Silver Water Wheel Lodge Walleye Fishing | Lac Seul, Ontario Wed, 28 Sep 2022 03:10:04 +0000 en-US hourly 1 57281843 Wed, 28 Sep 2022 03:10:04 +0000

Tom Larson 42.5

Monday, September 26, 2022.  End of Season.

Our 2022 season has come to a close here at Silver Water Wheel Lodge.  Our first full season of fishing since 2019.  A number of guests asked me out in the boat this summer if we had seen any difference in our stats after two seasons of much less angling pressure.  They were usually wondering if the year had been especially strong, if there had been an increase in the numbers of big fish caught compared to 2019.  I was asked this question often enough that I came up with a stock answer – The bad news is: there was no difference.  The good news is: there was no difference!

Of course, we would have all loved to have seen a bump in big fish.  We haven’t finished counting all our stats yet, but it’s already pretty clear there’s no big walleye bump – that’s the bad news.  On the other hand, if there had been a significant increase in big walleye caught this year, that would mean that for all those previous years our angling effort had been having a negative effect on the fishery!  The fact that we have seen no difference in overall results between 2022 and an average pre-covid season is evidence that we are not – very good news!  We should be able to look forward to many more seasons of big walleye on Lac Seul.

For this final 10 days of our 2022 season, we were back to more usual fall weather, a more usual number of guests, and back to the usual numbers of walleye.  Air and water temps got chilly, there were 55 guided days on the water, and daily guide sheets were back to averaging 24 walleyes over 18 inches per day.  There were 17 walleyes over 27 inches caught, and the big one of the week was 29.5 inches.  Slow moving, finesse presentations were the norm, and a lot of our big fish came from 35’ or deeper.

There were no anglers devoting their whole day to hunting big pike during these last days, but a number of boats spent at least a few hours of their day casting.  Our guides had to switch gears frequently again this week, moving from weed to rock and back again as the weather changed.  For the week there were 10 Northern over 37 inches, with a 40, 41, and 42.5 incher.

After two seasons of not fishing every day, it was refreshing to be back on the water all season long.  Sometimes, you don’t realize how much you’ll miss something until it’s gone.  The last two summers have been a good reminder to me of just how much tracking fish day to day, week to week, and all the way from spring to summer to fall matters to a guide.  And a reminder of just how much I enjoy that!

Here’s looking forward to tracking down those fish with you all in 2023!

Friday, September 16, 2022 Sat, 17 Sep 2022 04:11:27 +0000

Tim Lein

I started writing this report in the afternoon today.  I stewed about it for a while and I began with this sentence – “There’s no two ways about it, this was a difficult week of fishing on Lac Seul”, and things went downhill from there.  I was half-way done with the report when supper rolled around and I went down to eat with the rest of our guide crew.  Over supper we commiserated with each other; no big fish today, lower numbers on our guide sheets, and having to sort through so many small fish in the last couple days.  The report to be written tonight began to look even gloomier…

Then I spoke to some of our guests after supper and at checkout.  What they talked about was; the high number of fish caught, the afternoon they spent on a hot bite, the 27 or 28 incher their boat caught earlier in the week!  The difference in perspective was black and white, and a good reminder that those of us lucky enough to fish on a lake like this all day, every day, all season long can easily become “Lac Seul spoiled”!

The first half of the week the weather was pleasant; cool and sunny, with light to no wind.  Good walleyes could be caught, but they only wanted slow moving, finesse presentations – we had to be patient and work for them.  The weather shifted mid-week, and our guide staff expected the fish to get more active on the leading edge of the front.  We spent that first day of the weather change looking for an aggressive bite that just did not happen.  Our conclusion was that the walleye still wanted finesse presentations, but now they were harder to get to and harder to finesse in the big winds and rain.  There were, as always, a few exceptions – some boats had great days during the week.  And even if the average size had shifted below 18 inches, there were still lots of fish caught.

Volume on our guide sheets was down this week, our boats averaged just 19 walleyes over 18 inches per day.  For the week we boated 11 walleyes over 27 inches, with 2 – 28 inchers, and a 29.75 incher.  The straight up number of big fish is low, but there were just 34 guided days this week, 13 of which were spent primarily hunting big pike.  That left 21 walleye days, translating into one 27″+  fish for every 2 guided days of walleye fishing.

