Silver Water Wheel Lodge https://www.sww-lodge.com Walleye Fishing | Lac Seul, Ontario Thu, 13 Aug 2020 02:32:25 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.5.1 57281843 August 12, 2020 – The Lost Season https://www.sww-lodge.com/2020/08/august-12-2020-the-lost-season/ Wed, 12 Aug 2020 12:06:40 +0000 https://www.sww-lodge.com/?p=5693

The cabins are closed up. The boats are on their way to Kenora to received new engines for 2021. All but the most senior staff have gone home. And we are calling an end to the 2020 season. The shock is slowly wearing off and the only thing left to do is to prepare for the next season.

We were able to host several Canadian fishing guests over the summer and that allowed us to work on our new hygiene and meal service protocols. The response from guests was strong. A few admitted that they missed the camaraderie and social atmosphere of eating breakfast and supper in the lodge but others enjoyed eating on their cabin deck. They all understand that social distancing just would not work in our dining room.

Several guide’s families visited this summer including Gouws’ Dad, Dr. Werner Oberholzer. Dr. Oberholzer had a great visit and at the end we talked about Covid 19 issues. His opinion is that a fishing trip to Silver Water Wheel Lodge is probably one of the safest vacation options available. The lodge and staff are isolated from the outside world. We control who comes up to the lodge and our screening process is very similar to what is in place to enter his hospital to work. Anglers stay in their cabins with their families or fishing buddies and they are out in the fresh air on the lake fishing. I agreed and explained that we know that we can’t eliminate all risk, but we intend to provide as safe of an angling adventure as we can.

There is no way for me to talk about 2020 without admitting a gut wrenching and emotional loss. I expected to hear the same heart break from many of our guests who missed their annual fishing trip to the Wheel. At the same time, I was surprised at the level of support and concern that so many guests expressed. And we Thank you.

As a company policy, I have informed all guests that I have talked to, that their 2020 deposits are safe. I have and will continue to give all booked guests the option to transfer their deposits to 2021 or I will send a check and refund deposits. The vast majority of groups have chosen to transfer their deposits to 2021. The up side for them is that they lock in their dates for next season.

With Covid and the related economic downturn, we know that there will be a few more cancellations and schedule changes for the upcoming season. We have already begun to work on many requests and will continue to do so as we move to the next marketing season. Like 2009 and 2010, this next season will likely have a few more options for the guests on our waiting list to find a spot in the schedule.

I am going to remain optimistic and ready for the scientific and medical breakthroughs over the Fall and Winter that will result in the lifting of the border closure. We have spent the summer of 2020 preparing for next season:

 

~ Cabin 5 was moved up the hill and is being remodeled to become Brett’s new home at the Wheel.

~ Removed all overhead power lines.

~ Spent most of the summer training our 3 new first year guides.

I am hoping that it is like watching your kids grow up. You don’t see them get bigger on a daily or weekly basis, but the changes over a year can be huge. I sincerely miss having guests at the lodge. Trust me, Silver Water Wheel in the summer just isn’t the same without you. When you do return, we want you to know that as a crew, we have been thinking about you and we have been planning on how to put on the best show possible in 2021.

Looking forward to a New Season,

Mike Willems

Silver Water Wheel Lodge

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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July 5, 2020 – The beginning of the end https://www.sww-lodge.com/2020/07/july-5-2020-the-beginning-of-the-end/ Sun, 05 Jul 2020 16:25:31 +0000 https://www.sww-lodge.com/?p=5673 There is no way to describe the sad and hollow feeling in my heart.

There were no fireworks tonight.

There was no late-night party on the deck with music and conversation.  My kids didn’t coerce funds from their lemonade stand before they roasted spidey dogs over the fire.  Usually, I take the dogs and any kids upstairs so they don’t have to hear the fireworks…..  This year,…..just me.

Quiet!   And more Quiet…

The deadlines for the Quarantine Act have been extended to Aug. 31.  That means any group scheduled prior to that date is subject to a 14 day quarantine before they can go to their lodge.  That means that the border remains effectively closed until Sept. 1.

I believe that the decision has already been made.  Politically, it sounds too bad to say out loud that everything is closed now, but I believe the entire 2020 season is going to be lost.

******We are not the only ones going through this. Watch this video put together by lodges in the area.

I don’t see any combination of variables that will open up the border this year.

I hope that I am wrong…..    But I also know the mood up here….

We will take care of the crew as best we can, but the reality is that there likely will be almost no revenue coming in this year.

We gambled and lost….

We are still banking on 2021.   It has to be perfect and we are ready, but we have to have zero surprises to make the season work.

Everything that could be done for 2020 has been done.  To a fault.   2021 is the only way forward out of this mess.

We hope to see you all then.

Mike W.

SWWL

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June 20, 2020 https://www.sww-lodge.com/2020/06/june-20-2020/ Sat, 20 Jun 2020 14:57:48 +0000 https://www.sww-lodge.com/?p=5654 The border closure has been extended to July 21, 2020.  Again, I will not be surprised if the closure is extended again.  I am still concerned that there are growing odds that we will lose the entire summer season.

