Posts Tagged ‘Wabakimi’

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.

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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!

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