walleye with deep jigs

One-Man Walleye Opener Part 1

By Scott Turner

Hello fellow outdoor enthusiasts:

I think we all have a bit of little kid in us when leading up to our next outdoor adventure. I find I can hardly sleep the night before a big trip. That was the case yet again for me a few days ago leading up to my walleye opener weekend at Pasha Lake Cabins.

I have been to quite a few other camps in the past. Some have been fine establishments run by great people, and a few… maybe not so great. One of the main reasons I first decided on Pasha as my destination was the opportunity not just to have a vacation but an adventure. What do I mean by that? I am sure anyone that has been to Pasha can relate. The ability to fish a different body of water every day of the week greatly appealed to me. Not only that, but to know the chances of having anyone else on the lake I was fishing were really slim really excited me. After all, why do many of us go on vacation? To relax and get away from it all!

I arrived at Pasha on Friday evening and was greeted by a smiling Michelle and their children. (Mind you, their youngest daughter was still upset that her dad went to the minnow traps without her). Chad and I agreed to come up with a game plan in the morning for me. I squared myself away in Cabin #1 full of anticipation.

Saturday, I awoke to a warm, foggy windless morning. It felt like it was going to be a great day. After a brief discussion, Chad suggested an adventure a little farther down the road than I had gone before, but it just sounded too good to say no. I opted to let the fog clear a bit and was on my way.

The trip really wasn’t that bad–just over an hour driving time with a half-mile walk into the lake.  Once I turned off the main logging road, I could tell I was going to have the lake to myself. That was a great feeling. Now Chad had described the path to the lake as a “goat path” which had me a tad nervous. I was pretty happy to see that the path was very navigable and clearly marked with tracking tape. You know when you are walking through the woods with all your gear and your fishing rod gets tangled in a tree or your pack gets snagged up? This wasn’t the case here at all, clear sailing all the way through. The walk was actually quite easy, but I did stop just to look around and take it all in. I felt fortunate for standing in the place I was in.

One-Man walleye opener bush and landing   one-man walleye opener landing

Chad believed the walleye would still be in a pre-spawn pattern holding off creek outflows, and he had one in mind on this particular lake. The spot was about a 20 minute run using one of Pasha’s 6hp Yamaha outboards. I have to add I have never  had a mechanical issue with one of Pasha’s motors–maybe three pulls to start and that’s it.

pasha lake fishing spot   pasha lake fishing spot

Taking a look at the amount of water flowing out of the creek, I decided on a 3/8 oz chartreuse jig tipped with a Berkley chartreuse Alive Minnow. First drift and I was rewarded with a scrappy 14 inch walleye, which I returned quickly to the water. I liked how this was looking.

I guess maybe my excitement was a bit premature because the next five drifts yielded me nothing, not even a tap. I decided to switch things up but the current I was in required my constant attention, so I opted to head into some slack water to reequip. I have become more of a fan of plastics over the last year and decided to stay with an artificial bait. Keeping the same jig, I switched to a 4 inch AuthentX purple with chartreuse tail. I maneuvered the boat to run the same seam along the main outflow but again nothing on three attempts.

I decided to have a drink and a little snack, thought that might help me figure things out. So I headed back into the slack water. This time I tied off on a little rock island so I could get out and stretch my legs a bit. Again it just looked like a nice place to hang out for a bit.

Staring at my plastics looking for some inspiration, I thought with the dark tea-colored water maybe these fish could use a contrast with a bit of flash.

authentx plastics jig

With the new plastic on, I gave a cast out into the slack water for a trial run. My fortunes changed rapidly at this point. First cast and I had a fish on, but this what happened on my first drift so I was cautiously optimistic.

one-man walleye opener walleye

There was no need though for my concern, though, and the fishing became very consistent for the balance of the afternoon. What I did find is the majority of the fish I was catching were in the first 10 feet of my retrieve. What I was doing was wasting a lot of time if I didn’t pick up a fish in that first 10 feet. I pulled up off that island and dropped anchor closer to my new found honey hole. Again this was a good decision “be where the fish are.”

