Archive for the ‘Fishing’ Category

Early Ice Walleyes, Crappies and Northerns

Clam Ice House Had a great adventure on early ice a week ago.  My friends Eric, John and I headed out to find ice on Friday afternoon.  We ended up on a small lake we had never fished before by Alexandria, Minnesota and slowly made our way out on the ice.  We ventured out about 150 yards and found a nice break that went from 8 ft of water to 20 ft pretty quickly.  We each had our portables with, so we set up in a line running from about 13 ft to 19 ft.  We found a consistant 3 1/2 to 4 inches of good dark ice, so we felt pretty good about that.

Walleye and CrappieFriday evening ended up to be a great night on the water.  We ended up catching 6 walleye, 5 crappie and 4 northerns.  The walleyes all bit on set lines with fat heads, they didn’t seem to want a wide variety of more active presentations we were throwing at them.  The crappies all came in about 5-6 feet off the bottom and when we marked them on our electronics, we jigged up to them.  They were pretty aggressive hitting buckshot rattle spoons tipped with a minnow head.  The northerns all came before dark and like a typical northern, was slamming anything it could find.

Eric Ice Fishing

Saturday morning started off a bit slow, but we ended up getting four more walleyes to bite along with 4 more crappies.  Once the sun came up, the northerns were in full swing and we got 17 northerns in less than an hour.  None were huge, but fun anyway.

It was great to get back on the ice for the first of many trips this year.  I’m not going to be able to make it back out this weekend, but I’m sure I’ll be on the ice several times over the holidays, so look for more reports soon.

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Fishing in the Wabakimi Provincial Park in Ontario

Drake DillA few weeks back my new friend Drake Dill asked if he could write a guest post on The Fishing Foodie. Given I’ve been so busy lately, I said of course.  Drake is the owner of Thunderhook Fly-Ins  in the Wabakimi Provincial Park in Northwestern Ontario.  While I haven’t had the opportunity to fish with Drake yet, after talking with him and learning more about Thunderhook Fly-Ins, it is only a matter of time.

Drake would love to answer any questions you might have, so feel free to send him an email at info@thunderhook.com.

Guest Post – Fishing in the Wabakimi Provincial Park in Ontario

Many folks do not get the chance to visit Northwestern Ontario to go on a fly-in fishing trip. Even fewer folks get to explore and fish in the Wabakimi Provincial Park, which at nearly 3 million acres is a true hidden gem in Canada. This park is different from most of its other wilderness counterparts. The Wabakimi is not just a “paddle only” park, and was created with a different intent than most other wilderness areas. You can visit this park and stay in a cabin with all of the comforts of home, use a motorized boat, and fish with live bait. One other thing to mention is that the Wabakimi has a very healthy population of both Woodland Caribou and Moose. These giants are truly majestic, and can add the finishing touch on one’s wilderness experience. Below I will outline the primary fish species found in this area and some great times to target each species.

Walleye Fishing

Wabakimi_WalleyeThe walleye fishing in the Wabakimi Provincial Park is absolutely fantastic. This could even be an understatement. The large bodies of water in the heart of the park such as Granite, Whitewater, Wabakimi, and Smoothrock lakes are absolute fish factories. These large lakes all have landmark Canadian river systems such as the Ogoki, Berg, and Allanwater Rivers running through them. These rivers provide the ultimate spring spawning ground for walleyes. During the summer the walleyes move out into deeper water and relate to rocky drop-offs, reefs, and sand flats. Arguably the best walleye fishing is after September 1st when turnover occurs and the lakes in this area de-stratify. An example of a beautiful late summer walleye can be seen below.

Northern Pike Fishing

Wabakimi_NorthernAlthough the pike fishing can be spectacular on many of the large lakes within the park, there is not a better time to fish for these giants than spring. During the spring the pike can be caught off guard in weedy bays that are very shallow. Casting spoons and large plugs into these shallow flats can produce fish in the 45-50 inch class. These areas are the best bet for big pike in late May and early June.  Once summer rolls around the fishing for pike can get a bit tougher. It is often quite common to catch a master angler northern pike in the dead heat of summer when fishing walleyes with a jig and minnow or lindy rig setup. The fall again begins to offer the best chance of a trophy pike (like spring) as the fish begin to move back into shallow water in preparation for the spawn the next spring.

