Saturday, May 21, 2011

And so it begins....

Well - actually "began".

Great having a visit with Earl B & Shelley a couple of weeks ago. They did some early May fishing & did well with bass & pike. Earl's thinking of a return in September for any of you who missed him this spring!

The Sproat group is our first in Quetico this year. Dropped the 8 guys off @ Nym Lake a few days ago and we're looking forward to hearing all about their trip next Thursday.

The Hill group is in camp now - the first cabin based anglers of the year. Some great weather earlier this week - beautiful, sunny, highs in the mid to high 70's. Their first day was slow, but they did well with bass the second day - including 3 at 4 lbs+...Further to that, here we are on May 21 and the water temps are ranging from 57 - 65 farenheit!!!Word is the bass are moving towards the spawning beds ....topwater action should be getting better and better each day. Should be an awesome pre-spawn fish this year!

ANd, of course, today is the walleye opener. Lots of people out enjoying the wilderness and endless water we have. Mother Nature isn't really co-operating though - it's raining now & we're expecting 3/4 of an inch by tomorrow a.m.

The water was low for spring up until a few days ago. Now it's about average for this time of year on the chain. For those of you who always ask, the rock in the back bay is just under the water. Current, as expected, is a bit strong.

On the downside, the blackflies have started. Hopefully they'll run their course and finsih earlier than usual.

Anyway, things are looking really good for this season. Looking forward to meeting all the new people and seeing all our old friends. We're in the process of a few cabin renos - nothing major - some new flooring - new bathrooms in cabin 5 & 8.

Anyway - gotta get back to work. Maybe if I get my stuff all done I'll be able to wet a line later.....tough decision though - do I go after some tasty post spawn walleye or see if I can get some topater bass or pike action? Decisions......

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Gear That I Love V2:The Red & White Daredevil

Well the snow is melting and the phone is ringing a lot more - I can tell everyone is starting to think about fishing.

I have a lot of friends that only fish walleye. Nothing wrong with that. Walleye are a lot of fun and taste great. I always was more of a multi-species type guy though, and once spring arrived and the first lines can be wet (without a hole in the ice), I often would go after northern pike.

When I was younger I casted off shore a lot. The big pike used to (and still do) spawn in our back bay. These giants would absolutely never go after any kind of bait. They were procreating and that was that. They used to drive me absolutely nuts. I could see them splashing and swimming around like sharks - I`d cast and cast and cast but to no avail - they weren`t interested.

Once they were done though - that`s when the action really started!

I`d spend hours off shore - and later in a boat catching all kinds of pike. Some smaller, but in the spring I also got lots of action from the lunkers as well.

I through all kinds of bait & tackle....Rapalas (were great but the multi prongs were a pain to get out), various Mepps, Mr Twisters, Vibratails, topwater plugs, minnows, Little Joes....but the best hands down was the red and white daredevil.

I developed a lot of my preferences by fishing a ton - often when I should have been in school. I like and use all kinds of bait and tackle, but the R&W daredevil was (is) it for me for pike fishing - my favorite (along with the Heddon Dying Flutter - but we`ll get into that in another post).

I used to be a die hard Eppinger guy - but with a limited budget I soon went to cheaper brands...Lucky Strike et al. I found I had just as much luck but it was a lot easier on the wallet when I invariably lost one on a big pike or a snag.

I got so I liked big spoons - ie 1 ounce and 3.5 inch plus. Easier to cast and also the size I seemed to get the best response from.

And leaders - yep - ya gotta have èm when pike fishing. My personal preference is 9" - I found the 6 inch a little short when in the gullet of a huge pike, and the 12 inch tended to kink on me a lot.

I started guiding on a regular basis when I was about 10 years old. We had (and still have) some great remote lakes for pike fishing and often I`d be leading groups on these often non existent trails - some 2+ miles long - for a day of pike fishing. These guiding experiences taught me a lot and kept me in tackle (and later beer!) through the eighties.

Like I said - the trails were often pretty long and pretty tough. Packing light is essential. I had a small pack...experimented with different gear - telescopic rods etc. For tackle I`d put about a dozen red and white daredevils and leaders into one of my Dad`s tobacco cans....lid on - into the pack and that was it. Ready to go. I`d laugh - so many guys were insistent on lugging these huge tackle boxes full of all kinds of different tackle....and, pretty much all the time all they used was their daredevils.

Looking back I wasn`t that bright. I wouldn`t bring pliers and after unhooking and releasing dozens of pike each day my hands were beat to crap. I experimented with cutting off one or two prongs but it killed the action of the lure. I finally got smart - pinched at least some of the barbs and brought needlenose pliers. I`m a bit of a slow learner!

