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.
Transition Time - Multi Species Action
June absolutely few by! It was a strange month weather wise with a lot of wet and cool weather. After heat at the end of May, early June saw the water temperatures plummet back into the 50's. Currently temps have rebounded to low 60's on the main lake and high 60's in the shallow bays.
All this extreme weather has definitely affected the fishing. We're still catching high volumes of fish - 200 walleye days aren't uncommon - but the fish are very scattered. On any given day walleye can be caught in a few feet of water or 30+ feet of water. They are showing up on the main lake basin (Summer spots) but still hanging on in the shallows as well. The mayfly hatch hasn't happened yet and the shallow fish are still gorging on mayfly nymphs. Main lake basin fish are spitting up smelt and ciscos. So there's a lot happening all at once and depending on the conditions of the day the walleye can really be anywhere.
I expect the walleye will begin to show up in great numbers on main lake basin structure very shortly. Summertime walleye fishing is just around the corner.
With the rise in the water temperatures last week it made for prime conditions for shallow water bass fishing. Top-water in fact. What a blast these guys are on top-water baits.
Another fun fish to target this time of year are lake trout. They are moving out to deeper water as well. We got into some nice fish on a windy day last week jigging heavy tube jigs and vibrating blade baits.
Muskie season also arrived and although I haven't had a chance to chase them yet I'm super excited talk about a new product I'm going to be using. PDEEZ Muskie Inlines are the new standard in double bladed tinsel muskie bucktails. They are durable and well made but what sets them apart is the no jam flash (Tinsel won't tangle with hooks) and how easy they pull in the water. They are perfectly balanced and tuned. I got really tired of other double-bladed bucktails who's blades wouldn't engage right away. PDEEZ are the solution. Made in Ontario and built tough for the big muskies we have all over this province. Be sure to look em up and check out some of the awesome color combinations.
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.
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 weather this week couldn't be any more different from a year ago. Last march break we were in T-shirts on the ice while this year it's been 20 below. As I type this the snow continues to fall outside, adding to the foot we've already got in the last 24-hours.
It sure doesn't seem like spring is just around the corner. If it wasn't for the longer days, the fish would think it's still mid-winter.
Big fish continue to find their way onto the ice. With dedication, patience and effort come rewards.
My wife Kelly joined me recently, and of course she caught the big one. Kelly can jig walleye with the best of them, whether it's through the ice or in the boat. Check out this big, beautiful, dark walleye.
Another one that couldn't resist the Lindy Rattlin' Flyer Spoon
My pursuit of big winter lake trout continues. For me, these fish are the best substitute for muskie fishing. The drag peeling, rod bending runs of a wintertime laker fill the adrenaline void created by the closed muskie season. In other words, they're the biggest bang for your buck on the ice.
I've been fortunate to catch some really nice lakers lately.
I also wanted to share a product that has made a huge improvement to my ice fishing program.
The Digger Auger Carrier by Digger Anchor makes carrying your auger so easy and convenient. It makes me so much more portable and efficient on the ice now that I don't have to load and unload my auger from the sleigh every time I move.
Even though we've still got a few weeks of ice fishing left here in Northwestern Ontario, spring really is just around the corner. Check out the current issue (April 2013) of Ontario OUT OF DOORS for an article I wrote about using strutter decoys as a part of your spring turkey hunting strategy.
Also, click HERE for an on-line article I did for Ontario OUT OF DOORS called 'The ABC's of Backtrolling'.
Before open water and turkey hunting, however, the year's best ice fishing is still to come. Stay tuned for one more ice report.
Making It Work
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.
I've got a couple things to share and I'm really excited about both of them.
First, it's a real treat to share the Fall 2012 cover shot from Ontario OUT OF DOORS. This is easily one of the coolest things I've seen in a long time! Thanks to everyone at OOD and especially photographer/writer Tim Allard for snapping this amazing picture. Tim came up to Lac Seul last October to fish with me and we landed one worthy of the cover!
Look for this issue to hit newsstands on October 15th. The cover shot accompanies a feature article I wrote about world class fall muskie fishing in northwestern Ontario on Lac Seul, Eagle Lake and Lake of the Woods.
Also, I'm excited to announce that I've recently become a member of the St. Croix Pro-Staff team. I've been using their rods for a long time and I truly believe in this company and their products. I look forward to working with St. Croix to promote their products and educate anglers about the benefits of using these fishing rods. Click on the logo below to check out the St. Croix website.
Stay tuned... fall time muskie fishing is about to go off on Lac Seul!! #BRINGONTHEGIANTS
Ben Beattie is a fishing guide and outdoor writer living in Sioux Lookout, in northwestern Ontario.