June 4, 2022

June 4th, 2022 by

Matt Mitchell 43.75

It was a cool and rainy week in Northwest Ontario and water levels are still going up everywhere.  Lac Seul is not at a flood stage like many of our neighboring bodies of water, but the lake is at the highest level that I have seen since 2014.  In the 23 years that I have owned the lodge, we have never seen water levels this high in spring.

The high-water levels have changed some of the spring spawning areas for pike.  The newly submerged vegetation and cool conditions were likely the reason that many of the big pike remained in or near the shallows this week.  There were not that many anglers chasing big pike, but those that did, absolutely smashed them.  Both numbers and size were big with most caught on large spoons and cranks.  The 6 in. Jake was a favorite.

For the week, we caught and released 35 pike over 37 in., including 6 – 40s, 4 – 41s, 1 – 42, and 2 – 43s.  Volume was also extremely high.  The past 2 weeks will likely be some of the strongest big pike results that we have seen for some time.  Mike and Nick Cochran fished hard for the big gators through some tough weather conditions and were responsible for catching more than half of the fish on the photo board.  I joked about needing to charge them a photo paper surcharge.  What is most surprising about those big pike results is how few anglers were chasing them.  It was an exceptional week of pike fishing.

The weather and water conditions were a little trickier for the walleyes.  The sun is powerful in the north this time of year and it only takes a few days of sunshine to heat the surface.  Areas that are protected from the main lake often warm more than 5 degrees in one day.  Usually, the warm water draws baitfish and the walleyes are right behind them.  As a benchmark, we like to see 50 degrees, 55 is better, and at 60, the bite can be on fire.  With almost a full week of cool showers, the main lake remains in the high 40s and many areas that are normally in the 50s are stuck in the high 40s as well.  When the surface temps are similar across the lake and from top to bottom, there is no motivation for groups of walleyes to concentrate in the shallows.  We caught walleyes from 4 – 24 ft. this week.  There were some caught on the main lake, some in the back water bays, and some in transition areas.  The guides worked hard to find good bites.

It was primarily a jig and minnow bite with most boats using 1/8ths and 1/4s.  There were a few fish caught on plastic, but most of those were earlier in the week before the real cool weather set in.  Volume was down a bit from last week.  Guide sheets averaged 20 – 25 walleyes over 18 in. per boat per day.  For the week, we caught and released 25 walleyes over 27 in., including 4 – 28s, and 2 – 30s.

We did see a few random bass in the mix, but it was not quite time to focus on them just yet.  For the week, we had 7 over 19 in. including 1 – 20.

The Take Away – Given the same water and weather conditions, our results 15 years ago would have been much more modest.  The accumulated knowledge of 20 years of exceptional guiding, helped our current crew make the most out of a tough bite.  The foundation of our guiding program is shared knowledge and that is the only reason we were able to turn good results out of a tough bite.

May 27, 2022

May 28th, 2022 by

Larry Owens 40

I am happy to be writing the first fishing report of the 2022 season.  It has been a very long and difficult 2 years and despite all of our efforts, we are still feeling the pain of late cancellations.  At the risk of being repetitious, I will write again that you will not be allowed across the border if you are not vaccinated.  I received another full and 2 partial cancellations yesterday.

Official ice out on Lac Seul was May 20.  What first appeared to be a potential record late ice out was broken by heavy and persistent rain.  The runoff and spring melt were off the charts.  Every lake, pond, stream, and puddle are filled to capacity.  On a normal year, Lac Seul is right around 1165 ft. above sea level in late May.  Today it is fast approaching full pool of 1170.  I have never seen the lake this high in spring time.  This evening you can step from the fixed dock to the floating dock without a step down.  We are way better off than many of the lodges in Northwest Ontario that are dealing with flooded camps, docks under water, and roads washed out.

I did end up cancelling the groups scheduled for walleye opener on May 21.  We knew it was going to be close, but having done this for a long time, we also knew that walleye fishing the day after ice out on the main lake basin of Lac Seul can be challenging at best.  We have had fairly sunny and warm weather since the ice went out and the fishing improved rapidly.  Our first guests of the year arrived on May 24.

We were able to target groups of main lake spawners as well as the first wave of walleyes migrating back to the main lake basin after spawning.  The main lake surface temps are still in the mid 40s, but some of the back water bays have already warmed into the low 50s.

