Silver Water Wheel Lodge Walleye Fishing | Lac Seul, Ontario Sun, 17 Sep 2023 16:40:29 +0000 en-US hourly 1 57281843 September 16, 2023 Sun, 17 Sep 2023 16:02:12 +0000

Jim Mizgalski 43.5

This week we had 56 guided days on the water, averaging 9 boats on the water per day.  Our guest’s focus was divided, about two thirds of the boats fished walleye and one third chased pike.  Walleye volume was good – the daily guide sheets averaged more than 28 walleyes over 18 inches per day.  For the top end, we boated 13 walleyes over 27 inches, with 4 over 28.

Fall fishing is always less predictable than summer, but there are some trends we anticipate.  This time of year, we’ve come to expect the walleye to push up into transition depths – 15 to 20 feet deep – as soon as water temps lower and the wind blows.  Well, water temps are down around 60 degrees and we’ve had plenty of good winds – so we keep checking for the push to shallow, but haven’t seen that change yet.  Almost all our volume came from summer structures again this week, both sand and rock, and most of our fish were caught from 30 feet deep or more.

I was happy that we were able to return to a gulp bite, it’s a fun way to catch walleye and it’s good to be able to change things up.  The heavy jigs and big plastics pulled at speed on deep sand produced some of our best volume days this week.  Even though most of our fish were caught deep, there were a fair number of medium to large walleye caught on pike lures in shallow water.  It’s an interesting trend and might be the first sign of walleye pushing shallower, but we haven’t been able capitalize on it yet…

Once again, this week pike fishing was a big part of the story.  Of the 58 guided days mentioned, 17 of them – so about a third – were focused primarily on pursuing big pike.  Those 17 guided days produced 16 Northerns over 37 inches, including 2 – 40’s, and a 43.5 incher.  Over the course of the week the guide staff shifted the focus of their pike efforts from big weed beds to rock points and back again a few times.  When the skies were cloudy any of our favorite rock structures that had some weeds remaining produced fish.  When the weather cleared the big pike were back to being caught on classic summer weed beds.  If you could visit enough of these structures a big pike could be found.  Spoons and blades remained the top producers, but we added more jakes and diving baits – getting deeper by the rock structures was often effective.

This week also turned into an unofficial “Friends and Family Week” here at Silver Water Wheel Lodge.  Two of our former guides – Kurt and Tyler – have come back to fish with us for a few days.  Also, this week three of our current staff members have friends and family members up to fish with them.  We are happy to have them here – I think it’s great for the guides to be able to show their family members all the work they put in and the fishing success it can lead to.  Speaking as a staff member, the chance to bring friends and family fishing is one of the best perks of working at SWWL – I bring my family out to fish as much as I can, and I look forward to sharing with them great fishing on Lac Suel each time.


September 9, 2023 Sun, 10 Sep 2023 11:35:26 +0000 Fall arrived with a vengeance this week.  Last week I talked about fall starting – the changes in the weather and the changes in the fishing we’ve come to expect this time of year.  But this week was a reminder that real fall comes with the first true big front blowing through.  It hit us early mid-week, and we had the first days this year where it was windy enough on the water that some folks decided to take a couple hours or even the afternoon off.

Looking back on the week we almost need two separate reports.  The first two days of the week began as a regular fall week – we caught a good volume of fish, a couple of guide sheets “filled the back” – more than 60 walleyes over 18” for the day.  Most reports for those two days had walleye at mid depths, 20-30 feet, on regular summer spots.  Both live bait and plastic produced fish and some big ones – standard fall fishing.  Then the front arrived.

As the front blew through it was windy enough that all our boats avoided the main lake and just fished locally and sheltered.  When the lake calmed down and we headed back out to the main lake basins it seemed like a whole different fishery out there.  The fish had moved, reported volume dropped and big walleyes were hard to find.  Any fish we did find were deep and negative – almost every report had guides spending the whole day deeper than 30 feet, and finesse presentations were the norm.

Due to some last-minute cancellations, there were fewer boats than usual on the water. We averaged just six boats fishing each day for a total of 37 guided days this week.  Volume was down – and I’d love to blame it on having fewer boats on the water, but the truth is that during and after the big front the walleye bite was extra tough.  Our daily guide sheets averaged 24 walleyes over 18 inches per day, and the big fish numbers were down as well.  We boated just 9 walleyes over 27” this week, and none over 29.

Northern Pike were the best story for us this week.  As a group our guests devoted less time pike hunting than walleye fishing, less than 1/3 of our time overall.  But time spent pike fishing ended up being more productive – we caught and released more “photo fish” pike than walleye.  There were a total of 13 Northerns over 37 inches – including 3 – 39’s, a 40, a 41 incher, and one of our long-time guests Bob Hansen caught a massively heavy 43 incher.  Spoons and Blades in the remaining weed patches or on rock produced the most fish.  But during the front some experiments with deep running plastics and jigging spoons produced fish as well.

I always wish every weekly report could be nothing but great fishing, but there will always be some tougher days out there.  Despite the gloomy tone of this report, lots of good things still happened on Lac Seul this week.  A couple of our anglers caught their personal best fish, and some anglers caught two or three trophy pike in a day.  The weather has turned nice, the bite is already picking up, and guess what – we get to go fishing tomorrow!

September 2, 2023 Sat, 02 Sep 2023 17:00:26 +0000 Mike Mac 29.5

Mike Mac 29.5

It is the time of year here at Silver Water Wheel when our staff starts to depart.  Three guides have left already, and two more are done today.  We averaged 10 guides and boats on the water this week, about two thirds capacity and we will average about that for the rest of September.

A couple of the guys that usually depart stayed for an extra week this year and they noticed something that was new to them – but it’s a change we’ve come to expect this time of year.  Nights were cool, even on the hot days.  The weather was more changeable, each day often had sun and rain, wind and calm. Lake surface temps began dropping.  But the key part for guides is the change in the behavior of the fish at this time of year.  Walleye will be found in a wider range of depths, answer to a wider range of presentations, and most importantly be a lot less “pattern-able”.  Welcome to fall fishing on Lac Seul!

I was talking about the week with some of the guides in preparation for writing this report and thinking their comments over to try to find the common trend.  But after a while it became clear, the take-away for the week was: there was no take-away.  As a guide crew we did not come up with a consensus for the best method to catch fish this week.  The guys had a lot of different answers for the best way to target walleye, and there were lots of varying results.   What worked one day or one spot did not work on the next.

There was one constant in all the reports – marking many fish on our electronics.  Many spots we would see lots of fish, but building a pattern was tougher than usual.  A structure might produce 20 or even 60 fish on the guide sheet, but the next three similar structures had just a handful or none.  Usually when we see fish on our graphs in those numbers we can generate good production, but this week it was common to see those fish and not be able to convert them into numbers on the sheet.  The guide crew ended up about evenly split on their preferred strategy to counter this: either keep moving until you found an active bite, or experiment with many different presentations on known spots or marked fish until you identified the one method the fish would answer to.