On at least three occasions I had a small pike (20-24 inches) follow my walleyes.  I kept thinking, “is he going to hit one of them or not?” You might be thinking it wasn’t the same pike each time, but I could actually see that this particular pike had something going on with his tail.

So on another hit I set the hook and I could tell pretty quick it was not a walleye this time. I looked down at my fish and it was my pike friend with the tail issue. By the looks of it, the pike (which I have since called “Lucky”) had been bit by something bigger. What else was swimming down there that would take a swipe at this 20 inch pike?  Unfortunately I didn’t find out but there is always next time.

pike with bite

The bite was very consistent the entire time on this spot. I was amazed on how deep the walleye were taking these AuthentX baits–I can’t say enough about them.

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I ended up boating 23 walleyes that afternoon with half a dozen pike mixed in. I hated leaving a good bite but knew getting back at a decent time with a good night’s sleep would serve me well for the next day. And Day 2 certainly did bring about plenty of adventures of its own.

scott turner prostaffer

To be continued…

About Scott Turner: I have been married for 18 years to my wife, Tracey, and we have two talented and beautiful daughters, Jessica (15) and Jacqueline (12), as well as Sadie, our German Shorthair Pointer. I am currently the president of the Greater Windsor Track & Field Club which includes 200 youth athletes.

A conservative estimate of the days I spend afield would be in the neighborhood of 200, spread between fishing, hunting and trapping. I would have to say my favorite fish to pursue would be the one that is biting the best! I consider myself a generalist, I fish whatever species I can when I can. I am very excited to be a member of Pasha Lake’s Pro-Staff team. My goal is to fish as many lakes in the region as possible and report back to you. I hope some of my experiences at Pasha Lake Cabins help enhance your next trip or maybe encourages you to come up and try Pasha Lake Cabins for the first time. It’s a trip you will not regret. 

Follow me on Twitter: @turnerscott2009

northern pike ontario locating northern pike

Locating Northern Pike

Northern pike are at the top of the food chain in most Ontario lakes. They eat just about anything. Walleyes, trout, whitefish, perch, chubs, shiners, frogs, snakes, birds, bugs, and other pike are all on the menu. Let’s talk finding these northern pike (tips compliments of Pike Heaven).

Traditional locations

Small to medium-size northern pike generally stay in thick weeds and close to shore. They will stick to the back of bays where water warms up quickly with the morning sun and they have lots of weeds to hide in.

You can find big trophy northern pike in the back of bays and in thick weeds as well, but generally the really large northern pike are more likely to hang around points leading into bays, narrows between islands, or in river current. They need breathing room and like to ambush bigger prey like walleyes. They like to hang around areas where walleyes are migrating through.

pike location map locating northern pike

Deep water pike

On lakes where there is a high population of trout and whitefish, many of the massive trophy pike will go deep to feed. Trout and whitefish have more oil and are far more rewarding in calories than walleye or small pike. Deep water pike fishing is something few people ever think about trying. There will be 20 to 25 pound pike patrolling the bays and points but the really big 35+ pound pike will be down deep.

There are two ways to catch them down deep. You can jig with lures like you are ice fishing or troll for them. To troll down deep for pike is basically the same as trolling deep for lake trout. The difference is you use Dardevle spoons or bigger muskie lures. This is not a popular way of fishing because you are not going to catch smaller pike like you do close to shore, and with a limited amount of holidays, most people prefer to see action and hope they come across a big one while trying for those small and medium size pike.

As far as lures, northern pike hit just about anything that moves and stay tuned for a comprehensive list of the lures that will bring in the big guys.