Missy and the kids were allowed to cross the border and are currently in quarantine for 14 days.  The Gov. of Canada, the Province of Ontario, and the Northwest Health unit have all called or emailed several times to confirm that they are following through with the quarantine requirements.  The OPP came out for a site visit.  The Canadians are taking the pandemic very seriously.

The new fixed dock is complete and looks sharp.  We will tie it into a new boat house some year after we open up for business again.  The landscaping of the new cabin is coming along, but some of our new trees are going to have to be replaced.  And most importantly, we are still on the water every day training our new guides for their future guests.

Ice out was May 15 and the lake opened up lower than average and continues to be low.  Overall spring was very warm and dry.  We blazed through our typical spring  bites and are already catching numbers of fish on the main lake.  It is much more difficult to follow bites and patterns with just a few guide training boats on the water.

We are scheduled to begin hosting a few Canadian fishing groups the first week of July.  Until then, we will remain hopeful and ready to open up for all of our US anglers.

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June 2, 2020 https://www.sww-lodge.com/2020/06/june-2-2020/ Tue, 02 Jun 2020 16:14:19 +0000 https://www.sww-lodge.com/?p=5642 June 1, 2020 – Not Season Opener:

We should be well into Season by now, but 2020 is going to rewrite the History books for everyone. There has been surprisingly little news or information about what to expect for the remainder of the Summer. My concern is that no news is bad news. As of this date, all we know is that the border will continue to be closed, at least until June 21. I would put the emphasis on “at least.”

Missy and the kids are still not allowed to cross the border even though they plan to quarantine for 14 days when they arrive. They remain in Iowa packed and waiting.

We continue to work on our projects. The new fixed dock is coming along nicely. The guys are working on the landscaping of the new cabin. And most importantly, we are on the water every day training our new guides for their future guests. Along the way, all 3 have managed to catch and release some big fish this spring.

We look forward to introducing you to our newest guide staff members:

Chris Nitz

 

 

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May 16, 2020 https://www.sww-lodge.com/2020/05/may-16-2020/ Sat, 16 May 2020 02:19:55 +0000 https://www.sww-lodge.com/?p=5625 A season preview:

At the end of January our budget forecast predicted that we were about to have the best business year in our history.   And like the rest of the planet, our world turned upside down in a matter of weeks in the face of a Pandemic. I have spent the last 3 months trying to research and plan for whatever level of season we could muster in the age of the Corona Virus. After all of that thought and effort, we still don’t know what is going to happen.

As of today, the US / Canada border will be closed to tourism at least until June 21. Personally, I do not believe that they will open it any time soon after that. There are dozens of polar points of view to be found written on the subject, but the fact is that there have been far more Covid cases in the US than anywhere else in the world. To date, the US is reporting over 85,000 deaths at the same time that Canada is seeing their cases decrease with more than 5,000 deaths. The different rates of infection between the 2 countries does not make me optimistic that we will see the border opened to US tourists any time soon.

We have been through the stages of grief and are left only with a plan to salvage whatever we can from a crippled 2020 season, but more importantly to improve for 2021 and beyond.

Many lodges have already made the decision to close for the entire 2020 season. We made the decision to bring some staff up to the lodge and complete our newest 10-person cabin. The Eagle’s Nest is nearly finished and is situated where the old cabin 5 used to be. Additional projects under way or in the works are a complete rebuild of the old fixed dock and installation of a new 80 kw generator. All of the old overhead power lines have been removed and replaced with underground service. By this time next year, the lodge will have a new and improved look.

When the border does open, we will be OPEN. At the same time, we know that we are going to have to change our current business model to adapt to the challenges of the virus. A new and more rigorous disinfection protocol will be implemented covering the entire property. The biggest challenge will be getting around the close seating of our current dining room. Our plan is to discontinue meals in the dining room and serve guests both breakfast and dinner in their cabins. We will miss the family style atmosphere of the lodge and the Master Angler Award ceremony but we feel that we can provide a safer meal service by compartmentalizing our groups in their cabin. Of course, shore lunches will continue to be served with your group on the beach. We still have a few more details to sort out before guests arrive, but we are confident that we can continue to provide a safe, high quality angling experience in the great Ontario outdoors.

I will try to provide updates with news reports on a regular basis. In the meantime, if you are a current SWWL guest and have concerns about your booking, please call me or email. I don’t know exactly when we will see all of our guests again, but when we do, we plan to continue to provide one of the best fishing adventures to be found in the north.

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Friday, September 20, 2019 https://www.sww-lodge.com/2019/09/friday-september-20-2019/ Sat, 21 Sep 2019 18:19:45 +0000 https://www.sww-lodge.com/?p=5577

Kirk Bernhagen 31.25

It was a week of warm daytime temps and lots of different wind speeds, but all from the south.  There was even enough heat to generate large thunderstorm systems on three days – unusual for us this time of year.  Despite the temperature change, the lake surface temps remained around 60 degrees, and we found walleye in both shallow transition depths and deep summer water again.

