The 2014 ice season is well under way now and I've been slow to get a report and pictures up. Better late than never, eh!
It's been a cold and snowy winter here in NW Ontario so far. Conditions on the lake are great though, with a solid base of ice and plenty of snow on top for the snow machines. The slush is minimal, too, which is a major bonus.
Fishing has been pretty good so far with a steady pick of walleye and pike. Haven't had the chance to chase lakers and whitefish yet, but that should change soon.
Every year I catch big active walleye on Lindy Darters. This Lac Seul 'eye is a perfect example.
Last winter I did an article for Ontario OUT OF DOORS about catching big pike with gear and tactics normally used for walleye fishing. It never fails that some of the years biggest pike come while jigging for winter walleye in 30-feet of water. This big girl was a treat to pull through the hole the other day.
My buddy Joe traveled up from southern Ontario for a visit earlier in January. Of course we went fishing…. here's Joe with a nice walleye.
Back in December I had the chance to fish with longtime guide buddy Brandon Ouelette on the legendary Bay of Quinte in SE Ontario. Brandon operates Quinte Hard Water Specialists guide service, based in Belleville Ontario. Quinte is well regarded as the premiere destination for monster walleye. Every time you drop your jig down you've got a realistic shot at a 10 + pounder. These guys don't even bat an eyelash at 5-pounders.
True to form, Quinte produced a monster for Brandon's good buddy Justin. This is - by far - the biggest walleye I've ever laid eyes on. Anywhere. Ever.
14- pounds, 4-oz and 32-inches
If you're anywhere near southern Ontario this winter give Brandon a call and book a trip to chase one of these giants for yourself.
We're under a blanket of snow here in Northwestern Ontario, so it's safe to say fall is over and winter is here to stay. The smaller lakes are iced over and it won't be long until the larger lakes are locked up too. The boat is put away for another year and for the most part, my hunting season is over as well. Time to unwrap the snowmachine and get it going for another winter.
As always, fall goes by way too quickly. We got the hunting season underway back in early October with our annual moose hunt. We saw some cows and calves but never did find a bull, so our tag went unused this year. That's the nature of the game. Still, it was a great time on Lac Seul with friends and family.
We managed some ruffed grouse, although numbers were down this year, and I was able to share part of that experience with my son.
In late October I shifted focus to muskie fishing on Lac Seul. It's never an easy game and we put in long hours for the fish caught. No monsters this year but some nice fish for the guests in my boat.
Here's a great shot to wrap up the 2013 open water season. It was taken by my friend Suzie Hughdie of a Lac Seul sunset at the end of a day of trolling. We'll get you a muskie next year, Suzie!
November is whitetail deer time. I got busy filling up some doe tags while waiting for a buck that I wanted to put my tag on.
I was hunting on my birthday when this buck came running into a doe bleat. With the excitement of that experience, I didn't hesitate to shoot.
That's a wrap on another great fall in Northwestern Ontario.
Check out the link below (click the picture) to read an article by Ontario OUT OF DOORS travel editor James Smedley about his trip with OOD fishing editor Gord Ellis to Sioux Lookout to fish with me.
Check it out, my latest video release. I'm really happy with how this one turned out. There's a lot of action and great footage crammed into 4 minutes. Enjoy!
Now's the time for fall trolling here on Lac Seul and I'm looking forward to getting out and collecting some footage for a fall video.
It's hard to believe it's already mid-September. Another summer is in the books and it's time to look ahead to fall. Fall muskie fishing and open hunting seasons make it the best time of year.
For now though, it's time to look back at some of the summer highlights. As title of this post suggests, it's going to be all about big muskies!
Overall it was a great summer for chasing muskie on Lac Seul. The bite really turned on in August and I put a bunch of nice fish in the Beckman net. As usual, bucktails and top-water baits caught most of the fish.
I'm going to let the pictures do most of the talking. I also captured some great video footage this season so look for a muskie video coming soon.