 

Lake Trout Fishing

Wabakimi Lake TroutThe Lake Trout Fishing can be fantastic in this area, but is not generally the primary target of most anglers. Many of the lakes we are talking about in this area are not typical trout waters. In Northwestern Ontario, most trout fishermen target lakes along the border that are not only deep, but clear as well. The lakes in the Wabakimi are deep and cool but not clear (for the most part). This makes it quite difficult to target the fish in comparison to some of the famous trout lakes along the border such as Quetico and Cirrus Lakes, which are incidentally in the Quetico Provincial Park. The easiest way to catch large Lake Trout is to fish in September (trout spawn in the fall) when these fish move into shallow water to prepare to spawn. During the summer months the trout move into deep water and relate to humps that can be as deep as 80 to 100 feet. Summer can be a very difficult time to catch Lake Trout. Trout fishing can also be wonderful in the Spring, if the trout have not begun to move into the deeper water in preparation for summer.

Brook Trout Fishing

Wabakimi Brook TroutAlthough Brook Trout are not the “prime” target and species within this area, it does not mean that one should pass up the wonderful opportunities that are available for catching this tasty table fare. Brook Trout fishing is very labor intensive and often it can take hours in a small stream (generally below a rapids) to catch one of these beautiful fish. Generally, it is worth it to go after a trout. Many believe that these fish taste every bit as good as Salmon. I tend to believe so too. The easiest way to catch Brook Trout in Ontario is to target the fish in small bays and fast-moving streams within 2-3 weeks after ice out. The sooner… the better!

Accessing the Area

float_planeAs you can see from the pictures, it is not uncommon to catch trophy fish among all species in the park. There are many options when visiting the Wabakimi. Some options are camping, kayaking, canoeing, and fly-in outposts/lodges. Remember, the only way to access this pristine and virtually untouched area is via floatplane.  Thunderhook Fly-Ins is one of the outfitters that has exclusive access to this area. We offers an airbase, fly-in outpost camps, a fly-in lodge, and logistics services in the Armstrong Station, Ontario.

Lake Wabakimi Ontario – Fly In Fishing Trip Report

For the second year on a row I was lucky enough to fly into the Ontario wilderness with a great group of guys for some fantastic fishing, food and relaxation.  We spent a total of 5 days up there including our travel days, and you couldn’t have asked for a better trip.  Here is my account of the fishing.  The food will come in a later post, but it was just as great.

Six of us flew in.  Dale, Steve, John, Tuyen, Paul and me.  The trip was booked through Rusty Myers Outfitters.  We used them last year as well, and they have great camps and overall run a good operation.

Fly in camp

Wabakimi Fishing Report

Thursday:
Wabakimi WalleyeWe didn’t get to camp until about 2:30 on Thursday. I thought we had an earlier flight, but that was not the case. After quickly unloading our gear, we quickly shoved it all in the cabin and went straight for the boats. We were on the water by about 3:15 and it was game on! It was fairly windy, and since it was pretty late in the day we decided to explore Lower Wabakimi. John and I shot across to the south entrance to Lower Wabakimi, while the other two boats went through Rusty’s back door. John and I have never been to Wabakimi, so there was lots of orienting ourselves and figuring out where the fish were. We fished until about 7:30 and ended up with 14 walleyes and a couple small northerns. Even though we were on the water for 4 hours, much of that time was spent running and exploring, so we felt pretty good about it. The other two boats ended up with 27 walleyes and 6 walleyes fishing the current by Rusty’s back door (just south of the camp).

 

Friday:
This was our first full day of fishing. The wind was blowing a bit, but John and I decided to head up to the north side and fish around the long bays on the north end, and I’m sure glad we did.  In about an hour and a half of fishing, we had about 40 walleyes, 30 of them were over 20 inches. Just beautiful fish, and they were everywhere. After that, we explored a bit just picking up a few fish here and there, and then ended up finding some running water in the far east of the big bays on the north side, and we sat in there for about an hour and got another 45 or so walleyes. We ended up the day with 96 walleyes, 6 northern and 1 perch. What a great day. The other boats didn’t do as well, but still managed a great day with about 30-50 fish per boat.