We did have a lot of boats hunting Northern Pike this week.  Our staff did some scouting for pike on their down time last week and reported lots more weed beds green and healthy than expected.  With that information in mind, we focused on summer patterns early in the week – targeting main lake weeds.  There were big fish there, but we moved or saw many more than we caught.  As the wind and rain began the bite shifted to fall patterns, fish were deeper and often on rock structures, fewer fish in the weeds.  However, numbers went down and the bigger fish became harder to find.  For the week we boated a total of 7 over 37 inches, including 1 – 40 incher.

There are still no two ways about it, the numbers we’re reporting this week are lower than we’re used to.  But Lac Seul remains a great fishery, and it’s good for those of us who are “Lac Seul spoiled” to remember – the very next bite could be the fish of a lifetime!



Friday, September 9, 2022 Sat, 10 Sep 2022 03:49:27 +0000

Bill Jablonowski 30″

The highlight of this week is 7 walleyes over 29 inches, including 3 over 30 inches.  With just 42 guided days this week – that’s about half as many as a typical summer week – that many top end fish really stands out.  In contrast, daily guide sheets had relatively low volume, averaging just 26 walleyes over 18 inches per day.  When I look back over our stats from previous years, that kind of contrast for a week is very much an outlier compared to a typical week.

These outlier numbers came despite unusually stable weather.  We experienced a long stretch of warm temperatures, sunny days, and south winds.  That kind of stable weather usually leads our guide staff to return to summer patterns, and pretty consistent bites.  This was not the case.  All through the week, our daily guide reports once again had fish being caught anywhere from 15 feet and 35 feet.  While fall spots and depths were often the answer despite the summer type weather, most of the big fish came from summer structures.  We also saw very different bites day to day, and spot to spot.  Walleye seemed to become active or go negative in different locations without any significant weather or condition changes.  One of our guides described it as “boom or bust fishing”.  Results each day were either great or terrible, not much middle ground.

As a group we did almost no piking again this week.  Very few anglers chose to devote even a few hours to piking.  There was some scouting by our guide staff on their down time, with limited success.  We totaled just 4 Northern over 37 inches, including one 40 incher.  Our scouting reports did note that the weed beds are just this week beginning their die off.  That is often a sign that the best piking of the fall is still to come….


Friday, September 2, 2022 Sun, 04 Sep 2022 04:47:56 +0000

Tom Dahl 28 and George Noguchi 27.25

This week it felt like the Fall.  Cool evenings and cool to downright cold mornings on the water.  A lot of North winds, at times heavy, and cool air temps even when the sun was shining.  But most tellingly, we had fewer boats on the water.

As always, this time of year, we have staff heading off to other activities and fewer anglers at the lodge.  We totalled 55 guided days this week, compared to an average summer week of over 85 days.  Those reduced days leave us fewer total hours to try experiments out there and search for the next pattern, just when the fish are likely to be changing their behaviour and shifting between locations and depths.  We count on our guides to be aggressive and flexible to identify when the fish switch to fall patterns and back again.

As one of those experiments, as soon as the fall weather started, our guides headed for some of our favourite fall locations – shallower water more isolated from main lake basins.  The fish were there and responded well when the weather was right – clouds and wind.  A return to summer structures was the way to go when the weather stabilized, but we also noted changes on the summertime structures – key depths varied between extremes day to day, and even over the course of the day. Our guide boats were often jumping between fishing 35-40 feet and 15 feet.  That meant more time needed to thoroughly check a structure for fish and fewer spots visited each day.  As a result, volume was down from last week – Guide sheets averaged 27 walleyes over 18 inches per day.  The top end was still there – We caught and released 24 Walleye over 27 inches, with 5 – 28’s, one 29, and a 30 incher.

Like last week, very few of our anglers invested any time in hunting for big pike.  Only one boat devoted just a few hours of their 3 afternoons on the lake to Pike fishing, with a couple of other boats spending an occasional hour or two here and there.  Volume for pike was quite low, but for the few angler-hours spent there was a good return on big fish – 6 Northern over 37 inches with 3 – 41+ inch fish.

Yep, it’s fall.

Friday, August 26 Sun, 28 Aug 2022 03:44:40 +0000

Gabe Vergman 29.25


This week Lac Seul gave us just a hint that fall was coming. Nights and mornings were cool for a short stretch, and when they were we caught walleye in fall locations and depths. Most days those bites were not long lasting, they changed as soon as the weather did – but a couple of our biggest fish were caught in those bites. The weather returned to summer later in the week and we went back to catching walleye on summer structures.