For the week we caught and released 20 Walleye over 27 inches, including 2 of the heaviest 29 inchers I’ve seen in a long time.  And another giant – a 32 inch walleye!  Caught by Lenny Marks.  A handful of our big walleye were caught moving fast with gulp.  More were caught on live bait, but the presentations they answered to varied more than usual and we were left without a clear pattern.  More than half the biggest fish were found down deep, but on the other hand the 32 incher was caught in less than 17 feet of water.

Piking this week – once again there were not many hours spent.  We boated 8 over 37 inches, including 2 -40’s and a 42-inch fish.  The main lake weed beds began thinning out last week and progressed quickly this week.  Some of the big pike were caught in fall locations, but there were also still good fish on the remaining main lake summer weeds.  Our guides moved back and forth between summer and fall stuff in their search for big pike.  Spoons and blades were still our best producers, not much on deep running baits yet… but that is coming soon.

August 26, 2023 Sat, 26 Aug 2023 13:14:31 +0000

Tom Thomas 32

The end of my season always sneaks up and surprises me.  After I write this report, I am packing my gear to get ready for my annual Musky adventure with long time friend and former guide, Cory McKiel.  We have 3 days booked at the other end of Lac Seul and when I get back on Tuesday, I pack up to head home for another Fall deer guiding season.  I said it in an earlier post, time flies.

The information for the fishing report is second hand this week.  I spent most of my time  bear baiting and preparing for our first bear hunter to arrive on Tuesday.

It was an odd week. Overall, walleye fishing was a bit of a challenge.  Little fish were everywhere, finding slot fish happened in streaks, there were the usual number of bigger walleyes, but if you caught a big one this week, it was Huge.  For the week, we caught and released 25 walleyes over 27 in., including 3 – 28s, 4 – 30s, and an absolute monster 32.

Last week was exceptionally windy.  Most of this week was unbelievably flat, until Fall arrived today. Especially on days with light to no wind, it was a vertical light jig and minnow bite.  There were a few days where the walleyes responded well to Gulp pulled at speed, but not as many as last week.  There was a definite shift to deeper water for bigger walleyes this week.  Most were caught in 30 – 35 ft.  At the same time, you had to spot check shallower as many were also caught in 20 – 30, including the 32.

Volume was all over the board.  There were days when everyone had 40 or more on their sheet and there were days when only half the crew got onto the back (23 walleyes over 18 in.)  The seasons are changing and when the fish are on the move, it can be a challenge to catch them consistently.

We did not spend much time pike fishing, but those that did had good results.  For the week, we caught and released 8 over 37 in., including 2 – 38s, 1 – 39, 1 – 40, and 1 -41.  Spoons, spoons, and more spoons.  There are a few weed beds that are starting to die off and the surface temps have dropped into the upper 60s.  We don’t quite have the formula for a full-on Fall, big Pike bite yet, but it is getting closer.

We get to know so many people in this business.  One of my longest running guests and his friends and family were in camp this week.  I can still remember the spot on Lake St. Joe where I guided Tom Thomas to a 28 in. walleye back in 1991…. or maybe it was 92.  Tom was fishing with Brett on Thursday and they hit the right spot at the right time. They caught several big walleyes including the biggest walleye that Brett has ever put in the boat.  Tom’s big one was a huge 32 in. fish that will go down as one of the biggest walleyes that we have ever caught at the Wheel.  Our lodge record is 32.5 held by my Mom from back in 1999, but with more and more 30s, I don’t know how much longer that record will hold.

As a guide, an angler, and a hunter, I am always in search of outliers.  I want to know those areas that consistently produce big whitetail bucks, or big bass, or big walleyes, or big crappies, or big pike.  For anglers like me, this fishing report is not a great one for numbers or consistency, but it does make a point.  We caught and released 5 walleyes over 30 in. on what would be considered a less than average production week.  Lac Seul is an outlier.

Combine that status with an excellent guide staff and it is easy to understand why most of our guests return year after year and why it is so difficult to get a spot.

It has been a great year at the Wheel.  I will hand the reigns over to Brett and Missy tomorrow and I am already looking forward to the 2024 season.

As I look back on the 2023 season, I credit a successful summer to a great staff.  Everyone still at the lodge did well, but the senior staff were the key; Raelene, Rachel, Brett, Brandon, and Orrin are the bedrock of our program.  I hope to keep them with us long into our future.

As I close out this report, I would like to thank all of our guests who have supported us and returned again and again over the years.  We plan to continue to improve our program and hope that you also want to come back for years to come.

MW – out

August 19, 2023 Sat, 19 Aug 2023 12:13:40 +0000

Bob Klinger 30

We had our first hints of the coming Fall this week.  We had some September style weather and there are a few trees near the shoreline that are starting to show some yellow leaves.

There was a midweek cold front that sent some walleyes back into retro – Fall locations and we ended the week with 3 straight days of sustained 30 mph winds with some gusts that were even stronger.  The weather was a bit of a challenge, but the fishing results were good.

Most of the walleyes caught this week were in 20 – 30 ft. of water.  There were a few outliers, but that was the baseline that most guides began the day with.  The exception was the rainy, heavy northwest wind cold front day.  One of the patterns that we have seen over time is that type of weather, especially in Fall, can send walleyes back into some of the shallower basins that we normally associate with Spring fishing.  They are not going back into the 6 – 10 ft., but they do set up on the edge of the deeper water in those basins.  There were several 26 – 28 in. walleyes caught in 18 – 28 ft. in those regions that we generally consider springtime zones.  As fast as that bite happened, it shut down just as quickly when the weather changed.

As usual, it was big Gulp at speed with big jigs or lighter jigs fished vertical with minnows.  The answer was different every day and often different between regions.  If you weren’t trying both, multiple times a day, then you were not going to consistently chalk up a win.  Almost everyone is on ¾ oz jigs with big Gulp now when they are covering water with speed.  The crew is fishing ¼s with minnows most of the time and reluctantly going to drop shots if the walleyes are being super stubborn.  Main lake sand and rock were both productive this week.

Volume was really good this week with guide sheets averaging 40 or more walleyes over 18 in. per day.  For the week, we caught and released 35 walleyes over 27 in., including 6 – 28s, 3 – 29s, and 1 – 30.