Josh with a Wabakimi WalleyeJohn with a Wabakimi WalleyePerch

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of the highlights of our trip happend on Friday.  John and I were out fishing and the stringer came loose and one of our walleyes found its way to our prop.  Needless to say it got messed up.  About 5 minutes later, we were driving along and saw a beautiful Bald Eagle perched in a tree.  John got out his camera, I held up the walleye to get the Eagle’s attention and threw it about 20 feet from the boat.  The Eagle made one low pass over and came right in to get the 17 inch walleye.  It was amazing!

 

Bald Eagle catching Walleye

Saturday:
Running waterWith the success we had the day before, all three boats went up and followed our pattern from the previous day. The conditions were totally different though. The lake laid flat, and the sun was out. On Friday it was pretty choppy and cloudy/rainy, so I wasn’t sure how that would effect the fishing. The fish were still in both spots, but not as heavy as the day before, and they seemed to move away from the running water a bit to the deeper water that was right next to it. We finished the day with about 140 walleyes between the three boats.

Sunday:
Stringer of Wabakimi WalleyesThe wind was howling and it was rainy and pretty much just a crappy day, so we decided to stay on the south end of Wabakimi. John and I along with Dale and Steve’s boat headed to the south entrance and started fishing some moving water along the way. We picked up a few fish, but nothing great. We continued on to the south cross as we called it and fished a rock wall there and hammered the walleyes for about an hour before returning to camp for lunch. The other boat went south through Rusty’s back door and had some success too. After lunch we decided to head all the way south to fish the moving water which I think goes into Smoothrock lake (or something like that). Man, it was raging, and we couldn’t even get the boat close enough to fish it or we would have been sucked down it never to return. Since we were down there, we explored the bays and picked up a couple walleyes and a couple northerns, but nothing great. We decided to head back to the rock wall at the south cross. It was a pretty choppy ride back north, and the other boat with us tagged a big rock in the middle of the lake (no damage done), but we finally got up to our spot and continued to hammer them all evening. I caught the big fish of the trip there, landing a nice 27 inch walleye. We ended the day with well over 200 walleyes between our boats and had a great day.

27 inch Wabakimi Walleye

Monday:
Rusty Myers Caravan on FloatsWe cleaned up camp and looked out at the weather. Pretty low clouds and lots of rain in the morning. The rain stopped, but the clouds hung in there, so we really were not sure when we would be heading out. Finally, at about 3:00 our plane was in sight. I wish we would have know that, we would have fished the morning, but we didn’t. Really bumpy ride home and had to weave through a few thunderstorms, but we made it. What a great trip!

As for tackle, when the fish were on, it really didn’t matter. We had minnows and leaches with, but a gummy worm worked too (no lie). If you are heading up there, bring enough bait.  We brought in 30 dozen minnows and 2 pounds of leeches, and we ran out of minnows about half way through the last day.  We did have some dead loss though that became soft and not usable.

Most of the time we used a variety of jigs.  The Northland Gumball Jigs in a 3/8 oz size worked well for us.  For a time I used a couple different spinner jigs from bulk tackle and also some Scheels Sports brand spinner jigs, and they out fished regular jigs 3-1.  The ones I had were pretty light though, so I had trouble keeping them on the bottom, so I gave up after a while, but they sure worked well.  For colors, we found that pink and orange were the best colors when it was cloudy, and white seemed to do best when the sun came out, but color didn’t seem to be too much of a factor. The bigger thing was making sure you were jigging right on the bottom. If you were more than a foot off, you weren’t catching fish.

All in all, a great trip that I will remember for a lifetime!  Check out The Fishing Foodie on Facebook for more pictures.

Tight Lines!

Fresh Grilled Mahi Mahi and Baby Romaine in the Bahamas

I’ve written a few posts about my time in Exuma, Bahamas, and here is one more.  There were just so many great culinary as well as fishing experiences, one post just wouldn’t do it justice.

