We are well into the late season here at Forrest Lodge and the bite continues to prove that Caribou Lake produces some trememdous numbers of walleye. Fishing has been productive in the 20-40 foot zone with any combination of approaches. Of course live bait rigging still produces the best bite. I used a 1/8 oz chartruese tipped with anything from minnow to leech to crawler and the "Gulp" stuff and did equally as well. Rubber tails and other soft baits takes a little softer touch but produce some good eaters. We had a nice Laker come in the other day that took a minnow on a walleye rig. Lakers are in the fall spawn pattern now and moving into shallow water. Stick baits and spinners will get the best action now on Lakers. Setting up with down riggers is still another approach but not as effective this time of year. These two fellows have a couple of nice smokers that they pulled up using a vertical jig over the edge of the breaking reef. The September size limit is on now and October is the close of Lake Trout.
The fire season is coming to an end finally. We had several nervous days here as the smoke and ash fallout was heavy at times. The rains came just in time and also helped to cool the lake water and get the fish into a fall pattern. So far we have not had a frost here along the shore of Caribou Lake but up at the top of the ridge and in town has seen several frosty mornings. The weather has been great for fishing so far but our moose hunters are not seeing much activety. Moose need a few cold nights to help get them moving. Yesterday we saw 72f here and today looks like a repeat. Clear brilliant sky with calm winds. Just a few more fishing partys in this year then Capt MaryJo and I get to spend some extended time on the water. We do get to fish together during the season, but only for short trips. One of us needs to be available for our guests at all times so we plan accordingly and on occassion even meet up with some of our guests on the water. When I'm not guiding and just out fishing it gives us a chance to get to explore and try new equipment. One thing we have learned over the years is that cheap equipment is just that, and on the other hand, a $100 fishing rod catches just as many fish as a $500 rod. A reel with multiple bearings is better than a reel with a few, and a quality 6-7 foot medium fast rod works well for me. I still like a good quality mono line that doesn't break the bank to spool up. I have never suggested one product over another or one manufacturer over another but I must say buy American as much as possible and remember.......THINK WALLEYE!
After numerous phone calls and emails I went to the "Walleye Central" web site.Thank you all for the input, it makes our job that much more fun and says we must be doing something right! So to answer a few questions. The fires are no longer a threat and we have not had any smoke for several days. We did get some good soaking rain yesterday. The weather link on the Forrest Lodge home page is sort of close. Currently 78f, mostly sunny, wind from the W/SW at 20-gusting to 25 with 2 foot cappers out front, no doubt 3 foot+ at the Narrows. Last week the bite on this end of Caribou was astonishing. Walleye swimming past the main dock in the mornings looking for a free meal, thats is whats left after the Gators get their fill. I had one group that never went past the narrows and commented that there are so many places that hold fish that they never had to venture out of site of Forrest Lodge. The bite remains solid at Cove and the Beave and all points in between. Some Heavies have been hooked up with C&R and pictures. Lakers on the smoker today and fish fry on Thursday. The Blu Cheese Cole slaw is made and with any luck we'll have some of MaryJo's smoked trout spread. I made some walleye cerviche, always great with a chilly Blue! Speaking of Capt. MaryJo, the big Blues have moved to MaryJo's Island, all C&R as nobody keeps any over 18". No report on Gators cause I dont fish for them this time of year and nobody has any to brag about. No reports of them grabbing walleye either. The nights are beginning to cool off and as the water temp begins to drop the feed bag goes on. By the early to mid part of September the big heavies are on the move eating anything that gets in the way. Its time to change gear a bit and keep a meat stick in the boat to snag the big Gators that are feeding on everything. Jig and live bait are still my favorite. I cant get excited about trolling cause I dont like to sit still for to long. Same holds for fishing, if you dont pick up a bite in 10-15 minute then move, change location and look for the break in the chop along the edge of the reefs and points. Throw out a Buzz bait and get ready to hear the drag squeal. Often I cant even get my jig to the zone before a Gator grabs on. Lake Trout are fall spawners and come into the shallow rocks to take care of business. Casting count down stick baits and spoons will get these guys. Caribou has 2 variety of Lake Trout, one being the soft white oily meat and the other is the firm pink/orange meat that is almost like Salmon. Vertical jigging for them this time of year is productive as is trolling with down riggers. I have used the Dipsy Divers in the past and didn't care for it as it is trolling and I need constant action. Long lining for them is about the best I can do to slow down. Anything blue and white or blue and silver seems to work the best. I use blue and white Buzz Bomb for them and sometimes tip it with some of that articial stinky stuff. 18lbs has been the biggest so far. Just remember that when you hoist a Laker up from 100+ feet it's not going to be a C&R, so if you fish for them be ready to keep and eat what you hook up. And speaking of catch and release, I need to mention Bill F. from Ohio that hooked up with a heavy last year. 32", 12 lb walleye, the picture will be posted of the actual fish and the replica mount. Now thats what its all about. Remember.......THINK WALLEYE!
