2015 Season Recap Best Ontario Fishing

2015 Season Recap

Hey everybody, long time no write. I apologize to all the BOF followers out there for my noticeable sabbatical from writing. The season at Pasha Lake was like nothing we’ve ever experienced, requiring all hands on deck to keep up the pace. Between a new cabin renovation, finishing a walk-in cooler, guiding, and bear and moose hunters, it afforded me little time to write. That will change going forward. 

That brings me to this blog post. What follows is a season recap where I hope to capture the different happenings, thought processes, and preparation that will help you prepare for 2016. But at the same time, I want to indulge a little on all the wonder of 2015. It was quite the season, and I’m proud to say we helped many guests experience the best northwest Ontario has to offer!

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May

Uncharacteristically warm weather blanketed NW Ontario and the Pasha Lake Region from the end of April through May. For me, it was a doubled-edged sword. On one hand, it allowed us to break ground early on the newly renovated Cabin #6. But on the other hand, I was forced to cancel my annual turkey hunt. I needed every second I could muster devoted to the construction project. Good for the turkeys, bad for me. 

For you as the angler, though, it was the opportunity we haven’t seen since 2012, where Rob Sinning and I fished the last 3 days of 2012 walleye season (in April mind you) from boats.  (We captured that experience in this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4b4qNb5pXXY). This year, around May 7th, the ice began receding to the point we could float a boat. Anglers who braved the frigid water temps–especially on Pasha Lake–were treated to aggressively feeding lake trout. And, although the walleye season was would be closed for another 2 weeks, the pike were coming off their spawn and easily targeted as well. 

It was so warm in early May that I remember one night sitting on the deck of what was to become the new Cabin #6 dining room, and being bitten by mosquitoes the size of sparrows. It was very pleasant, except for the bugs of course.  It was also a welcome change from the previous 2 years and helped set the tone for the fantastic season ahead.

As the month wore on, walleye season soon opened, but with that the skies turned an ominous gray. Typical to May, the changing temps brought the first rains of the year along with unstable pressure.  That forced us to reach for warm clothes and rain gear more often then we would’ve liked. As the lingering rains hung around, what started out as a promising walleye outlook soon turned to frustration and questions. Unless you had experience in your corner, finding marble eye action was tough, even for us veterans of the area. 

Looking back, it was the fluctuating water temps that kept us guessing. Early May freed us from the ice with rapidly warming water. But mid-May brought a screeching halt to that, thereby bringing mass discombobulation to a pattern-able walleye bite. I remember being frustrated a lot. 

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The brook trout fishing, on the other hand, wasn’t nearly as impacted by weather as the walleye bite.  Famous Lake Nipigon lived up to its legendary status, producing more and bigger trout than we’d seen in sometime. What’s even better is the red hot bite lasted all summer. That’s something we haven’t seen before. Definitely a welcome surprise. 

Just ask Dave and Jeff (Michigan). Dave managed to achieve a lifelong goal when he boated his biggest brook trout ever. Jeff chose to focus on lake trout and discovered something new on a select few shallow reefs. Lakers were in less than 5 feet of water and hammering lures like midsummer large mouth. That’s the first time I remember anyone finding that type of Nipigon laker bite (other than fall) in water less than 10ft. 

But as the saying goes in NW Ontario – if you don’t like the weather, just wait a minute or two and it’ll change. Change it did, and as we closed out May, we knew stable weather lay ahead and inevitably the walleyes would go from lazy to hostile on the flip of a switch.  It was just a matter of time.

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More to come, so until next time…

Chad

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New Girls on the Block

By Scott Turner

Lake Onaman–Round 1

Trying to wait out the weather again seemed to be a good idea on a windy, rainy morning. By lunchtime, cabin fever was kicking in and mother nature had settled down to a nice steady mist. Seemed like the perfect time to get things on the move.

I loaded up the truck full of gear, the girls jumped in, and we were on to a very anticipated adventure to the legendary Lake Onaman. My crew today was going to consist of two 15 year olds– my oldest Jessica and her best friend Chloe–with my youngest, 12 year old Jacqueline. If we weren’t going to catch any fish, they were going to look good trying!

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After a “brisk” walk to the lake (they are track and field athletes and I am no longer one), we were ready to tie into some of the great fish that we had been telling Chloe about.

