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.
It's hard to believe, but we're already at the mid-way point of the 2012 ice fishing season. Normally mid-winter is the toughest bite of the ice season but we're still going strong with a lot of great days on the ice and big fish being caught. We've been having a relatively mild winter so maybe that has something to do with it. I wouldn't mind another deep-freeze though... we need to build more ice so we can fish into early April.
I'm going to start off this report on a bit of a sidetrack with some news and housekeeping from benbeattieoutdoors.com. First, you'll notice a new page on bbo.com - Videos. I really enjoy putting together videos of my adventures, so look for the Videos page to grow with content. In fact, I just made a new video of an exciting musky catch from 2 seasons ago while fishing with some good friends. Here it is!
Some other exciting news to share - I'm presenting a seminar on musky fishing at the Central Canada Outdoor Show in Thunder Bay. The show is at the Sports Dome and my talk is on Saturday Feb. 25th at 12pm. If you are in the area come on out to the show and lets talk muskies!
Alright, back to ice fishing. It's hard to beat the multi-species action we have at our doorstep here in northwestern Ontario. Who could argue with catching walleye, lake trout, whitefish and pike from the same hole?
Lake trout are my favourite fish to chase in the winter. They get big and fight hard, giving the best chance for some serious reel-peel on the ice. I have the same philosophy with lake trout that I have with muskie - target big fish! It often means catching less fish, but when you do get one it's well worth the effort. I'll start off with a few pictures of some really beautiful lakers.
Here's my buddy Mike with a beauty that hammered a jigging spoon and gave him an awesome fight.
This next fish crushed a Lindy Darter, 5-minutes after I dropped it down the hole.
Another philosophy from muskie fishing that I share with lake trout is the importance of catch-and-release. I let all my big lake trout go. There's nothing wrong with keeping a trout for the table, but I much prefer smaller fish for eating. Three-to-four pounders make great table fare.
Walleye fishing has also been excellent this winter with lots of action and some big fish in the mix as well. Here's a couple nice walleye from recent trips. Both fish hit a Lindy Rattlin' Flyer Spoon tipped with a minnow. That spoon has been my hottest bait this winter, catching every species under the ice.
While I don't often target pike during the winter until last ice, it's common to catch them while fishing for other species. Here's a trophy I landed while jigging for walleye.
One of the most underrated species we have here in northwestern Ontario is the whitefish. They are super fun to catch and when you land on a school of them the action can be non-stop. We do get incidental catches while chasing walleye and lake trout, but we also target whitefish too. Here's a few big hump-back monsters from recent trips. Notice the difference in colours between the first two that were caught on different lakes.
Believe it or not, but these big whitefish are smelt eating machines!
I also had the opportunity to fish at Brown's Clearwater West Lodge near Attikokan, Ontario with Ontario OUT OF DOORS travel editor, James Smedley. We had a great trip, exploring new water on Clearwater Lake, White Otter Lake and Grey Trout Lake. These waters are known for producing BIG lake trout, including the current ice fishing world record. James and I landed some really nice trout - no giants - but that's reason enough to go back again.
Here's a shot that James snapped of me with a nice Clearwater Lake trout.
James is an award winning photographer and outdoor writer from Wawa, Ontario. For more information check out his website www.jamessmedleyoutdoors.com
Here's James with a nice trout that he caught on the first day of our trip.
Another cool thing we got to check out on this trip was White Otter Castle. Hand crafted by Jimmy McQuat on White Otter Lake in the early 1900's, the Castle tells a story of one man's triumph and tragedy in the rugged Ontario wilderness. Read more about it here.
This is a picture of the Castle today, after restoration.
Coming up, there's still a lot more winter to enjoy here in northwestern Ontario. Believe it or not, the best ice fishing is yet to come! March offers the best action of the year and usually the nicest conditions too. Get in touch with me to book an ice fishing trip you'll never forget.
Until next time, good fishing.
The 2012 ice fishing season is off to an amazing start here in northwestern Ontario. Unlike our friends in more southerly areas, there is lots of ice and snow to play on up here. We’ve had some great days on the lakes with some really big fish caught already.
Walleye and Lake Trout get most of my attention during the winter but we get other great species like pike, whitefish, bass, specks and other trout as well.
One of the coolest fish I’ve seen hit the ice so far this winter is this Rainbow Trout that my buddy Greg caught.
The MNR stocked these fish a few years ago and needless to say, they’ve grown to an impressive size!
