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June 1, 2024

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Be on your toes!

The changes happen so fast this time of year.  It was surprising to read the stats sheets from the beginning of the week to the end.

This week started with a continuation of the cold, cloudy, rainy conditions from the end of last week. Then we saw a few days of warm sunshine, and as we end this week we are dealing with high winds again.  I know I have written this in previous fishing reports, but it still holds true – If you don’t like the weather in NW Ontario just wait a day… and be careful what you wish for.

There is debate among the guides – what was the cause and effect of the walleye movement we experienced this past week?  We are just guessing why, but here is what we know happened….

We consistently checked our normal spring spots.  The main lake spawners on the north shore were still a win at the beginning of the week, but the group of walleyes that spawn miles away from us that usually migrate into the warm water zones, just never showed up.  When the sun doesn’t shine the protected back water areas do not heat up.  If there is no major difference in the water temps, then there is no reason for those fish to seek out those zones and they didn’t.

In 2024 we have an aggressive guide staff that are not afraid to hunt for fish in unusual spots and they found them.  Fifteen years ago, we would not have caught that many fish.

We started to find walleyes on transition areas earlier than we expected them and then the guides checked one and two levels deeper.  We don’t expect to find walleyes on main lake transition areas when surface temps are 44 – 50 degrees.  We certainly don’t expect to find them in 16 – 24 ft of water, but that is where many of them were and if you slowed down and fished vertically with an 1/8 oz jig and a minnow, then you would not just catch one but a bunch of them.  The pattern did fade as the weather changed, but I was very impressed with the guides that solved that puzzle.

There is no time for pats on the back, because those fish moved on when the sun came out.  By midweek, we started to see surface temps in the upper 50s in many areas and the fish were moving.  They still did not move back into our “normal spring warm water areas,” they just moved shallower onto the transition areas.  I haven’t even gotten to the part when the wind blew and that mixed up everything.

The bottom line is that the walleye bite is rapidly changing and very complicated.  Despite those conditions, the SWWL guide crew worked together to figure it out.  For the week, we caught and released 43 walleyes over 27 in, including 5 – 28s, 4 – 29s, and 1 – 30.  Guide sheets averaged 30 walleyes over 18 in per boat per day, but that number does not reflect the fact that more than half of our guests chose to chase big pike in the afternoon.

The big pike results were a bit more straightforward.  When the sun didn’t shine, it sucked!  If you could find water temps approaching 56 – 60 degrees in traditional pike spawning bays, then you were going to catch fish.  Most of the really big ones were caught on the outside points of those bays and many of those big girls had eelpout tails sticking out of their mouths.  The consensus from the guide crew was that terminal tackle was less important than finding catchable fish.  With that said, spoons were by far the go to bait.  It is hard to go wrong with a                5 of diamonds – it continues to be my personal favorite from my first years of guiding.  If you are travelling to Canada to fish pike, then make sure you have at least one for everyone in your boat.  For the week, we caught and released 23 pike over 37 in, including 4 – 37s, 9 – 38s, 7 – 39s, 1 – 40, and 2 – 42s.

By this week last year, we had already seen a few smallmouth beds.  That is not happening.  We are catching random smallmouth while walleye fishing or throwing minnow baits for pike.  For the week, we caught and released many bass, with 10 over 19 in, and  1 – 20 in.  I am guessing that by this time next week I will have a very different story to tell, but only if the sun shines.

The Take Away:

I am a guide.  I may own a lodge, but I love guiding.  And nothing is more satisfying to me than watching a guide crew solve a super complicated problem, capitalize on it, and then smile when it fades away.

We get better when we are in good company.

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Additional Photos for June 1, 2024