Spring in Sioux Lookout
Spring arrived early in Sioux Lookout this year. We didn't get much snow this winter and for the most part it melted by mid-march. All signs point to an early ice out on Lac Seul. Water levels on all surrounding lakes are low. It's normal for water levels to fluctuate over the course of the year, but things are definitely starting out on the low side. Quading around on Minnitaki the last couple weeks, I've seen rocks poking up through the ice that I've never seen before.
With the predicted early ice out and low water levels it should be the perfect year to scout new areas on Lac Seul. I never stop learning new water to fish, and this is the best time to learn new routes and hazards. My prediction is that I'll be launching my Lund at deception on May 1st this year.
THE BORDER - Nobody in the outfitting/guiding/tourism business is expecting the border to open in time for fishing opener on May 15th. The most frustrating part remains that there's no indication/information on WHEN it will reopen. There has been no plan or framework provided for when and what the border reopening will look like. This makes it difficult to plan for the upcoming season.
I'm prepared to endure another season of no US clients by catering/marketing to Canadian fishermen. But rest assured my US friends/clients, as soon as the border opens I'll be ready!
With the ice season pretty much in the rear view mirror, I'll share a picture of my favourite catch of the season. This Minnitaki Lake lake trout is one I'll remember.
I've been busy this winter writing articles for Ontario OUT OF DOORS magazine. Look for several coming out this spring/summer, including one called Record Breaking Musky Water. Any guesses which 3 Ontario musky fisheries made the list?
Here's a look at a recent piece that I did for Ontario OUT OF DOORS magazine about props.
For the first half of the 2021 season I'll be back in my 2021 Lund ProV 1975. I'll run this boat until sometime in late July/early August when my 2022 Lund arrives. I'm on the fence about which boat to run next... either another 1975 ProV or back to a 2025 Impact like I had in 2020. Both amazing boats!
I'm super proud and honored to represent Lund Boats as a Pro-Staff memeber. Running a Lund boat is a dream come true. As always, a huge shoutout and thank you to both Lund Boats and my local Lund dealer Mascotto's Marine here in Sioux Lookout. Exciting happenings at Mascotto's right now with a huge renovation under way. Be sure to check them out next time you're in Sioux Lookout. For those currently interested in a boat, you better act fast... the market for boats continues to be hot and inventory is moving quickly.
Here's some new gear I'm really excited about trying this summer - the all new 10-foot Chaos 20/20 telescopic Assault Stick with Revolution Reel seat. What a beauty!
If you're still on the fence about telescopic muskie rods - after 2 years of exclusively using them - I can tell you there's zero downside. When in use, you'd never know it's telescopic. At the end of the day, collapse it and it fits easily in rod lockers, trucks, SUV's etc. Major win.
Me and my good friend Paul at PDeez Musky Inlines are going to have a big announcement soon. For the last 6 seasons I've exclusively been using Paul's blades on Lac Seul. They're the best out there, and they keep getting better. A couple season's ago his BELL lineup changed the game and this year's product launch is going to send the muskies into a tailspin. Click the picture below to visit the PDeez website. Send me a message and I'll tell you my top 5 all time favorite Lac Seul colors.
Shoutout to my fellow Ontario OUT OF DOORS writer and local Bass fishing legend Jeff Gustafson. Incase you live on another planet, Jeff won the Bassmaster ELITE event at the Tennessee River Back in February. Jeff is a Kenora guy who grew up fishing Lake of the Woods. It was awesome to watch him hoist that trophy over his head and also to see the unbelievable amount of support from the local and national fishing community. Gussy represents Canada well and we're all super proud of his accomplishments.
Another cool product I'm looking forward to using this season is some new Costa Del Mar sunglasses. Every year I like to try new frames - this year they're DIEGO.
My all-time favourite frame is Reefton, so we'll see how DIEGO compares. These Blue Mirror lenses are perfect for bright sunny days. When it's overcast I use Green Mirror and when it's really low light conditions I use Silver Sunrise Mirror.
The next update should include an on the water fishing report! This should be a great year for chasing ice out lake trout.