Interestingly, the cold early in September and then the return of warm weather this week seems to have the walleye stuck in between summer and fall.  Just a week ago I would have said we were well on the way to an early fall transition and been searching transition depth structures for big walleye.  Instead, this week we split our time almost evenly between transition and summer fishing again, but the warm weather does seem to have moved the top end fish back into summer pattern depths.  We saw some volume fishing transition, but all of our top end fish were caught out of 25-35 feet of water at classic summer structures.  We also returned to gulp and speed this week.  There were more active fish to be found and gulp at speed was a good volume producer at times, though the big ones came on live bait rigs. The daily guide sheets averaged 20-25 walleye over 18 inches, and for the week we boated 9 walleye over 27 inches, but the top end was still good with 2 – 29.5’s, and an incredibly bulky 31.25 incher.

Beth Rush 29.5

We tallied 56 guided days on the water this week, a little over half that of an average summer week.  And the majority of our groups spent that time in pursuit of big northern.  Steady water temps and some warm, sunny days meant no big change in lake conditions.  No heavy winds to knock down the last of the weeds, and the big pike held to the remaining weed beds again this week.  Some of our favorite fall big pike producing spots are rock – points and outside edges of back bays.  They were just not producing this week; all the bait and all the big fish were in the weeds.  For the week we boated 18 northern over 37 inches, including 4 – 39’s, 1 – 40, and 2 – 41’s.  Blades were what most of the biggest fish ate, and spoons remained the volume producer.

On a side note: It’s been a trend in the last few years that we catch some big bass on main lake rock piles.  3 – 19’s and 1 -20 incher this week.

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Friday, September 13, 2019 https://www.sww-lodge.com/2019/09/friday-september-13-2019/ Sat, 14 Sep 2019 04:39:27 +0000 https://www.sww-lodge.com/?p=5546


Bill Jablonowski 30.5

There were a lot of grey skies and cool temps this week.  The cool air temps kept the lake surface temps dropping – lake surface temps were down to the 50’s by Friday.  That’s a much earlier temperature drop than most years.  There has been enough wind to mix that surface water with the rest of the water column, so water temps are likely similar at all our fishing depths.  As the week progressed and the cool weather persisted our best walleye bites moved into deeper water.  Plastics and speed were generally ineffective, and slow and subtle live bait presentations were the method of choice for our guides most of the week.  One interesting note, as we moved to fishing deep water in some of our favorite big fish spots we saw a big surge in the number of fish under 18 inches.  Contrary to our usual pattern, some boats were able to catch big walleye by spending the time to sort through the high volume.

 

 


Joel Schnieder 28.25

This week we had just 41 guided days on the water, less than half an average week in the summer.  About half of those days were devoted to hunting for big northern, and the top end walleye remained strong for the boats targeting them.  For the week we caught and released 16 walleyes over 27 inches, including 4 – 28’s, 2 – 29’s, and 2 – 30’s.

A lot of our guests this week chose to spend their time in pursuit of big pike this week in spite of the weather.  The heavy north winds from a week ago stripped most open water weed beds away, and low lake surface temps meant northern were just as comfortable back in the bays as on the main lake.  As a result, most of our best fish this week came from sheltered water, in the remaining weed beds.  The big pike were heavily concentrated in those weeds, there were a couple of days mid-week when we moved and saw 4 or 5 big northern for every one we caught.  For the week we boated 13 pike over 37 inches, with 2 – 39’s, 2 – 40’s, and a 42 incher.

 

Bill Jablonowski and Joel Schneider are a pair our guests that have fished with us in the fall for many years.  They had an incredible week this fall, catching nine “photo walleye”, including two 29 inchers and a gigantic 30.5 incher.

 

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Friday September 6, 2019 https://www.sww-lodge.com/2019/09/friday-september-6-2019/ Sat, 07 Sep 2019 05:16:18 +0000 https://www.sww-lodge.com/?p=5522

Dave Donohoe 30.5

The weather this week had a little bit of everything – sun, clouds, warm, cool, windy, and calm.  But no extremes of anything.  Overall, it averaged out to pretty stable, and lake surface temps remained in the 60-65 degree range.  That meant pretty similar water temps from the surface down to 30+ feet, and the walleye had a lot of water in their ‘comfort zone’ temperature range to choose from.  We haven’t yet found many fish in less than 15 feet of water this fall, but we’ve caught good walleye from depths ranging from 15 to 40 feet.  Our time and our best production were split pretty evenly between classic deep summer water and transition depths this week.

Joel Schnieder 29

When the walleye are both deep and shallow, finding fish takes time and a back and forth approach.  Many of our guides used speed and Gulp this week to search the various depths as efficiently as possible and pick up any active fish.  Then they went back and targeted the less active biters with jigs and live bait.  Overall, we spent more time with live bait and most of our big ‘eyes came that way.

This is the time of year when our staff numbers shrink, and we run at about half to two thirds the number of boats on the water.  We average over 80 guided days a week throughout the summer months – this week we totaled 48 days on the water.  Volume was spotty and heavily weather dependent, the average day’s guide sheet had 22 walleye over 18 inches. The top end was good, for the week we boated 22 walleyes over 27 inches, with 6 – 28’s, 1 – 29, and 4 – 30 inchers.

Our boats spent more time pike fishing this week.  The weed beds are well into their fall die-off, and the big winds last week helped speed that along.  That means the big pike are more concentrated now in the fewer remaining weed beds than they were throughout the summer, and we invested a lot of our time searching the weeds when the sun shone.  But some of our best fish came from transition -type rock structures when the weather was grayer.  Spoons and spinnerbaits remained our best producing baits when we were working the weeds, but deeper diving lures and jakes worked on rock structures.  For the week we caught and released 9 pike over 37 inches, with 3 – 38’s, and 1 – 40.