We did have several groups this week that spent serious time casting for pike and their results were also good.  For the week, we caught and released 11 over 37 in., including 5 – 38s, 1 – 40, 1 – 41, and 1 – 43.  Our guests chose to throw a lot of different presentations this week, including, bulldogs, medusas, and big cranks.  They even convinced their guides to try a trolling run or two.  At the end of the day, casting spoons and blades at main lake weed beds or basin rock structure still turned the biggest pike.  As a guide crew, we try to be open to new ideas and presentations, but it is hard to not push what we know works.  This week, tried and true caught the win.

I made a decision early this year to personalize the fishing report.  For those of you that have never been to the Wheel, we know that we are a source of intel for your fishing trip somewhere else and we hope you appreciate it.  For those of you that are in the club, we welcome you back.

The Take Away:  My last guiding day is tomorrow.  We talked about turning the page last week and we did.  This is another one.  When you go 100 mph all year long, it is very difficult to come to a grinding halt.

But as I do, my guys (and Hayley) come up to my room to say goodbye.

I don’t like it.

I know that I am probably not going to have Gouws, Jason, or Hayley back up to the lodge next year.  I get it.  We wish nothing but the best for them and they are always welcome back.  But I understand.

Jason and Gouws were part of the core of our senior guide staff for the 2023 season.  I cannot tell you how much I appreciate the contribution they have made to our program over the years.  They are great people and excellent guides. They will be missed by their guests, me, Missy, and the crew.

August 12, 2023 Sat, 12 Aug 2023 16:28:52 +0000 It has been a long stretch of warm, dry weather through the end of July and the beginning of August on Lac Seul.  We turned the page this week.  We started sunny and nice, had some unsettled stormy weather midweek, and finished with a full-on dawn to dusk, cool soaker.   Looking back on the summer, this was the first all day rain event we have seen since May and the forecast is for continued cooler and wet weather.

For a change, the weather did not have an immediate impact on the walleyes.  We continue to consistently see key depths ranging from 18 – 25 ft.  There are always some outliers, but I will tell you that 75% of the walleyes this past week were caught in that depth range.  Same as always, sometimes they responded well to big jigs and Gulp pulled at speed and others they preferred vertical presentations with lighter jigs and live bait.  This week the split was 50/50.

It was also a 50/50 split between main lake basin sand and rock structure that held walleyes this week.  We did catch most of the big ones from the deeper side of known Grade A summer big fish spots.  For the week, we caught and released 31 walleyes over 27 in., including 5 – 28s, and 1 – 29.  Overall volume was strong.  One of the consistent comments from round table meetings, was “heavy sorting.”  Guide sheets averaged 35 walleyes over 18 in. per day, but often we were catching 2 – 4 eaters for every sheeter.  The smaller walleyes have definitely made their way out to the main lake basin as well.

There was less time spent chasing pike last week, but it was also a much tougher bite.  I heard a couple of reports of good volume of smaller to medium size pike for guides casting main lake weedbeds, but the number of big fish was down.

For the week, we caught and released 4 over 37 in., including 1 – 40 and 1 – 43.5.  For those of you paying attention at home, second-year guide Justin McLean caught both of the big ones.  He has been working hard at expanding his range for both known and new spots and his hard work has paid off.

It is so hard to beat Blades and spoons for big pike in summer on Lac Seul that I almost forget to mention it.  At round table, we pay attention when someone catches a big pike on something different.  Even though we experiment, it does not happen often.

The Take Away:

I guided this week, but I also sent my family home, met with our contractor for our fall project, picked up a new staff member in Kenora, my folks arrived, and I spent a great deal of time with my second-year guides – Tyler, Curtis, Brody, Justin, and Carson.

Missy and I appreciate all the hard work from our incredible staff, but as second year guides these five have exceeded our expectations.  They have crushed it this year.

I told them that the “page has turned” and because of how well they have done, we expect more.  I asked them to take on the responsibility of teaching and training the next crew to become as good as they are. That may not be fair, but that is the formula that has resulted in a consistent string of rock star SWWL guides and I am confident that they will help me make that happen again.

August 5, 2023 Sat, 05 Aug 2023 18:25:56 +0000

Kyler Kinn 44.5

After last week’s roller coaster ride, we started down the road to more typical fishing patterns this past week.  The walleyes were a bit more predictable and even though they did not completely move back into deep water, they were moving in that direction.  Until today, when they went right back shallow again.

This was also the first week of the year that I have had significant partial cancellations and absolute last-minute cancellations.  It was also the first day in months that the full guide staff had dinner in the dining room.  There were only 7 guided boats on the water today.  I am not complaining, I am just stating the facts of the week.  And yes, it is a frustrating when we manage a huge waiting list of groups hoping to fish with us and then the cancellations are so late that we can’t fill the spots.  A lodge owner’s motto, “it is what it is.”  At the same time, it is difficult for me to reconcile the issue of repeat groups treating their bookings casually when I have so many groups on the waiting list that really want to come up.

Rock and sand spots adjacent to the main lake basin both produced walleyes this week.  The majority of the fish were caught between 18 and 25 ft.  There were a few exceptions, but that was a fairly consistent starting zone for most of the week.  Production was fairly evenly split between moving fast with Gulp and vertically fishing live bait and small jigs (1/8 – ¼ oz.) over arcs.  The guide crew has been using heavier jigs when fishing plastics lately.  The ½ to ¾ oz. jigs give you the option to move faster over water when you are not marking fish.  Sonar coverage improves when we fish deeper than 18ft., but even then, we caught a surprising number of fish in areas where we weren’t really marking much.  It is a hard thing to accept, but even the state-of-the-art sonar does not show you walleyes that are belly to the bottom in 25 ft.  I still believe that there are 2 – 10 walleyes down there for every fish I mark.

For the week, we caught and released 21 walleyes over 27 in. including 7 – 28s, and 1 – 30.  Volume improved with daily guide sheets averaging 35 walleyes over 18 in. per boat per day.

When the walleyes are not cooperating, the guides often shift gears to pike.  Several groups had good results, but this bite was also a bit slower.  For the week we caught and released 14 over 37 in., including 1 – 39, 2 – 40s, and one monster.  Kyler Kinn caught and released a world class 44.5 in pike.   This fish was a giant.

Spoons and in-line spinners fished around main lake weeds were key to success for both volume and size on pike.

It is hard to believe how fast the summer goes.  This week begins our transition into Sept.  We have new lodge staff hired and, on their way, up to replace our students returning to school.  Missy is getting packed up to head back to Iowa at the end of the week with Blake.  She will be helping Brooke get ready to begin her freshman year at the University of Iowa.  After Brooke is settled in, Missy plans to return to the lodge for the remainder of the season.  Time flies.

July 29, 2023 Sat, 29 Jul 2023 15:19:56 +0000

Orrin Digby 31.5

Most weeks the walleye moves are gradual or if they are sudden, then there is an obvious major weather change that can be directly identified as the cause.  This week was the biggest blind side of the year!