2020 Wrap-up Report
2020 will definitely be a season to remember - and not necessarily for the wrong reasons. Yes, the border was closed and none of my US friends/clients could come here, but that opened the door to different things. I fished more with my kids than I ever have - huge win! And I also got to fish with friends and other guides who are normally too busy to get together with. I did manage to book a fair number of Canadian clients as well - some returning and some new. Seems that Lac Seul was generous to a couple new clients who landed the 2 biggest muskies in the Lund this season. The most memorable fish wasn't the biggest one, rather the first muskie for my 8 year old son. The smile in the picture says it all!
The truth is I don't know what to expect for the 2021 season. I'm optimistic that the border will be open, but can't be certain. Having said that, I have opened my schedule to both US and Canadian clients. Get in touch if you're thinking about fishing Lac Seul next summer. Walleye trips run from the 3rd Saturday in May until July 1.... after that it's muskie only!
It wasn't the summer I planned for, but I made the most of it. I got to fish more with friends and family, and I also got to meet some new Canadian clients.
My 2021 Lund ProV 1975 Pro-Staff boat arrived mid July - and what a boat it is! A dream to drive and to fish in. I'm looking forward to the next year in this amazing rig. It will be available for purchase from Mascotto's Marine here in Sioux Lookout, ON sometime during the summer of 2021.
Of course there's been some great fish caught this summer, including a massive 54.5 - inch muskie for one of my first time clients. Talk about a warm Lac Seul welcome for this guy!
Quick product review - the all new Chaos Assault Stick "20/20" muskie rods... to put it simply, they're the best muskie rod I've ever seen or used. They are SO light! I went with 9'6" rods - I love longer rods both for casting ease and improved figure 8's. The entire line-up of these 20/20 rods telescopic, another feature I love. There is zero downside to telescopic rods - anyone who says there is hasn't used one. I actually had a client of mine using a telescopic Chaos rod this summer and the topic of telescopic rods came up and he commented that he'd like to try one sometime.... Ah, you've been fishing with one all day! The strength isn't compromised at all, the balance is fantastic and best of all a 9'6" rod collapses down to 7'11" for easy transportation or storage in a rod locker. Huge advantage! The other thing I love about the Chaos muskie rods is how much longer the butt section is compared to Croix's. Makes casting so much better!
Check em out and order direct from the Chaos Tackle website or in Canada from Lake of the Woods Sports Headquarters in Konora/Winnipeg.
Another new product I started using this season is leaders from Doug Wegner Fishing. They make a full line-up of muskie leaders for trolling and casting made from fluorocarbon, single strand wire or 49 strand wire. Every muskie fishing application is covered and the components are high end and the construction is rock solid. Check em out here.
The thing I really like about the casting leaders is they are shorter than conventional muskie fishing leaders. At 9-inches, they're long enough to serve their main purpose - preventing bite off's - but the shorter length really shines in the figure 8. You'll immediately notice that your bait does't lag behind the tip of your rod in the 8. Cleaner, bigger turns in the 8 will result in more strikes - guaranteed.
As always I'm keeping up with my writing assignments. The real fun is when you get to see your work come to life in a magazine. My muskie column in the August issue of Ontario Out of Doors featured an epic fish and Pic from last season by my friends and clients from the Ugly Pike Podcast. Check them out and check out this whale!
There's still lots of fishing coming up before Lac Seul freezes! I don't anticipate the border opening at all this season so that's going to free up some time in my October schedule for some Canadian muskie fishermen. Hit me up if you're ready to hunt a late season giant with me on Lac Seul!
When is the border going to open? That's the question on everyone's mind. My client base is made up of 90% US citizens.... 90% of my customers can't reach me. Needles to say it's been crippling for my business - and the entire tourism industry in Northwestern Ontario.
We are expecting another announcement about the border on or before June 21st. There have been unofficial reports that another 30 day extension to the closure is expected.
If that's the case, I'll be opening my schedule (for dates affected by the border closure) to Canadian residents.