My take-away: The seasons change, the weather changes, the bite changes, but ‘the program’ remains the same.  Go fast, slow, deep, shallow – experiment, gather information, and apply it.  The fish will come.

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Friday August 30, 2019 https://www.sww-lodge.com/2019/08/friday-august-30-2019/ Sat, 31 Aug 2019 05:28:02 +0000 https://www.sww-lodge.com/?p=5495

Glen Poppinga 29

This week was about big wind.  Every day had high winds and there were some days with sustained winds of 20-25 mph.  A major front moved through mid-week, and continued cool nights brought lake surface temps down by 5-10 degrees from last week.

In mid-September, when we usually get dropping surface temps and high wind weather trends, walleye respond by moving back into transition depths.  Our guides followed the weather and found good walleye in less than 20 feet of water regularly this week too.  Most of the big fish still came from summertime deep water, and very few of our fish were caught with aggressive presentations – live bait and light jigs were the best producers.

We fish every day and deal with heavy winds all the time.  As guides, our usual approach when we see a high wind day coming is to choose that day to focus on spots that are off the main body of the lake, spots that are sheltered from the worst of the wind and easy to drive to.  We put in extra time on those areas and focus on getting some really good fish rather than driving around the lake and beating folks up to chase lots of fish – planning on being able to chase lots of fish on the calmer days.  The hard part this week was that every day was a big wind day.  That led to our boats spending the majority of their time this week working “big fish spots” and very little time chasing volume.  As a result, our total numbers were lower than usual this week, but big fish production remained good.  Daily guide sheets averaged 23 walleye over 18 inches, and for the week we boated 39 walleye over 27 inches, including 9 – 28’s and 2 – 29’s.

The big winds and weather meant we did almost no pike fishing at all this week.  We caught and released just 5 northern over 37 inches, including 2 – 40’s.

My take-away: Weather trumps all.  It may not be the right time of season, time of day, or the right water – doesn’t matter.  Follow the weather to find fish.

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Friday August 23, 2019 https://www.sww-lodge.com/2019/08/friday-august-23-2019/ Sat, 24 Aug 2019 04:42:57 +0000 https://www.sww-lodge.com/?p=5471

Claire Holton 29

This week it was hard to convince ourselves it was still only August.  The weather continued very fall-like, nights were cool and some days were too, and there were lots of cloudy skies and blustery days.  The walleye acted like it was fall as well, moving from shallow to deep and back again and just being much less predictable.

From talking with the guide crew two trends stand out this week and they were widely different.  We finally started to catch numbers and size out of “deep summer” depths.  We’ve been dipping out to 30-35 feet regularly all summer, but this is the first week of the season where catching both size and numbers out 30+ feet was the rule rather than the exception.   At the same time some boats found good fish by going the other way and targeting typical fall patterns in less than 20 feet.  Overall, the best volume and most of our big walleye came from following the bite out to deep water, but a couple of the biggest ‘eyes of the week were caught following the shallow fall trend.

This week our best volume came from gearing down – Lighter jigs and finesse presentations were the answer.  Whenever we’re working a finesse bite kind of day, we’ll put on big jigs and turn up the speed to check on the reaction bite that Mike has been talking about in his last few reports.  We kept checking, but the walleye liked the subtler approach this week.  Though of course there is always an exception – the biggest walleye of the week was caught pulling Gulp in deep water.  Walleye volume varied a lot from day to day.  Most days it was not uncommon for a boat to check a half a dozen spots before finding a location that produced any numbers of fish for the sheet.  Guide sheets averaged 30 walleye over 18 inches a day and for the week we caught and released 33 walleyes over 27 inches, including 6 ­– 28’s, 1 – 29, and 1 – 30.

We did very little pike fishing this week, and it shows in the numbers – we caught and released 3 over 37 inches including 1 – 39 and 1 – 40.75 incher.

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August 16, 2019 https://www.sww-lodge.com/2019/08/august-16-2019/ Sat, 17 Aug 2019 13:01:29 +0000 https://www.sww-lodge.com/?p=5417 We felt the first little hint of a change in seasons this week; mornings were cool (below 50), when you study the shoreline you can pick out the first hint of yellow leaves, and some of the shallowest weedbeds are beginning to die out. It was still summer fishing with both main lake rock and sand producing consistently, but we know that more changes will be coming soon.

Jake Gjoraas 30

Walleye fishing volume varied on a daily basis. There were a few really hot bites, a few slower ones, and most days were just consistent. It was more common to catch 5 sheet fish from 5 different spots rather than smash 25 off of one. Guide sheets averaged 35 walleyes over 18 in. per boat each day. For the week, we caught and released 35 walleyes over 27 in., including 6 – 28s, 2 – 29s, and 1 – 30. It was once again an even split between our two most productive summer presentations. Live minnows on 1/8 – ¼ oz jigs fished vertically worked well to entice reluctant biters, but we were also still able to trigger reaction bites pulling 6.5 in. Gulp Nemesis on ¾ oz. jigs at speed (.9 – 1.2 mph). I have had a few groups that have had a hard time finding the Gulp product in stores. I recommend going to Berkley’s website and make sure to look for the Saltwater version. On Lac Seul, it is hard to beat white. Key depths for the week were 20 – 30 ft.

