The big story of the week is the water level. In the 24 years that I have been on Lac Seul, the highest water level that I have ever seen was just over 1171 ft. above sea level. At that time, the water level was just an inch or two above our fixed docks. The floating docks were riding higher. Tonight, the water level is 1170.55 ft. above sea level and the Lake of the Woods Water control board is predicting that Lac Seul is likely to rise another 2 -3 inches over the next week. All of the controlled water outlets in Northwest Ontario are wide open. Without another unexpected major rainfall, it looks like we will probably not reach 1171. All of our structures are well above 1175, so we have no concerns about our buildings or operation. But the high-water levels have made a big impact on how we chase our favorite fish.
The high water has been a huge advantage for guides and anglers focused on big pike. I have never seen the super skinny, back water bite for big pike last so long. The low water throughout the entire 2021 season resulted in a ton of grass growing in what used to be the back bays. That grass is now flooded. Pike are green colored, ambush feeders and now they have a ton of bait swimming around submerged grass in the shallows. These conditions have prolonged the backwater big pike bite and SWWL guides have capitalized on it.
For the week, we caught and released 26 pike over 37 in., including 5 – 40s, 2 – 41s, and 1 – 43. With most of our return guests focused on walleyes and bass, this is a significant change in what we consider normal big pike production for the first 2 weeks of June. Spoons, cranks, and spinnerbaits were all affective. Location was the key.
Guides with groups targeting walleyes had to be much more flexible. Sunny afternoons with light winds sent the walleyes shallow. The problem is that what we used to consider shallow is now 8 ft. deep. Knowing your structure was critical. Finding the new productive shallow vs. the new unproductive shallower was tough. The pieces of the new puzzle are beginning to come together and we share our information every night. With that insight, we have begun to narrow down the new normal.
After adjustments, walleye volume was good this week with guide sheets averaging 30 fish over 18 in. per day. The increased volume eventually led to better numbers of big fish. For the week, we caught and released 25 walleyes over 27 in., including 7 – 28s, and 2 – 29s. Jig size was 1/8 or ¼. Most production was with minnows, but there were quite a few caught pitching the shallows with Gulp or twister tails. Several of the biggest walleyes this past week were caught on the pitch in 2 – 5 ft. of water.
I spent the last half of the week on advanced guide training. Our bass groups are scheduled to arrive soon. Some of our favorite spots are still good and others are not. We invested a great deal of time and effort trying to locate bass in the new high-water conditions. As we did, it feels like the smallmouth bass bite is going to be as good or better than previous seasons. Even though most surface temps are barely scratching the low 50s, we still caught and released 27 smallies over 19 in. including 2 – 20s. We won’t know until it happens, but the guide crew is looking forward to the peak of the bass bite that should occur in the next week or two.
The Take away – we are all hyper-focused on chasing down the next big bite. Species doesn’t matter. Just like the good old days, there is no guide discussion about anything related to covid. We are happy spending hours debating how to adjust to high water and how to find the big ones.