The daredevil is indeed a pike killer....but it is very effective for walleye as well. I`ve caught quite a few on it. I remember a group of guys who were out fishing èyes after a day of pike fishing. All their rods were rigged with leaders and 1 ounce daredevils (they took my advise!). They had an awesome day pike fishing and were completely exhausted.....too tired to change the tackle they said -they left the daredevils and leaders on and dropped them down and jigged them near an island on the Seine and started pulling in a fair number of really nice walleye. In fact these guys were having a very hard time catching `eyes before this. You just never know....the more I see and experience in fishing the more I really believe that there are no rules.

Of course this all works for me...I swear by my 1 ounce red & white daredevils. I`m a huge believer however in WWFY - whatever works for you. It`s amazing how one thing can work terrific for one person but be completely useless for another.

Mix it up - try different tackle, bait and techniques...don`t get stuck on one thing or just never know. I really believe that.

But - when I cast for pike in a few weeks (hopefully!) - I`ll likely have a red & white daredevil on the end of my line. As much as I mix it up, I also respect what works for me.

Take care everyone....hope to see you up here this summer! Looking forward to you die hards coming up for early pike & lake trout....keep checking in with me - once the ice is out I`ll let you know! New post coming soon!

Saturday, March 5, 2011


Actually I was going to call this "Gear That Kicks A**!", but thought that may be inappropriate!

Anyway, I mentioned in an earlier post that I would start getting more technical. Well, Im starting with a theme that I've wanted to do for a long time - talking about outdoor gear, tackle, equipment etc that I swear by. This will be ongoing and likely morph into "techniques that kick...." and maybe other "people that kick...." yada yada...

Yeah, I know - it seems self indulgent - and it is. But I know some things from growing up in a fishing & hunting camp, plus doing coutless sportshows from the time I was a baby. Outdoors enthusiasts (fisherman, hunters, canoeists etc)love to talk shop - tackle, gear, equipment, techniques etc. And hey - by all means post some comments. We'll have a "virtual bs session" - yakking like we do in the office at camp, in the yard, on the dock, in the boats, in the bush, at the sportshows etc. Sometimes I think that despite all the work that comes with this job (and there is endless work) it sure is great spending work time talking fishing etc. Beats a real job!

Anyway - nothing too techncal to start it off.....this first post about gear is about the very mundane but incredibly important.... footwear. And when it comes to summer footwear I am a die hard when it comes to my Vibram By Merrell boots.

The pic above shows my current pair of Vibrams. It is my second. The first ones I wore for about 3 years and was completely sold. After 3 years of spring, summer and fall abuse they still had full tread on the bottom. They were torn in the toes, and looking pretty ragged so, at the urging of Lori (my lovely wife who tirelessly tries to ensure that I look somewhat professional and civilized) I set out to find the replacement. I was lucky to fing the identical boot in the same place I bought the first pair - REI in Minneaplois MN.

Whe I say abuse, I mean abuse. They accompanied me on endless trips in the bush. From remote fishing lakes down nasty trails, to bear baiting, fishing minnows and hunting. I should have had a couple of broken ankles different times, but they provide deceiving ankle support. And the grips on the soles are terrific. I don`t know how many times I should have fallen off slippery rocks - either down a hill into the bush,getting into a boat on rocks that may as well be glare ice, or leaning towards a minnow pond on a steep slippery bank. They saved my bacon more than once. And often I`m alone in these situations. Inadequate footwear could result in accidents with tragic consequences.

These things are cool in hot weather - you often can actually feel the wind through them, and dry very quickly when they invariably get wet. They are very light and extremely comfortable.

So many people - loads on canoe trips - go into this rugged terrain with sneakers - or worse - flip flops. They`re OK for a day on the beach or while sitting in a canoe or a boat. Hey I get it - they`re comfortable - but so are my Merrells. My Dad was very adamant about proper footwear in the bush. He was a prospector who literally lived in a tent in the bush all over North America for over 20 years. He`s right - our number one injury with people on remote trips in the bush is twisted ankles é cut feet etc - foot injuries.

These are preventable. When I was a kid I used to head into the bush all the time with my running shoes. I`d get my butt kicked if my Dad found out. I just hated wearing my leather `bush boots` .....even though they were OK as far as comfort goes (once you got through whacks of blisters breaking them in), back then even the expensive ones were heavy. And if you weren`t diligent with `Dubbin`- ie waterproofing - they`d get wet and take forever to dry.

Now there`s no excuse. These new ones don`t even require a `break in`. Everyone has their favorite. Mine are my Merrells.

`Nuff said.

Talk soon!


Thursday, February 17, 2011


Hey everybody....hope you're all having a fantastic winter.

