Friday, December 16, 2016

2016 Open Water Season

2016 open water season was much stranger than ever before.  It was a success, but some fisherman had their heads spinning, trying to figure out what was going on.

  The lakes all opened up around May 20th, and the water was low.  We had many clients hitting the water on season opener, looking for both walleye and pike.

  Pike was slower than usual off the hop.  Since the water was low, many of the post spawning shallow areas were too warm or not enough water.  The big fish moved out to deeper water early, and so sight fishing big fish was a challenge.  Numbers of pike were high, mostly ranging in the 22-30" range.  We did manage to hook into a few low 40" pike, but scattered across the lake.

  Walleye started hot, as good as I have ever seen on Tramping that early, landing multiple fish over 30" in the first few days.  Wekusko Lake was no different, with high numbers of walleyes below the falls and in berry creek, and also the odd master was thrown in.   We all thought it was keep getting better, but unfortunately we started getting some big rains.  This cooled the water down, and raised the lake level substantially.  Active walleyes were scattered across tramping lake, and the big girls were just staying low.  As July closed in, the big walleyes all of a sudden turned on and big fish were found.  This trend continued until mid July, where a flip happened.   The big fish slid out and small fish moved in, with a vengance.  Never have I seen the numbers of "eaters" on Tramping like that.  Boat loads, it was crazy.   Could catch a walleye just about anywhere!

  Now Wekusko never slowed down.  It is amazing to think of the success story that lake has become.  Not only is the walleye population strong, but they are also getting big!  We caught our record amount of Masters out of that lake this year.  The fishery just never slowed down, not even in August, and September was almost considered out of this world.  I can't wait for the years to come.  More and more clients are even pulling out of Tramping to hit this walleye factory.

  The pike in the summer and fall stayed consistent, with high numbers of the smaller fish being caught.  There were many accounts of big fish following but not taking.  I am not sure why the negative mood in the fish this year.  But one long time client Gene, rocked a 46" Pike with huge girth.    His biggest fish to date, with the biggest grin I have seen on him!

    Fish Size Totals:

 Walleye Master Anglers +28" - 337  (40 were Wekusko)    This number surprised me considering how June numbers were down.  And the biggest walleye (I guided) at 33 1/4"  Where did our super giants go......I am sure they are in there, was tough conditions this year.

Pike Masters (40"+) was at 16,  the biggest was Gene's 46.

Sauger - 32 this is hard to count accurately as many people don't even report them, but Wekusko is the best lake in Manitoba for big Sauger.    We did have one client catch a 23"!  He didn't know it was a sauger, and measured it but too big to keep (under 55cm).

So there you have it.  What next year will bring we have no idea.   We just know they are int eh water, and it's up to us to figure them out!  Water is ultra high right now, higher than I have ever seen it even in open water.  Maybe a good thing, maybe not.  Only one way to find out, get that line wet!

Sunday, March 27, 2016

THE OUTDOORS: Available to ANYONE...Good for EVERYONE!

Do you ever have 'great ideas', and think 'that sounds like fun', but find yourself backing out when the opportunity presents itself?  I do...  Though I have a joy filled life and a wonderful family, I am in a very busy season of life.  I'm tired.  I am a mother of young children, running a business with no 'set hours', and living amongst days that have no beginning or end.  Sometimes it feels like one continuous marathon of sleeplessness and 'needs' calling me in all directions.  I find myself looking at the illusion of social media, where people seem to live on vacation and in rested, limitless bliss; this brings the question to my mind often... 'how can they do that?'

Lets change this wrong thinking today!  Its really not about what 'they' do.  No matter where we live, no matter what we do for a living, we ALL have the same resource at our fingertips.... THE OUTDOORS.  I want my family to experience all the outdoors has to offer.  This is an easy thing for me to say, but I find myself struggling with the effort, time, or planning it takes to make this happen.