Considering that the ice went off the lake just one week ago, the walleye fishing has been very good for both volume and size.  Looking at the guide sheets, we averaged between 20 -30 walleyes over 18 in. per boat each day.  For the week, we caught and released 21 walleyes over 27 in. including 2 – 29s, and 1 – 30.

There was a fairly even balance for walleye production between 1/8 oz. jigs and minnows, Husky Jerks (size 12 and 14), and jigs with plastics pitched shallow.  Most of the numbers were caught shallow between 2 and 10 ft., but some of the bigger fish were found just one level deeper in 10 – 16 ft.

We didn’t have as many groups chasing big pike this week, but those that did were very successful.  The high water has flooded some of the grassy areas at the back of the warm water bays.  We have found many big pike in new areas spawning on the submerged vegetation.  Spoons, cranks, and spinnerbaits were all effective.  The trick was to find a presentation that you could work around the weeds.

I knew it was a good week as it happened, but I didn’t realize how good of a big pike week it was until we did the numbers.  Our guests caught 33 pike over 37 in., including 7 – 40s, 3 – 41s, 2 – 42s, 1 – 43, and 2 at 44.5 in.  The number of pike over 30 was also off the charts.  May is a gamble, but when you hit it right, it can be some of the best fishing of the year.  The Ed Rosenow group has been fishing for big pike on Lac Seul for almost 30 years and this was one of their all-time best weeks.

The Take Away – Opener is always a gamble, but when you hit it right, it can be some of the best fishing of the year.

Another take away – I have been calling and emailing groups on my waiting list all Spring.  This year is also off the charts for cancellations.  My waiting list is no longer as deep as it usually is.  If you want to hear about possible openings from cancellations, please do not hesitate to email me.

NOTICE: If you are not vaccinated, you will not be allowed to cross the Canadian Border!

May 10th, 2022 by

NOTICE:  If you are not vaccinated, you will not be allowed to cross the Canadian Border!

I don’t know if I can be any clearer.

Even after contacting every group several times over the Winter, I continue to have multiple groups give me surprise notice that they are dropping anglers from their bookings.  The excuse is that they were hoping that the Canadian govt. would relax the rules at some point in time this summer.  They will not.

The long waiting list of groups hoping for a cancellation doesn’t do me any good, because the group of 7 that turned into a group of 3 is still holding that cabin space.  I have had several groups express their hope that their partial cancellation won’t be an “inconvenience” to us.

As a lodge owner, I am always ready for problems.  We don’t complain, we just solve the issues.  This year we are battling a hard winter, tons of snow, late ice, and record high gas prices.  Oh, and we have not been able to operate for the last 1.5 seasons.

If it was just one group, then that would be an inconvenience.  With multiple groups calling with partial cancellations, it is brutal for business.  Throughout the pandemic, we have made every effort to take the high road for our guests.  We did not take away anyone’s deposit when the border was closed.  We transferred every deposit or refunded anyone who asked.    We opened the lodge the day that we were allowed in 2021 even though many lodges chose to remain closed.   Unlike other lodges, we are trying our best NOT to have to implement a fuel surcharge for this year’s bookings despite the financial beating we are taking.

We are struggling to get back to normal.  Please help us out by making sure that all of your group members understand the stakes at hand.  It is much more than an inconvenience.

Long Winter at the Wheel – April 27, 2022

April 27th, 2022 by

Most of the upper Midwest has been experiencing a cooler than normal spring, but recent photos from the lodge show that Winter still has a death grip on the Lac Seul region.  I have seen snow on the ground at the lodge in April and May before, but I was shocked at how much snow there is yet to melt.  There is currently a 2 – 3 ft. base of snow everywhere along with multiple drifts that are 5 – 6 ft. deep.

Even after the snow melts, we still need to thaw 3 ft of ice from the lake.  I bought the lodge in 1998 and through those seasons, the latest complete ice out was May 26 in 2014.  I am guessing that we are going to break that record this year.

I am usually arriving at the lodge by this date.  This year we are pushing back and I expect to arrive now on May 9.

I have been in contact with almost all of my first week guests to let them know that their walleye opener fishing plans are going to need some modification.  I am hoping not to have to cancel the second week as well.  I will have a better feel when I get up to the lodge and see the details for myself.

Eventually, the ice will melt.  When it does, we are going to be thrilled to get back to the business of chasing big walleyes.  We can’t wait to see you soon.