The pike bite was not bad and results for big fish were pretty good considering the amount of time spent casting. For the week, we caught and released 13 over 37 in., including 3 – 38s, 1 – 39, and 2 – 41s. Big spoons were hard to beat.

The Take Away: It feels like summer is faster now. I had a meeting today finalizing plans for the construction of the next new cabin. Construction begins the first week of September and the hardest part of that job is coming up with a name for the new 10-man cabin. Missy and the kids are already back in Iowa for the start of school, soccer, and volleyball. It is hard to believe that this is my last report of the summer season. I will finish guiding this week, spend a few days chasing muskies, and then it will be time to head back to Iowa to get ready for the Fall guiding season. Overall it was another great season on Lac Seul. Brett will take over and run the operation for Fall and will be writing the next weekly fishing report.

MW – out.

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August 9, 2019 https://www.sww-lodge.com/2019/08/august-9-2019/ Sat, 10 Aug 2019 11:20:58 +0000 https://www.sww-lodge.com/?p=5387 Don Kent 31.5

Don Kent 31.5

The major weather event this week was a substantial cold front that went through mid-week.  Warm humid weather instantly flipped to high winds from the Northwest, with cool showers, and colder nights.  It felt more like the first week of Sept. than the first week of Aug.  The weather did move the fish around a bit, but overall it was still a good week for big fish and good numbers.

For the week, we caught and released 41 walleyes over 27 in., including 8 – 28s, 4 – 29s, 1 – 30, and Don Kent caught a huge 31.5 in. monster.  Volume was up and down each day, but overall was good with guide sheets averaging 30 walleyes over 18 in.  The strange part of the story is that some days “eaters” were hard to find and some days they were everywhere.

Key depths for the week ranged between 18 – 28 ft.  Both main lake rock and sand produced, but not at the same time.  We are still in the reaction vs. tease tug of war for presentations.  When you encounter neutral to negative walleyes, you can either slow down and grind them with finesse presentations or gear up with big jigs and 6.5 Gulp Nemesis to trigger reaction bites at speed.  Once again, both worked better than running the middle ground for speed and presentation.  The lean for big fish went to the Gulp bite this week.  When guides found a spot that produced a walleye over 25 in. on Gulp, they could often go back and work the area several different ways to pull more big fish from the spot.  The hard part was finding the first big fish.  The others around that one, were much easier.

Quite a few guides hunted big pike this week and the results were pretty good.  For the week, we caught and released 10 pike over 37 in., including 2 – 39s, 1 – 40, 1 – 41, and a huge 43 for Drayven Ribbink.  The pattern was good weeds near deeper water and a fast presentation.  Spoons were top producers, but in-line spinners worked as well.

The Take Away:  Some times a big cold front is bad news, this week it just meant that you had to hunt walleyes in different places to chalk a win.

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August 2, 2019 https://www.sww-lodge.com/2019/08/august-3-2019/ Sat, 03 Aug 2019 19:01:24 +0000 https://www.sww-lodge.com/?p=5352 Billy Brindle 28

Billy Brindle 28

The week of July 26 to Aug. 2 was as close to normal as we have seen this year. The weather was warm and humid and fairly consistent. The walleye fishing was excellent for volume and good for big fish. The bigger walleyes showed up in greater numbers towards the end of the week, but they were mixed right in with all of the same fish that we have been catching this summer. It would be nice to be able to go to the back of the book and look up the answers sometimes, but Lac Seul walleyes don’t work that way. As guides we plan our experiments, evaluate the results on the fly, make adjustments and hope we have that day’s answer before the clock runs out at 6. This week was not easier, but the results were better than the previous three.

The common thread and consistent talking point at round table this week was finding and marking fish that were negative to neutral at best. That and the feet of bait fish showing up on the graph in all areas of the lake. Both main lake rock and sand held fish. Frequently bait and walleyes were found 2 to 5 ft. off the bottom. Guides responded with several different solutions. Many tried downsizing with 1/8 oz. jigs and live bait held vertically off the bottom. Others long lined 1/4s with minnows at .5 mph. Guys also set up drop shot rigs with minnows suspended 2 ft. off bottom. We also used big ¾ oz jigs and 6.5 in. Gulp Nemesis at speed to trigger reaction bites from groups of neutral fish. Each one of these techniques worked at times. The trick was to find a presentation that worked for the conditions and your boat and try to duplicate it.

Dan Ryan 28.5

Dan Ryan 28.5

For the week, we caught and released 48 walleyes over 27 in., including 13 – 28s, and 1 – 30. Guide boats averaged 40 walleyes over 18 in. per day. Even though it was sometimes tricky, it felt good to have the big walleyes return to the schools of mediums. It was still 50/50 for results between light jigs finesse and minnows vs. big jigs and big plastics at speed. Key depths varied each day, but 24 – 30 was a good range for the week.

Pike fishing results were hit and miss this past week. We did catch and release 3 – 40s and 1 – 41, but there were also many afternoons where results were very modest.