We’ve been getting good numbers and sizes of walleye from Lac Seul and Minnitaki Lake. The morning and evening primetimes have had noticeably better action than mid-day. We’re getting fish in classic wintertime spots like prominent points, humps and bottleneck areas in and around the main lake basins. Depths of 25-to-30 feet have been best. Hot baits are Lindy Darters, jigs/minnows, Jigging Rapalas and Rattlin’ Flyer Spoons.
Lake trout are one of my favourite fish and there’s no better time than during ice fishing season to catch big lakers. I have the same philosophy with lakers as I do with muskie – I’d rather catch fewer big fish than a bunch of small ones. Luckily a couple of my buddies feel the same way, so we set off on a hunt for big lakers last week. We landed multiple fish over 30-inches, including 4 over 35-inches. I'll let a few of the pictures do the rest of the talking!
This is my good buddy Mike with one of the biggest lakers I’ve ever seen hit the ice. A beautiful 38-incher.
Here’s Mike releasing another big lake trout. Congrats buddy!
Another nice lake trout for Greg.
Turns out Mike was on a big fish hunt… check out this FAT 41-inch pike!!
Rounding off the great multi species action from the past couple weeks are small mouth bass, splake and whitefish.
Big hump-back whitie that slurped down a Lindy Slick Jig.
In other news, be sure to check out the new Ontario OUT OF DOORS. I’ve got an article in there about a fly-in trip I went on back in September to Richter Lake, north of Nakina, Ontario.
Check out this video I made from the trip too.
Keep up-to-date with all my ice fishing reports by visiting the Lindy National Audio Fishing Reports page. Click on the National Audio Fishing Reports logo on the top of the Lindy page, then click on Ontario on the map, and then click my name/picture. An up-to-date audio report that I recorded will play, giving you the details on what's happening on the ice.
Be sure to check back soon for more ice fishing action here in NW Ontario.
Cheers and good fishing!
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.
I'll start this post off with the big news... I'm really excited to announce the purchase of a new boat! Ben Beattie Outdoors is now rolling in style with a 18.5-foot Alumacraft Tournament Series Tiller. The boat is powered by a 2010 Yamaha 90HP 4-stroke motor and also features a colour Lowrance GPS/Sonar unit.
Getting it wet for the first time.
Jigging walleye with Kelly.
It's a big, spacious tiller with lots of room for fishing out of. It's rigged with splash guards for backtrolling for walleye and come spring will have a bow-mount trolling motor for casting.
So far it doesn't have a name, but sometimes these things need to be earned. At any rate, it will be tough to top the name I gave my old boat! :)
On with the fishing report... I'll start off with - what else - muskies! It took a bit of work but the new boat got slimed in fine fashion. This chunky 47-incher slurped a top water bait off the surface at primetime. Textbook!
A real pretty fish for Bryon Cole - I just love the look of Lac Seul muskies.
These last 2 fish were part of a 4 fish night... ALL of them caught on top water!
As always a few nice pike are caught while chasing muskies. Most muskie nuts disregard pike as the lesser of the Essox family but who can argue with gators like these!
That's my good buddy Mike Willems who owns Silver Water Wheel Lodge on Lac Seul. The pike was his consolation prize after we watched his 50+ inch muskie hit on the figure-8 then throw the hooks on a thrilling boatside jump. We'll get em next year buddy!!
The walleye fishing remains excellent on both Lac Seul and Minnitaki Lake. Summertime patterns of catching fish on main lake basin structure is still holding up. All the typical stuff holds fish - humps, reefs, prominent points, steep drop offs, deep flats, etc.
My wife, Kelly, shows off a nice Lac Seul walleye and an even nicer baby bump! :)
Another walleye hits the Beckman net. Overall its been a great year for catching walleye in NW Ontario.
Fall is in the air up here. Water temps are slipping out of the 70's, the nights are getting cool, the days are getting shorter and there's a smattering of yellow on the birch and aspen trees when you look in the bush on your way across the lake. That means a couple things... moose hunting and fall muskie fishing are just around the corner. I'm also looking forward to some late season lake trout fishing on Minnitaki Lake. So much to look forward to in the fall!!
Coming up, I've also got a fly-in booked for an Ontario Out of Doors article that will come out this winter. Stay tuned for some pics from that trip and more.
Cheers and good fishing,
With Canada Day 2011 in the books, that means we're solidly in the summer stretch of the 2011 season. You know it's summer when the walleye are in the main lake basin, big muskies are on the prowl, lake trout are in 70-feet, the cabbage weeds are at the surface and water temps are over 70F.