The silver lining to this whole situation is that I've been able to fish with my family more than ever - and my boys are loving it! They are turning into multi-species anglers and it's great to watch them enjoy it so much.
Some other good news.... I'm on the cover of Ontario OUT OF DOORS magazine again! Check out the July 2020 issue. This photo was taken on Lac Seul by my colleague at the magazine, Tim Allard, while he was here on assignment a few years ago. The cover shot accompanies a feature article written by Justin Hoffman about making a living as a fishing guide.
I recently did a podcast with Steve Haigh from The Destination Angler Podcast. Be sure to check it out and give a listen. It's all about Lac Seul muskie fishing!
I'm also excited to announce that my 2021 Lund Pro-Staff boat is being built right now and should be here in Sioux Lookout sometime in July! This year I'm going to be running a 1975 Pro-V powered by a Mercury Pro XS 225.
This is what it will look like, except in all Black!
I'll be running this boat for a full year, from July 2020 until July 2021. I know it will be a great boat for myself and my clients. Thanks to Lund Boats and Mascotto's Marine in Sioux Lookout for their continued support of Ben Beattie Outdoors.
Muskie opener is just around the corner.... when the real season begins.... stay tuned!
Usually at this time of year I'm answering all kinds of questions about ice out. Unfortunately, with the border closed, the ice out isn't the topic on people's minds. I wish I had an answer about when the border will open, but just like everyone else the only thing we can do is wait for another announcement from Government officials.
One thing I will say is that nobody is canceling their trip that's booked with me for the 2020 season. I know that when the border opens up fishermen will be coming across the next day.
I still plan on fishing opening day for walleye - this year with my family. Sharing that day with them will definitely be the 'silver lining' to this situation we're in.
Here's a look at Deception boat launch, on April 28th, 2020. It's going to be another late ice out year, but the ice will be gone just before opener (May 16th).
The water is low - but thats the 'normal' level for this time of year.
Check back in a couple weeks for my opening weekend report. My Lund will be headed up the lake for a walleye slam.
Mid Winter 2020
Winter is moving along fairly quickly here in Northwestern Ontario. You can definitely tell the days are getting longer. So far it's been mild(er) and there's not as much ice on the lakes as you'd usually see by now. Early ice out? Maybe! But there's still a lot of freezing temperatures before we start to think about melting.
As always, we're on the ice chasing walleye, lake trout, whitefish and pike. My buddy Brandon and I had a day on Lac Seul where we caught 8 different species from the same hump. Here's a few pics from the ice fishing season so far.
In other news, I will be joining the Lund Boats team at the Mid-Canada Boat show in Winnipeg from March 5th - 8th, 2020. I will be giving a seminar daily and look forward to talking boats and fishing. Hope to see you there.
New business cards for a new chapter at Ben Beattie Outdoors - starting in 2020 I'll be operating my own business, independent of Winoga Lodge. I'm still working with Winoga to provide accommodations for my clients. Thanks to all my repeat clients and new clients for making this possible. 2020 is going to be a great year!
I have some time available in early June for walleye trips, and as of right now I have one trip in August and one trip in October available for musky.... that's all!
Fall Wrap Up Report
We were iced out fairly early this year - around the end of the first week of November. Even though the late season was cut a bit short it was still a great fall on Lac Seul.
The biggest news from the fall was undoubtedly the arrival of my Lund Pro-Staff boat. Total game changer for me to move from a tiller to a full windshield 20-foot boat with a 200hp Mercury. The comfort, the extended range and the overall fishability of the Lund 2025 Impact XS made for a memorable fall.
Huge thanks to Lund Boats and Mascotto's Marine here in Sioux Lookout for this incredible opportunity.
The fall muskie bite had its predictable highs and lows. We really capitalized on our chances and put some great fish in the boat. Trolling, jigging, suckers and casting all had their time.
The average size was generous this fall.... at one point I had a run of 6 consecutive fish in the boat that went 50+
Here's a product that I don't know how I went so long without having. The Brotherhood Baits rod leashes are so well thought out and easy to run. The piece of mind is worth every penny! Search for them on Facebook and send Tony a message to order a pair.