Mike Willems

ArriveCAN Information for Entering Canada

April 21st, 2022 by

You must use ArriveCAN to provide mandatory travel information before your entry into Canada.

https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/coronavirus-disease-covid-19/arrivecan.html

 Pre-entry tests are no longer required for fully vaccinated travelers entering Canada by land, air or water.

You must still use ArriveCAN within 72 hours before your arrival to Canada. You will not be able to complete the form prior to the 72 hour time frame.

Fully vaccinated travelers are not exempt from mandatory randomized arrival testing. This is not a big deal. We can help you through the testing process.

 Who is exempt from arrival testing?

Already recovered: Travelers who provide a positive COVID-19 molecular test result, conducted at least 10 calendar days and no more than 180 calendar days before entering Canada. Counting starts the day after the test is taken.

If your positive proof is accepted, you won’t have to take arrival or Day-8 tests

 How to use ArriveCAN

All travelers, with limited exceptions, whether entering Canada by air, land, rail or marine vessel, must use ArriveCAN.

The app will ask:

  1. Reason for entering Canada – TOURISM
  2. How are you entering Canada – Air, Land, or Marine
  3. Port of Entry and Date of Arrival
  4. Contact Information – including government travel document number (passport/advanced driver’s license)
    1. If you are traveling with multiple people in (1) vehicle, you can have multiple people on (1) ArriveCAN form
  5. Travel details
    1. The mailing address for the lodge is PO Box 723, Dryden, ON P8N2Z4
    2. The physical address for the lodge to use in your quarantine plan is:

Location RK 911, Part 1,

 Plan 23R-3752 Lac Seul

Perrault Fall, ON

P0V 2K0 (the postal code is letter, number, letter, number, letter, number)

  1. Vaccination information
    1. including which vaccine(s) received (manufacturer)
    2. country where vaccination was received
    3. dates received
    4. You will need upload proof of vaccination – either take a photo with smart phone or scan vaccination card to upload on PC.

****Saved traveler feature****

The ‘saved traveler’ feature is optional for all travelers. It saves travel documents and proof of vaccination information in ArriveCAN for re-use on future trips. If you don’t use this feature, you’ll need to enter this information for each ArriveCAN submission. You can add, edit or delete travelers at any time.

When you have completed the form, you will receive a “receipt” in the app and by email. You will need to present this receipt to the border officer at your port of entry. You can show your ArriveCAN receipt from:

– the app            – a screenshot             – your email      – a printout

Traveling With Children

Children who are under 5 years of age

Children under 5 are exempt from vaccination requirements. They are also exempt from pre-entry testing, arrival testing and quarantine, without any limitations on their activities.

These exemptions apply only to the child, not to the parents, guardians or family members travelling together. Children who are 5 on the day of their travel are not exempt from testing requirements.

Children aged 5 through 11

Some federal rules for children entering Canada may be different from the provincial or territorial rules. In this case, you must follow the stricter rules.

*Fully vaccinated children

Adults travelling with fully vaccinated children should upload their children’s proof of vaccination into ArriveCAN. As fully vaccinated travelers, they aren’t required to provide proof of a pre-entry test result. They are also exempt from quarantine, without any limitations on their activities.

Arrival testing for children who qualify as fully vaccinated:

must be tested if they are selected for mandatory randomized testing but are not required to be tested if their accompanying parent is selected for mandatory randomized testing

Unvaccinated or partially vaccinated children 5 through 11 years old

Your accompanying unvaccinated or partially vaccinated children aged 5 and older must provide a valid pre-entry test result.

Options for providing proof of a valid pre-entry test

They will be exempt from quarantine, without any limitations on their activities. This means, for example, they don’t need to wait 14 days before attending school, camp or daycare. However they will need to wear a mask in public settings for 14 days after arrival to Canada.

Arrival testing for unvaccinated or partially vaccinated children 5 through 11 years old:

must be tested if their accompanying parent is selected for mandatory randomized testing

Youth aged 12 to 17

Unvaccinated and partially vaccinated youth 12 to 17 years of age must complete the 14-day quarantine, and all testing requirements for pre-entry, arrival and Day-8 tests, even when they are accompanied by travelers who qualify as a fully vaccinated traveler.

March 21, 2022 – Good News!

March 21st, 2022 by

As of April 1, travelers to Canada will no longer be required to provide a negative result from a pre-travel Covid test.