Even with the advantage of hindsight, it is still, just about impossible for us to identify any weather change that could have caused such a complete and total shift in walleye location.  They flat out left the deep water.  I am not talking about a slower bite or catching fewer fish on deep water sand or rock.  I mean they left.  Gone!

We have played this game a long time and part of our guide training curriculum is to watch for the environmental cues that predict when the walleyes move to shallow water in the summer.  Usually, after three or more consecutive days of blazing hot sunshine with no wind, we expect the smaller to medium sized walleyes to leave the deep breaks of the main lake and head shallow.  Normally, this is the beginning of a weed bite.  We teach that we expect to see a separation in the walleye populations.  The really big walleyes stay deep and the smaller to mid-sized fish move shallower.  We do hit them on shallow main lake rock, but the big volume shallow water bites are usually focused on the deep side of the weeds.  Historically, during prolonged sunny hot spells that extend into 5 or more days, the big ones can move shallow as well.

That is not what happened this week.  All of the walleyes got the memo.  We did not!

Complicating our guiding puzzle, the walleyes that did move shallow did not move shallow into the usual “summer weed bite weed beds.”  Only about 10% of the main lake cabbage weed edges were holding walleyes.  The ones that did were loaded.  The rest were empty or had a few micros.

Personally, this was my most difficult guiding week of the year.  Even though I was armed with the knowledge of how we have solved these puzzles in the past, there were several days that I flat out failed.  Fortunately, I am surrounded by a bunch of clever guides that hate to lose as much as I do and eventually, we came up with a solution.

Last week the answer was scan, screen, and dead stick light jigs down deep on main lake rock or sand.  This week, the answer was move as fast as you can with jigs and Gulp of varying sizes to identify areas holding active walleyes.  Find enough active spots, and sort long enough, and you found big walleyes as well.  More than 90% of our walleyes this week were caught between 8 – 15 ft. of water.   Guides that know our history and were hunting big fish, ignored initial reports and stuck to deep water.  This week, we caught most of our 27s and 28s in less than 12 ft.

The stats took a hit this week.  We caught and released 37 walleyes over 27 in., including 3 – 28s and 1 – 31.  Volume is hard to talk about.  Guide sheets were up and down, but we averaged less than 30 walleyes over 18 in. per boat per day.

Several guide boats convinced their guests to shift gears to chase pike and their results were good.  For the few boats casting, we caught and released 13 pike over 37 in., including 4 – 38s, 2 – 39s, 2 – 40s, and 1 – 41.  The Williams Whitefish was hard to beat and was the number one producer this week.

The Take away:  There was some debate amongst the guide staff about whether we should showcase a guide with the front-page fish photo.  I vetoed the argument.  Many of our guide training teaching points are focused on the principle – “That it is not about the guide…. – it is about the guest.”  And that remains true, but I don’t care who catches a world class walleye.  That photo is front and center.  If you have read this far into my fishing report, then I am guessing that you are just like me, and you don’t come to Canada expecting to catch a 30 in. walleye.  We both just want to fish where they live.

On this challenging week, one of my core senior guides caught the fish of a lifetime and I want everyone to celebrate it!  Orrin Digby – 31.5 Walleye ….. and she is still out there!




July 22, 2023 Sat, 22 Jul 2023 13:27:07 +0000 It always comes down to weather and this week was a curve ball.  It was a stormy, windy, cool week at the Wheel.  It felt more like the first week of June.  Multiple fronts and rapid weather changes, usually scatter the fish and it definitely put them on the move this week.  The most significant change is that there was a lot more “marking and not catching for walleyes.”   For every nice walleye caught pulling Gulp at speed, there were 10 or more caught dead sticking minnows with light jigs.  It was a tough week for weather and successful walleye fishing was very hard work.

The walleyes moved deeper this week.  There was still the stray fish caught shallow casting for pike, but the vast majority moved 10 ft. deeper than they were last week.  Based on the nightly round table reports and the guide sheets, I would tell you that most of the walleyes were caught between 25 and 32 ft. this week.  Scanning was mandatory.  The beauty of pulling Gulp at speed is that you can watch your electronics as you travel at 1.2 – 1.4 mph and pick the spots you want to go back on.  If the walleyes are deep, negative, and belly to the bottom, then you do not have that option.  Pulling Gulp is a great tool, but when those fish are not in the mood, then you are just dragging baits over the top of them and learning nothing.  When these weather conditions happen, guides have to be ready to shift their mindset.  To win last week, you had to scan with sonar, locate pods, check them for size, and hope that you could get them to bite.  If any part of that equation did not work, you had to move on and move on quickly.  Deadsticking live bait is a time suck.  As a guide, if you are not watching the clock and actively calculating catch rates per hour and quality, then you will not win.  It is so easy to miss a great bite by 5 ft. or 50 yds, but that is what happens when the weather goes nasty in July.

For the week, we caught and released 50 walleyes over 27 in., including 8 – 28s, and 2 – 29s.  Volume was all over the place.  We averaged 25 – 30 walleyes over 18 in. per boat per day, but there were days, when I did not fill the front (23 fish) and there were days when everyone was half the back (40 fish).  Well fed Lac Seul walleyes can become very difficult to get to bite.  One of the techniques that we use for very tough bites is a drop shot with a size 2 or 4 octopus hook with a small minnow 18 – 24 in. off the bottom.  It is no guides first choice for a presentation because you can’t cover water, but if you have to use it, it can save the day.  I like the Gamakatsu drop shot hook and often I use a ¼ or 1/8 jig with a minnow on the bottom.  Data is critical.  Guides usually set themselves up with a light jig and then they keep track of how many fish they catch compared to how many fish their guests are catching with the drop shot rig.  How many were on the top hook?  How many on the bottom?  We just want intel to improve our experiments for the day.  Again, I try not to use my boats results to tell the story, but I had a daily guide sheet where my name was listed 3 times out of 35 fish and all but 5 were caught on the top hook.  Fishing two minnows at once may sound over the top, but we want the results and, on that day, I needed it.  The drop shot was a complete difference maker.

We did not have as many anglers chasing pike this week and the results were mixed.  Based on the number of big pike that we caught fishing down deep fishing for walleyes, we know that the weather change affected the pike as well.  For the week, we caught and released 10 over 37 in., including 1 – 38, 3 – 39s, 1 – 40, and 1 – 41.  Spoons and in-line spinners were top producers and again, main lake weed edges were the key.

I have tried to personalize the fishing report more this year because it is not always about the fishing at SWWL.  We lost our cook and a guide this week and those things, like life, happen.  The result is that Missy, Rachel, Raelene, and the lodge staff stepped up to fill the loss and they did it so well that most of our guests did not even know.  I guide and host many business owners that complain about the quality and commitment of their staff or about a generational change in work ethic.  That may be true for their labor force, but I know that is not what we see here at the Wheel.  Both Missy and I sincerely appreciate our staff members that have consistently pulled together and covered when times get tough.  Our senior staff are the core of our program; from guides, to lodge, to guest services, they are the backbone of our operation.  We hope you appreciate them as much as we do.