Until next time!

trout tips depth summer fishing lake trout

Trout Tips: Depth and Summer Fishing

Depth

In the spring, the lake trout will be right up to the surface. As the water starts to warm up with the changing weather, the trout start to go deeper. Here is an approximate depth for finding the fish at different times of year. This is not true of all lakes. Some smaller spring fed lakes will have trout shallow all year. But this is a general guideline for finding the trout in various seasons:

  • Just after ice-out: between 10 feet and the surface
  • Mid spring: about 20-30 feet deep
  • Late spring: about 30-45 feet deep
  • Summer: summer is the tricky part. Many believe that the lake trout go to the deepest part of the lake and stay dormant. In actuality, the lake trout stay suspended in 53 degree thermal layers or concentrate in shallower holes where a natural spring pumps cold water into the lake. Why are they there? That’s where all the baitfish are. There will be trout deeper than 60 feet or on the bottom in the deepest part of the lake, but they are not feeding. When they do feed, they come in shallower.

Depth Finder

It’s good to have a depth finder so you can map the schools of baitfish that are suspended. When you do come across a school, troll around the outside of the school. The lake trout sit right underneath the school waiting for weak or injured fish to venture outside the school. Out in the middle of the lake, you will find these schools of baitfish in the 30-60 foot range. It’s different on most lakes but this is a good place to start.

Middle of Summer Lake Trout

The middle of summer is the time when people spend the least amount of time hunting down lake trout. With the 3-way swivel method, the middle of summer can be the best time because the lakers are concentrated in the deep holes and not spread out all over the lake like they are in the spring. Once you find a spot in the summer where you are catching lake trout, keep going back because they will stay in the same spot the whole summer.

A lake trout’s feeding turns on and off like a light-switch. You can find a spot where you are mapping fish on your depth finder and fish that spot for days without catching anything. Then all of a sudden, they start feeding like crazy for an hour or two and then stop dead again. You have to keep trying. Perseverance is a major factor in successful lake trout fishing.

Until next time.

kid with trout more light tackle deep water trout techniques

More Light Tackle Deep Water Trout Techniques

In the summer time, lake trout hit best in the morning between first light and 10:30 am. They will hit better if the surface of the water is dead calm and it’s a clear sky with high pressure. Any other conditions will cause them to slow down. If it’s early spring, the trout seem to feed in other parts of the day. In some lakes, the trout feed aggressively before dark.

Structure and wind

Take a close look at the structure of the shoreline and try to extend the elevation patterns into the lake. If you see a cliff, odds are the water is deep at its face. If you see a string of islands, odds are there is a shallow shoal that runs between them. Trout like drop-offs so you would want to troll parallel to the string of shoals and not over them.

When you drop your line to the bottom, count how many times you let out line. You can get a good estimate of the depth. For lake trout, try to stay in 30 to 60 feet and close to shore. If you come across a spot and catch a trout, odds are there are more of them there.

The wind is very important when trout fishing. Traditionally for warm water fish like walleye or pike, you would fish on the side of the lake where the wind is blowing–the logic being that the fish follow the surface food that it being blown in. With trout it’s the exact opposite. The wind also blows the warm surface water which does not hold enough oxygen for the trout. So, fish the side of the lake where the wind is coming from.

trout and fisherman more light tackle deep water trout techniques

There will be lake trout out in the middle of the lake suspended about 40 to 60 feet down. They are usually in close proximity to schools of bait fish. If you are closer to shore in 40 to 60 feet of water and not catching anything, drop your line down to the bottom so you know how deep you are and then leave your rig at that depth and head out into the open water. In the open water, you will usually catch less trout but they will be bigger. This is not always the true. There are occasions where all the trout are out in the open water, especially when the last few days have been hot with a strong wind that keeps changing direction.

Next time we’ll talk about depths for fishing and catching trout in the middle of summer.

Until then!

pasha lake cabins light tackle deep water trout techniques

Light Tackle Deep Water Trout Techniques

Pasha Lake Cabins has many trout lakes you can drive to by car, boat in, or portage to. Even if you’re vacationing at Pasha Lake for the awesome walleye and pike fishing, you can still fish deep for trout with your light and medium action walleye and pike equipment. The trout species available in our local inland lakes are lake trout, brook trout and splake. (Tips complements of Lake Trout Heaven).