Mahi Mahi from Exuma BahamasI spent a day sport fishing with my friend Eric just off the coast of Exuma.  We went out with Captain Robert of Robert’s Island Adventures.  Fishing was a bit slow, with one broken line and one Barracuda in the first few hours.  The next line was mine, and I’m sure glad it was.  The drag started screaming and my fish was on.  I’ve caught some pretty good fighters in my time on the water, and this one ranks right up there in my fishing battles.  After about 5-6 minutes we saw the flash of a bull Dolphin (otherwise known as Mahi Mahi or Dorado).  It wasn’t done yet though, taking a few long runs away from the boat.  We finally got the fish in the boat, and it was a beauty.  My first ever Mahi Mahi, and it is one I’ll remember for a long time.

Not only was it a fantastic fight, it was one of the best meals we ate while on Exuma.  In addition to the Mahi Mahi, we enjoyed fresh Lobster from our adventures with Harris the day before as well as roasted potatoes, a grilled romaine salad and some freshly made guacamole and chips.  Delicious.

Grilled Mahi Mahi Recipe

Grilled Mahi Mahi with Lobster12 Mahi Mahi fillets (which is what we got out of the fish)
2 Cloves chopped fresh garlic
3 Limes juiced
4-5 Green onions chopped
1/4 Cup olive oil
1 Anaheim chili chopped
1/2 Cup chopped Cilantro
1/2 tbsp Cumin
1/2 Cup white wine
1/2 tbsp Salt

Mix all the ingredients together  and pour over the Mahi Mahi fillets in a glass baking dish or plastic bag and refrigerate for about an hour.  Remove fillets from marinade and grill over medium heat until just cooked through (about 3-4 minutes per side).  Do not overcook the fish or it will dry out.

Grilled Baby Romaine Salad Recipe

Grilled Baby Romaine SaladThe grilled Romaine salad was such a simple thing to prepare, but it is a nice change of pace from a simple cold salad.

4 Baby Romaine sliced in half
6 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper
3/4 Cup balsamic vinegar simmered on the stove until reduced by half

Drizzle about 4 tbsp of olive oil over the baby Romaine halves and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Grill cut side down over medium heat for about 3-4 minutes or until the cut side has defined char marks and is starting to wilt just slightly.  Remove from the grill and drizzle the reduced balsamic vinegar and remaining olive oil over the top of the baby romaine.

Roasted Potatoes

Wonderful roasted potatoes

Fresh Guacamole

Fresh Guacamole

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m sure I’ll have one or two more posts about our trip to Exuma, but this has to be one of my favorite meals, not only because it was delicious, but also because I caught the Mahi Mahi, which makes it even better.  Fishing in Exuma was an absolute blast, but cooking what we caught was just as much fun!

Some other posts about our trip to Exuma:

Fresh from the Sea in Exuma Bahamas
Yellowtail Snapper Recipe – Three Ways

Wahoo – Fun To Catch, Great To Eat

Curacao WahooI can’t say how excited I am for my upcoming trip to the Exuma Islands in the Bahamas.  We have a day of sport fishing already booked with Captain Robert Thompson of Robert’s Island Adventures.  In addition to that, we also have our own boat reserved for a day of jumping from beach to beach as well as some reef fishing mixed in.  Hoping to also get another day of fishing/spearing in if possible.  Look for a post or two from that trip in the near future.  Hopefully there will be some great pictures of monster Wahoo, Mahi Mahi and if I’m lucky a a Marlin or Tuna.

Thinking about my upcoming trip got me thinking about my last trip that involved some sport fishing.  I was down in Curacao, which is part of the Netherlands Antilles just north of Venezuela.  I spent a day on the sportfishing boat “Second Chance” targeting Wahoo, and I was fortunate to hook up with the first and only Wahoo of my life (hopefully that will change soon).  We ran a variety of baits on the spread, but the Ballyhoo (I think) was on the majority of the lines, and that is also the bait that produced my fish.  The crew on the Second Chance was great and we had a good time.  I wish we would have gotten into more fish, but that’s how it goes.