July 15, 2023 Sat, 15 Jul 2023 19:24:24 +0000

Hunter Hoium 32

Most of the headlines across the US are focused on record breaking heat, smoke from B.C. wild fires, or torrential rains.  In NW Ontario, we have enjoyed a week of cooler weather with some much-needed rainfall.  We received enough rain last week to lift the fire ban.

As expected, the shift in weather resulted in changes to fishing patterns and production as well.  It should be noted that the differences were much more gradual than they were the previous week.  With night time lows in the 40s and day time highs of 60 – 70, the lake temps have cooled quite a bit.

The walleyes are beginning to move towards their traditional summer locations.  Both rock and sand structures adjacent to the main lake basins are producing more and more walleyes as those fish trend deeper.  There were some outlier bites in both shallower and deeper water, but the bulk of the walleyes caught this past week were found in 16 – 25 ft.

Big jigs and Gulp plastics pulled at speed were still productive at times, but there were many more reports of walleyes responding to light jigs and minnows fished vertically as the week progressed.  It was not uncommon for guide boats to change tactics and locations several times a day before finding a good bite.  For the week, we caught and released 49 walleyes over 27 in., including 10 – 28s, 1 – 29, 1 – 30, 1 – 31, and 1 – 32.  Volume varied quite a bit, but averaged 30 walleyes over 18 in. per boat each day.

The Northern Pike bite was a bit different this past week.  Volume for small to mid-size fish dropped dramatically, but the guides and anglers that stuck to it caught quite a few big fish.  For the week, we released 12 pike over 37 in., including 1 – 38, 1- 39, 3 – 40s, and 4 – 41s.  William’s Whitefish, Cabela’s five of Diamonds, and Doktor spoons continue to be the most consistent producers for big pike in and around the main lake weed beds.

A Fun SWWL story:  Senior guide Gouws Oberholzer had his fiancée, Hunter Hoium out for a visit this past week.  They took some time to fish for walleyes and she caught a 32 in. main lake monster!

Julie Blake 27.75 ]]>
July 8, 2023 Sat, 08 Jul 2023 12:06:29 +0000

Mike McCortney 30

This weekly fishing report needs to be delivered in two parts.  As with most major changes to our fishing patterns, this one revolved around a dramatic change in weather.  July 4 was the turning point in the week.  That was the day that endless sunny, flat, hot, and calm turned into windy, stormy, choppy, and cool.  At the beginning of the week, we were swimming at lunch and talking about air conditioners and by the end of the week, we were adding layers, closing the lodge windows at night, and thinking about wearing a toque off the dock.

And the fish moved!


At the beginning of the week, it was not exactly a weed bite, but it felt like there was a pretty consistent pattern across the lake.  The walleyes were not super shallow, but the main lake deep patterns were vacant.  As a continuation from the previous week’s report, we were fishing walleyes in 10 – 16 ft. of water and we were moving fast with plastics.  Both volume and size could be consistently found in that band of the water column and not surprisingly, that zone was filled with clouds and clouds of bait.  There was a small amount of variation between guide boats.  Some were on 3/8 oz. jigs and some were on 1/2s.  Some were at 1.0 mph and some felt like they were doing better at 1.5 mph.  The guide crew likes to debate and discuss, but it was all some version of moving at speed with bigger jigs and Gulp to target active and scattered walleyes.

All of that changed on July 4.  Storm clouds came in, it rained and hailed, the wind blew, and then it got cold.  And the walleyes went everywhere.  Guides still found some very good bites, but they were very different than the previous week.  And for every guide that found a new good bite, there were several others that tried multiple different experiments that failed.  When dozens of great bites shut down, we did what we always do; and we started the experiments over again.  Just as many guides located walleyes in 20 – 25 ft. and targeted them with light jigs and minnows as guides that stuck with big jigs and plastics and just covered more water.  Both worked, but they didn’t work as well as they did the first half of the week.

Even though the volume and consistency took a nose-dive, there were still some really big walleyes caught in the second half of the week.  One 30 was caught from 7 ft., another 30 was caught from 15, and a 29 was caught from 32 ft. of water.  Those were the big fish.  Volume changed dramatically as well.

For the week, we caught and released 46 walleyes over 27 in., including 6 – 28s, 4 – 29s, 2 – 30s, and 1 over 31.  Volume averaged 30 over 18 in. per boat per day.  Many boats had way more.

Northern Pike:

Casting for pike was a crap shoot.

Some days were awesome and some days sucked.  And they were back-to-back.

For the week, we caught and released 14 over 37 in., including 2 – 39s, 1 – 40, and 1 – 42.  Spoons and blades worked best.  The cabbage weeds are topped out and are the key to big pike.  Some weed beds from previous seasons have failed.

Production for big Pike also took a major hit after July 4.  We still caught a few, but it was night and day.  The bite was off.  There was a slight recovery today.  I am not saying that I would go casting all afternoon, but it was very much better than yesterday.

The Take away:

Weather changes can sneak up on us….

The SWWL guide staff are not only watching for those changes, but they also know that they will have a plan to find the next solution.

July 1, 2023 Sat, 01 Jul 2023 11:08:54 +0000

Terry McDonald 30.5

Over the years, I have had a few long-term guests make comments or tease us about our brochure, “it looks like it never rains at Silver Water Wheel Lodge.”  And the point is well taken.  We choose to highlight the prettiest photos on the nicest days.  The fishing report is a different story.  I tell it the way it was.  Overall, this was another excellent week of production at the Wheel.  At the same time, there were some very difficult days when even the most senior guides struggled to come up with a pattern for walleyes.

We are finally getting some wet weather with showers and thunderstorms off and on this week.  I don’t think that it is enough to end the fire ban any time soon, but it is a start.  We expect to continue to mix it up using propane burners on the beach or coming back to the lodge for shorelunch.  We prefer to cook on driftwood fires, but we can still put on a pretty good show with propane burners.

The most important hour of the day at SWWL is the nightly round table meeting.  It is a time to share insights, discuss trends and patterns, and to talk about what to expect in the near future.  The fishing report is another marker in the season that I use to reflect back on what our collective experience was during the previous week.  Once again, the stats look great!  But Lac Seul and her well fed walleyes can be tricky.  Just about the time that you think about getting a little cocky as a guide, she will slap you down.

For the week we caught and released 54 walleyes over 27 in., including 6 – 28s, 6 – 29s, and 3 – 30s.  Volume was high with guides sheets averaging 35 walleyes over 18 in. per day.  The reason that there were production differences between days of this past week is that the walleyes were on the move.

