The Heat of Summer
Summer is flying by here in northwestern Ontario. Its been a wild ride weather wise - right now we're in the middle of a heatwave, but just 10 days ago we were battling high wind, rain and cool temps. One day the high didn't even reach 60F.
Despite the wild weather, the fishing has remained good. Of course some days are better than others, but that's fishing. Summertime walleye spots like humps, prominent points and deep flats produce steady action. The best depths can range from 15-30 feet, depending on the day. One thing I've noticed is that the stronger the wind, the shallower the big walleye will position themselves on structure.
It's hard to beat jigging with live bait for catching walleye. I use Lindy Jigs and my top colors are glow, chartreuse, pink, orange and red. There's something about feeling the classic 'walleye tap' then setting the hook that I'll never get tired of.
Targeting pike is a great way to spend an afternoon on Lac Seul. There's a lot more action than muskie fishing and we run into some great pike out here.
The muskie chase is never easy, but as I say it's a lot of work for a lot of reward.
I caught these 2 muskies on the same night on my new favorite color PDeez bucktail - Italian Stallion. Click the link to visit the website and check out that hot color.
This next fish was an awesome boat side top-water strike for my guest Mark. Good times!
Check out the lead page for my latest Ontario OUT OF DOORS feature article. All the photos in this article are by my friend Suzie Hughdie, who did a great job. The article is about jigging for summertime lake trout. It's a great way to catch lakers in the summer without the hassle or cost of downriggers.
Just this past week we put this technique to the test. Here's my guest Mike with a nice summertime laker.
There's still plenty of summer left, but fall - the best time of the year - is within sight. Stay tuned!
Both last season and this season, August had great muskie fishing. Both years were late ice out years and I think it just took until August for the water temps to stabilize in the 70's and the fish to be more predictable and reliable.
Top-water baits and blades burned over cabbage are the top producers for summertime muskies on Lac Seul. This year I've been exclusively using PDEEZ MUSKIE INLINES - specifically the LSG's and the BIG TENS, and they are flawless. They run true, are well built and straight-up catch fish. The colour combinations available are unreal - take a look at their website.
Big muskies aren't the only Esox game on Lac Seul. Check out this monster 44-inch pike I caught. Biggest of my life. Long and thick.
I don't chase walleye as much late in the season as I do in May and June, but they are still very catchable. Humps, reefs, flats and other structure in main lake basins are where the fish are. They are chasing big pelagic forage like this cisco that a walleye purged in my net. It's no wonder Lac Seul produces big, fat walleye.
Fall is just around the corner in Northwestern Ontario. Lake surface temperatures are are on the decline and there's a smattering of yellow starting to appear in the trees. Hunting season is fast approaching and so is the hunt for monster fall muskies. Lots to look forward to.
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.
Rollin' The Ice
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.
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.
Open Water Kick-off
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.
It's hard to believe that we're mid way through the winter season already. With February half over that means the warmer spring fishing in March is just around the corner.
Mid-winter means cold, and we've had our share of 40 below already. We also have a ton of snow. From the fishes perspective, it's a dark and cold world under the ice. They move pretty slow at this time of year so downsizing and slowing down presentations definitely helps.
We've been getting our share of nice walleye. Lindy jigging spoons like the Frostee and Rattlin' Flyer Spoon have been producing, and so has a jig and minnow.
Jigging Raps are always a staple through the ice.
Lake trout get a lot of my attention during the winter and I've landed some really nice ones.
Using a tip-up with deadbait on a quick strike has proven to be a big fish magnet. Along with the previous lake trout, this monster pike was caught on a quick strike rig by my good buddy Mike.
There is still a lot of ice fishing season left here in northwestern Ontario. I've got some dates available in March for ice trips so get in touch with me if you're interested in booking a trip.
October Blast and Cast
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!
Let The Good Times Roll
My spring fishing update is a bit overdue as things have been really busy around here since getting back from turkey hunting. My guiding work is in full swing and the days are flying by.
Overall fishing has been excellent, despite the non-typical weather patterns we've had this year. The ice went out really early and since then we've had everything from seasonal weather to the extremes of heat and cold. It snowed in Sioux Lookout on May 29th and now less than a week later it feels like summer.