Lots of calm wind days led to guides switching back and forth between presentations – all through the week and the weather changes our production was pretty evenly split between live bait and plastics at speed.

Daily guide sheets averaged 32 walleyes over 18” per day, but volume was highly variable – by day and by location. Interestingly, the variation was not by structure type or depth but by area of the lake. On a day-by-day basis, whole sections of the lake produced high volume regardless of whether they were rock or sand, or deep or shallow. Other sections held low volume regardless of how we fished them. But it’s worth noting that our top end walleye were caught both in the low volume regions as well as mixed in with big numbers. This week we boated 26 walleyes over 27 inches including 7 – 28’s, 3 – 29’s and 1 – 30 incher.

Almost no pike fishing this week, but not for any particular reason. Our guests just chose to focus on walleye. Without much information to go on it’s hard to identify any trends, but for what it’s worth the two boats that spent a couple of hours casting each caught a photo fish.  For the week there were 1 – 37, 2 – 38’s, and 1 – 39 incher.

Lac Seul teased us with little bit of fall early in the week, but then went back to summer weather – it’s still T-shirt temperature outside well after dark tonight as I write this report. The walleye may have returned to summer along with the weather, but that brief hint of fall was a good reminder keeping us guides on our toes and ready to change gears and try it all out there.


AUGUST 20, 2022 Sun, 21 Aug 2022 01:41:38 +0000

Brooke Bailey 27

It was a normal summer week of weather and fishing at Silver Water Wheel Lodge.  There were a few glass-flat sunny days and a few days of showers and Thunderstorms.  We spent most of our time fishing walleyes on main lake sand and rock structures in 20 to 30 ft. of water.  There were a few exceptions, both shallower and deeper, but jigs and minnows fished slowly in that zone were responsible for most of the walleyes caught this week.

Volume was good, with guide sheets averaging 30 walleyes over 18 in. per boat per day.  We caught and released 32 walleyes over 27 in., including 6 – 28s, and 4 – 29s.   A few of the big walleyes were caught using big Gulp, but the majority fell for small jigs and minnows.

Several groups spent a fair amount of time casting for pike this week.  The volume of fish in the weeds was good, but the bigger fish were harder to find.  For the week, we caught and released 6 over 37 in., including 1 – 38 and 1 – 40.  Big spoons were most productive.

The lake level has remained high all summer and continues to be at 1170.

There is still more than a month left of the fishing season, but it is getting very close to time for me to start thinking about packing up and heading back to Iowa for my Fall deer guiding season.  Over all it has been an excellent summer.  The highlight for me was welcoming all of our old guests and friends back to the lodge.  Many were surprised at the changes and improvements we made during the Covid years, but most were just genuinely happy to return to a place they love.  Demand for openings has never been higher, but I will do my best to find some spots for guests on the waiting list.

August 13, 2022 Sat, 13 Aug 2022 11:48:20 +0000

Trisha Schmitt 27

It was a solid, summer style week in the south-central basin of Lac Seul.  The walleyes are back on the main lake.  We have not seen the trend to deeper water yet, but most of our good walleye bites were near deep water.  We caught a few walleyes in 35 ft., but the vast majority were caught in 20 – 28 ft.

The bite depended on the mood of the walleyes each day.  We had a few days where Gulp at speed was the winner and we had many more where you had to find them with electronics and keep a live minnow in front of their face.  I don’t mean to be repetitious, but we really do so much better as a crew by fishing the extremes.  After an hour spent pulling big Gulp at speed and another hour spent dead sticking 1/4s or 1/8ths with minnows over arcs, then you are going to have a pretty good idea of how to spend the rest of your day.

Volume was good this week with guide sheets averaging 35 walleyes over 18 in. per boat per day.  There were some faster days and there were some slower ones.  The hard part of writing the fishing report is disconnecting my personal day of fishing on the last day with what happened for many of the guide boats for most of the week.  I fished with my parents today and we had a nice day out, but the lake went flat after lunch under a blazing sun and we had a hard time getting lazy fish to bite.  I spend time reviewing the guide sheets before I write the weekly report and I was pleasantly surprised by how many great guided days we had this week.