Many of us were ready and prepared to move right into summer patterns and presentations.  If you were stuck on that mindset this week, then you were burned.  There were a few big walleyes caught off deep water rock and main lake sand, but the bulk of the production came on sand/rock transitions in front of the growing weed beds in 10 – 16 ft. of water.

If there was one take away for this past week, it was the use of plastics at speed to locate active walleyes.  Some guides were able to continue to work Gulp and plastics at speed for a win and others used plastics to locate a pod of fish and then went back on them with live bait and lighter jigs to pick off the rest of the reluctant biters.  You definitely had to be on your toes and even then, sometimes it didn’t matter.

I prefer to use the entire guide crew experience to explain the patterns, but to illustrate this week’s bite, I am going to describe my last 2 guide sheets.  On June 28, we had flat calm conditions and I fished absolutely everything I could think of.  At the end of the day, I had almost as many spots on my guide sheet as I had walleyes.  I did not fill the front of my sheet until 5:25 pm (23 walleyes over 18 in. from 16 locations.)  On June 29, I used a good piece of intel from Brandon’s previous round table and found a hot bite.  We only fished 3 spots that day and put 56 walleyes on the sheet with just a hand full of slots.  All of those fish were caught on Gulp at speed in 10 – 16 ft. of water on sand in front of weeds.  Everything was big and we never used a minnow.  That is the snap shot from the week of walleye fishing.  When it was good, it was great and when it was tough, we scrambled.  It isn’t always sunny at SWWL, but we always work hard to solve each day’s puzzle.

The past week’s most productive search bait was a 3/8 oz. jig with a 5 in. Gulp Alive Crazy legs jerk shad pulled at 1.0 – 1.4 mph in 11 – 16 ft. of water.  Many other variations worked, but if you had to pick one, that was the base line.

The big pike results surprised me again this week.  We caught and released 24 over 37 in., including 6 – 39s, 5 – 40s, 1 – 41, 1 – 42, and 1- 43.  On an average year, the cabbage weeds usually top out on or around the first week of July.  This year, many topped out this past week.  Timing of weed growth was part of the reason for a good week of results, but the guides responded to guest requests and put more effort into chasing Northerns as well.  Big spoons were the key to production, but in-line spinners also turned some nice fish.  A super highlight of the week – Tim Buckenberger caught and released the lodge record 42 in. tiger musky.  We do not see many, but over time, they are getting closer and closer to our home waters.  It is easy to get jaded guiding on Lac Seul every day, but this fish was Stunning!

The smallmouth bass bite lingered for a bit, but as predicted, it faded fast.  We caught and released 9 over 19 in.  including 2 – 20s.  It is still possible to catch a few bass, but we are moving on.  Bass season is pretty much over at the Wheel for 2023.

The Take Away –

We all would prefer to go “catching” instead of fishing.

We would all prefer that every day is sunny at SWWL, except when it ends up leading to a fire ban.

And we all want to guide big fish and lots of ‘em.

But it doesn’t work that way!  Even on a great fishery, it is tricky and complicated.  And that is what makes us appreciate it even more….

and is why we don’t book one day fishing trips!

June 24, 2023 Sat, 24 Jun 2023 13:13:45 +0000

Emma Larson 30.25

There are many story lines from this past week at SWWL on Lac Seul, but the most obvious is that we hit the peak of the smallmouth bass bite with our groups that most appreciate it.   Many of this week’s guests don’t care to chase smallies and they devoted their time to fishing for big walleyes or hunting big pike.  Surprisingly, all three were success stories.

Kendal Hartley and Mark Bailey have been bringing a big group up to the Wheel from Texas for more than 20 years.  Some of the guys prefer to fish for walleyes, but many of them love to catch big smallmouth bass.  Timing is critical.  Some years they have been a little early and some years, they have been a little late but this year, the weather was perfect and the bass bite was on.  For the week, we caught and released 53 smallmouth bass over 19 in., including 9 – 20s.  My buddy Davis Hartley caught 2 – 20 in. Master Angler smallmouth bass during his stay.

Volume was high for most days, but there were a few off periods.  Today was the first day that I fished grade A smallmouth spots and saw mayfly casings on the water with a few adults.  On Lac Seul, the beginning of the mayfly hatch is the environmental marker that let’s us know that the smallmouth bass bite is on the wane.  Some years, there is a wide span of time between the hatch in the range of smally spots.  This year it is happening all at once.  The cold front last week was a break and the heat this week kicked it back to full speed.  This is the first year that I have seen the mayfly hatch start on the North shore.  We will see a few more big bass on the sheet next week, but my prediction is that it is going to come to a grinding and screeching halt.  I saw surface temps in the low 80s today.  And we have already had reports of random bass being caught out of 12 – 15 ft.  For my boat, bass season ended today.

Ed Rosenow has been fishing for big pike on Lac Seul for more than 30 years.  He taught my guides a few spots back in the day.  He and his wife Debbie have been fishing with us for years and they had a good week of pike hunting.  Ed caught a 38 and 39 and Debbie caught a 40 with Jason.  They spent some time on bass and walleyes, but they prefer to chase pike.  And for them, this was also a successful trip.

For the week, our pike anglers caught and released, 18 over 37 in., including 5- 39s, 4 – 40s, and 1 – 42.  I could spend a week telling you what worked.  The bottom line was, be aggressive and versatile.  The guides love to debate this issue on a daily basis, but the truth is that sometimes emerging weeds are the key, sometimes wind-blown structure is more important, and sometimes during transition, you just cover as much water as you can and hope for the best.   Spoons (Williams whitefish and Cabela’s) were top producers, but Jakes, spinnerbaits, and In lines were also up there.

There were many big walleyes caught this week, but there was one that was off the charts.  Brett McCallum has been guiding at the Wheel forever, and he will tell you that Emma Larson is magic.  I did not look it up, but I think she started catching big walleyes when she was 9.  Back in the day, Brett would say, “she is a great young walleye angler and just catches big ones…..”  This week, Brett just said, “She did it again.”  Emma caught and released a massive 30.25 in. walleye that is our cover photo.

For the week, we caught and released 61 walleyes over 27 in., including 18 – 28s, 4 – 29s, and 1 – 30.  Volume was high and then it wasn’t.  The big ones were caught deep in 20 – 30 ft. and then they weren’t (10 – 14 ft.).  We had to slow down and fish finesse presentations down deep and then we caught them pulling big Gulp at speed shallow.

Sometimes I am concerned, that readers will get frustrated with our seemingly random fishing report.  But then…. this is what happened.  And to be truthful, for every success story there was another one that was not so successful.  And some days, that is my story.  You appreciate the win more when you have to fight through the loss.