On our way to the main lake, we pulled up along side and chatted with a couple of other Pasha guests that were fishing only a few minutes from the boat launch. This group of two boats was having some pretty good success both casting and jigging. I had thought of staying there but past successes of the main body of the lake had me on the throttle again.

The gentle breeze that we enjoyed while walking through the woods ended up turning into some solid two foot plus waves the wind-swept shoreline I desired. I tried a few spots that I could safely get to while keeping everyone in good spirits. Several moves and several different presentations just couldn’t get a bite going for us. I just couldn’t hold good boat position in the wind–and boat control is just so important. In the wind, I felt even if we did get into a good bite with these young anglers they may not be able to detect a hit, opting instead to head back to the shelter of the islands and bays close to the launch.

My fellow Pasha guest were still fishing so I decided to try a couple of drifts at a respectable distance from our new found friends. I have found over the years that Pasha guests are more than happy to give you any intel they may have to help you catch a few more fish. Is it the good people that come here or is it that there are just so many fish? I think it is a whole lot of both!

Chloe–or shall I refer to her as “Chloe the Walleye Slayer”–got into them first. Two drifts and she had three fish. I had everyone on different colors. Chloe was using a hot pink and white Northland Oddball Jig. Funny enough on the next drift so was everyone else!

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Chloe the Walleye Slayer

I always try and put everyone in the boat on a different color presentation to start to increase our odds on find that right color. The first fish gets my attention, and the second one on that same colors makes me take action. I picked up that tip while sitting in a seminar of another repeat guest of Pasha Lake Cabins, Mark Romanack of Fishing 411.

After a bit of a soaking, the rain stopped to our relief. The crew had boated a few fish, the bite was not bad at all, and things were looking pretty good. Then the bite stopped, I changed colors again for everyone, moved my drift a bit and still nothing. We were fishing in shallow water at about 7 feet so maybe the motor spooked them? I can’t answer why it happened; it just did. And I was not about to waste any time trying to figure it out. Time to move again!

I have a great amount of patience or very little depending how you look at it. I will fish all day but seldom in the same spot if the fish are not biting consistently. This quirk served us well as we stopped at two more spots that afternoon. The first one served us nothing so we only stayed there for ten minutes.

That old secret to successful fishing “fish where the fish are” is an adage of mine. My crew was growing cold from the earlier rain, so I knew I had a limited amount of time left. We headed to a small wind-swept island.

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Now by small I would say it was the size of a tennis court. What I liked about the look of it was there no waves crashing into it and the water was flat calm for about 10 feet. I thought two things: little bit of depth and easy boat control. We pulled into our spot, quickly killed the motor, and dropped back in our hot pink minnow tipped jigs. Within two minutes we had our first fish hooked.

My youngest, Jacqueline, had not landed a fish yet, and I was really hoping she would get into one here. Things lined up perfectly for Jacqueline and she caught the biggest fish of her life, a beautiful 26” Onaman Walleye. Once the commotion was over, Jacqueline–still grinning–laid down her rod
and said “I’m good.” I asked her if she was going to fish any more and she just looked me in the eyes with a smile and said “nope.” I think a lot of us could take a lesson there. The joy of catching that one fish had made her day and she didn’t want to change it. At least that’s what I made of it but I never did ask her.

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Jackie with her big walleye

We boated a dozen fish within half an hour of this spot when I noticed the girls were all starting to shiver, and I knew it was time to head in–regardless of the walleye still having their feedbags on. The remarkable thing about this spot was we were consistently getting bit in only five feet of water.

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Is anybody having a good time on this boat?

Mother Nature was definitely challenging everyone on this day. The walk back to the truck, the fish, and the laughs and memories simply just added to this successful adventure.

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

mark romanack ontario pike

Troll, then Cast for Ontario Pike

By Mark Romanack

In my mind the northern pike symbolizes wilderness fishing more than any other species. While pike are common, trophy sized pike are anything but common and finding them often requires fishing in uncharted waters. Catching pike can be easy, but finding them isn’t always cut and dried.

For more years than I care to remember, my approach to pike fishing in the summer months on uncharted waters boils down to a strategy I simply define as “troll-then-cast.” Trolling is the only practical way to cover water when searching for pike, but casting is often the most productive way to catch them.