If I could generalize the effect on the fishing, I would say the fish are more scattered than usual. Recently, I've caught walleye as deep as 34-feet and as shallow as 4-feet, and everywhere in between. Everyday is different and most patterns don't last very long.
Despite this, the catching has been very good. Most of my walleye are being caught out of 15-feet of water, give or take. The bigger fish, however, seem to be in 15-plus feet. Another pattern that is producing is the may-fly larva pattern. During sunny afternoons when the shallow water heats up, the walleye move into shallow bays to gorge on may-fly larva. It's one of my favourite patterns of the year - catching lots of walleye, and big ones too, out of 4-8 feet-of-water.
Here's one of my guests, Bob, with a typical Lac-Seul over slot walleye.
Bob and Mike toughed it out through some of the worst conditions - cold, wet and wind - but we caught a lot of fish!
Not long after they left, the weather got warm (sorry guys!) and the fish kept biting. Here's a nice one that I caught out of 18-feet on a Lindy jig tipped with a minnow.
The pike fishing has been kind of hit-or-miss lately but I have to show off this P-I-G I caught earlier in the season.
I also had a chance to spend 3 days in my boat with my good buddy Mike Battistoni hunting for big lakers on Minnitaki Lake. Minnitaki is known for trophy lake trout, but it's not a 'numbers' lake by any means. We were hoping for a couple of big-bigs but it didn't happen on this trip. The laker bite was tough and we only boated 1 fish. We covered a lot of water trolling with planer boards, dipsey divers and long-lines. We also jigged deeper areas but couldn't get on a big laker.
Here's Mike with our one-and-only lake trout.
Since I didn't get to 'scratch my lake trout itch' I hit up Big Vermilion for some jig fishing recently. The action was much better and we boated a lot of lakers jigging with white tube jigs. We caught fish from 35-feet down to 70-feet. Here's one of the better fish from the day.
Since I got home from turkey hunting I put together this video. Check it out - I think it turned out pretty well.
Coming up - a lot more fishing! I'm really looking forward to muskie opener on June 16th.
Also, the Johnson Outdoors santa arrived and I can't wait to rig my boat up with a Minn Kota Terrova with I-Pilot and Humminbird 898CX Side Imaging combo, plus a 788 HD combo on the bow.
Good Friends, Good Fishing
One of the great things about living in NW Ontario is that friends like to come up for a visit and get out fishing. Winter is no exception, and this year I've had some awesome trips with friends of mine.
A couple weeks back Trent and his GF Jessica made the long trip from southern Ontario to Sioux Lookout for some ice fishing. We had a great time and the weather cooperated too. We put in some quality time on the ice and came up with some really nice fish for our efforts.
Jessica got us started with a really nice lake trout. Having grown up on Lake Simcoe, she's no stranger to pulling fish up through the ice.
In fact, she landed the biggest fish of the trip - check out this awesome pike!
Lucky for Trent and I she let us get a few that were worthy of the camera.
Trent lives on the Bay of Quinte in SE Ontario so he's used to pulling big walleye through the ice. He showed us how to get it done in NW Ontario with the big jigging spoon.
Trent's big lake trout was the first fish we caught on one of the days. Great way to start a day!
I used my home field advantage to land a few nice fish myself.
Next up, my friend Dave was driving out west from southern Ontario and made a pit-stop in Sioux Lookout for some hard water action. We landed some nice fish, but the highlight of the trip was this big pike Dave caught.
Dave really wanted to catch a big lake trout as well - so first I had to show him how it's done.
Then Dave got his lake trout too - his first one in 15 years.
It's a great feeling to be able to take friends out fishing and share memories that will last a lifetime.
In other news, the long range forecast is showing unseasonably warm weather here in NW Ontario. Looks like ice fishing season will be cut short this year. We've still got a couple weeks at least to fish so stay tuned for my late ice wrap-up report.
Looking ahead - spring means two things: ice-out lake trout fishing and turkey hunting.
Until next time, good fishing.
Ben Beattie is a fishing guide and outdoor writer living in Sioux Lookout, in northwestern Ontario.