Lets face it, there are some outdoor excursions that require extensive preparations.  For some (like me), just getting everyone through the door in any direction may take the same amount (or more time) than we even spend outside!  Most of the time, in getting out with the family, I may look like I just rolled out of bed; somehow, its seems better to invest in these moments, rather than remember how beautiful I was while my family sat in front of the TV.  Ultimately.... this effort is worth it.  

Lets talk about the amazing benefits of being outdoors:
  • Anytime outdoors is an experience that can NEVER be repeated.  Simply by stepping out the door, you have experienced a setting that will never be as it was that day.  Things are always changing, a tree falls, the snow melts, the clouds move, the animals pass by ....... a moment missed outdoors is one that can never be copied and pasted to another time.  
  • The simple physical act of being outside removes the distractions that we can never really escape from within our home.  Inside, phones still ring, toys call their name, work calls our name, etc.  Outdoors we have the choice but to unplug from that, and find some silence together. 
  • Spending any time outdoors in an investment in your health and many other things.  Studies have shown that being outdoors increases the physical activity of children and youth.  Similar studies also show that exposure to the natural environment can have numerous health benefits (including mental health).  One could easily draw connections from this to many things.  Getting outdoors is beneficial for your mental health, which in turn can affect your physical health, relationships, and so on.  
  • Take all this benefits and involve someone from the next generation.  By investing outdoor time, you are cultivating, in them, the value of the outdoors.  You have the potential to affect their future health, relationships, and they may be the ones to help preserve this for the generations to follow!

Here are some quick tips to help you love the outdoors and teach your family to love the outdoors!  

  • Engage:  Engage your family and friends in your activity.  An experience that happens with the presence of others creates longstanding memories.
  • Withdraw:  Put aside the distracting things in your life, so that you can be fully present.   Be present whether with someone, with yourself, or with God.  Even Jesus withdrew to the wilderness in order to spend time talking with God.  
  • Prioritize and be realistic:  Time and money are both hard to buy.  A wilderness resort may not be in the list of things you can afford.  Spend some time in your backyard.  Spend some time in a nearby park.  It is really easy to have a moment outdoors!  Ultimately, whatever you are doing, you are investing in your future and their future.

By finding an appreciation for being outdoors, within yourself, and passing it on to someone else...
 you've invested in the benefits that can last for generation after generation!

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Bacon Burbot Bites

  Most people disregard Burbot (i.e. Eelpout, Mariah, long. freshwater long, ling cod, the lawyer, poor mans lobster, etc.) for its table fare.  Burbot is a delicious fish and blackstraps can be cooked a variety of ways.  Check out our Bacon Burbot Bites.

Approximately 2 Burbot (4 backstraps)
1 lb bacon
1 cup ketchup
1 cup brown sugar (packed)
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
Optional: A few drops of liquid smoke (we like hickory)

1)  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
2) Cut fish into cubes or the size you desire.
3) Wrap thawed bacon around fish pieces.  Tip: We cut bacon slices into 1/3 lengths.  Ensure you have wrapped the Burbot on all sides with your bacon; secure your bacon with a toothpick and place on cookie sheet or 9x13" pan.
4) In a saucepan, combine ketchup, brown sugar, liquid smoke, and Worcestershire sauce; heat just to boiling.  Pour over bites.
5) Bake in preheated oven until bacon is completely cooked(approximately 45-50 minutes).

Saturday, January 9, 2016

My NEW record day!

It was getting close to the end of June, and the giant walleye bite was really turning on.  A good friend and client Cory, was up and I was his guide.  I have been teaching Cory my big walleye tactics for a few years, and he was definitely catching on.  And as a BIG change for me,  I would actually be fishing while guiding!  But even with this excitement, I was having trouble getting pumped with big walleye.  When you see as may big walleye as I do, they start becoming the same old, same old.  (I know it sounds weird, but it is true.)  So on with the story....

  Our first day was a classic walleye day, some cloud cover and some decent chop.  I was graphing some big independent fish, and it didn't take long and we were on some toads, including a beauty 31" with heavy girth.  I was wearing the shirt my kids and wife made for me for fathers day, and with the help of Cory, I got an awesome shot.  And even Cory caught a couple 30"s.  It was a good start.  But I had no idea what the next day would bring.......