Here are some pictures from the trip:

Second Chance Fishing Charter Curacao

Second Chace Sportfishing Boat

Ballyhoo

Getting the Ballyhoo all ready to go

Deep sea fishing in Curacao

Lines are all set

Curacao Wahoo

My first Wahoo!

Cleaning the Wahoo

That is going to be some good eating!

We stayed at the Scuba Lodge in Curacao for our 10 year anniversary.  It was a fantastic bed and breakfast, and they took fantastic care of us.  I would recommend them to anyone!  The accommodations were great, and the staff was absolutely fantastic!

After catching my Wahoo, they let me have the run of their kitchen to make an anniversary dinner for Ann.  It was a fantastic time, and we had a fantastic dinner.  The starter consisted of Wahoo medallions with a Balsamic reduction, and the main course was Wahoo tacos with black beans and salsa fresca.  What a great way to celebrate our anniversary and also my first Wahoo!

Wahoo medallions with balsamic reduction

Wahoo medallions with a balsomic reduction

Wahoo tacos with black beans and salsa fresca

Wahoo tacos with black beans and salsa fresca

Dinner in Curacao

What a great end to a great day!

Minnesota Walleyes Through the Ice

It’s been far to long since my last post, but fishing has been pretty good.  A few of the guys usually take a trip up to Upper Red Lake or Lake of the Woods about this time of year to hammer some walleyes, but we are not going to make it up this year due to schedules and two of us heading to the Bahamas for some relaxing and deep sea fishing.

Last week Blake, Sty and I fished for a few days on Lake Ida near Alexandria.  We aren’t much for chasing Crappies all over the bays, so we pretty much targeted Walleyes on the break lines.  The deeper water seemed to produce the best for us.  We moved the house four times, and didn’t really seem to do better or worse, it was all pretty consistent with a dawn and dusk bite.

The first day and a half were right in the middle of a cold front that came through the area.  The fishing was fairly steady at dawn and sunset, but other than that, there was a cloud of small Perch with the occasional Northern swimming through.  All of the fish we caught were on set lines those first couple days with the Walleyes coming in to check out our jigging lines, but taking the set lines.  We had a variety of small jigs and plain hooks on the set lines, and that didn’t seem to matter, it was the slower presentation that seemed to be the key element.

WalleyeIda walleyeWalleye

 

 

 

 

 

 

As things warmed up the second half of the trip, the fishing slowed down, but the fish we did get were more aggressive taking our jigging lines and leaving the set lines alone.  A variety of jigging spoons in a variety of colors produced nice Walleyes, so again it really didn’t seem to be the bait or the color, but more the aggressive action that triggered the bite.

in the ice houseWe didn’t light it up over the three days of fishing, but we ended up with about 25 Walleyes, 3 Northerns and a few small Perch.  Blake was the big winner the fist couple days catching the biggest and the most fish.  I chalk it up to laziness since he wasn’t jigging so he had twice the set lines Sty and I had, but in reality, it was a smart move given the bite.  It was a blast being out there with the guys though in Sty’s new Ice Castle.  I love my Clam Guide Series portable, but the comforts of a wheel house make for great days on the water.

One of our traditions over the past few years has been to chisel a bunch of crystal clear lake ice to keep our cocktails cold.  Blake happened to pick an iceberg for his drink.  Not sure why, but the lake ice seems to last much longer than ice cubes.  I’ll have to look into the reasoning for that one day.

Tight lines, and be careful out on the ice!

New Year’s Ice Fishing For Walleye

I finally got to spend some quality time on the ice over the New Year’s holiday.  We spent the weekend at my friends cabin on Lake Ida near Alexandria, MN.  We were targeting Walleyes through the ice over the weekend, and had some pretty good success, but the flurries each morning and night were fast, but short lived.  We spent a couple hours in the ice house each morning and evening around sunrise and sunset.

Our first night out we we had Eric’s wheel house in about 24 feet of water, and I set up my portable in about 22 feet of water.  We didn’t nail a big one that night, but we ended up with 3-4 walleyes (can’t remember).  The first night the walleyes seemed pretty mixed hitting both our set lines and our jigs.  I do know that the one fish I got the first night came on a red Northland Buck-Shot Rattle Spoon.