When the border opened last summer on August 9, there was a tremendous amount of anxiety shared by all of the anglers that traveled north to fish with us at Silver Water Wheel.  We were able to get everyone across but for many guests, it was a hassle.  Getting the timing figured out for a PCR test 72 hours before an arrival at the border was problematic, especially for our groups from smaller home towns and more rural areas.  Many had to travel to get a test and often the cost was between $100 – $200.

I am happy to report that all of those concerns and headaches are gone.

Traveling anglers are still required to be vaccinated and I personally do not expect that rule to change for this summer.  Anglers are considered fully vaccinated if they have had 2 shots of Moderna or Pfizer or one shot of Johnson & Johnson.  Booster shots are not required.  Your CDC card is considered adequate for proof of vaccination.

The only other requirement is to fill out the ArriveCan app.  This is a screening tool that you fill out 3 days before your trip up north.  It is easy to navigate and pretty straight forward.  Most fisherman have reported that it takes about 5 minutes to fill out.  There is one tricky question on the app – “What is your quarantine plan?”  Your answer is the address for Silver Water Wheel Lodge.  If anyone has a question, please feel free to call us and we will be happy to walk you through it.

There will be the usual questions about alcohol, tobacco, and firearms, but this latest announcement from the Canadian government means that it will be much easier to plan and to cross the border this season.

We very much look forward to welcoming all of our friends – old and new, to the Wheel this summer!

Friday, September 24

September 24th, 2021 by

John Freeman 30.25

Our 2021 season has come to a close this week.  We had fewer anglers in camp and we averaged less than 4 boats on the water per day – but for those boats overall production was good.  Our daily guide sheets averaged 35 walleye over 18 inches per day, and we caught and released 15 Walleye over 27 inches, including three 29’s and a 30.25 incher.

Our guide crew shifted over to live bait this week.  Whether we were moving fast or slow, the walleye preferred live bait and we caught almost no fish ‘Gulping’.   Having just 3 or 4 boats on the water means not as many experiments are tried out there each day, so there is less information gathered than would be on a regular week in the summer with a full crew.  But the daily reports we did have all agreed the walleye were trending strongly to live bait.  Sand structures were the high-volume producing spots, especially on warm weather days.  Though most of our big fish came from rock structures, at mid-range depths this week, not the widely variable depths from weeks past.

Looking back through our guide sheets this week there were no guided days spent pike fishing, that’s pretty unusual for us in the fall.  We did boat 4 over 37 inches and a 39 incher, all caught while walleye fishing.

 

On a personal note, every year when I look back the season has seemed to fly by.  Far more so with the abbreviated season this year – heck, it still feels like we just got started!  Even with a season so short, I’m just very glad we got a chance to open up and see so many familiar faces back in the boats and fishing with us again. Until we managed to open back up again in August, I did not realize just how much I missed being on the water and hunting for fish with our guests each and every day.  Already looking forward to next year and a brand-new season at ‘the Wheel’, hope you all are too!

Brett

 

Friday, September 17

September 17th, 2021 by

Spencer Anderson 29.25

There were no drastic changes in the weather this week, but fall continued to progress.  Air temperatures dropped, we had multiple cold nights, and enough winds to cause mixing of water levels – what is significant about this is that lake surface temps seemed unaffected.  They remained in the low 60-degree range they’ve been in for the last 2 or 3 weeks.  Normally we would expect a change in surface temps to follow the succession of cold nights, but this didn’t happen.  We interpret this to mean our surface temps are not that different from water temperatures throughout the water column, and have been for the last few weeks.  This makes sense with the trend that’s been continuing for the last few weeks – walleye of all sizes at widely varying depths.  The same trend continued – once again this week some of our biggest fish were caught at the extremes: some from 35+ feet and some from less than 10 feet.

We tallied a total of 32 guided days on the water this week, pretty evenly divided between piking days and walleye hunting days.  For the boats fishing walleye volume remained high, guide sheets averaged 30-35 walleye over 18 inches per day.  We caught and released 12 ‘eyes over 27 inches, including two 29 inchers.  The bite shifted away from speed and plastic this week and our guide crew ended up using live bait and moving slower for most of our time on the water.  Both sand and rock produced fish, with the majority of the big fish coming off rock.

