Weird, wet, and wonderful
As I sit to write this, the wind is pounding the windows and leaves are flying off branches. We are just days away from seeing a Northwestern Ontario forest made up of grey, white, and green. The colour will be gone. It’s an inescapable fact that summer is over.
Looking at the open water fishing season that was, is a bittersweet thing. Yet there was much to love about the spring and summer, despite the weather. I cannot remember a year more conducive to having consistent brook and lake trout action through the summer. Cool weather in both June and July kept water temperatures relatively low. Even in large, low gradient rivers like the Albany – that normally warm up quickly – water temps stayed cold and conducive to good trout fishing. The insect hatches were also remarkably stretched out. I saw big Hexagenia mayflies still coming off the water in late August. That is unheard of and big brookies slurped them up like raw oysters on the shell.
The late spring and relatively wet weather did create some challenges for walleye and pike fisherman, but that did not stop the fish from biting. Many anglers found walleye and monster pike very shallow through much of the year, and that made for some exciting fishing. Even the higher water in a lot of northern lakes did not hurt the bite. Walleye stacked up in river and creek mouths, and set up on current breaks that normally wouldn’t even exist. This was a great year for big pike, and they stayed in the large, weed choked bays longer than normal. I saw more pike grab walleye this year than in any other season within memory.
This was also the best year in recent memory to throw artificial lures for walleye and trout. Several crankbaits spent a lot of time on my line. For brook trout and shallow lake trout, the Rapala Rippin’ Rap proved to be an absolute killer. I’d never really been a big proponent of lipless baits until these lures came along. The Rippin’ Rap casts like a stone, is remarkably snag resistant and catches fish like nobodies business. You can let it sink deep in current, or run it shallow over rocks. It also has the nicest, shiniest finish I’ve ever seen on a lipless crank bait. The fire tiger and brown perch were my two faves -A must have lure.
I also fell in love with the Williams Nipigon spoon this summer. It is designed for trout but catches absolutely everything. It is a somewhat light bodied spoon, but has tremendous action and a super bright finish that really catches the light. Pike destroy this spoon as do lake trout, walleye, and brookies. In fact, my largest brook trout of the summer, a 25 incher approaching 9 pounds, nailed a Nipigon spoon. It works great worked over the tops of weeds for pike; can be flat-lined for lake trout and walleye, and is devastating when cast and retrieved for brook trout, especially in current. The Nipigon spoon is a keeper. Seek these babies out.
Yes the rain gear was on a bit more than normal during the open water season of 2013, and I truly never thought I’d rock a knit cap in July. But hey, this is the north. If it’s that cold, at least the bugs are on vacation. I never think much about the cold when the fish are biting.