The next morning we got on the ice at about 6:30 and started fishing right away.  Things were slow until about 8:00, and then we had a small flurry of action.  I got my biggest fish of the weekend that morning, and we also managed 4 others during the morning bite.  The fish were really aggressive in the morning, and all of our fish came on our jigging lines.  Eric got one on a Chartreuse Glow Lindy Darter, and the rest came on Lindy Rattl’n Flyers in both red and gold.  If only the flurry could have kept up for a bit longer.  Man, that was fun.

A beautiful Lake Ida Walleye caught through the ice.

Friday night was slow for us.  The bit turned off and we couldn’t get a thing to hit our jigging lines.  We ended up getting one more nice fish and a couple little ones, but they all came on set lines.  We had several fish check out our jigs, but nothing would commit.

Ice FishingSaturday morning we set up two portables along with the wheel house in about 28 feet of water to try something a bit different.  We managed a couple more small walleyes, but that was about it.  I had one in my house, and Eric had a couple in his house, but the rest of the guys were pretty quiet.  Mine came on a gold Lindy Rattly’n Flyer, and I believe Eric got one jigging and one on a set line.  Oh, our set lines were all about 4-8 inches off the bottom.  We found that the lower ones typically did better.

Saturday night things were looking up a bit.  Like the other mornings and evenings we had ice fishing, a flurry came through, but we had a couple prior to it and a couple hit after as well.  Our luck wasn’t as good Saturday night though.  Blake and Briz both had really nice fish on, but we couldn’t get them through the hole.  We didn’t see Blakes, but it looked like it had some weight to it.  Briz lost his right at the hole, and our guess is that it was about 26-27 inches.  Would have been nice to get a picture of that one!  The big one hit on a set line with a small blue jig and a fathead.  It was the only fish we had hit a fathead, the rest were all on Shiners.  We managed to land a half dozen fish during the flurry, but three were pretty small.  The wind was screaming Saturday night, so Eric and I had to make a run out to the houses and pull down the portables, we were worried they might not be there in the morning if we didn’t, and I’m glad we did.  Things were really whipping out there.

Ice fishing for walleyeSunday was our last full day to catch a mess of fish.  The morning was more of the same.  We managed few fish, but all but one were pretty small.  Again, jigging seemed to be the ticket, but the occasional set line would go down as well.  The evening was a bit crowded in the wheel house because we didn’t have any portables out due to the weather.  We had a better school of fish go through and managed to get another 4-5 fish, I think three between 14-17 inches, the other couple were small, and we missed a few more.

Monday morning was our last time on the ice.  Eric and I were the only two headed out in the morning and it was still really whipping out there and the temperatures dropped quite a bit.  We managed to get three really nice walleyes between 16-18 inches and also released a couple smaller ones.  Everything came jigging on Monday morning.  The walleyes were much more aggressive and really hit an aggressive presentation.  I don’t think our set lines even moved.  We were jigging and a big red mark would just fly onto the Vexilar and wham!  Fish on!

Lake Ida Ice Fishing Walleye

For those of you headed out to the lakes around Alexandria, be careful out there.  On Lake Ida, the ice was pretty good where we were fishing, but I heard a house sunk in a bay not too far from us.  We were on 9-11 inches of really good ice most of the time, but I did see a spot that was just shy of 8 inches of ice.  There was a pretty big pressure ridge about 200 yards from us, and a smaller one about 50 feet from us.  We wandered over to the close one and there was no open water, but the bigger one was much bigger sticking up about 2 feet.  I’m not young and invincible anymore, so I kept my distance from that one.

I’m not going to get back onto the water for a couple weeks, but I’m already looking forward to it.  Eric, Blake and I are going to be meeting up for 2-3 days of solid fishing, so we’ll be trying all kinds of stuff and chasing the walleyes all over the lake, not just a morning and evening thing.  Can’t wait to get out there and can’t wait to tell you about it.

Have you made it out on the ice recently?  How did it go?  I’d love you hear your stories as well.

Tight lines!

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