Here in Atikokan it certainly has been a "real Canadian winter". We've had lots of very cold weather and a ton of snow. The last couple of days it's actually been very nice - above freezing - but I hear it's going to dip back down near -30 tonight & follow with even more snow this weekend.

Anyway - just a quick look at some of the things we did last season and some changes for 2011.

The biggest improvement in 2010 was definitely the new fish cleaning house. It's now right by the docks - large, clean, bright, and screened in along with some outside plugs for your trolling motor battery chargers. It received a big "thumbs up" from virtually everyone in 2010. Huge thanks to Howie Hawkes, Lenny Anderson, Wayne Menard, Daryl Warkentin, Cora Warkentin & Wyatt Branch for all the help with it. An extra big THANK YOU to Richard Spilchuk who pretty much was the driving force behind the whole project...from design to the pad and the first nail through the last this was pretty much Richards baby...and it turned out great. Fittingly, Richard cleaned the first fish in the new facility....not exactly sure, but I think it may have been a pike.

Speaking of docks, and thanks to Lenny, Howie & Richard and the others our older docks & ramps got a facelift in 2010. Plus we added a new floater....again this was very well receieved and appreciated by everyone who used them this year. We're planning to add two more new floaters in 2011 and continue to improve the ramps and older docks.

We've got a few things lined up for 2011 on top of new docks....

We now will be offering air conditioning in all of our large cabins. Right now it looks like window and / or portable units. We tend to not get too much sweltering weather - but it does happen. This should help the comfort level during those dog days of summer considerable.

On top of air conditioners, we continue to add newer furniture - mostly couches and chairs to the cabins. I think we'll have a few new fridges this year as well.

For our fishing package guests we now offer trolling motors with all the boats. Right now it looks as though they'll be transom mount...should help lots working the shoreline or slowly working fishing holes.

Facility wise we're looking at reopening our shower house for those guests coming back from remote fishing & canoeing trips or camping. Plus we'll continue to add new siding to the cabins and outbuildings.

One thing that we're really excited about is that we plan to considerably increase the amount of tackle, bait, souvenirs and supplies available in our office. We've always carried some...but we're going to ramp it up this year. It'll take a few seasons to get up to where we would like to be, and we will not stock things that don't work (just for the sake of having stock); but look for a better selection of tackle, maps and souvenirs in our office. This has especially been a demand of our canoeing and remote fishing trip guests. Gradually we'd like to become a real headquarters for these sportspeople coming to Atikokan for the vast wilderness and hundreds of lakes.

Our American Plan fishing packages are doing very well. It is growing at a very fast rate and we appreciate all of you that have joined us with the meal plan. Further to that, a huge Thank You to Jeff McNabb for helping us design our kitchen and to Jeff & Keith McNabb for lining us up with awesome suppliers! If anyone down in Florida is looking for a great kitchen you have to check out Kitchen Creations in the Tampa Bay area. Jeff & Keith are the best!

Slowly thinking ahead to 2012 / 2013 as well...thoughts of a new cabin on the lake and a new, large dining & office facility overlooking Banning Lake....but hey - I don't want to get ahead of myself!

And of course none of this would be possible with out all of you guys & gals coming to our camp year after year. Thanks you all especially!

And - ultimately you wouldn't be coming if it weren't for the fishing & hunting. So when it all comes down to it - that's what we really will be focussing on. We'll continue to actively be involved, keep tabs on new & old techniques, tackle & equipment and continue to work with anglers, hunters, the MNR and all other stakeholders to make sure this great resource is respected and flourishing.

That's all for now....spring isn't far around the corner....starting to really think fishing. Look for the next couple of posts to get more involved with actual fishing & hunting.

'Cuz that's really what it's all about!

Talk soon!


Sunday, January 2, 2011

Happy New Year!

Hey Everybody! Greetings from Atikokan...

2010 was a terrific year for us - very busy and for the most part, the fish and wildlife co-operated!

More specific info soon...quick highlights...

Walleye fishing was very good....still had lots of small "eaters", but - based on nothing scientific - I think the overall size is increasing across the board for our 'eyes. Good to see - makes sense as we've had a few years out of the last 4 or 5 that were eather early springs or late falls - longer growing seasons.

Pike were the pike...ferocious. We had loads of reports of pike being huge - incredibly fat for their length....we also had a lot more yellow perch caught than ever...I'm thinking that maybe the fishermen weren't the olnly ones feasting on the perch (?)....

Smallmouth bass fishing was just keeps getting better....big numbers and many, many, many trophies. From springtime topwater action to jigging at 25' in late summer, the smallies were absolutely terrific in '10.

Right now - well - we have a whack of snow....snowmobiling conditions are excellent, although there is slush on some lakes. Wet a line on Banning a few days ago - about 14" of ice in the "non-current" areas....some terrific powder though.

Will update more soon !

All the best!