Across Ontario, pike spend the majority of their time from June through September relating to weed beds growing in 6 to 10 feet of water. Pinpointing the location of these weed beds can be a time consuming process. Trolling flatlines straight out the back of the boat helps speed up the process and keeps baits in the strike zone 100% of the time.

While trolling, my attention is split between watching the surface and my sonar/GPS unit for signs of cabbage weed. In the summer, cabbage weed often grows right up to the surface. The tiny seed pods located on the top of the plant often break the surface and can be spotted at a distance if you watch closely.

Deeper weed growth is located by monitoring the sonar unit. The key to catching pike is locating pockets of cabbage weed and identifying the shallow and deep water edges of these weed flats. Adult pike tend to hang along the deep water edge of weed cover, while smaller immature fish set up housekeeping on the shallow weed edges.

When weeds are found growing along the edge of shoals or points, pinpointing the deep water edge is easy. When cabbage weed is found growing on open water flats, it takes a little more prospecting to determine the weed edge that leads to deeper water. On weed flats, often a difference in water depth of just a foot or two makes a huge difference as to where the larger pike will be found.

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Catching big pike like the one pictured here is one of the author’s favorite fishing activities. Trolling to find fish, then switching to casting techniques is how the author routinely finds and catches trophy class pike.

JERKBAITS RULE

Shallow diving stickbaits or what are often called jerkbaits are among the best baits for trolling to prospect for pike. These minnow imitating crankbaits typically dive from about 6 to 10 feet deep, making them ideal for trolling over the top of emerging weed growth.

Good baits in this category include the Rapala Husky Jerk 14, the Bomber Magnum Long A, the Yo-Zuri Magnum Crystal Minnow and the Reef Runner 900 series.

I troll these baits using 30 to 40 pound test super braid with a 24 inch leader of 40 to 50 pound test fluorocarbon leader. If the weeds are well developed I troll using 20# test monofilament to reduce the diving depth of my lures and keep the baits fishing above the weed cover. 

When a pike is hooked trolling I immediately save a waypoint on my GPS unit and note the depth the fish was hooked in. Later those waypoints will become prime targets for a casting approach.

If you don’t have a GPS unit, toss a marker buoy when a fish is hooked as a reference point. In the meantime, continue to troll and try to determine the location of weed edges that are also adjacent to deeper water.

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Pike take a long time to grow to trophy size in Ontario waters. Pictured here, the author’s son Jake practices catch and release on trophy pike.

THE CASTING APPROACH

Once I’ve located some pike by trolling, I’ll return to those waypoints or marker buoys and start casting. What baits get the nod is determined by how dense and deep the weed cover happens to be. If the weed cover grows right up to the surface a weedless spoon like the Johnson Silver Minnow is a my “go to” bait. I favor the larger sizes and also tip this spoon with a white twister tail or chunk of pork rind to add more action, scent and color.

Other good casting baits for fishing in dense weed cover include oversized spinnerbaits. Baits built with musky in mind tend to be the best spinnerbaits for pike fishing. Smaller bass sized spinnerbaits are made with thinner wire and they tend to get literally destroyed by pike.

If the weed growth is sparse casting a jerkbait will usually trigger more strikes than either a spoon or spinnerbait. The steady retrieve that’s required to fish a spoon or spinnerbait tends to produce a lot of “follows” but not as many strikes. Working a jerkbait in a “walk the dog” fashion produced savage strikes and more hooked fish.

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Ontario has some of the best pike waters in North America. Catching these fish by casting is a huge rush, but casting is often too time consuming to be considered a good method for locating pike. Flatline trolling to locate fish and then casting out those spots is a much better fishing strategy.

Another casting bait worth using are bucktail spinners and again the larger sized baits designed for musky fishing tend to produce best on pike. Bucktail spinners come in both single blade and double blade versions. The double blade versions like the Bait Rigs Viper 2 Mag 5 Pikie  create a lot more flash and vibration in the water and tend to perform best.

Another casting bait I always take along is a heavy duty swimming style jighead tipped with a six inch twister tail or shad style swimbait body. Jigs are fished slower, deeper and they are the best choice when pike follow, but don’t strike. The Bait Rigs Esox Cobra is the perfect jig for pike fishing.

