Monday, December 16, 2013

Bear Hunting Write Up- Check It Out!!!

Last spring, I had the honour to meet Mike and Megan at our camp.  They had booked a trip with us through SCI.  Here is the link to the write up that Mike did about the experience.  We are located on page 20.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

FIrst Ice

It had been a long summer and fall, and I finally got the chance to get the snowmobiles out.  I took my father in law onto Wekusko, and we were walleye hungry.  We just hoped the fish were as hungry as we were.  

  We got to our spot, and drilled holes.  8" of ice.  I went straight to my best gps spot for that area, and expected action right from the get go.  We had been there a while, and not much to report.  I thought about moving, and actually got up to get the auger.  I looked at the vexilar when I made my first step to go, and a fish was on the bait.  I grabbed the rod, jiggled, and wham - 20" walleye.  Finally.  That fish felt so good- been too long.  

  We fished from 11 am to 2pm and ended up landing 8 walleye, 2 perch, 1 whitefish, and 1 tulibee.  My biggest fish for the outing was a 26" walleye.  I am sure that won't be the biggest for the year!

My Coldest…..

While I was in Saskatchewan waiting for the baby to come, I had the chance to fulfill one of my goals.  I planned this year to take my nephew Avery on his first waterfowl field hunt.  I had heard rumours of all the snow southern sask got, so I threw in the calls just in case, but left my shotgun and extras at home. 

 Driving out there, I realized I may have made a mistake, as there was no snow once we reached Yorkton.  Great…..  But all the small lakes and sloughs were locked up, and I wasn't sure what birds would be left.  

  Avery and I set out to bait for some deer, and I noticed a huge flock of geese with ducks mixed in.  We were in hot pursuit, thinking they will be feeding nearby.  40 miles later and the birds still high, it wasn't looking good.  We did a huge loop, and ended up near the Melville dam.  And there were the only birds around.  Canada geese had 2 big holes kept open on the dam, and there were birds in the air.  We took chase and found they were feeding in a corn field.  Things were looking up!

  I made some phone calls, and got my blinds sent up.  We would meet a good friend and client Corey in a couple of evenings to scout out the field prior to the hunt, and he would bring his decoys.  We met up with him on the field approach on the evening of Nov 10th, and there were ALOT of geese.  It was looking promising.

  The next morning we woke up to -26 C (-15F), and this was before windchill kicked in.  It was cold cold.  Avery and I got somewhat dressed, and headed out.  We stopped at Robins Donuts and got some donuts and coffee.  As we got close to the field, I saw geese.  Are you kidding me?  How did they bear us, they shouldn't have left the roost till at least 11.  As I drove closer I noticed the geese were not moving….decoys…and not ours.  Two other hunters also got permission to hunt the field.  I chatted with them quick, and offered them to hunt with us.  They weren't to excited to move in this cold, but we they were not set up where the geese fed the evening before.  I assured them this would be a good move, and they got their trucks and started to load up.  

  We figured out where we'd set, and I thought I'd be warm enough getting the set ready.  I was wrong, I was freezing.  All my snowmobile gear got pulled out, as it was a necessity.  We got ready, got the trucks parked, and waited.  And waited.  And waited.  Time to eat some donuts….and they were frozen.   And we waited some more.  Finally- we spotted a small flock.  They came right in to our J hook perfectly, and we let them have it.  And Avery shot his first goose!  Soon another flock came in, and again, Avery shot another one!  He was giving it to them!  

  It took most of the day, but it did warm up some.  And we did end up getting our limit.  Avery shot VERY WELL, and even shot his first double.  I also gave him some pressure shots with him being the only shooter when singles came in, and he never let them get away! 

  This hunt was loaded with firsts.  Avery's first waterfowl hunt, my first hunt with Corey, my coldest waterfowl hunt ever, first time I had calls freeze up during a sequence, and my first corn field hunt.  And I am sure it will be one of the "firsts" when I think about waterfowl hunting for many years to come!  The only thing I would have changed is to have had my lab Maggie with me because I was tired with all those retrieves!!!

5 hunters, 40 Canada Geese, and Smiles All Round!