The next morning we had a plan....the wind slowed right down and turned from the north to the south.  And it was hot, and the water temperature increased 2 degrees F.   We decided to pack light, fish hard for the morning, and come back to some Elk Tenderloin for lunch, and then hit the water late afternoon again.  

The morning started great.  The first fish I landed was a 31".  And then it went downhill hard.  A 26", and a 21" after many more passes.  The wind died right down, and it was starting to get hot.  We went on a hunt for fish, but were striking out everywhere we went, except for a few walleye under 15".  We were about to start heading home, and decided to try a last ditch effort in an area that I have never really done well before.

Dropping the terrova down, we started into our pass.  Well we didn't get very far and we had our first fish, a 30".  Then a 28, 27, 29, 26, and then a 31 1/2, and then a 32"!  I couldn't believe it, and neither could Cory.  It was nothing less then incredible.   And this is where I got excited.  My personal goal for walleye is what I call "The Unicorn"- 34" minimum and this is with no tail pinch.  If it was going to happen any time soon in my future, the time would be now. 

Pass after pass, double header after double header, my excitement kept growing.  Then I hooked one that owned me, and had head shakes just like the rest.  As I would gain and start to think I would see it, she took line right back to the bottom.  A few minutes later, I could see I was about to win the battle.  I was shaking, could see the bottom bouncer, and then she took another run under the boat back towards shore.  So I just held on, and then my heart sunk....she wrapped me on a log.  I could still feel her, but there was nothing I could do.  This happens going for big pike through the ice with tip ups, and all you can do is let the line go slack to see if the fish will swim away and get off the obstruction.  As I dropped the rod tip to give her some line, it didn't take long and I felt hew swim a bit, and then nothing, she dropped the hook.  It didn't take much to get my hook back up, but it took a while to get my composure back.   I honestly can say that I have never felt so sick in my life losing a fish.  I have lost some big big girls before, but none had my attention like this.  There is no doubt in my mind that this fish was a walleye, and was caught in the mouth, not foul hooked.  But with how light they were taking the hook, I just couldn't justify tightening the drag.  I guess we will never know what the fish was...or what I should have done.

We continued to slug it out with the fish, and we won most of the time.  We lost more, but we also landed many more.  We just couldn't fish fast enough.  But eventually by late afternoon, with no wind, no water left, no food, 32 C, and sun still blazing down on us, our heads were pounding and our arms were literally sore.  We gave in and headed home, after just one more master.  

This is where I got awe struck.  I keep a record while I am guiding, and each fish gets recorded.  On the drive back, I started counting and I honestly had a hard time registering the numbers. I said to Cory " I must have read the same lines twice,  this number is impossible".  After double checking and triple checking, our number was confirmed...22 master anglers with 8 over 30" in one day, and 21 of them just in the afternoon!  

My old record?  13 in one day which was four years ago.

I can honestly say, and Cory will attest to this, I have never been so excited walleye fishing in my life.  It was like the first time I laid eyes on a giant and caught the bug.  And as for Cory...he now has been spoiled for the rest of his life!


Camp Changes

If anyone has come up to the lodge and met us, I would hope that we display a vision for this place.   We put more than a bit of effort and resources into the lodge on a continual basis, and continue to plan to do so in the future.

Some of the upgrades are behind the scene, and some are directly aimed at making our guests stay more comfortable and memorable.

For example, this year unveiled our new dock system.  It took us a fishing season to tweak it, and we continue to work on it.   We also did an upgrade at the fire pit, which was a very non utilized spot.  With some landscaping, new swing, and new firepit, it has become a new favourite spot.

And who could forget the old septic tank in front of cabin 6.   It blocked parking, and honestly was an eye sore for us, and a pain in more than just our thighs.  Well with some hard work and excavation it looks different, is safer, and MORE parking!   But it was an experience.   The big old spruce was not healthy, which we found out the hard way, as the only healthy piece of trunk made the tree twist, right onto a cabin.