Now that the season is over, I'm busy booking trips for 2020.
As always, walleye trips begin the 3rd Saturday in May and run until June 30th. From July 1st on - it's muskie time!
Give me a shout if you're interested in a Lac Seul walleye or musky trip for the upcoming season. A lot of dates are already gone.... like the entire month of August... so don't delay getting something on the calendar.
The calendar says September 1 today and the weather this past week says summer is over. We've had a huge cold front come through with lots of wind and rain. Water temps have gone from 70 to 62-63 in a little over a week. It's got the muskies in a bit of a funk but things will come around as fall patterns start to establish.
The muskie hunt this summer was a good one. Every season has peaks and valleys (highs and lows) but the highs always outweigh the lows.
The blade bite was hot all summer and the new PDeez JM BELL series baits were on fire. I've never seen so many fish eat bucktails way out on the cast as I did this year and I believe the BELL makes a difference. PDeez also released a line of spinnerbaits that I caught a lot of fish on. They make a huge difference coming through heavy cabbage and not getting fouled with weeds. The 2 single hooks have incredible hooking percentage too.
Check out this massive photo gallery of some of the muskies I caught and guided this summer on Lac Seul.
This summer I started fishing with Chaos Assault Sticks muskie rods. They're incredible and for half the price of Criox, they simply can't be beat. The best part about the longer rods (I've been using a 9'6" SWAT a lot!) is that you can get them in a telescopic version. They slide down to 7'11" and fit in most rod lockers. Such an awesome feature. There are literally zero drawbacks to telescopic rods. I guarantee I could give someone a telescopic Chaos Assault Stick rod and they could fish with it all day and not even know it's telescopic. If someone tells you telescopic rods have negative aspects I guarantee they've never fished with one.
With fall right around the corner I've got trolling on the brain. Here's a trio of absolute beauties that I added to the arsenal. Top bait is a 14" minnow bait from BR Baits. Next is a DK Fifty Finder. Bottom is a Trofik 5. Bryn, Dave and Ben are all at the top of the list of the best lure makers out there. These are all gonna get smashed on Lac Seul this fall.
If you didn't notice.... white is a great color on Lac Seul!
I have a few September dates open if anyone is looking for a Muskie trip. October is fully booked. It's going to be a great fall on Lac Seul.
Thinking about booking a guided fishing trip? Here's what I have left in my schedule for the 2019 season.
Walleye - Early June (5th to the 10th) I could book one trip and June 24th to 27th I have open.
Muskie - July and August are completely booked. I have availability in Early September and one prime 5 day slot in Late October. I don't take advanced bookings for November due to the uncertainty with the weather. All November trips are arranged last minute (within a week from the trip starting).
Get in touch with me ASAP if you're thinking about setting something up. Call/Text 807 738 1114
Big News & Ice Update
I know a lot of guys are checking the site regularly for ice updates... so here's my new ice report. I have to push my ice out date back even farther. I think my last prediction was May 10th or 12th... it's going to be more like May 15th to 17th. With opener on the 18th it's definitely cutting it close. The entire south end will be out earlier, it's the big water between Taylor Island and Bear narrows that will be the last to go. I don't think it's going to be a problem getting up the lake for opener, but the ice will have just gone out.
I'm really excited to be able to share this news.... I've joined the Lund Boats Pro-Staff team. This is truly an honor and I look forward to running Lund boats for many years to come. Mascotto's Marine in my hometown of Sioux Lookout, Ontario is a Lund dealer and I'm excited to work with them to promote Lund Boats. Visit www.mascottos.ca for more info and to check out the inventory of great Lund boats.
Guests booking a trip will now be able to fish from a new Lund 2075 PRO-V, powered by a Mercury FourStroke 300hp V8 motor.
For those following Lac Seul ice out conditions - I'm sticking with my estimate of May 12th for complete ice out on the eastern basin of Lac Seul.
I have a few June dates available for walleye fishing and some September muskie dates. Get in touch to book a trip.
Ben Beattie is a fishing guide and outdoor writer living in Sioux Lookout, in northwestern Ontario.