New Baby

During November, Elissa, Kiley, and I headed to Saskatchewan to have another huge change in our lives.   We had a baby girl and baby Kolbey was born.  It looks like we will be putting another pink rod in the rod holder!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Fall Bear Hunting

This year I had 7 fall bear hunters, and they were combo's with wolf.  This would be the final test on how wolf hunting goes, as well as fall bear.  

  The wolf hunting was a success, but I found out it takes a lot more money and time than I thought.  I started to bait in June, every couple of weeks at each bait.  In august I picked the pace up, and wolves definitely knew where the baits were.  The baits were being crushed and in the first 5 minutes of dropping the first hunters off, I got the call that one of them shot a wolf.  I called B.S., but sure enough a wolf was shot.   After that though, the wolves were nocturnal.  They would eat all the bait during the night, including whole bear carcasses.  I did however have a client draw 3 times on 2 wolves in one of the bear stands, and these wolves even ate his first bear that he shot!  The wolves are a problem up here, FOR SURE.

  As for bears, there was lots of action, but it seemed that our numbers are down.  We killed mostly sows with no cubs, and that seemed to be what was at majority of the baits, and in high numbers.  My concern of winterkill was verified, and thus I have dropped out tags back for the next few years.  I want to make sure that quality hunts are sustainable, even though it hurts the pocket book.  We are sold out for next year with 18 tags I have decided to sell.

  Color was super evident again this fall, with many chocolates shot and seen.  I am not sure why color is on the rise, but I am looking forward to what we see next spring.  

  The berry crop was decent this year, and all the bears had good fat reserves, so we should be good for next year.  

  I also have approached manitoba resources, and I have expanded our territory, so we are getting into some new areas that look AWESOME.  I am hoping that we get some real crankers next year!

Open Water Fishing 2013

Well this year was heaven for big fish.  This was a higher number of big Pike than normal, and another banner year for big Walleye.  Even some big Lakers were found.  All in all it turned out to be a banner fishing year.

  First of all- The Pike.  As ice came off real late, the big pike were very sluggish off the hop.  As I had only 2 bear hunters the first week of fishing, I took them fishing a few times and we gave our hand at sight fishing.  We found a lot of big fish (one morning I spotted 20 fish over 38").  But we hooked up on only 2!  They just wouldn't move, and were definitely just finished spawning.  I did manage to sight a couple of TANKS, including one I figured would hit 48".  Saw her in 12 feet of water, sitting only a few inches off the surface.  Once we pushed her, she was never seen again.  Throughout the year, big fish were reported from one side of the lake to the other, and the largest landed was 46".  August was actually the biggest pike month, and many were caught in the first lake!  But one thing is a common trend most of the time- the bigger the bait- the bigger the Pike.

  Walleye was fantastic in June and July like usual.  I decided to try some different tactics when I guided bear hunters on the water in May, to see if I could actually find some big girls early.  I have never heard of any big early fish on Tramping, but tides changed this spring.  I was pitching jigs into 10' or less in the back of bays, and started to connect on big fish.  I caught a few 28's and a 29.   Fishing was no means hot, but it was still nice to see that it can be done.  And of course once we got into June, the fishing turned HOT.  My official Mater Angler Walleye count was 285 on the dot, and this is just fishermen in camp!  As Jack is no longer to make it up, I am sure we would have cleared 300 easily if we had his number to add to the tally.  We never had any monsters landed this year, but we had three 32" landed.  They still are a true hog, but not the 33s or 34s or higher that we get accustomed to here. (And for those out of province or state readers- this is NO TAIL PINCHED).  On the opposite side of early walleye, we also still landed a few masters in mid August.  Big Walleye go deep on this lake, but we managed to find a few in 28'.  If I had more time, I might actually figure these fish out.