I'll get this rolling with this clean 49-incher that slammed my double-10's half way back to the boat. I was fishing with Brett Erickson of Thorne Bro's and Stephan Nielsen of Attitude Baits, in Sweden.
This chunky low 40's fish went wild after eating my Rad Dog spinnerbait. I just love seeing them come out of the water.... as long as they stay hooked!
Had a couple good days with guests Evan and his Dad from Wisconsin. Evan boated a 48.5" and a 46" and also raised a true giant. It was one of the 2 biggest fish I've ever raised on Lac Seul.... an absolute monster.
Evan's 48.5" was a topwater fish, and so was this 49.5" I got below. It's so awesome watching a big fish come up and hammer your surface bait.
The only thing that makes a topwater hit better is when it's on a figure-8. This four-footer (below) slurped my surface bait in the figure-8 right beside the boat. Talk about adrenaline! I was out with my good buddy Mike and we got 2 muskies that day, both on the F8. Mike's fish was a nighttime F8 hit on a bucktail.
Here's a couple fish from a new spot that I started fishing this year. One of my guests, Stew, got things rolling with this nice fish, 10 minutes into his first day!
I'll wrap things up with a couple of nice pike. One guided and another for the guide. Even a seasoned muskie angler can't argue with pike like these!
Coming up will be more muskie and before I know it our annual moose hunt will be here too. Lots to look forward to this fall so stay tuned for another update.
It's hard to believe it's already August! The summer is flying by as usual. July was busy, with a lot of days on the water and a lot of nice fish in the boat. Big pike, walleye, muskie and lakers have dominated my time.
Predictably, the walleye are on the humps and other structure in and around the main lake basins. Right now we're catching lots of fish in 25- to- 32 feet of water. For all the fish caught though, one that I won't forget was a monster walleye that broke my guest off before I could net it. It was, by far, the biggest walleye I've ever seen.
Of course, some nice fish have managed to hit the Beckman net. Here's just a few.
It's nice to shift gears every once and a while and do something a little bit different. Jigging for lake trout in the summertime is a really fun way to catch them vs. downrigging. We use 4-inch tube jigs with 1 oz lead heads and are able to fish as deep as 100-feet of water. We got on some today in 74-feet on a deep hump. It's a blast to battle lakers from the depths on spinning gear.
I love catching all kinds of different fish, but deep down I'm an Esox junkie! Big pike and especially big muskie really get my heart pumping.
I've put some really nice fish in the net lately.
Big pike are amazing creatures, but their size and appeal is shadowed by the other Esox that inhabits Lac Seul - Muskie! They're never easy to catch but the rewards are huge.
Tom's first muskie ever came on the figure-8.
Dave has caught a lot of muskies, but we both still got a trill from watching this one eat on the figure 8 as well.
Last week an old friend of mine came up with his dad to chase muskies. I've never seen July weather like we had - cold, wet and windy. Highs were in the low 50's - and this is usually the warmest week of the year in Northwestern Ontario. We battled the elements and were rewarded for our efforts with some nice fish.
The icing on the cake was this fat 50-incher that Todd's Dad, Ben, caught on a bulldawg.
They are already talking about another trip next summer to collect some of the other big ones that we saw but didn't catch.
I'll wrap this update up with a beautiful Lac Seul sunset shot that Todd took. Anyone that fishes muskies would want to be on the water at this time of day, with a sky like this.
The first month of walleye season has been fantastic on Lac Seul. Right from opener - which happened at ice out - until now, the walleye have been hitting well. It all adds up to happy Moosehorn Lodge guests and a happy guide.
It's late June right now and they walleye are in full on transition mode. They're well on their way towards summer structure but they're not quite there yet. This time the time of the year where you can catch walleye in 5-feet or 20-feet and anywhere in between.
Here's one I caught recently from 17-feet of water off a big underwater saddle that the wind was blowing in on.
It won't be long now until the walleye are on their summer structure in the main lake basin.
Anyone looking for a trip, here's a great last minute deal from Moosehorn Lodge. Check it out, you can't beat this price for an all inclusive package.