The totals – for the week we had 33 walleyes over 27 in., including 4 – 28s, 2 – 29s, and 1 – 30.  Most of the big ones were caught one level deeper than the average bite.  It was an even split between plastics at speed and dead sticking minnows with light jigs.

The surprise for the week was a tough, big pike bite.  Several boats spent time chasing gators and the results were marginal at best.  For the week, just 2 over 37 in. with one 39.

Missy, the kids, and Arya are back home in Iowa.  School starts soon and football practice is already under way.  The summer goes by so much faster when we are non-stop busy.

I did have some terrible news this week.  The first guy to hire me as a guide in Northwest Ontario was John Grace, the owner of the Old Post and Village on Lake St. Joe.  He died in a boating accident this past week.  I hadn’t seen him in several years, but the tragedy of Wendy and the boys left behind is heart breaking.  We didn’t always see eye to eye, but we had some great times.  The news of his loss hit me harder than I expected.  He was a huge part of how I began my professional career and I will always have great memories of him and my early years learning to guide on Lake St. Joe.

August 6, 2022 Sat, 06 Aug 2022 11:11:13 +0000

Will Armstrong 27

The trend is still headed in the direction of a more normal summer bite, but day to day results are still hit and miss.

If we did well one day on summer sand, that did not mean that we won there again the next day.  Main lake rock was good for several days this week, but also got quiet again when the weather changed.  For walleyes, the over all trend is heading towards deeper water.  If I had to pick a depth range that was consistently mentioned most of the time at nightly round table meetings, I would have to go with 25 – 30 ft.  There were some days that shallower was better and other days that deeper was the key, but overall, that was the best starting range for the day’s experiments.

If I tell you that the guide sheets averaged 35 walleyes over 18 in. per day, you have to understand that many times on the same day, we had guides with close to 60 fish on and others with only 20.  The guys that put numbers on were the ones that found a pod or found a bite and stuck with it.  I always like to run and gun and I can tell you with great certainty, that was not the most favored path to success this week.

For the week, we caught and released 28 walleyes over 27 including, 5 – 28s.  The super top end was missing this week and it was not for lack of trying.  Often, this time of year, the big ones are one level deeper than the nice fish and our guide crew knows how to work that angle.  It was not the case this week.  The deeper edge was much quieter.  Jigs and minnows worked well on some days.  Gulp worked well on other days.  You had to fish both every day to figure it out.  There were some schizophrenic round tables where one boat smashed them at speed with Gulp, another racked up good numbers and size dead sticking minnows, and then several others couldn’t put a pattern together after trying both in multiple locations.

The big pike bite has still been pretty good.  If the Fall cools off well and the big girls come back up, this could be one of our best seasons ever for big pike.  The goofy part is that there are weeds everywhere this year.  Deep water and bigger baits made the difference.  For the week we caught and released 11 pike over 37 in., including 2 – 40s, 1 – 41, and 1 – 43.  Double bladed in-line spinners turned some of the biggest fish.

The Take Away:  I cannot help that I am a stats, numbers, and details guy.  Some of that focus has attracted a specific type of angler to the Wheel.  The numbers and big fish may have been the initial attraction, but the guests in camp this week are simply thrilled to be back and spend more time talking about the guides, the staff, and the improvements.  This week just had a good feel and a nice vibe.

July 30, 2022 Sat, 30 Jul 2022 14:30:38 +0000 We are not quite back to a normal summer bite yet, but it is close.  This week began the way last week ended – with challenging fishing.  Walleye volume was up, but the big fish were few and far between.  As the week wrapped up, we found more and more walleyes on both main lake rock and sand and the big ones were finally there as well.

Surprisingly, the weather that broke the tough pattern was big storms, rain, cold fronts, and wind.

The Gulp bite improved as the week progressed.  Most of the guides are on big ¾ oz. jigs now when fishing plastics and it is a toss up between the 6 in. Nemesis and the 5 in. crazy legs.  At the same time, there were many times when we marked fish down deep that would only respond to finesse presentations.  Light jigs and minnows or in some cases, drop shots with minnows were the only way to turn neutral to negative walleyes in 20 – 30 ft. of water.

Walleye volume for the week averaged 35 walleyes over 18 in. per guide sheet per day.  What that stat fails to show is that there was a huge difference between Sunday and Friday.  The back half of the week was much better walleye fishing.  For the week, we caught and released 22 walleyes over 27 in., including 5 – 28s, 1 – 29, and 3 – 30s.