   But what happened to the HUGE walleye?  They are still in the lake!  First few days of fishing season saw ice across the big lake.  The fish were just post spawned, and I took bear hunters out to sight fish big pike and set out the buoys.  As I dropped the last river buoy we trolled out to the lake mouth, to see if there were any big pike sitting on the sand.  I spotted a 34ish" pike and two little guys chasing this female all over.  Something didn't look right, and as we drew closer, these were Walleye.  The big girl shot into the shadow of the boat to get a rest from the 2 little males causing havoc.  We just floated amazed at the size of her, and knew we didn't haven't a chance of catching her.  So we headed to the big lake, and the ice was off!  We fished one of my favorite bays for early big pike, and saw some but few takers.  As we continued on in the bay I had my fly rod in hand and saw a 36"ish pike.  Receiving the go ahead from the guests as it's not too big, I laid the cast.  The fish was laying in 2' of water tight to some reeds and it broke out following the clouser fly, semi interested, but wouldn't flare and suck it in.  As it got close to the boat, and me not being worried as it's not a huge fish, the guests said it's a laker, not a pike.  Since it came directly at me the whole time, it just looked like a dark line.  But then it spooked and turned and flared- Walleye!  And absolute monster monster, and it shot back into real shallow tangle of reeds.  We lost sight of the fish and never saw it again.  If it only took that fly!  
   July had some campgrounders rent our 2 canoes.  As they were suppose to be back by 4 and it was now 7, Elissa sent me out on a recon mission.  As I approached the lake mouth there they were, so instead of me waking them twice, I figured I'd fish a hump in the first lake while I waited for the canoers to continue on.  I had one rod rigged with a bottom bouncer and snell left in the boat, and found a couple of leeches that were free swimming in the livewell.  It took me 10 minutes and I hooked into a 21" walleye.  As I brought it up the was a dark shadow slowly submarining up below the thrashing walleye.  Why isn't that pike attacking it?  Well, it slowly turned, staying about 6' down, and I saw the white clip on the tail, it was a GIANT walleye.  I made Elissa ticked as I stayed out till dark making that same pass again and again, even though it was not likely I would hook up on that fish.  I just wished I has some twitch baits or swim baits on board, as I may have had a chance then- just maybe.  So the BIG BIG girls are still in the lake, just have to have to be at the right place at the right time!

Here is a picture of a client I guided with his personal best - 32" caught in the rain!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Spring Bear Hunt 2013

What a spring, and what a lot of work.  We ran a total of 16 hunts this spring.  We opened a lot of new territory that had either never been baited, or it had been several years since last hunted.  Some baits were hot, and some the bears took their time finding.  But all in all it was a successful season.

  I expected with a poor berry crop and long winter, that the bears were going to be thin.  And thin they were.   There was no fat on any of the bears.  It seemed it took the bears a while to really get active on the baits, but once they started it got real active. 

  I was also concerned about potential winter kill.  I am currently monitoring the situation, talking to our wildlife technicians, and am still not completely sure the extent of damage to our bear population.  With how little fat the bears had, and how light they weighed (5 1/2' bears were averaging a 150 lbs!), there was undoubtedly some kill off.  We have however seen MANY sows with cubs, so the extent of any winterkill could not have been severe.  We will continue to monitor the population this year, and I may cut the number of hunts we run here for a few years in order to ensure a harvestable number of QUALITY BEARS.  

  If any hunter asks me about our % of color bear phase, I have always said 17-18%.  This year I was made a liar.  I have no idea where all these color bears came from, but they were thick.  We did not see all the color bears- but their hair was prevalent.  Brand new baits were having blond and chocolate hair on it, so we know that this is not old hair that we missed.  This year we were more around 25%+ (I still want to be conservative).  Every year is different in life, and the same for bear hunting I guess.

  Stats for the Spring
- ALL hunters shot a bear!!!
- Largest was only 330 lbs (everything weighed out VERY LIGHT)
- Average length was 5' 3" 
- Largest skull should be 21" and change (waiting for the drying period to finish)
- 3 rusty chocolate bears killed
- 3 black bears with V - patches killed
- 1 crossbow, 4 archery, 1 muzzleloader, 2 shotgun, 8 rifle

Here is some pictures of some beauties!

Ice Fishing

Since I am more than LATE with the blog.....been an interesting year with the most bear hunters I have run, and 1 year old, and busier camp.  But at any rate.... I will make the pictures proof of what April was like!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

March Madness

  Fishing has been great.  We have been finding both numbers and size.  We've cranked a lot of big walleye, a lot of big pike, and even a few big trout.