The last story line is that I still guide every day.  I know that I shouldn’t, but I have groups that I love to guide and I can’t give them up.  And for that reason, I am writing a fishing report at 12:31.  It will not be Shakespeare, but I am going to do my best to tell the story…. and then I am going to get up tomorrow morning, make plans with my crew, and we are going to do it all over again.

Living the dream… but a little tired.

June 17, 2023 Sat, 17 Jun 2023 12:54:23 +0000

Carleton Goss 28.25

It was a bit of a bonkers week at the Wheel.  For those that follow us on a regular basis, you know that it has been hot and dry in Northwest Ontario.  The “normal” spring patterns have been disrupted by unseasonably warm weather and we are currently under a fire ban.  We saw several fires blow up on the lake this week and watched the MNR fight them with helicopters and water bombers.  At the same time, we also had a pretty sharp, dry, cold front come through midweek that definitely scrambled the fishing puzzle pieces.  In short, it was complicated, but the guide crew worked together and managed to figure out most of it.

I am going to give you the walleye stats first, but then I am going to add some details.

For the week, we caught and released 74 walleyes over 27 in., including 11 – 28s, 4 – 29s, and 2 – 30s.  Volume overall was very good, with guide sheets averaging 40 walleyes over 18 in. per day.

Those numbers sound off the charts and would give the impression that the fishing was easy.  It was not.  We caught walleyes in 2 ft. of water and 32 ft. of water.  We caught walleyes in spring locations and we caught them on main lake summer spots.  We caught walleyes that were aggressive enough to eat Williams Whitefish spoons casting for pike and we caught walleyes that were so negative that we had to dead stick 1/8s and minnows or rig drop shots.

Not only that, it was sporadic.  One area or region would be hot one day and dead the next.  Guides fished an area that was dead in the morning and hot in the afternoon.  Even worse, was the localized pocket bites.  A generally good fishing area would be mostly vacant, except for a very small area that was holding a concentration of fish.  They may have been relating to a specific rock sand transition, newly emergent weed growth, or a gradual depth transition.  The point is, if you missed noticing that small detail, then you missed the 12 fish you could have put in the boat.

The big walleye patterns were just as messy.  For every 27 in. walleye that we caught out of 8 – 10 ft. in front of an emerging weed bed, we caught 2 or more out of 20 – 25 ft. of water on main lake rock summer spots.  Bottom line: walleye fishing was good, but it was hard.

Pike fishing was just as schizophrenic.  As the oldest senior guide, I advised my guys to steer guests away from the “difficult transition” pike.  Thankfully, they did not take my advice.  We had groups that wanted to hunt for big Northerns and my guides did what they are supposed to do.  They listened, explained the odds, gave the options, laid out plans, and tried.  Their results were far better than I expected.  For the week, we caught and released 14 pike over 37 in., including 3 – 38s, 2 – 39s, and 2 – 41s.  Spoons were the most productive.  Newly emergent weed beds produced many, but there were also quite a few big pike caught casting to rock.

And the bass were a surprise too.  At one time, the guide crew were worried that the peak of the bass bite would happen before our guys from Texas arrived.  There were several good bass bites last week and there were also several disappointments.  For the week, we caught and released 11 bass over 19 in. including one over 20.

Ben Beattie is a SWWL guide staff alumni and writer for “Ontario Out of Doors.”  He is a Northwest Ontario Musky guiding expert, but Musky season does not open until June 17.  Ben was guiding with us this past week and one of my guides gave him a “hot tip” about a North shore location for big smallmouth.    At our nightly round table meeting, Ben got to this point of the story and asked the crew what they thought the surface temps were on the North shore.  (Keep in mind the main lake has been 65 – 70 for the past two weeks.)  Ben says, “I got all the way up there, I look at my graph, and I think it must be broken.  It says that the surface water is 48 degrees F!”  This is on a prime-time spring smallmouth bass spot.  Ben knew to explain and bail, but the point of the story is that we were all shocked that main lake surface water temps could have dropped more than 20 degrees F just because the wind blew from a different direction.  The North shore bass bite has not even started.  Like everything else these past few years, it could happen quickly, but the cold snap this week did adjust our fishing calendar.

The calendar may be adjusted, but having a top-class guiding crew sharing information is the most powerful problem-solving tool a guide staff manager could ask for.  They don’t always take my advice, but sometimes they solve the problem faster than I would.

June 10, 2023 Sat, 10 Jun 2023 12:42:05 +0000

Jeff Kaufman 29.25

The weather still felt like summer this past week.  The daytime highs and surface temps may have moderated a bit, but the fishing was on fire.  Pick your favorite species as they were all three popping this past week.

The surprise for me was the pike fishing.  Usually when pike transition from spring / spawning patterns to summertime locations, they are generally difficult to consistently pattern and target.  My general advice to the guide crew is to mix your day up a bit by casting for pike if you want, but always be ready to fall back on the more predictable walleye bite.  Many guests this past week asked to spend time fishing for pike and they were very successful.

For the week, we caught and released 31 pike over 37 in., including 8 – 38s, 3 – 39s, 3 – 40s, and 2 – 41s.  Spoons and big cranks were the most productive presentations.  The locations were split evenly between late spring feeding zones and what I would consider standard summer locations.  Main lake weeds are already over 2 ft tall and in many areas that was enough to begin holding big pike.

There were a few slow times for walleyes, but for most of the week, the walleye bite was hot.  The numbers; 70 over 27 in., including 9 – 28s, 5 – 29s, and 1 – 30.  The key was to search for the walleye bite that produced numbers of walleyes over 24 in. and then grind it out for the really big ones.  Sometimes it was on sandy transitions, others it was on current based rock bites, and there were still good bites on the shallow sections of classic main lake summer sand.  The key was not to try to replicate the previous day’s bite.  The most successful guides ran multiple experiments on a variety of different locations until they found a pattern and duplicated it.  There were a few bites that responded to plastics, but most success this week revolved around what size jig, what speed, and what depth to fish minnows.  Those details may sound tedious, but they were the difference between doing well and crushing it.  We talk about catch rates all the time.  In general, 5 walleyes over 18 in. per boat per hour is the recipe for a good day.  Guides left those bites this past week and often found better.  The key depth for big walleyes this week was 10 – 14 ft.

The smallmouth bass are definitely ahead of schedule.  That doesn’t mean they were always easy.  They have definitely moved towards their preferred spawning locations.  There were the sporadic reports of a few beds sighted, but there were also several days of not just neutral, but absolutely negative bites.  I heard several guests say they saw a hundred bass swimming around, but only caught 3.  At the same time, there were a few feeding windows where it didn’t matter what you threw in front of them, they were going to eat it.  For the week, we caught and released 23 over 19 in., including 6 – 20 in. bass.  Plastics were preferred, cranks caught a few, and surprisingly, a few were already looking for topwater.