There's been big changes in walleye location over the last couple of weeks on Lac Seul. Most importantly, they have arrived in large numbers on their summer haunts in and around the main lake basin. Reefs, humps and islands in the big water are holding fish. Looking back, the last couple weeks have been some of the best walleye fishing of the year. High volume days and big fish too.
I had a great time with Wendy and her husband, Rob, from Winnipeg. As usual, lady luck came through and Wendy landed two 28-inch walleye.
Clayton Johnson from Illinois shows off a nice walleye while his nephew, Gage, unhooks another one in the background.
Tim Rowley from Acton, Ontario took his buddies money two days in a row.
Happy guests at Moosehorn Lodge!
The best depths on the main lake basin structure has been 18-24 feet. Vertical jigging with 1/4 oz Lindy Jigs has been catching all the fish. Hot colours are glow, chartreuse, orange and pink. I really like the googly eyes on these jigs and also how there's never any paint covering the line tie!
Not to be overlooked is the weed walleye bite that is also happening on Lac Seul right now. Drop a jig and minnow in 8-12 feet in front of a weedline and see if you can count to 10 before getting a bite. For the most part there are high numbers of fish in the 14-18 inch range in the weeds, but don't be surprised if a trophy makes an appearance as well.
The muskies continue to hit the Beckman net as well. Had a chance to fish with Brett Ericson from Thorne Bros. last week. Thorne Bros. is the premier muskie shop in the US and they also specialize in custom rod building, ice fishing and much more.
We had a 1 hour window where were we moved 5 muskies and caught 2 of them, including my first of the season. A 46-inch fish that ate a top-raider.
Fast forward a week and I had the chance to fish with a couple good buddies as well as my wife for an evening hunt. It was a picture perfect night for muskies and Dave 'iced the cake' with this chunky 49.5-incher. Congrats Dave on your PB muskie!! This fish ate a double 10 bucktail on the figure-8.
I had a chance to fish lake trout last week on Big Vermilion Lake for an afternoon with Rich and Matt from Chicago. These guys are a laugh a minute and we had a fun afternoon jigging up lakers out of 70-feet.
Double header for Matt and myself.
Rich with an over-slot lake trout.
Matt with a dark grey laker.
Looking ahead, more hot summertime action on Lac Seul. I'm looking forward to chasing more walleye, trout and monster muskies. Also looking forward to getting out for walleye on the deep summertime humps on Minnitaki. Minnitaki is another walleye factory in our system of lakes here in Sioux Lookout. Too often it lives in the shadow of Lac Seul, but every year some of the best days of the season happen on Minnitaki.
Cheers everyone, and good fishing.
Summer has been kicked into high gear in Sunset Country with the opening of muskie season last Saturday. As luck would have it, my guests for the weekend were hardcore muskie guys!! We spent the mornings jigging walleye and after shorelunch we were throwing the big stuff till dark. Three 15-hour days on the water were just what the Doctor ordered for some big muskies and walleye. I'll kick this report off with a bang and show off the prize catch. My guest, Rocco, and his new personal best muskie. A monster 53.5 inch fish caught on Lac Seul.
Rocco just got home to Illinois and he's already emailing me about another trip in July. Can you blame him?? The experience of boating this fish is one that I'll never forget. Rocco put it nicely when he said, "We are bonded by 53.5 inches of muskie!".
The boys tied into a couple more muskies on their trip and some nice pike too.
Here's Jake with his first of the season.
Rocco with another one.
Rocco adds a 40" pike for good measure.
Jake's muskie hit a bucktail but Rocco got both of his on a Jimmy. They just couldn't resist the slow, enticing movements of that big plastic Jimmy tube!
The walleye bite continues to be strong on eastern Lac Seul. For the most part, I'm fishing within a few miles of Bear Narrows. As the walleye filter down from spawning areas they pass through this area on their way to the main lake basin. A prolonged east wind over the last couple of weeks has really helped to stack the fish up, especially on spots with an eastern exposure.
The best depths vary from day-to-day, but in general 15-feet is a good bet at this time of year. When conditions are warm, sunny and calm I'm still finding the fish will pulse shallow into bays to feed on mayfly nymphs. Overcast, with a good chop puts the deeper water bite into high gear. I've been checking islands and humps in the main lake basins but only with limited success so far. One thing is for sure, they're on their way and it won't be long until the summer structure is going strong.
Would you look at that? Mr. Rocco slams a beautiful 29" walleye!
Chicago John with a beauty!
The guide even gets lucky once in a while :)
Looking ahead, more of the same! Walleye and muskie will dominate the rest of the summer, with a nice side of lake trout, smallies and pike. Gotta love Northwestern Ontario!!