  Our ice is holding out okay.  On some lakes we have 3 feet, some only 2 feet.  As of now our slush isn't too bad, and have about 1 foot of snow on the ice.  I am hoping that our ice holds out to the end of April, cause the fishing is just heating up!

  So some highlights for March.  We landed 36 walleye in 1 1/2 hours in one spot.  8 over 26", one 28".  That was a good spot!  We also got onto alot of trout on reed one day, hooked over 20, didn't do so good on the landing end of things though!  We also got in another spot at the end of March, and landed 135 walleye in one day.  The average size fish was 22".   And a big highlight was a kid got a heavy heavy 41" pike, that was his first master pike.  What a fish.

  April is shaping up to be an awesome month, with many more fish memories I am sure!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Rainbow Trout

My dad and nephew are at the camp, and we decided to hit up Korman Lake for some rainbows.  We left here at 9:30 am and fished a spot my dad and I had high success last year.  The trigger for those fish seems to be when the sun pokes out above the ridge, but it was a snowy day until 1:30.  By then the fish already slowed down.  We marked out 6 fish, and 4 fish on and landed only 1.  Not very good hook up ratio.  But the one landed was a 23 1/2".  Nice fish, well done Dad!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Lodge Update

  This is just a quick update, stating what we are currently doing to help out camp and the business.  First of all, cabin 5 has been in need of a total renovation.  Unfortunately, our winter bookings (contractors) that would fund that project have been slim, so we won't be getting to change the entire cabin.  However, we decided to send some money it's way still, and renovate the bathroom.  This is our trial run, as we plan to renovate all the bathrooms in the next 3 years.  We are installing a 32" round corner shower, new toilet, and sink.  As of now I have the bathroom drywalled and painted.  Lots of work left, hoping next week to have it done.

  We are also in the process of buying linens for the camp.  What a process it is.  We have tried one company, and we were less than impressed and sent everything back.  We are currently looking for a new supplier and wanting to get this done, as fishing season is just around the corner!

  We also picked up a new work machine for the camp.  As we are finally building our Bear Hunting into a valued part of the business, we purchased a new work horse- a polaris Ranger.  We have had many hunters request this addition, and to stay competitive, we decided to go ahead.  It has a steel cab, tracks and wheels, and in dash heat.   The plan is to use it for ice fishing, and bear baiting and hunting,  and then once June is rolling then the cleaning staff get to use it.  We may even do some ice cream selling in the park with it.  One thing for sure is it is very versatile.

  Here's a picture of shore lunch with the Ranger!

Ice Fishing Report February 2013

January was a wicked one, with many days running in the -34C range.  Tough to fish in those conditions, and can be unsafe.  If something happens on the sled, miles from camp, it has potential to become nightmare.  So I like to wait when my skin doesn't freeze in seconds.

  February finally broke the cold weather, and I have been out on a few outings.  My father in law came  up to the lodge, and we went and scouted out a place on Wekusko that I would be guiding later that week.  It took a few holes and gps waypoints, but we ended up finding them.  We fished for 3 hours and landed 8 walleye.  Garry (f.i.l) was on fire, and had the hot hand for a while.  Biggest walleye was 25".

  Then last weekend I guided 3 days.  We hit up Wekusko on day 1, and slammed 30 walleye.  Biggest was 26".  And there were many double headers.  Here is a pic of one of them.
Day 2 we hit up Reed Lake.  The Ranger (see my next blog), was acting up.  By the time we got to the spot, it was already 10am, but snowing hard.  We caught only a couple right away, and then the wait began.  But a noon everything changed.  Trout were coming through hard and we landed 9, losing just as many.  33" was the biggest.We also set up for pike with tip ups for a couple hours.  We got 3 flags, and only landed one.

Day 3 was a bust getting stuck in slush in a backcountry lake.  So we headed to a prime Burbot spot to try and salvage the day.   6 guys fishing and in 2 hours 80 burbot, yes 80, were landed.  The biggest was a 34" brute.

