Hands down, July is my favorite time of year. There is so much going on in July. Water temps are peaking at all time highs, bugs are minimal, weather is predictable, the days are long and, July’s most important trait–the walleye fishing–is RED HOT!
2015 was no different. We had a tremendous stabilization in the weather that afforded us days upon days of nothing but blue bird skies, above-average temps. and fishing that, as usual, was second to none. Especially the walleye fishing.
Take the Famous Walleye Dream Trip for example. Annually, July marks the inaugural voyage of the season. Once midsummer settles in, Lake Nipigion walleyes head to their feeding sanctuaries, schooling up in mind-boggling herds that endlessly gorge themselves day and night. And with water levels a touch below average, the gates at the Ogoki Reservoir were continually diverting water to the basin of lake. In other words, we had uninterrupted access to walleye fishing bliss. Add to that Gus, the 2015 Pasha Lake expert guide, and you have a recipe for memories to be captured for eternity. And in true Gus fashion, he threw in some unexpected trophy pike fishing that delivered in a BIG TIME way. Countless guests were treated to pike that far exceeded the 40” mark. One guest in particular, Tom Peterson, boated a 45” behemoth of a pike, coming within centimeters of my personal best. I guess 30 years of fishing Nipigon affords Gus a bit of an advantage few of us will experience in this life time.
Also, remember back to May when I had a little snafu with my arm, forcing an unexpected surgery. That meant light duty for most of the summer. Light duty in July equals time out on the water for this guy! I picked one lake to focus on in my down time, and it paid off handsomely. Just ask my 4 year old daughter Carmyn. On one of our outings together, she hooked, fought, and landed a 29” walleye. (Just this past weekend she reminded me once again of her achievement.) Quite the experience for a little girl! But what I loved about this lake exploration wasn’t the trophy potential, although it was obviously there. I much more enjoyed the remoteness, and abundant (average) walleye population that produced time and time again. It was a bugger to get to but well worth the efforts. Over the years, I’ve found exploration to be just as rewarding, if not more so, than actually boating the fish.
But I wasn’t the only one having July fishing success. In fact, what I am about to write is somewhat painful, but you’ll understand why I included it in a second. Onaman Lake, as sad as it seems, can experience a slowing midsummer bite. (Qualification: when compared to fishing in the lower 48, I’d take a slow bite on Onaman any day of the week). But this year, I can count on one hand the days guests came back and said they struggled on this walleye fishing factory. One hand, folks! That’s less than 5 fingers! If there are 180 days of open water fishing on Onaman, that’s less than 3%. I’d hedge that bet anytime!
A couple of groups come to mind when talking midsummer Onaman fishing. I’m reminded of the “Larrys”. They visited us during the 4th week in July, a time that traditionally can cause some anxiety with the active bite. But day after day, the boated record numbers of big walleyes like it was post spawn feeding time. In fact, they were so excited about the bite, they fished Onaman almost every day of their visit. We even had groups test the night bite. The Ojanen camping crew from Clouquet, MN, opted to stay out until 3am. Crazy as it sounds, they landed big numbers up until dark, and then things suddenly shut off. Making sure their theory wasn’t a fluke, they tried again later in the week with the same results. I guess the Onaman walleyes have to stop feeding at some point!
Want in a little known NW Ontario secret? The lake trout fishing in mid-July is often the best of the season. Water temps have maxed out which forces lakes to stratify. I’m no hydrologist, but fortunately I don’t have to be to know that when lakes layer, lakers will be concentrated around that 50 degree water mark. On some lakes, that could be 30ft down, on others 60ft. Regardless, if you can get your lure in that prime feeding zone, they’ll hit it like a lion taking down a gazelle. Long time guests Jonny Fickert and his dad know this all too well. That’s why they opt for a mid July trip year in and year out.
As sad as it is for this guy, July too must come to an end. When that happens, there is one thing I look forward to about as much as July fishing. My Christmas come early if you will? August, here we come!
Remember to always give more than you take, and until next time…