SUMMING IT UP

Trolling is the best way to find the places pike hang out, but casting tends to produce more bites. The best approach is to combine both fishing strategies —  trolling to find fish — then switching up and casting out the spots that are holding fish.

Mark Romanack has worked in the outdoor industry his entire career. A graduate of Northern Michigan University with a B. S. Degree in Conservation, Romanack works full time helping others better enjoy the outdoor experience. Since 1981 he has conducted countless educational seminars, written thousands of magazine articles, written 13 books on fishing and produced dozens of YouTube educational clips. In addition, Romanack spends copious amounts of time producing the national television series Fishing 411, seen on both national cable and satellite providers.

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Weekly Report {June 13, 2015}

In the news this week:

  • Weather continues to play a major role in finding fish
  • Signs of increasing water temps (read how to find fish in transition on Target Walleye)
  • Water temps on Nipigon remain at record lows; brook trout bite through the roof
  • 48 inch pike killed by a prop
  • New lake explored, Chad-style
  • Dave & Julie Moore do it again
  • Onanman continues to produce mind-boggling walleye results

Once again, this week’s weather has been a head scratcher. For Sunday through most of Wednesday, we were plagued with cool, overcast, drizzling weather that hampered the efforts of our innocent guests. Also once again, finding fish was not the difficult part. The challenge continues to arise in finding a consistent bite and combating the sometimes unforgiving weather conditions. Regardless–someway, somehow–Pasha Lake guests always find a way to persevere; but I’ll have more on that later.   Thankfully, by week’s end and at the time of this report, we are in a warming trend.  Thursday brought high skys and much needed, yet unusually warm weather.  And, according to the long term forecast, the trend will continue for the foreseeable future. Not to be a Negative Nelly, but with the warmer weather, the bug hatch is in full swing and will continue to get worse before it gets better. Word to the wise: those heading into NW Ontario over the next few weeks need to be prepared to deal with them.

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So how have Pasha Lake’s guests dealt with the wild weather swings? Well, persistence and trial-and-error have been key. No doubt the spawn is over and has been for awhile. No doubt the fish are in transition. What we’re trying to dial in is where the fish (namely walleyes) are holed up. (Note: I was reading the Target Walleye blog yesterday and came across a tidbit on how find them.)  My advice to guests is throw the play book out the window, and really listen to what the fish, in that moment, are telling you. If you catch one or two fish and the bite goes dead, move! Find the same structure that produced and do it again. Continue searching, start shallow and work deep. Pound shorelines with spinners and cranks until you’re satisfied the fish aren’t there. Tie on a jig, hit the bottom, and migrate toward deeper water. Stick with brights, play with the tempo of your presentation, and stay persistent. There is no doubt the fish are there, you just have to find out what’s going to work for that day, at the depth, and for those fish. Sounds pretty generic, but generic is essential to locating fish. Once you find them, then you can start fine-tuning things.

Third-year guests Dave and Julie Moore have learned this lesson all too well.  2015 marks the best fishing they’ve ever experienced while staying with us. Don’t get me wrong, the fishery hasn’t changed (well, maybe it’s gotten better); the fishermen have changed. Dave and Julie invested one week a year for the last 3 years fishing our waters. In that time they’ve watched, learned and implemented extreme trial and error. In fact, the first 2 years staying with us, they relied heavily on advice and recommendations they could gather from other camp goers and me. This year, much to my enjoyment, I watched them implement all they’ve learned. In the mornings, they got their lake assignment, and when they returned in the evenings, I thoroughly took pleasure in hearing their success. In the near future, I plan on interviewing Dave and Julie for the Best Ontario Fishing blog. My goal is to capture in gory detail all they’ve done to become so successful in fishing the Pasha Lake region.