So if anyone is looking for a fun trip, think about an ice fishing expedition!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Panko Walleye and Sweet Chili Sauce Recipe

As I did not take pictures of the walleye I caught last week, I decided to put the proof out there with the end product.  I also have had clients ask for 3 years for these recipes- and so I have decided to join the two for a blog.

Panko Walleye:

Walleye Fillets
Panko - Japanese Breadcrumbs  (I find at Costco)
Lemon Pepper
Seasoning Salt
Canola Oil

1)Start with cutting the walleye into smaller chunks, this recipe does not work well with full fillets.
2)Beat one egg per 2 fillets (1 fish per egg)
3)Combine panko, lemon pepper, seasoning salt and dill.  Each to their own for taste.  I personally put alot of lemon pepper, as well as dill.  The dill once firied loses alot of flavour- so hard to overdo the dill.  Stir the contents.

4) Dip a fillet piece in egg, and then place on panko.  Then cover the piece with panko just using your fingers, and then press it in with knuckles.  Basically you are kneading the panko into the fish.  This step is KEY.  Continue until all the pieces are done.

5) Heat the canola oil to 375 F.  NO HIGHER!  These bread crumbs burn fast, and if higher the oil will turn black FAST.

6) Place fillets into the oil, and turn once they are cripsy.  The temp should drop to about 340, and once it gets back to 370 F the fish should be done.

This fish is awesome cold!  But do not cover!  Stick in the fridge on a plate uncovered and it will stay crunchy!  I have no idea why it does not get soggy but it doesn't.  I don't know the scientific explanation, and it does sound unbelievable, but it is the honest truth.

7) Eat


1 cup Plum Sauce
1 cup Teriyaki Sauce
1 cup Honey Garlic Sauce
2 teaspoons Soya Sauce
1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce
**hot version**
to taste Chili Garlic Sauce  Tuong Ot Toi Viet-Nam or equivalent (tabasco sauce)

Blend it all together- and you can play with the flavor simply by using different brands of each sauce.  I have my own blend of brands.....I will keep that my secret.

I eat this sauce on everything when I make it!  It truly is one of my biggest Fav's!

ENJOY!  I know I did yesterday!

Ice Fishing and Ice Update

Hello Everyone!

  This winter has been an interesting one so far.  The lodge has had bookings all winter long.  No bookings have been big, but consistently had some clients.  Add this with still trying to catch up with camp work, and family life, has meant I have not fished much at all.  By this I mean only 3 times on the ice.  This is the least amount I have fished in the winter since 2000, when I just started to ice fish.  So every time I do get out now I sure do take it all in and have learned to appreciate staring down at the vexilar waiting for the next red bar to show up.

  As for ice, I fished on Wekusko Lake last week, and there was a solid 24" of ice.  There was also 20" of pure powder on top of the snow, and very little slush to be had.  Fishing was decent- landed 5 walleye and 1 perch in 1 1/2 hours.  I had to drill quite a few holes though, the fish were not moving much at all, and basically had to troll.  The walleye sizes were in order - 23", 22", 22", 21", 26".

  Unfortunately I did not take any pictures.  I was by myself and the fish that I kept froze his eyes and head in about 10 seconds.  It was a little chillier than I expected it to be.  It seemed so nice in the yard!

  I also fished Woosey Lake before Christmas with limited success.   I went for walleye, and started marking lots of perch- some good size ones too, and just could not land one of them.  It was real cold and had some larger lures on.  I tried to tie a Marmooska jig I had in the bag, and my fingers froze up.  I just kept hoping some eyes would come in to the perch area at dark, but they slipped by me and a buddy shallower caught a couple 16"'s.  I missed 3 fish in shallower. And the burbot never did show up there, unlike last year.  But it was a bit early for that spot, so hope by the end of the month to try it again there.

  Kormans found Elissa, Kiley, and myself fishing it for trout just before Christmas as well.  I went to my mid January spot, and we did mark a few fish.  As for hooking up, there were only 2 fish that cooperated.   I lost a 20" rainbow in the hole, and a friend caught a 19" Brook Trout!  I have not personally seen a Brookie caught in here yet, and I was jealous.  I rarely rarely get out fished, but I did have to bow my head on this outing.