There was some effort made chasing pike this week and the results were mixed.  In previous weeks, the pike bite saved many guiding days.  There were quite a few more quiet piking results for this time period.  For the week, we caught and released 8 over 37 in., including 1 – 38, 1 – 39, and 1 – 40.  Big spoons were still top producers.  Deep weed edges were still the key location.

The Take Away:  Almost all of our groups now are returning guests.  Most have been away for 3 years and they are just excited to be back.  The guide crew felt the impact of the tough bite more than guests.  We were reminded by our guests that it is still fishing.  The weather is always a factor and a “tough” day on Lac Seul still crushes compared to walleye fishing anywhere else.

July 23, 2022 Sat, 23 Jul 2022 11:21:07 +0000

David Salo 28

It was a difficult week for walleye hunters.  The guide crew works very hard to try to figure out where the walleyes are and why.  Last week, we could tell you that they were in the weeds.  This week, “I don’t know.”  Those are my three least favorite words in the English language.  I hate it when I don’t know and this week, we don’t.  For years, I have preached that the Mayfly hatch made little or no difference for walleye fishing.  Or if it did, then you could move to a different region on Lac Seul and fish for walleyes in areas where mayflies were not an issue.  Part of my argument was that from the angler’s perspective, mayflies hatch when the weather changes and those weather changes are more important than the hatch.  This week, I don’t know.

Here is what we do know.  The walleyes are definitely not on main lake sand.  Catchable walleyes are mostly in 25 ft. of water or less.  Main lake rock is only holding a few walleyes in shallow water.  The weed bite has slowed dramatically and most importantly, we aren’t finding the big ones there.  We fished from 5 to 35.   We fished sand, rock, weeds, flats, transitions, retro, and anything else we could think of and we never came up with a pattern or a solution.  We did find plenty of small walleyes in many areas, but we could not pattern the bigger fish, despite all of our efforts.

It is what it is.  Guide sheets averaged less than 25 walleyes over 18 in. per boat per day.  For the week, we caught and released 20 walleyes over 27 in., including 6 – 28s, and 1 – 29.  Results were evenly split between minnows and Gulp.

We did have some groups shift gears and chase pike and they did have relatively good results.  For the week, we caught and released 14 Northerns over 37 in., including 5 – 38s, 1 – 39, and 3 – 40s.  Big spoons were effective, but double 8 in-lines also turned a few big fish.

The Take Away:  I am asked often, what is the best time of year to book at the Wheel.  My response is, whenever you can find an opening.  Historically, the 3rd week of July has been one of the most productive weeks of the year.  It was definitely slow this year, but next year will be another story.

July 16, 2022 Sat, 16 Jul 2022 17:57:42 +0000

Dawn Byers 28

The walleyes are in the weeds.  It was another warm, sunny, and mostly windless week on Lac Seul.  The mayflies are emerging in many areas of the lake.  And the lake level is beginning to slowly fall.

When we talk about the walleyes being in the weeds, there are 2 key concepts to consider.  Fishing in the middle of a cabbage weed bed is extremely difficult.  We know that there are fish inside the thick stuff, but presenting baits to them in an efficient manner is very difficult.  We basically fish jigs with live bait or Gulp on the deep side of the weeds in 9 – 15 ft. of water.  You occasionally foul your hook with weeds, but you can still cover water.  The other issue is that not all weeds are holding walleyes.  In fact, there are far more weedy areas not holding walleyes than are.  If you try 2 or 3 weed beds without success and then give up on the pattern, then you are likely going to get your feelings hurt when you hear the reports from your fellow guides at the nightly round table.  Further complicating the puzzle is that you can find different results from the same weed bed on different days.  Like any other pattern, you have to remain disciplined and focused to find the day’s best bite.

We continue to check and there were a few walleyes out on the main lake summer sand and rock spots, but they were very negative and very difficult to catch.  Even with some ups and downs, walleye volume was better this week with guide sheets averaging 35 walleyes over 18 in. per boat per day.  95% of those fish were caught between 8 – 16 ft.  There were some big walleyes in the weeds as well.  For the week, we caught and released 32 over 27 in., including 5 – 28s and 1 – 30.  The lone 30 was caught out on deeper water, main lake sand.  It was a 50 / 50 split between minnows and Gulp this week.