The Take Away: After 30 years, I am still learning. Even 10 years ago, when I encountered the 2nd or 3rd group of negative walleyes that would barely bite a 1/8 oz jig with a minnow, I would not have made the decision to pull through them with big Gulp at speed. But that was the pattern that worked this week.

The week’s best results came from both super finesse or high speed with big plastics to get reaction bites. Especially when it gets tricky, you have to rely on the formula. Forget what you read. Skip what you know. You can still make your predictions and hope for the best, but “the Formula” is still the guide’s best answer. Plan and execute your experiments in a timely and logical fashion, evaluate the results, adjust, and duplicate. Hope that you have enough information and time in the day to lock in a win, and when you don’t, listen to round table and wipe the slate clean for tomorrow and try again.

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July 26, 2019 https://www.sww-lodge.com/2019/07/july-26-2019/ Sat, 27 Jul 2019 12:12:48 +0000 https://www.sww-lodge.com/?p=5296

Stephanie Boespflug 28

It is still an unusual summer, but we are getting closer to normal this week.  The weather was a typical summer mix of warm and humid days and a few showers or an afternoon thunderstorm.  The walleyes moved onto the main lake sand and sometimes they bit well and sometimes they were a little more difficult.  Walleye volume was excellent and we caught quite a few big ones although not quite as many as you would expect considering how high the volume was.

Guide sheets averaged 40 walleyes over 18 in. per boat per day.  For the week we caught and released 44 walleyes over 27 in., including 12 – 28s, and 2 – 29s.  Production was once again split evenly between big jigs and Gulp Nemesis and smaller jigs and minnows.  Key depths changed every day but 18 – 24 was a good range to begin your search each day.

The big pike effort and results were both modest.  For the week, we caught and released 6 over 37 in., including 1 – 39 and 1 – 40.

The Take Away:  I have struggled to explain exactly what is different about this summer and why it feels like the walleyes are off their normal schedule.  Yes, it was a cool spring, but surface temps have been above 70 for weeks.  What I can tell you is that today, multiple guides in several different areas of the main lake basin reported the remains of a massive mayfly hatch.  Even though I down play the effect of a hatch on our walleye production, it is still significant to note that in the previous 30 seasons of guiding in Northwest Ontario, I have never seen a big mayfly hatch this late in the year.

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July 19, 2019 https://www.sww-lodge.com/2019/07/july-19-2019/ Sat, 20 Jul 2019 11:54:57 +0000 https://www.sww-lodge.com/?p=5268

John Michels 29.25

Despite some storms and volatile weather this week, we are just now starting to see the signs of walleyes beginning to concentrate at depths.  By the end of this week, most of the action was from 18 – 22 ft.  That helped the walleye volume, but I cannot say the same for size.  The big fish were difficult to find this week.  It is often tough to find big ones on those days when you get showers, then sunshine, followed by more showers and a Thunderstorm.  This felt like even more of a struggle.  We are still catching large numbers of over slot fish, but the big ones just didn’t seem to be in the mix.

For the week we caught and released 24 walleyes over 27 in., including 6 – 28s, and 1 – 29.  Volume was good with guide sheets averaging 30 walleyes over 18 in. per boat per day.  Production was pretty evenly split 4 ways;  6.5 in. Gulp Nemesis or 4 in. with ½ oz. or ¾ oz jigs or live minnows on ¼’s with long lines, or 1/8ths and dead sticking.  We just ran multiple combination of experiments in different locations every day and tried to duplicate the pattern.  Every combo worked at one time or location or another.

John Michels 42.5

Main lake sand is just beginning to hold walleyes again.  Main lake rock was off and on.

A few groups chased big pike this week and they did well.  For the week, we had 11 over 37 in., including 4 – 38s, 3 – 40s, 1 – 42, 1 – 43.25, and 1 – 43.5.  Most were caught out of weed beds with Big spoons and In-line spinners.

The Take Away:  Sometimes we don’t have the answers.  I cannot tell you why the big walleyes were hard to find this week, but they were.  Volatile weather is a factor, but when I read fishing reports from the Great Lakes to the Midwest, there is a common theme.   This Spring was tough fishing and early summer has not been a fast improvement.

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July 12, 2019 https://www.sww-lodge.com/2019/07/july-12-2019/ Sat, 13 Jul 2019 13:13:00 +0000 https://www.sww-lodge.com/?p=5243

Eldon Pigsley 29.25

It feels like summer.  We had one big front with a giant rain event on Wednesday and some more storms and showers after that.  The water is beginning to rise a bit, but it is still lower than normal for this time of year.  The only thing that didn’t feel like summer was the lack of concentration of walleyes anywhere.  Especially vacant was main lake sand.  We start to live on the edges of the big sand flats this time of year, but for whatever reason, they are NOT producing walleyes.  Main lake rock was good, but the hard part was a lack of a consistent depth.  On a Tuesday, you could find them in 20, Wednesday in 26, and Thursday in 14 ft.  Sometimes they moved in the same day.

It was a challenging week for the guide crew.  I listened to round table reports where guides listed 8- 10 spots in a row that produced 1 or 2 fish each.  I heard a report that was highlighted with 20 sheet fish in front of the weeds in 8 ft. smashing big Gulp, followed up by a report of dead sticking neutral to negative fish in 35 ft. with 2 sheet fish including a big one dead sticking 1/8ths and minnows.  There were just a few patterns to be found each day and you had to shift through a dozen combinations of areas, depths, and speed to hopefully find one.  At the same time, it is still Lac Seul and a tough day here still stomps a good day in most of the rest of North America.

