Recalling early June, I remember cool May rains bleeding well into the first weeks of the month. In a typical year, we welcome longer days and warmer weather, but this year was super slow to change. It was a stark contradiction to how May started. In one sense, it was great because it kept the bug hatch in check. Unfortunately, though, it also made for some, let’s say, chilly fishing conditions for those with opposite hopes.
One lake in particular posed a big challenge. Historically it’s been a good early walleye bite. Its massive size and deep structures have always been a personal favorite of mine. And you never know what you’re setting the hook on–be it a walleye, laker, perch or patrolling northern pike. Big lakes also produce big fish, so there’s always that lingering possibility.
But this year, early June guests struggled on this usually go-to heavy hitter. Recalling my theory from late May, I think the fast warming then cooling water temps kept the fish from their usual post spawn feeding routine. In fact, and not unusual, guests were catching walleyes still milting from the spawn. However the same size males caught in different locations had been dry for awhile, evidenced by their healed underside. Now that was unusual.
Our regulars, however, knew it was just a matter of time. In the past, I’ve described it as the “light switch” scenario. When it seems like the bite will never pick up and weather is doomed to eternal sourness, BOOM! It happens. The skies clear and what might’ve been a dismal bite 24 hours ago instantly turns into fishing ecstasy. Walleyes go from motionless, lock-jaw vegans to furious, blood thirsty, carnivore-eating beasts. No matter what you throw or where you fish (within reason of course), the post-spawn feeding frenzy comes alive. It’s cool, and if timed right, will be some of the best walleye fishing of the season.
Year after year, that fact is echoed in the famous Onaman Lake. On some level, you’d think I’d build up a tolerance to this prolific body of water, but it has yet to happen. For me, Christmas come early is June 1st, when this astounding walleye factory opens to angling. And true to form, this year was one for the record books. Time and time again, angler after unsuspecting angler came back with what I now call “the look” – they’ve been Onaman’ed! It’s a term I’ve coined to explain the look on someone’s face after spending the day there. It’s a cross between permagrin and sheer terror sprinkled with genuine amazement. Think of someone finding out they won the 10 million dollar Powerball while sitting in Sunday mass. It’s reserved, but an unmistakable look of pure elation.
Speaking of Onaman, I am thoroughly convinced this body of water is the PREMIERE walleye destination of Ontario, if not Canada. It’s simply a factory for producing big, ferocious, fighting walleyes. Man I love that lake!
Another neat phenomenon that occurred this year involved aggressively feeding brook trout that was, in a sense, timeless. On a typical year I encourage trout anglers to plan their trips from May to the first week in June. It’s a time when the trout are shallow and with increasing water temps, they feed heavily. A nice bonus to the early bite is where you find one, more are sure to follow. While true to form for 2015, the opportunity to fish these magnificent specimens ended up lasting all summer. That’s pretty surprising and very uncommon. I know of one guest that fishes Nipigon every weekend. He too was surprised by the all-season bite and took full advantage of it. He boated some impressive midsummer specks, a feat not historically achievable.
Did somebody say trophy Canadian pike? Michelle orders 2 dozen Pasha Lake Trophy Club Hats every year. For those of you not familiar with the club, we give a free hat to anglers who catch, photograph and release trophy fish. By late June, I had Michelle place an emergency hat order with our supplier. People had boated so many big pike, we were down to our last 2 hats.
Evidently the lingering cool water, while frustrating for some walleye anglers, kept the big pike catchable as ever. Customarily, June water makes conditions uncomfortable for shallow pike. This year, they were able to hang out a bit longer, affording our guests paparazzi opportunities typically reserved for “A list” movie stars.
But every good June must come to end. For me, that means my favorite time of year was just around the corner….
(Introducing my new and improved sign off) – Always be sure to give more than you take. Until next time…