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Bob H does it again. Bob H from Michigan really intrigues me. His crew and he have to be some of the best fisherman I’ve rubbed elbows with during our tenure at Pasha Lake. What I find fascinating about Bob’s crew is how hard they fish, how successful they are, all while fishing from their own boats. Bob tows around a 19ft Lund and his brother a similar rig. In this past week, they fished 7 or 8 different lakes having mind-blowing success on all. When Bob and I connected for the first time last week, he explained his mission of boating a 25” brook trout from Nipigon. I gave him my best two cents, not really comprehending how serious he was. Bob listened intently and was able to achieve his goal in short order. In fact, his brother has a Pasha Lake Trophy Club Hat and the picture to prove how successful he was. Add to that astonishing numbers of perch, walleye and some pike that bordered on trophy class and you could say they had a pretty darn good week. Not to mention, they stumbled upon a 48 inch Nipigon Pike (that’s not a typo) that had been killed by a prop.  They didn’t snap a photo of it, but rest assured, if these guys say it was 48, it was all of 48 inches. Just like my goal with Dave and Julie, I plan on asking Bob (and hope he’ll tell me) the list of lakes he fished this week to be so successful. I’ll post the info on the blog as soon as it becomes available. 

(Side note: Gus has been doing extremely well for brook trout on Lake Nipigon in the last 2 weeks. His guide trips have boated guests double digits speck days on almost every outing. That’s pretty darn good considering the crazy swings in water temps. Keep it up, Gus!)

And not to be out done by the guests, I was able to finally partake in my first guide trip of the year. Where to you might ask? None other than the famous walleye factory, Onaman Lake. 

Rewind back to February. Long time guest Larry and Mike Apple from Ohio called to book their annual June trip. Mike told me he wants to make this trip a special one and asked about the Walleye Dream Trip. Unfortunately I had to break the news that we don’t start that trip until July. I quickly recommended the alternative (and, in my mind, often times better) Onaman Lake. Mike was quick to jump on board and we set a date for the last day of their stay. Fast forward to yesterday and Onaman strikes again. “That’s the best fishing I’ve ever experienced” were words uttered by both Mike and Larry as I finished cleaning the last walleye of their take-home limit. If I had a dollar for every time I heard those words, I’d have an extra couple of grand in my bank account and that’s no joke! 

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Larry Apple (Ohio) braves the 1 mile walk to fishing bliss, courtesy of Onaman Lake

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The Onaman Lake Walking Bridge, maintained by Pasha Lake Cabins

Oh and I almost forget, on Sunday of last week I finally had to take a break. I’ve always wanted to explore a certain lake and decided it was the day. I threw a boat in my truck and aimed north for a lake that lay a short 45min drive. Neckdowns and flow were the main characteristics that attracted me to the body of water, but I was pleasantly surprised by a plethora (really? Did I just use that word?) of favorable walleye structure.  In last week’s report I theorized the inconsistent bite was due to the transition from spawn to feeding, and it was confirmed within 10 minutes of hitting the new body of water. We hit walleyes in flow, off points, down deep, in weeds, in timber and suspended. It was crazy!  Everywhere we threw a jig, we knew it was only a matter of time before we boated a fish. I quickly grew tired of rebaiting minnows so I donned a white Berkley Grub and noticed no difference in action. 

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The new lake

But, also true to my theory, you couldn’t sit in one spot for too long. In order to stay in the action, we moved–a lot! At one point, we stumbled on a mid-lake submerged weed bed and stopped to check it out. As soon as the graph lit up with fish I boated a jumbo perch, followed shortly by a respectable walleye. I was surprised how green the vegetation was, but it was obviously holding fish. A couple more drifts and we were treated to similar results. At one point after tying on a Lindy Fuzy Grub, I was distracted and a pike hit my lure so hard it literally jerked the rod from my hand. Of course he broke the line almost instantly, but it’s one I won’t soon forget! We ended the day completely satisfied, couple of limits, and a new feather in the cap of our lake repertoire. 

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A selfie after a mind-staggering day of catching fat walleyes on Onaman

And finally! 4 guys, one boat and 5 trophy pike. That was the official tally after a day on Lake Nipigon with Gus, Pasha Lake’s Lake Nipigon official guide. Never in the history of our Trophy Club have we given out 4 Club Hats in one day. That changed last Friday when Justin Alders (Faribault, MN) and his crew landed 5 pike over 40 inches in an afternoon of fishing Lake Nipigion! Congratulations, you guys–you earned it.

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That brings us to yet another weekly report.  Going forward, weather looks great and the fishing action even better!  Keep checking back for updates as we keep on tracking the fishing of the best fishing region in all of Ontario!

Until next time…

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!