The health, depth, and size of the weeds were also a draw for numbers of big pike again this week.  We released 24 pike over 37 in., including 2 – 40s, 1 – 41, 1 – 42, and 1 – 44.  Big spoons were responsible for more than 90% of pike production this week.  The William’s Whitefish was still very difficult to beat.

There were a few smallmouth bass caught this week, but almost all were incidental while fishing for walleyes.  We released 2 – 19 in. bass.  The environmental indicator for the end of smallmouth bass season for us is the emergence of mayflies and it proved once again to be accurate.

The Take Away:  I heard one of my guides wishing that the walleyes would move back out to main lake sand and rock where they are easier to find.  I reminded him that it’s a walleye’s world and we have to chase them where they choose to be.

July 9, 2022 Sat, 09 Jul 2022 14:59:05 +0000

Julie Blake 29

All Silver Water Wheel guides are required to record their results from every guiding day.  We care about the details and we care about the trends, but the simple act of writing down the data of each day as it happens, helps you do a better job of guiding.  We talk about catch rates per hour and time invested in experiments.  The primary purpose of this information is to objectively evaluate the fishing results of the week.

In review, it was another very challenging walleye bite.  Part of the reason that the big pike results were better, was because our guides wanted a win.  Walleyes were difficult, so they shifted gears and focused on gators.  With this weird weather year, smallmouth bass were still an option and some of the guys took advantage of the opportunity and targeted bass in the afternoon.

I am not going to sugar coat it.  This was a very difficult week of walleye fishing.  I don’t care what the stats say, I was out there and I struggled.  We teach all of our guides the system.  Do your homework, make a plan, make another plan, do your experiments, and be creative until you find what works for that day and then replicate it.  I personally got stuck on what works that day.

The weather was the complete opposite of previous weeks.  In general, we had many more calm and sunny days.  In fact, there were several days of blazing hot sunshine, with no wind.  We have done this long enough that we think we know what to expect.  When the sun beats down on flat calm water in early July, we are quick to check for a weed bite.  And there were some walleyes shallow, but they were tough to catch.  If you follow along with this fishing report page, you will remember that the higher lake levels in spring time extended our early season big pike bite.  Well, that high water from spring has made every weed bed bigger, growing deeper, and much less fishable.  By the end of this week, the entire lodge staff knew that the walleyes were moving shallow, but it was very difficult to do anything about it.  We understand neutral, to negative deep-water walleyes.  We know how to catch them.  But what do you do when the walleyes are shallow, in the weeds, and negative?  Our answer was to shift gears and target another species.

For the week, we caught and released 24 walleyes over 27 in., including 4 – 28s, and 2 – 29s.  Volume was down, with daily guide sheets averaging fewer than 30 walleyes over 18 in. per day.  Gulp, plastics, and speed only worked occasionally.  There were many more stories of guys switching back to lighter jigs and minnows to catch reluctant shallow water walleyes.  More than 75% of walleyes caught this week were turned with live bait.  Minnows were the key.

We almost never talk about bass this time of year, but with a late spring, we were still able to catch the tail end of the season.  The reality is that we had very, very few anglers in camp that wanted to chase bass.  Those that did, had strong results.  For the week, we caught and released 16 over 19, with 3 – 20s.  Tubes, cranks, and top water were top producers.

The surprise was the pike bite.  I don’t know if it was extra effort put in to get away from walleye fishing, but guests caught big pike this week.  We recorded, good volume with 21 over 37 in., including 8 – 38s, 2 – 39s, 1 – 40, and 1 – 43.  The cabbage weeds are not quite to the surface, but they are close enough.  It was a high speed, weed bite for gators.  Spoons were hands down the best producers.  The Williams Whitefish and 4.5 in. Cabela’s five of diamonds were hard to beat.  We did land a few of the bigger pike on double 8s, but if you had to pick just one bait, it would be the William’s Whitefish spoon.

The Take Away:  In the middle of the season, it is always about the weather.  Blazing sunshine on flat calm water is just about the worst forecast that you can see for consistent big walleyes.  Rather than pound a round peg into a square hole, consider you other options.  This week, it was big pike.