Summer is here in Sunset Country! The last few days have been hot ones and the fishing has been great. As the title of this blog post suggests, we've been tearing up the walleye lately on Lac Seul.
The heat and sun have had a big impact on the fishing. Prior to this heat wave surface temperatures were hanging in the 50's and I was having great post-spawn fishing in 15-20 feet of water. We even got some big ones out of 28 feet, the deepest yet this season. Rock points, sandbars, drop-offs, saddles, you name it - everything was working.
As temperatures started warming up with all the sun we've had in the last week, my deep water bite shut down. Where did they go? Shallow, really shallow! Huge schools of hungry walleye in 3-10 feet of water.
One of the hottest bites I've had so far all season coincided with the warmest surface temperatures I've found - 72 deg - in a shallow soft-bottomed bay. The walleye are in there gorging on mayfly nymphs that are emerging from the mud in the shallows.
It won't last a lot longer but I'm going to ride this shallow bite out till it's over. The action is fast and catching big walleye in 'skinny' water is fun!! Most fish are being caught pitching 1/8 oz Lindy Jigs tipped with minnows. The way to do it is keep the boat a cast length from shore and pitch in to the shallows, hopping the jig back to the boat.
Once that bite is over I'm expecting the fish to make their way to summer spots in and around the main lake basin. Won't be long now till we're on the humps and reefs.
Over the last couple weeks I've had the pleasure of sharing the boat with some great guys. My buddy JJ came up from Minnesota with a group of guys and we had an awesome day slamming walleye. I cooked the boys up a big shorelunch and JJ snapped some great pics. He's a talented photographer and outdoor writer.
JJ with some Lac Seul Gold
Had a great time with John, John and Al from Chicago. The 3 of us had a lot in common - we all love the Blackhawks and slamming lots of walleye! Here's John with a nice one.
Congrats to Greg for pocketing his buddies money for the biggest fish of their trip with this one. Great fish Greg!
Leading up to walleye season I was putting in as much time as possible going after big lake trout. Minnitaki lake has a low density population of trophy fish. I always compare it to muskie fishing - if you get 1 or 2 fish a day you had a good day, but chances are one of them will be big. That's my style of fishing - hunting hogs rather than going for numbers.
Friday was a 'textbook' day, one fish and it was big! 37" and probably the biggest lake trout of my life. This fish hit a blue/silver Rapala J-13, 125-feet behind a planer board.
Walleye Opener 2011
After finding out the night before opener that my guests had to cancel, I made new plans and fished with a buddy of mine. We launched the boat at 5:30 am and headed to one of the current areas in SE Lac Seul. With the late ice out I was anticipating finding the big girls still spawning in the current. The fish were there, and in good numbers, but the big females have definitely spawned and started to move out. Only a few of the males were still milty and the girls were skinny after dropping their eggs.
The numbers - 2 of us landed 80 walleye. Biggest was 27".
Lindy jigs and Lindy X-Change jigs tipped with minnows did all the damage.
Sunday we did some exploring and checked out some post-spawn areas. We found fish on most of the spots, but not in good numbers yet. The fish are transitioning from spawning areas and the bite should pick up as the water warms up and fish get more active.
Walleye season opens Saturday, May 21st - just a couple days away! It was a late ice-out here in NW Ontario, which means one thing... BIG walleye and lots of them in the current areas of east Lac Seul.
Here's a teaser from last year.
I've got my box of Lindy X-Change Jigs ready to go. Different sizes, different colours, all without having to re-tie. Very cool!
Another product I'm really excited about this year is the Frabill FXE Stormsuit. I've been wearing it since the ice went off and I can honestly say this is the best engineered and best performing all weather gear I've ever had on. They literally thought of everything in the design of this fishing outerwear system. Move over Cabelas and Bass Pro, there's a new standard in performance fishing outerwear. Thank you FRABILL for making such an awesome product!!
One more bit of housekeeping... I've got an amazing opportunity for a group of guys, or gals, who can pull together a last minute trip. I had a cancellation for June 1-5 and I would hate to see this slot go unused. This is a PRIME slot for BIG walleye and pike on Lac Seul. Plus, lake trout on Big Vermilion or Minitaki. I know this slot won't stay open long so get in touch with me asap for a truly remarkable fishing trip. There is a reason it's hard to book a trip in June.... it's awesome fishing!!!
Check back next week for my Walleye 2011 Opener Report.
Ben Beattie is a fishing guide and outdoor writer living in Sioux Lookout, in northwestern Ontario.