These are just a few of the changes here just in 2015, not to mention the new fuel tank with electric pump, stripping and staining 4 cabins, new gravel in entire drive way, some new fence, and a new sign.   We have just as big plans for 2016,  so stay tuned!

2015 Open Water Wrap Up

 What a year that was presented to us in 2015.  Very late ice conditions, low water to start with and then screaming high water levels.  Heat, followed by major rain.  And a late walleye bite that was better than ever, all lead to a record year.

  May and June started off very slow for walleye, as well as pike.  The water was so cold when the pike fishermen were in, and then in a flash, the water heated up and the big pike went deep.  Usually when this happens, our walleye turns on and everyone is kept happy.  This year however, was not the case.  Walleye on tramping were a work out every day, but we still put up very respectable numbers, and a lot of giant walleye were landed and released.  Going into the end of June, things really heated up, and it continued right through July.  It was staggering hearing the stories of how many big fish were being caught.  Even with our slower start in June, July helped bring our Master Angler numbers to record levels.

  The pike started to pick up as well in August and September again, and ended up being one of our better years for big fish.  This was even with the very slow May and June. But with the walleye bite so hot, there really wasn't many anglers logging in hours chasing northerns.

  Wekusko Lake again proved itself truthful in the fact that the lake has come back stronger than ever.  We had a lot of big walleye and pike caught in this body of water.  And fishing below the falls was as strong as ever.  We are very excited for this upcoming year on that water, as somehow it continues to get better and better.

So our totals for our camp:

Master Angler Walleye (28"+) ended up at 463.    We had 6 that were over 33", with the largest at 33 1/2".     Of the 463,  58 of those were from Wekusko Lake!   I really don't know how many were over 32", but there were more than a few.  In fact, just in my boat I guided 6 over 32".

Master Angler Pike (41"+) ended up at 26.  

Lake Trout (35"+) ended up at 2.

 We are all very excited of the upcoming season.  Water levels are normal, but there shouldn't be a lot of ice this year with the extremely warm winter we are having.  The winter is repeating itself like 2010.  If the pattern stays true....look out walleye.  2010 was out of this world good for walleye, so it's already got me chomping on the bit!


Sunday, January 3, 2016

2015 Bear Season

  Our bear season at Wekusko Falls Lodge last year was challenging yet terrific. We had some very high quality bears shot, but also had some strokes of bad luck.  At least I can say with every disappointing experience, we learn from it, to make ourselves and our clients better hunters, guides, and outfitter.   Nevertheless, everyone went home as happy and satisfied customers.

  Some of our highlights from last year included donating a hunt to a wounded veteran from Wisconsin.  Outdoor Bound TV was also in camp to film the experience for an upcoming episode.  The filming didn't stop there though.  We also had a father/son hunt filmed, as the son has special needs.  I ended up building some bear proof blinds for this hunt.  It was an experience building them, and more so hauling them into the bush!  But with some of that farmer ingenuity, we got it done!

  Another special hunter got to use the bear blinds, as he was too old to get in a tree!  One of my long term clients brought up his Grandpa, who was at the tender age of 98!!!!!!!  And yes, even he killed a great chocolate bear!   Another highlight included a monster bear that weighed out at 350 lbs, shot with the bow by a young woman as her first bear!  This bear had zero fat reserve so it would have been interesting the weight on this bear in the fall!

   All the work that we have put into bear camp is starting to really show.  From work on our trails, to our new baits getting well established, each season runs smoother and more successful.  We are all excited for the upcoming season in 2016.  Each year brings new challenges, but hard work and hunting smarts always puts us on top!

  Pictures:  Top- Mark Meunier (wounded Veteran)
                  Middle Left -  Walt and Paul with Paul's first bear
                  Middle Right - Ken with a Giant Chocolate Boar
                  Bottom - Brady and Bryan with the last blind ready to be transported