When we fish Lake Nipigon, we are in a bigger boat that trolls faster to we have to use downriggers. The three-way swivel method does not work in a big boat unless you have a small trolling motor. Basically you need to be in a small boat that trolls slowly. The method below is perfect for our smaller inland lakes.

In the old days, people used steel wire, Bait Walkers or Dipsy Divers to fish deep for trout. You can catch fish with these methods but you have to put in a lot of hours to catch a trout. These methods are greatly inferior to the 3-way swivel technique below.

You need a light action rod or a medium-light action with 4 to 6 pound test line. You can also use the ultra thin, 15-pound braided Power Pro line. The reason we specify Power Pro is because it’s a non-alkaline based line and does not oxidize and rot like the really expensive brands. You also need 3-way swivels and a 1-2 oz weight depending on how deep you want to fish, which depends on what time of year it is.

Lake Nipigon in summer

If you are using this method on Lake Nipigon in summer, you may want to go with a 3 oz weight and use heavier braided line because the average lake trout is 20 pounds and the thermocline is between 55-65 feet deep. Below the thermocline, oxygen levels are low and any fish that are down that deep are lethargic and not feeding.

This diagram shows the setup

light tackle deep water trout technique diagram

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By using light line, the line has less friction with the water and slices through so that your line goes down to the bottom without having lots of line out. Tie two 3-foot pieces of line to your 3-way swivel. Use a 1-2 oz weight on one line and a light lure on the other. Lake trout like small lures more than big lures. The very best lure is a small Sutton Silver spoon. You can also use #1 or #0 Mepps, Panther Martins, or Blue Foxes. Small Cleos or a small Mepps Cyclopes are also good.

A 1 oz weight with 6-pound test dark green line is good for fishing down to 40 feet. A 2 oz weight is good for fishing down to 65 feet. In the middle of summer, feeding trout usually are not deeper than 50 feet.

Trolling Slow

You only want to move just fast enough for your lure to work and no faster. If you boat is moving too fast, it will be very hard to find the bottom of the lake. If you are using a boat with a bigger motor and it’s hard to keep slow, try back trolling.

Finding the Bottom

The most important aspect of deep water trout fishing is letting out line to get to the bottom. DO NOT just let out your line until it hits the bottom. Hold the rod in one hand with the bail open. Let the line run through the palm of your other hand and grip the line. Once the boat starts moving and you have a good straight troll going, open your hand with the line, then close it again. This way you can let out a foot or two of line at a time. Get a rhythm going. Open, close, open, close. Your rod tip will bounce up and down as you release little bits of line. The rhythm of your rod tip bouncing will be disrupted when your weight hits the bottom of the lake. When this happens, reel up a foot or two. The purpose of this procedure is to keep your 3-way swivel setup from getting tangled.

Trout are funny when it comes to hitting your lure. Small ones will hit and then take off so you know you have a fish on. The really big trout will hit the lure and slowly swim away. Some are so big they don’t know if they’re hooked. So if you get a snag, make sure it’s not a fish before you start toughing on your line. If it’s a big trout, loosen the drag on your reel because they will go nuts and strip a 100 feet of line off your reel before you can turn them. Keep your drag set for 6 pound test line and do not horse the fish in.

Until next time!

campfire announcement no eggs poultry across border

Announcement: No Eggs, Poultry Across Border

We just got word that until further notice, eggs and poultry are not being allowed from the United States to Canada.

So if eggs are a staple for your camping breakfast or the batter you fry your trophy walleye in, be aware that you’ll have to purchase eggs at one of the convenience or grocery stores across the border. The same goes for any poultry.

We will keep you updated when this ban lifts, but share this blog post with your friends on social media so the guys know to save room in their coolers by not packing eggs or poultry across the border.