 

Approximately half our anglers were focused on hunting pike this week – for a total of 13 guided days and the daily guide sheets recorded 15 fish over 37 inches, including a 39 and a 40 incher.  The big fish favoured spoons and spinners in the weeds, and plastic baits when they were deeper on rock.  A common pattern for us in the fall.

When we looked back at the trends over the past week, one thing stood out to our guide crew: the high volume of Northerns in the mid 30-inch range.  So out of curiosity I went back and tallied the numbers, and beyond the 15 fish above 37 inches there were another 19 pike between 35 and 37 inches caught.  A total of 34 northern over 35 inches in 12 guided days – turns out it was pike week; it was just hard to recognize it until the week was over.

Friday, September 10, 2021

September 10th, 2021 by

Bill Jablonowski 29

As I started thinking about this fishing report, I asked our guide crew what they thought the trends of this week were.  The consensus was that this week seemed a lot like a repeat of last week.

Winds and weather remained changeable throughout the week, and walleye stayed spread out on structures.  There were few concentrations that could be targeted with vertical jigging, and we continued to use Gulp and speed to cover water and get to the spread-out fish.  And big fish were once again caught at varying depths – our two biggest Walleye of the week were caught in 17 and 37 feet respectively.

There were still a few things that changed from last week.  Some locations did not answer to fast moving plastics this week, and our guides found success by compromising – still moving quickly along the structures, but with live bait instead of plastic.  Key depths were less random, and more tightly tied to conditions – wind moved fish shallower and calm moved them deeper.  Our big fish production also shifted in presentation – at least half of our big walleye came from moving fast instead of slow finesse presentations.

There were a couple of last-minute cancellations in our schedule that left some boats off the water, so we averaged just 3 guided boats on the water each day this week.  Volume remained strong, guide sheets averaged more than 35 walleye over 18 inches each day, and we caught and released 15 walleye over 27 inches, including 2 – 28’s, a 29 incher, and a 30.5.

There were just three guided days targeting big pike this week, and we boated six Northern over 37 inches, including 2 – 38’s, 1 – 39, and a 40.25 incher.

Compared to most Fall seasons here at SWWL there’s been almost no piking done yet.  I don’t think we have enough information to confidently say what the big pike are doing right now.  However, the time of year is right, weather forecast looks right, and our boats will have anglers that want to pike – I’m hoping this week will be “the week” for big Northern at SWWL.  I know from past experience how risky fishing predictions can be, but I’m throwing caution to the winds and looking forward to seeing if my guess is right this time!

Friday, September 3, 2021

September 4th, 2021 by

Fall weather continued this week, with weather and the wind changes every few hours being the norm.  As a result, the Walleyes stayed scattered between depths for the whole week – our boats caught big fish in 13 feet and in 38 feet and everything in between.  The fish were also often spread out on many of the structures we were fishing, not concentrated.  That meant our guides and anglers usually had to choose; pulling plastics at speed produced volume – often with good “mediums”, but the biggest fish came from putting in time using subtler presentations.  A common theme at our nightly guide round table report was using speed and gulp to find the fish and get the rods bent.  Then use live bait, light jigs, and patience on key spots to target size.

We had just 5 boats on the water this week, and overall numbers were good.  We averaged over 30 walleye over 18 inches on our daily guide sheets and we caught and released 11 walleye over 27 inches, including 2- 28 inchers and a 29 incher.

With the weather changing to fall patterns we also experienced a surge in big pike numbers – a week or two earlier than usual this year.  Our guide crew were just talking tonight about how many of our tried and true big fish areas had very few and scattered weeds this year – and few big fish as a result.  Our best guess is the extremely low water led to poor weed growth, and lots of high wind days in the last few weeks sped up the loss of what did grow.  Combine fewer weeds with constantly shifting weather, and that meant when boats went after big pike this week they were in constant search mode.  Our guide reports showed success came from constantly shifting gears – moving back and forth multiple times each day from summer weed locations and presentations to fall rock structures and lures.  Spoons and in-line spinners were our guides’ baits of choice this week for moving fast and covering lots of water in a day.

For the week we devoted just 4 guided days to ‘gator hunting’, and we boated 10 Northern over 37 inches, including a 40, 41, and a 42 incher.

There are a few things that make me feel like it’s truly fall each year – writing my first fishing report of the season is one, but guide reports about big pike and a surge like we saw this week is one of my favourite things about fall.  I’m already looking forward to my next chance to go hunting for a ‘gator!