The heat is on here in the North Country, but not as bad as some folks have it. We did top out at 100f a few weeks ago but for the most part we have had seasonal temps. Holding steady at 84f right now. The forest fires burning in the area have created some spectacular sunsets. The bottom picture was taken from the fire pit area by cabin 3 looking north towards Gibson and the Outlet, you can just see the end of the Sisters to the right. Helicopters have been passing overhead daily even with the few rain showers that have blown through. We have had many days of heavy smoke and the other day as I passed by the north end of The Beave Green Island was not visible. I fished at Beer Can and could not see anything towards Cactus/Tractor. Water level in Caribou Lake is down so far that we have a clear shot under the main dock. Many rock piles and reefs are now exposed and passing through some tight areas is challenging. For up to date fire situation go to the MNR website. The bite did slow a bit the last few hot spells but always rebounds in the evenings. When the sun heats up the walleye move into cold dark water. Just remember this when you hunt for them. Look for the drop offs and the really big boulders and you will find the fish. I still like the slow jig and live bait approach, either on a vertical or doing a slow retrieve. Mary Jo's Island is turning on with some of the Blue Walleye coming out of 20 feet. No report for Lakers, nobody is hunting for them. The big Gators are always in the Walleye zone and ready to grab your dinner. Just remember that you can not use game fish for bait so any Gator hook up on a Walleye MUST be released. Minnows have been scarce and difficult to keep so I have been using leeches with very good results. My fishing buddy isn't so fond of them but manages to get them on her rig. I have equally good success with the artificial scented baits that come in a bucket of really stinky stuff. I just use a small piece and periodically dunk it back in the bucket of stink to refresh the scent. I have caught several fish on one piece. I think the same would hold true if a person dipped a crank bait in it and trolled. It's hard to think of right now but just around the corner is hunting season. I have seen a few moose moving around but with the warm weather they are deep in the bush and only move in the cooler hours of night and early morning. Remember......THINK WALLEYE!
So after quite some time we finally exterminated the bugs on the computer. Its has been about a dozen or so fish fry's since my last report. Caribou Lake continues to impress its visitors with an abundance of quality walleye fishing. We have had many guests report 100+ walleye C&R in an average day of fishing. As the water continues to warm and the fish move into a solid summer pattern the bite remains steady in all the usual areas. The Narrows is always on in the evening hours and offers a quick meal for our late check-ins. Just a short 5 minute boat ride and the opportunity to fish quality walleye and northern is yours. Lake Trout are moving deeper every day with the morning bite producing the best results. I made it out yesterday to check the bite after a heavy Mayfly hatch. I wasn't expecting big numbers but I did get into some big walleye. The bite was sluggish with slick water conditions and a bright sun beating down and temp around 80f. The breeze would pick up on and off just enough to give a bit of walleye chop. As I got further up the lake the hatch was not as heavy as it was at Forrest Lodge. The bay in front was thick with casings and this morning we had White Fish at the dock feeding on the Mayfly's. The local Gators were slow to grab this mornings offering of dead minnows so we know they had a belly full of Mayfly's. Yesterdays adventure was rewarded with a limit of good eaters. I had several heavies around 24-26, fun to catch but way better to release and keep the population strong. I fished with an 1/8 oz chartreuse tipped with a minnow. I casted out and left the bail open for a vertical sink. My retrieve was sloooowww. Just nudging it through the rocks and picking up the lazy fatty's sleeping off the nights feeding frenzy. I changed up a few times to larger jigs and tried leeches, even rigged up with a little joe and chain sinker for a slow troll. I worked depths from 10 to 40 feet with the bite holding steady at the 16 foot mark. The other day I read an article about walleye fishing and what gear to buy and educating yourself and getting all hyped