Wilderness North. Remote Northern Ontario Fly-in adventures

Celebrating 30 Years of Wilderness North  –          

High Water

Greetings Folks!
As the warm spring days continue down in Southern Ontario I find it difficult to comprehend our northern lakes still covered in ice and snow. It is always a time of great anticipation for the spring trippers as well as outfitters in the far north. When will the ice be out? It is a most popular question this time of year and one that is quite difficult to answer. Different lakes tend to thaw faster, ice forms stronger in certain areas, and some get more sunshine and wind action to help the process. Nonetheless, with a late thaw (and we’ve had many before) we should be expecting higher spring water levels. So, most importantly to all of us, how will this affect fishing?

Luckily, when it comes to spring high water level conditions, you can still count on the fish zoning in on spawning areas. It is always important for the early season angler to remember that water levels are not as important as water temperature and bottom structure/habitat. Sure, the fish have more water to work with, but this only means that you do as well. Take pike for example: with extremely high water levels they may venture in very tight, often even occupying flood plain. But if they are there, you can get to them. Often this means pushing your way through the shallows and making long casts well ahead of the boat.

With high water walleye, the key for me is breaking down the spots, to the spots on the spots. Electronics become very important during these times as the usual areas will look completely different with that much more surface area of water. With more water along the shorelines, some areas that may not have been suitable for spawning last spring, may, now be. High water definitely opens up new “search areas” but always remember that the majority of those walleye will be in their traditional spawning territories. During the evening walleye like to take advantage of new structure and shallow flats that are provided by high water levels, but often will NOT travel far from spawning grounds.

Being an optimist, I have no problem pointing out the benefits of high water. In all fairness let me describe some of the negative aspects. First and foremost and especially at the start of the season, high water can cover up low lying islands, tips of points, stumps, etc. At Wilderness North, we have detailed maps for every guest and knowledgeable staff that will take the time to educate our guests on safe lake navigation. Despite this it is always recommended to use caution when boating on higher than normal lakes. Also remember that with higher water comes stronger current in river sections. Boat control can be trickier at times as well as maintaining bottom contact. If you think an area looks promising or you are marking fish on your sonar, never abort the location until you’re sure you’ve presented your baits in the strike zone. This may mean playing with weight, boat speed, etc.


Next week I look forward to discussing Miminiska Lake and what happens when it begins to see its seasonal water level fluctuations. I’ll tackle questions like: “Where do they catch fish on Mim as the water begins to warm and the levels begin to drop?” and, “Why are July and August considered prime time there?” After all, the thaw is on and the season is about to begin.

Until next time,

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