July 2, 2022 Sat, 02 Jul 2022 11:31:39 +0000

Jeannine Lindquist 31.75

It is pretty safe to say that the weather this week had a greater effect on the fishermen than it did on the fish.  It was an unbelievably windy and cool week.  With multiple days of sustained winds over 30 mph along with higher gusts, we simply chose not to fish on the main lake.  I can tell you first hand that it was a physically and mentally draining week of guiding.

The big news of the week is that we caught and released 3 walleyes that were 31 in. or over.  We get spoiled handling so many big walleyes on Lac Seul that are 25 – 29 in., but fish over 31 in. are in a completely different class.  We don’t see them very often, but when we do, it is special.

Even though we caught some really big walleyes this week, it was Not a good walleye bite.  With the heavy winds, we expected to find walleyes stacked up, but instead they were scattered.  There were just as many walleyes caught out on main lake summer sand as there were caught on wind-blown, dirty-water transition areas.  We caught walleyes in 7 ft. and we caught them in 27 ft.  We caught them in front of the new weeds and we caught them on main lake rock.  Some of the big ones were caught dead sticking 1/8 oz jigs and minnows.  Other big ones were caught pulling 3/8 oz. jigs and 6 in. Berkley Nemesis.  They were all over the place.

For the week, we caught and released 29 walleyes over 27 in., including 5 – 28s, 1 – 29, and 3 – 31s.  Volume was down from last week.  Guide sheets averaged 30 walleyes over 18 in. per boat per day.

July 1 is usually a bench mark for our Lac Seul fishing calendar.  On most years, the cabbage weeds usually top out on the surface by this time.  They are not quite to the top yet and the big pike have not yet moved in.  The guides spent very little time targeting pike this week.  We caught and released 5 over 37 in., including 2 – 38s and 2 – 39s.

Without the wind, it probably would have been an awesome bass fishing week.  With it, very few anglers spent time chasing bass.  Those that did had great results, but overall, we likely missed the peak of the smallmouth bass bite for 2022.  My best guess is that there was less than 30 hours of angling effort spent chasing bass this week.  Even with that minimal effort, guides caught and released 17 smallies over 19 in., including 1 over 20.  The most significant observation is that with the high water, most of the bass were caught deeper than usual.

The Take Away:  We always want a wind direction to target fish, but be careful what you hope for.  The high winds and big waves made it a very difficult week to fish regardless of your target species.

June 25, 2022 Sat, 25 Jun 2022 14:36:27 +0000 Noah Lindquist 29

Noah Lindquist 29

I closed last week’s fishing report with a prediction of change.  Truth be told, that is a pretty safe bet for every third week of June.  What I did not expect was massive winds and dramatic changes in weather.  Early in the week it was flat out Hot.  In the middle of the week, we dealt with sustained winds approaching 40 mph.  By the end of the week, nights were once again cool and felt more like June.  The old Joke applied.  If you are in Northwest Ontario, and you don’t like the weather, just wait five minutes.

We were so close to hitting the peak of the smallmouth bass bite at the beginning of the week.  Surface temps were approaching 70 and the smaller bass were moving into the shallows.  All we needed was one or two days of blazing sunshine and it was going to be perfect for our Texas bass fishing guests.  Instead, we almost got blown off the lake, but then the high water combined with monster winds, left entire regions of Lac Seul with super dirty, clay-stained water.

The bass that were moving shallow left or staged one level deeper.  We caught smallmouth bass this week and it was fun, but the top end size and the volume for big fish was significantly lower than what our long-time guests were hoping for.  I always try to tell a straight story on this report and even though my boat caught some nice bass, there is no way around the fact that it was a little disappointing.  On the plus side, those groups scheduled for next week will have a once in a decade window to catch numbers of really big smallmouth bass.

For the week, we caught and released 25 smallmouth bass over 19 in., including one 20.  For the casual reader, that sounds great.  We expect double those numbers for this week.  To clarify the bite, it was all tubes and plastics.  There was not near enough activity to warrant any crank bite, let alone a top-water bite.  What we know tonight is that the peak of the smallmouth bass bite on Lac Seul is 4 – 7 days away.

The big winds and dirty water that I mentioned earlier were a boon for the walleye anglers.  Volume and size were excellent this week, with 45 walleyes over 27 in. including 9 – 28s, 5 – 29s, and 1 – 30.  Guide sheets averaged over 40 walleyes over 18 in. per boat per day.  The most significant trend identified is that many of the bigger walleyes were caught in 12 ft. or less in the wind blown, dirty sections of the lake.  The high water still changed some of the key big fish locations, but overall, walleye volume and size were well above normal for the week.

