Thanks to my Southern friends who have kindly reminded me that the number of entries in the fishing blog does not correspond to its title. I promise to be more diligent in my updates.
Here goes. We are now in the dog days of summer. Hot weather, bright sun and violent storms seem to be the norm. In the last 4 years we have taken down nearly 100 big, big trees in and around the lodge. With power lines criss-crossing the property, over two dozen buildings and a fleet of boats the risk is far too great. Last week we had a violent storm, with winds so high one of the float plane pilots said it was the strongest in 6 years. Power flicked, 6 foot rollers drilled the shores, hail rained down like comets. Not one tree fell. Sure, we lost our entire driveway due to a washout but we held par. Our hard work and forethought paid off. Not sure what that has to do with fishing but I thought it was interesting.
Anyway, the dreaded mayfly hatch hit 2 weeks ago and our spin fishermen took it on the nose. When this happens (which it does EVERY summer) you have a few choices. First get out early. And I mean 30 minutes before sun-up. That’s about 4 AM. Even in a world class fishery sometimes you need to pick your spots. Big fish eat plenty. And if they have eaten then guess what. That senko or tiny torpedo that hits their nose after breakfast just isn’t going to be nearly as enticing as when it comes during chow time. Second, fish LATE. Like dusk. Bass, walleye and nearly every sport fish we have like to feed in the evenings (walleye especially).
When a may-fly hatch is on you need to be on the water when those flies tend to be on the water and the regular dinner bell has rung. Grab the bug spray and your favorite cigar and head out after dinner. It’s all timing when fishing in general and never more so when conditions don’t have you catching fish all day long. At some point fish take a break. Case in point. On a hot windless day siesta time is nearly always at 2 PM. Doesn’t matter what lake (in general). That lake could have been smoking in the morning, and will be blazing after 7 PM. But fish don’t always feed. In this instance I love to try something new and completely out of the ordinary. I look for a spot I have never fished, grab a lure I have never thought would work. That is how I grow as a fisherman and get even better.
The biggest mistake a fisherman can make is to rely on his same approach day in and out, all season long. One needs to be nimble and pay attention. Hard core fly fishermen get this. You match the hatch. In order to do that you have to pay close attention to what is happening around you or else your day is done before it gets started. Well spin fishermen need to do the same. Watch the water. Top and bottom. Are there schooling minnows, dragon flies, a breeze and in what direction, boils etc. In one sense spin fishing can be harder than fly fishing in that you can’t always see what is going on below the surface. So you have to experiment. I always tell new guests when they go out to each use something different in each part of the water column to see what the fish are looking for. Top-water on one rod, spinner on another and plastics/jigs on the third. Then fish different parts of a lake starting in shallow on a reef, followed by breaks/drop-offs, wind swept shores, structure etc. Just because a bait doesn’t work in one piece of a lake does not mean its the wrong bait. The fish could have moved off to somewhere more attractive to them, which in nearly every case is food related.
One more example. Those of you that know me know that I love to catch giant walleye. Our fishery is incredibly rare and I just can’t get enough of 32+ inch fish. So when I do get a chance to go out after dinner every now and then I usually have one thing on my mind. I was fishing my favorite reef the other night with just a few small walleye when I noticed bait fish moving through followed by boils. Bass boils. Looking at the water temps which were low 70s and depth of the bait (8-9 feet) I made the call to put down the walleye rod and grab a fly-rod to target bass. I didn’t start out wanting to do this but I read the changing conditions and made a change on the fly. I encourage all new fishermen to do the same at Hawk Lake. That is the most super-cool thing about this fishery. You can change it up constantly. I have one LONG time guest who is one of the best bast fishermen I have ever seen. Last spring he went out EARLY as he always does before breakfast for some top-water action. When he came back for breakfast I asked him how the morning bite was and he showed me a picture of a 34 inch walleye (biggest of the season by the way). Confused I said I thought you were looking for some bass. His response. I read the conditions, didn’t like what I saw and went to the bull-pen in the 6th inning.
Water temps are now mid 70s in all lakes (and nearly 80 in Cliff if you can believe that). Walleye fishing is slow in shallow areas but can still be caught in 20-25 feet of water. Best time for them is early and late, shocking. We have been sold out for the past 10 weeks and can finally see a little light at the end of the tunnel as we get into August. If you are looking to come up give me a call. We have @20% capacity left between now and the end of the season (although the last 4 days before we close we are sold out). Also, June of 2016 is about 75% sold out so if you love June then PLEASE let me know. And finally we are taking reservations for 2017.
On a different note we just upgraded the water system. State of the art. We now have a 1,000 gallon reserve tank with a high speed (27 GPM) pump that feeds all cabins. It fills during slow times and when people come off the water it springs into action. One guest told me it was the best water pressure they had ever seen. Never thought I would be excited about a new water system! We now process (filter, UV light, more filters and chlorinate) nearly 6,000 gallons of water a day. Best water you will ever have. Our system is housed in a bank vault under the lodge and with all the new equipment we needed to re-wire the ‘vault’ with a new 60 amp service. Ever tried to trill trough an 18 inch concrete wall for a wire the thickness of a baseball bat? Took 2 electricians 3 full days to get everything in place. Oh, and we also put in a surge protection system down there (see earlier update).
What else. Oh. This weekend we have the honor of hosting Sandy Delton along with Lisa and Shannon (yes, the girls who have lakes named after them). Sandy (and her late husband Gary) were the first owners of Hawk Lake Lodge turning it into a resort after 35 years of private ownership. Their hard work and dedication formed the underpinnings of what we are today. They cut every portage trail, took the original boats to all out-lakes, built the dining room, most of the cabins. Essentially the whole resort. I cannot be more excited to see them and let them know that what they have created is in loving hands and will be carried on for many years.