Until next time!

Tracy Breen Hiking Outdoor Inspiration

The Inspiration of Tracy Breen

Today, I am not going to talk fishing or about how great Canada is. I’d like to, but recently I experienced a recharging of my batteries, a renewal of my energy. And I am completely amped to share my experience with the rest of the world.

At a Christian Sportsman’s Dinner this month, I got to rub elbows with a very inspiring outdoor enthusiast and hunting nut, Tracy Breen. For those of you who don’t know Tracy, he is a popular outdoor writer, world class archer and highly touted industry personality. He’s written for some of the biggest names in the magazine world such as Outdoor Life, Buckmasters, Bowhunting World, Bowhunter, Heartland USA and more. Not only that, his advice and in-depth analysis of archery and hunting equipment is sought out by thousands, if not tens of thousands, of hunters every year. Big companies such as Havlon Knifes and Alpen Optics routinely hire him to field test new product. He’s even made agreements with Chevrolet to test their latest trucks and SUVs geared toward hunting. In short, Tracy’s wisdom and insights are priceless.

A quick Google search and a look at all his done–that alone is inspiring. But what makes him even more amazing is that he has achieved so much while battling cerebral palsy.

Prior to meeting Tracy, I had always been aware of cerebral palsy but never knew exactly what it was. After a quick search, I learned that CP (as it’s known for short) originates in the brain and impacts movement control over routine things such as balance and posture. To understand how he hunts, and in my conversations with him, you’d never know he suffers from the disease. 

But Tracy’s story and his uncanny ability to overcome life’s obstacles isn’t the only reason for my inspiration and excitement. His story resonates with me because he spoke openly about the “truths” of the hunting and fishing world.

tracy breen outdoor speaker

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My motivation for this blog was in large part because of the all too often, common mistakes I see people make at our lodge. From people being under-prepared to over the top, crazy expectations, I’ve seen vacations completely ruined by lack of information, ungrounded expectations, and groups that simply don’t gel well together. It happens every year, and I know 2015 will be no different.

While I created this blog to address those and other common problems, I feel I struggle with presenting the information in an upfront, no-nonsense way. Tracy, on the other hand, speaks his mind, and his candidness is exactly what I need for people to grasp what I write about. 

My head was constantly shaking in agreement while I listened to Tracy talk.  He discussed everything from a 9-day bear hunt, seeing only one bear for less than a minute, to people spending tens of thousands of dollars to hunt elk, only to be so out of shape they can’t make it to day 3.  He also frequently talked about eating “tag soup”, a term he coined for when he doesn’t fill a hunting tag. In the fishing world you could call it “license linguine” or “license lemonade.” Regardless, if you do this enough, from time to time, coming home empty handed is a reality. 

Tracy’s experiences have obviously taught him well. He’s well grounded on the realities of hunting and fishing–so much so that I’ve rarely met anyone of his mentality. He truly understands what it takes to make your outdoor adventure an experience of a lifetime. 

tracy breen alaskan moose hunt

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That’s a rare trait, my friends! I’ve meet A LOT of people. I’ve talked hunting and fishing until I’m blue in the face, and I can count on one hand how many people have his comprehension of the true outdoor experience. It was truly refreshing!

So in my quest to inform and teach people about hunting and fishing in Ontario and all of Canada, I must say I’ve been re-energized. Tracy Breen is a no-nonsense, speak it how it is personality that is essential in helping us master the outdoor world. But don’t let his directness fool you. He cares… A LOT! He too wants passionately for everyone to have the best experience possible in hunting and fishing. If he didn’t, he wouldn’t spend thousands of hours educating outdoorsmen like he does.

My hope is this blog will serve people in a way that Tracy has served so many. One, by providing crucial information on the realities of hunting and fishing. Two, by helping people be prepared and plan for their adventures. And three, of course most important, by teaching people how to have an experience of a lifetime with the pictures to prove it!

Until next time…