Jigs and minnows edged out Gulp by a slight margin, but the clever guide switched his guests’ multiple times every day to stay on top of the changes in the walleye bite.  Walleye anglers were jacked about this week’s results.

With all of the focus on bass and walleyes, there wasn’t much effort applied to chasing big pike this week and there were almost no results to show for it.  The big pike are in transitions and can be anywhere.  I do not expect to see guests targeting big pike for at least another week until the cabbage weeds top out.

It appears that the lake level has crested at 1170.67 ft. above sea level.  There may still be some small changes based on precipitation, but the overall trend appears that the lake levels should begin to slowly fall in the coming weeks.

As a final thought for the week, I cannot over emphasize how significant the dirty water was for this week’s results.  For those of you who haven’t seen the milky, clay-stained water on Lac Seul after a big wind, It can be a shock.  It was a definite negative for the bass bite, but it was also a huge win for walleye anglers.  Don’t bother fishing the edge of the dirty water, get right in it with confidence and you will be surprised at how many big walleyes move shallow when the water is stirred up.

Shelley Larson 27.5 ]]>
June 18, 2022 Sat, 18 Jun 2022 14:12:44 +0000 Nick Sigurdson 28.25

Nick Sigurdson 28.25

Apart from the lake level, it was a very normal week for the middle of June.  There were some rainy days, some sun, some wind, and some flat calm.  Despite some fairly significant rains, it feels like we may be close to the peak and that water levels may begin to fall in the near future.  Tonight, the lake is at 1,170.7 ft. above sea level.  We still have 4 – 6 inches before it goes over our fixed docks and I am hoping that this is as high as it gets.

The big pike bite was once again very strong this week, although it did taper off quickly at the end.  For the week, we caught and released 21 pike over 37 in., including 3 – 40s, 2 – 41s, 1 – 42, and 1 – 44.  The big ones were still shallow at the beginning of the week, but several major weather changes sent them into transition by the end.  Spoons and big cranks were the top producers.

One of the big questions that is yet to be answered is what the high-water level is going to do to the cabbage weed growth this summer.  Surprisingly, we are already seeing 2 – 3 ft. of weed growth on our electronics in 8 – 9 ft. of water.  The cabbage may not top out by July 1, but my feeling is that the weed growth is going to be pretty normal, despite the high water.

As production began to decline for big pike, the guides shifted gears and began to focus more on hunting big walleyes.  This week, we caught and released 40 walleyes over 27 in., including 7 – 28s, 2 – 29s, and 1 – 30.  The pattern is that there was no pattern.  We caught some big ones pulling big gulp at speed in the shallow, warm water areas we typically fish in spring and we caught big ones dead sticking light jigs and minnows on main lake points and transition zones.  The quality of the bite often changed drastically from one area to another on the same day.  The best strategy, was to continually experiment with different presentations, speeds, locations, depths, and regions.  With that many variables in play, there was a difference in volume and production from boat to boat.  Overall, guide sheets averaged 35 walleyes over 18 in. per boat per day.

As a walleye guide, the first question that I want to find an answer for every day is the key depth.  Again, there wasn’t one.  We found some active fish and some big walleyes shallow (4 – 10 ft.)  We found just as many walleyes, including big fish and walleyes that were not active in deeper water (14 – 24 ft.)  The key this week was to keep an open mind, regardless of the results and to continue to experiment.

The bass are pulsing shallower, but there is still no major push into the spawning bays.  We are still catching many random bass while walleye fishing, but most efforts to target big bass have resulted in modest returns.  For the week, there were usually 4 -5 bass on every guide sheet, even when they were not being targeted.  We did release 5 over 19 in. with 1 – 20.

June is a major month of change and I will not be surprised if next week’s synopsis is very, very different from this one.

June 11, 2022 Sat, 11 Jun 2022 15:35:37 +0000

John Futterer 43

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.

June 4, 2022 Sat, 04 Jun 2022 11:39:44 +0000

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 Sat, 28 May 2022 11:02:28 +0000

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! Tue, 10 May 2022 17:05:08 +0000 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 Wed, 27 Apr 2022 19:05:50 +0000 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