Volume dropped off a bit this week with guide sheets averaging 25 – 30 walleyes over 18 in. per boat per day.  For the week, we caught and released 26 Walleye over 27 inches with 4 over 29 inches.  Production was still split about 50/50 between live minnows and Gulp Nemesis.  The 6.5 in Nemesis surprisingly turned some big fish with flat calm conditions that felt like they should be for dead sticking only.  You can guess, but you don’t know.  You have to do the experiments to solve for that day’s conditions.

Colin Coubal 29.5

There were some groups targeting big pike and they did OK.  It was a good day followed by a slow day, but if you got the right fish to bite and you didn’t screw up, you could put a big one in the basket.  For the week we caught and released 8 Pike over 37 inches with one 39 incher, and a giant 42.5 inch fish.

Targeted Bass fishing is finished for 2019.

The Take Away – I spent some time at check out talking with Julie and Steve Blake from Iowa.  They talked for 20 minutes about how much they enjoyed just catching big 21 – 24 in. walleyes.  I shared our conversation with the guide crew at round table to make the point that we all want to guide “photo” fish, but we make a huge mistake as guides when we forget that a 21 – 24 in. walleye is a hard fighting, fun big one, and catching 12 of them is just as good or better than guiding for one 27 for most groups.

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July 5, 2019 https://www.sww-lodge.com/2019/07/july-5-2019/ Sat, 06 Jul 2019 12:59:04 +0000 https://www.sww-lodge.com/?p=5218

Dalton Allen 29

The changes are happening fast on Lac Seul this week.  Above the surface, we had lots of stable warm flat days with a little rain.  Below the surface, it was a scramble.  The bass finished their spawn and moved on.  Mayflies hatched and disappeared.  The weeds are almost topped out and some pike almost moved in.  And the walleyes are spread out through the water column and the spectrum of their annual spring transition.  That means that you can catch A mature walleye on deep summer sand structure, A walleye on a transition spot next to one suspended, and A walleye holding on to the last bit of early season spring spots.  The hard part was finding a concentration of fish.  The guide crew didn’t find many, but when they did, they ground them out to get as much production as they could.

Overall Walleye volume for the week was really good with guide sheets averaging 40 walleyes over 18 in. per day.  The only surprise is that it was hard to find the big

Greg Heinemann 27.5

mixed in with the volume.  Usually, if you find a bite that gets you half way down the back of the page (about 40 fish over 18), then you are going to just trip into some of those 26 – 29 in. fish.  There were guide sheets this week reporting 60 walleyes over 18, but topping out with just one or two over 25 in.

There were some big walleyes caught this week, but they were a bit more scattered and more difficult to predict than normal.  For the week, we caught and released 44 over 27 in., including 10 – 28s, and 4 – 29s.  Many of the big ones were caught with big jigs and 6 in. Berkley Nemesis.  You don’t catch as many fish with the big plastics, but it feels like those baits select for bigger fish.  There was no key depth for big fish this week and that was the issue.  Big eyes were caught in 30 ft. on jigs and minnows and in 3 ft. on pike plugs.  They were everywhere.

The cabbage weeds are just starting to top out and that is usually a key window for big pike on Lac Seul.  There were a few groups targeting pike and their results were OK.  For the week, we caught and released 7 over 37 in. with 3 – 40s.

The smallmouth bass bite feels like it happened a month ago.  There were still a few nice fish caught, but most have moved into their transition out into the main lake.  Totals for the week – 48 over 18, with 10 – 19s, and 1 – 20.

The Take Away – This time of year marks the fastest change of pace.  The weather drives our system.  When it is consistent and the wind blows, it is easy.  When it doesn’t, it is not.  Tonight, we are hoping that a wind change blows the super heavy smoke out of our area.

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June 28, 2019 https://www.sww-lodge.com/2019/06/june-28-2019/ Sat, 29 Jun 2019 12:52:14 +0000 https://www.sww-lodge.com/?p=5180

John Ivie 21

Discovery Channel has Shark Week, and Silver Water Wheel Lodge has Bass week.  And this was It!  Almost every group fished bass for part of their stay and the results were impressive.  There were 242 bass over 18 in. released this week, including 59 – 19s, 10 – 20s, and the new lodge record at 21 in. was caught and released by John Ivie.

Plastics and tubes were the preferred presentation for smallmouth, but top waters and cranks also produced at times.  The first mayfly hatches started showing up at the end of the week and that usually marks the beginning of the end of Bass season on Lac Seul.  It was fun while it lasted.

It was another week of almost no wind.  Even though there was less time spent walleye fishing than usual, the flat-water conditions did not help with the top end walleye numbers.  For the week, we caught and released 37 walleyes over 27 in., including 11 – 28s, and 3 – 29s.  Volume was actually pretty good with guide sheets averaging 35 walleyes over 18 in. per boat each day.  Production was evenly split between Gulp and minnows.  There were walleyes caught from 2 – 32 ft., but key depths were 8 – 15 ft.