up about when,where and why. The author was a "pro" that fished the tournaments and had many years of walleye expertise under his belt. I was a little more than confused after reading this multi page technical manual. Its just walleye fishing! If you find yourself working so hard at it then its time to ask yourself why are you doing it. For me 99% of going out and fishing is the going out part and the enviroment around me. The other 1% is the bonus of getting a few fish to hook up. I tell all of our guests to go out on the first day and get the kinks out, look through you tangle box, futs with the locator and drown a few minnows. The second day just relax a hook up a few fish, and by the third day getting into the fatty's and snagging a few gators is just that easy. You ever notice the guys that try so hard and get all worked up when they miss a fish or get fouled up on the bottom that they miss the real opportunity right in front of them. When I guide folks like that I like to watch for a few hours then when I see the veins on their neck about to burst I ask them what they enjoy about fishing. So after a few sentences about the fun and relaxing and eating fresh cold water walleye the light switch goes on. Now I realize there are just some fellows that are competitive by nature but I remind them about evolution and fish are small with small brains and if you so smart then why cant you hook up? So, like I always say..........THINK WALLEYE!
Opening weekend at Forrest Lodge was for the hardy fisherman. After temps in the 70's the week before we had SNOW and temps in the 20's. The water froze several nights and morning ice on the dock made servicing the boats quite a trick. The bite was all over the place except were it should have been. No fish in Whitefish Bay. No fish in The Boot. No fish at the Brockway creek. No fish at Campbell. Some big fat females came from a rather unusual place. Above the creeks seemed to be the place to fish. Some of the females still had spawn, and just a hand full of little males. The big gators were thin although a few hook ups came in the shallows. We see them up in the grass along the shore line here at the Lodge. I think the spawn may be delayed a little due to the bitter cold. Caribou Lake is still ice cold. The lakers were up shallow yet just around the corner. MaryJo smoked a half dozen the other day and made a delicious smoked trout spread, great on a cracker washed down with a chilly Blue. I hope to get out one day this week but my to-do list keeps growing. We haven't finished opening up all the cabins yet and I'm still working on several projects. Now I have a dozen big aspen trees on the ground that need to be cleaned up. No rest for the weary. Remember.....THINK WALLEYE!
The gate is open, the lights are on and the ice is out! So what are you waiting for? MaryJo has been working her mojo on the cabins and I've got the floating dock set and the boats rigged and in the water. The ice was out the early part of the month so I expect to see the walleye in a more normal spring pattern. The water level is just about where it should be under the main dock. I'm sure that I had the first boat on Caribou last week. The weather has been perfect. Clear sky's and daytime temps in the upper 70's, the other day we hit 82f. Now this morning the temps have cooled a bit and we are just around the 60f mark with overcast conditions and a moderate chop. I suspect the walleye will be in the shallow areas yet and at the creeks. Even with the warm temps Caribou is still ice cold. No time for me to get fishing yet, this is a busy time of the year making sure that everything is in top notch order and ready for your fishing adventure. Why not mix things up a bit and bring your 4 wheeler to explore some of the hundreds of miles of logging trails. All you need is a helmet and proof of insurance along with a drivers license of course. If you look at Google Earth for this area you can see all the trails and the lakes that are just at the top of the hill. The smaller lakes have got to be stuffed with fish that no one has been on before. This year try your luck with a fly rod for the big pike. And change up to ultra light for the walleye. Try vertical jigging for fat lake trout. Did you know that there are sturgeon in Caribou lake? How about hooking into one of them, its like pulling a small car off the bottom. After everyone checks in this week I will get out with my fishing buddy and give a first hand report. Remember....THINK WALLEYE!