul walleye I guided a few weeks back at Silver Water Wheel Lodge. Check out that girth!
It was also my pleasure to host James Smedley and Gord Ellis from Ontario OUT OF DOORS magazine for some fishing on the lakes around Sioux Lookout. We caught some lake trout and walleye and chased muskies as well. Here's a shot of Gord and James doing their thing. For more on this trip you'll have to wait to read about it in Ontario OUT OF DOORS.
Another great thing about fall is the hunting opportunities. Here's a shot of my friend Graham with a nice Ruffed Grouse from last week.
Stay tuned for Fall Part 2 coming up soon with more muskies and a moose hunt.
Ben Beattie is a fishing guide and outdoor writer living in Sioux Lookout, in northwestern Ontario.