Rod Pitts 20

There was little time spent pike fishing.  We closed the week with 9 over 37 in., including 1 – 38, and 2 – 39s.  The main lake weeds have not topped out yet, but they are on their way.  The first groups of pike are just starting to show up in the new growth.

The Take Away:  It feels like there are more and more bass on Lac Seul every year.  There is a significant increase in the number of places that we now target for big bass.  And this year the weather lined up perfect for the groups that planned to target them.  But, overall, there are more and bigger smallmouth everywhere.

 

 

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June 21, 2019 https://www.sww-lodge.com/2019/06/june-21-2019/ Sat, 22 Jun 2019 14:37:19 +0000 https://www.sww-lodge.com/?p=5147

Bryan McKinney 31

We are like Midwest farmers, pretty much every conversation eventually turns to the weather.  This past week was warm, sunny, dry, and there was remarkably very little wind.  That was great news for bass anglers, a marginal improvement for the pike guys, but not the best of conditions for walleye anglers.  I take that back a bit.  The walleye fishing was still good, it is just that this is the time of year when the right conditions can result in one of those phenomenal bites that every angler remembers forever.  We did not experience one of those.

Guide sheets averaged 30 walleyes over 18 in. per boat per day.  For the week, we caught and released 47 walleyes over 27 in., including 9 – 28s, 2 – 29s., 2 – 30s, and 1 – 31.  Even though the volume was just OK for this time of year, there were still some really big fish caught.

Gulp and 4 – 5 in. Power grubs pulled at speed were responsible for about ½ of the big fish caught this week.  The other ½ were caught on some combination of 1/8 – ¼ oz. jig and minnow.  The biggest variable from this past week’s weather was depth.  Big walleyes were caught out of 2 ft. of water and 32ft. of water and every depth in between.  Each day was a search for a key depth.  Guides that found it quickly won, those that didn’t struggled.

The bass fishing has kicked into high gear.  For the week, we caught and released 188 bass over 18 in., including 70 – 19s, and 7 – 20s.  Tubes, plastics, topwaters, and cranks all worked at times.  The results varied by day and weather conditions.  I am expecting that the coming week will be the peak of the bass fishing season.

Luke Bailey 30.25

There was some effort put into chasing pike this week.  Some days were tough, but there were also some good results.  For the week, there were 11 over 37, with 2 – 38s, 1 – 39, 1 – 42, and on his day off, one of our guides, Kurtis Broad, caught a massive 44.

The Take Away:  If you are reading this report for intel for your upcoming trip and the weather stays flat and calm, do not ignore the super shallow water bite for walleyes.  We caught so many walleyes, including big ones, in less than 6 ft. of water this week.  If the wind blows and the weather changes, then all bets are off.  But the Lesson this week is that if you have multiple days of sunny and flat calm conditions this time of year and you are not finding the answer – go Shallow! Or go bass fishing!

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June 14, 2019 https://www.sww-lodge.com/2019/06/june-14-2019/ Sat, 15 Jun 2019 11:47:02 +0000 https://www.sww-lodge.com/?p=5110

Sophia Lundy 28.5

This past week’s weather was pretty normal for the second week of June.  There were a few warm, nice days, a rainy day, some showers, and a few cold fronts.  Lake surface temps went up above the 60s even on the main lake in places and then crashed back down into the 50s again after a cold North wind.  Production for walleyes was split just about in half between warm back water areas and main lake spring transition spots.

Even with the variable weather, the walleye production was excellent.  Guide sheets averaged 35 walleyes over 18 in. per boat per day.  For the week we caught and released 65 walleyes over 27 in., including 14 – 28s, 4 – 29s, and 2 – 30s.

Gulp and plastics were responsible for about 1/3 of the catch and minnows and light jigs made up for the rest.  There were a few walleyes caught on the 6 in. Nemesis and some of them were big, but most of the bite came on 3 and 4 in. plastics pulled at speed (1 mph) with ¼ oz. jigs.  Dragging minnows with long lines on 1/8ths is still hard to beat for results when the walleyes are spread out on the warm shallow flats.

Katherine Lundy 28.25

The pike fishing was another story.  There was nothing to concentrate them; no spawn, no weeds, and uniform temps throughout the water column.  There were a few groups that spent time chasing them and the results were modest.  For the week we caught and released 2 – 38s, 2 – 39s, and 2 – 40s.

The story was much the same for the bass.  There were some fish that had moved shallow, but after every little cold front, they went right back down.  We caught a few targeted, but just as many while walleye fishing.  For the week, we caught 13 – 18s and 5 – 19s.

The Take Away:

Spring in the North is always variable.  The walleyes responded more predictably to the weather changes than the bass and pike and then we focused hard on the walleyes.

 

Ryan Schned 28.75 Steve Angell 27.5 Nick Sigurdson 39 Mike Richter 40 Matt Logan 30 Julietta Marty 28 Josh Rogers 30 Josh Funk 29 Josh Funk 28.5 Jim Layton 27.5 Jake Logan 39.5 Jack Harada 27.25 Greg Ulberg 27.5 Greg Heinemann 28 Alex Sigurdson 29.25 Blair Madsen 19 Bob Harada 27.5 Charlie Miner 28.25 Dan Sigurdson 27.5 Gary Harada 27.5 ]]>
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