The Take Away – Gouws is my stats guy this year and he took some time off for his sister’s graduation.  Justin volunteered to tabulate the numbers for the week.  When he came upstairs to hand me the results, he said, “MW, this was a total Big Fish Beat Down!”  and I agreed.

June 3, 2023 Sat, 03 Jun 2023 16:19:42 +0000 Donavan Olson 32

Donavan Olson 32

I have been guiding in Canada since 1989 and I have never seen a Spring like we are experiencing this year.  In 2023, Spring lasted for a day or two and pretty much instantly turned into summer.  Even though the ice just went out 2.5 weeks ago, it looks and feels like July in NW Ontario.  We have had high temps in the 80s for more than a week and the lake surface temperatures are close to 70 degrees even on the main lake.  Conditions have been so warm and dry that we are now on Fire Ban.

Guiding and finding fish was a little tricky this week.  I mentioned last week that some of the traditional spring spots were not holding as many walleyes.  With the rapid transition to Summer, that trend just got stronger.  One of the principles that we teach in early guide training is that post spawn walleyes often travel great distances in search of food.  Those fish seek out areas of the lake that warm more quickly than others and attract more baitfish.  This year the main lake heated up so quickly the motivation was not that great for walleyes to seek out the more isolated and protected areas of the lake.  Not only did the walleyes bypass some of their traditional early season locations, but they moved right onto some of the main lake structures that we fish in the middle of summer.

Guiding walleyes was a challenge in that some were still back in the warm shallows, some were already set up on summer spots, and the rest were in between.  On the same day, we caught walleyes from 3 ft. of water in a backwater boggy area and we caught walleyes out of 33 ft. of water on main lake summer sand structure.  If you were not open minded and ready to adapt quickly, you would struggle.  The shared information at our nightly guide’s round table meeting was absolutely the key to success this week.

And it was a big week for walleye volume and size.  We caught and released 45 walleyes over 27 in., including 9 – 28s, 2 – 29s, 1 – 30, and 1 – 32.  Guides averaged over 30 walleyes over 18 in. per boat each day.  Several boats filled the back of their sheets (over 60 walleyes.)  There were a few pitch bites where jigs and plastics were used to target active walleyes in very shallow water, but most of the week’s production hinged on some version of the jig and minnow.  Guides long lined 1/8 oz. jigs and minnows at a moderate speed (.5 – 1 mph) to locate fish in shallower water or they used electronics to find walleyes on main lake summer structure and used 1/8 oz. jigs and minnows with a vertical presentation.  The most consistently successful guides bounced back and forth between the spectrums of speed, depth, and region and changed gears multiple times per day.

I expected the big pike bite was going to slow down with the spawn over and fish moving to transition spots.  There were a couple of big pike caught on jigs while walleye fishing, but many guests were able to capitalize on pike that were still on or near traditional spawning areas.  There weren’t too many big ones caught from the super skinny water, but many were caught on or near the first break just outside of spawning areas.  Jakes, spoons, and Husky Jerks (HJ14s) were all productive at times.  There was a definite change of preference between different days.  The best strategy was to fish a mix of baits until you found out was working for the day.  For the week, we caught and released 33 pike over 37 in., including 7 – 38s, 5 – 39s, 4 – 40s, and 3 – 42s.  There were several high-volume days with guides reporting 20 or more pike over 30 in.

The big surprise of the week was the early arrival of smallmouth bass fishing.  We often catch random bass early, mixed in with the walleyes but this week marked the beginning of the pre-spawn for bass.  They were not set up on or building beds just yet, but they are definitely hanging around the spawning areas.  Small cranks and jigs with plastics fished quickly were the most productive choices to target bass.  For the week we caught and released 7 Smallmouth over 19 in.  In the next few weeks, bass fishing production for both size and numbers should increase dramatically.

The Take Away – If you are planning a return fishing trip to SWWL or Lac Seul in general in the next week or so, Do Not expect to find fish where you used to catch them.  This weather pattern is a shocking outlier from normal and the fish have responded accordingly.  I do hope we get enough rain soon to end the fire ban.

May 27, 2023 Sat, 27 May 2023 13:29:51 +0000

Glen Poppinga 31.25

I know that many of you have been waiting for the first fishing report of the year and I cannot tell you how happy I am to be writing it.  Covid is in the rearview mirror.  There are no border restrictions or issues.  When you come up to go fishing, crossing the border will be just like it was in 2019 or earlier.

We worried about ice out and debated what to do.  I got to the lodge on May 1 and it was full on winter.  You could have driven a tractor trailer on the ice, there were 4 – 5 ft. snow drifts in front of the cabins, and the weather forecast was terrible.  And then the sun came out.  You cannot comprehend the power of the sun until you watch an ice out on Lac Seul.  It was not a super cold or snowy winter up here and when the ice went out, it went fast.  Official ice out for Lac Seul in 2023 was May 15.

I watched the walleye fishing forums and just shook my head.  There were many threads about how low the water was on Lac Seul this year.  Sure, compared to last year’s once in a 100-year flood.  It is lower than that.  If you want facts, go to Lake of the Woods water control board website and look for yourself.  We are smack dab in between 45 – 50% for the past 40 years.  Lac Seul is always low in the spring and fills up in the summer.  We have not had much rain recently, but the snow melted and the water went up 1.5 ft. since May 1.  This is normal.

Since ice out, Spring has been normal to on the warm side.  Water temps have skyrocketed and the trees are almost all fully leafed out.  The progression has been surprising.  The main lake is close to 50 degrees and some of the back water bays are already over 60.  It happened fast.

We constantly debate, but the guide crew consensus is that the pike spawn is half done.  There are still a few pre-spawn fish, some were definitely spawning today, but many are already done and on the move.  The walleyes have even more of a head start on their annual migrations.  The warm forecast will only amplify the progression.

For the week, we caught and released 23 walleyes over 27 in., including 3 – 28s, 3 – 29s, and 1 – 31.25.   Most of those fish were found in our usual spring spots.  Live bait was important, but when water temps exceeded 58 degrees, plastics were just as effective.  Volume was pretty good for May, but there were a few spots that did not produce like they usually do.

Pike fishing was good, but not at the same level as 2022.  For the week, we caught and released 40 Northerns over 37 in., including 6 – 40s, 2 – 41s, and 1 – 42 in. monster.  Spoons, Jakes, Husky Jerks, and Johnson silver minnows were all effective.

Small mouth bass were not targeted, but it still feels like there are more and more each and every year.  For the week, we caught and released over 100 as incidental catch along with 7 – 19s and 1 – 20.

The seven-day forecast looks like summer and we are expecting a rapid shift into transition.

6671 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….