After one of the latest ice-outs that I can remember on Lac Seul, the 2013 open water season is underway. Late ice out years are typically great for catching big walleye. This year didn't disappoint.
The ice went out the night before opener, leaving us with clear sailing to my favourite early season area on Lac Seul.
Jigs tipped with minnows or soft-plastics are all it takes to catch big walleye
Other than walleye fishing in the spring I also love to chase pike and lake trout. Check out this big pike my buddy Ian caught last week.
This big spawned-out female was sitting in 2-feet of water in the back of a large bay
My good buddy Mike and I took a shot at lakers on Minnitaki this past week. We went with the quality over quantity approach and that's exactly what we got.
Both fish hit a blue jointed minnow bait 125-feet behind the planer board
June is one of the best months for fishing in northwestern Ontario. Big walleye, pike and bass are on the menu and muskie opener is also coming up quick. Stay tuned for another report in a couple of weeks.
The first ice adventure of 2013 is in the books. My good buddy Graham came up to visit and do some ice fishing. Graham is no stranger to the area, having lived in Sioux Lookout for a winter in 2009. We checked out some of our old favourite spots and did some new stuff too.
We put our time into chasing lake trout, walleye and whitefish. We fished 4 different lakes and caught fish everywhere we went. Overall the bite was a bit tough and we had to work for every fish we caught. Some areas that were excellent this time last year just weren't holding fish.
The first thing we did was camp out for an afternoon on a Lac Seul walleye spot that's known for kicking out big fish. We didn't catch many walleye, but Graham did ice this big fat Lac Seul 'eye.
Over the course of the trip it seemed that walleye wanted smaller and simpler presentations. It was hard to beat a 1/8 oz jig and minnow, but I did manage to catch a handful on a Lindy Rattlin' Flyer Spoon.
On a day we decided to target lake trout and whitefish, that same Rattlin' Flyer Spoon was on fire for the whities! We put a hurting on some big-big whitefish. They'd hit it sitting still, they'd chase it and hit it while moving - I even had one intercept it on the free-fall.
Take a look at these monster 'humpback' whitefish!
After having fun with the whitefish we switched gears and targeted lake trout. When it comes to winter lakers, I love fishing soft plastics. It wasn't 5-minutes after putting on a white tube jig that this big laker inhaled it only 15-feet under the ice.
I marked this fish on my Humminbird ICE55 flasher - without that tool I never would have known this big laker was flying high in the water column.
What a great fish to break in my new 36" St. Croix Premier ice rod with.
Another day we made the trek into a backcountry lake trout lake that's about an hour south of Sioux Lookout. We broke trail into the lake no problem, but getting out was another story. Big hills, unpacked trails, sugary light snow and heavy sleighs meant everyone was getting stuck. After 2 hours of sweating, swearing and back-breaking pushing/pulling/lifting we were back at the trucks.
It's a good thing the fishing was on and everyone took home a nice limit of 3-to 4-pound lakers for the table.
It's a long winter here in northwestern Ontario so look for more ice fishing reports to come soon.
'Tis the season for ice fishing!! With hunting season behind us, that means it's time for hardcore ice fishing action until spring. Winter is one of the seasons I look forward to the most. Big walleye, lake trout, pike and more are going to be hitting the ice this winter.
I got my snowmachine running in time for some early ice action. The maiden voyage was a trip to Lac Seul on a solid 8-10 inches of ice. It wasn't long before walleye started biting.
This nice walleye couldn't resist a Lindy Darter in 31 feet of water.
The Darter is one of my go-to baits for all species through the ice
My good buddy Colin was sitting a little deeper and landed a handful of walleye between 18- to- 23 inches, including this chunky fish.
It's shaping up to be another great year on the ice here in Northwestern Ontario.
In case you missed it, check out my new ice fishing video. This action packed highlight reel was put together with footage from last winter on the ice.
Some people can't wait for winter to be over.... I say bring on the snow and ice!
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!
Ben Beattie is a fishing guide and outdoor writer living in Sioux Lookout, in northwestern Ontario.