Monday, December 31, 2007

Do You Have Fishing Guides?

Red Lake Ontario fishing map

Do you have fishing guides at your camp on Red Lake, Ontario?
That is a common question from people who are considering coming to Bow Narrows Camp.
The answer is no and the reason is because they just are not necessary.
Unlike some camps where you need a guide to take you dozens of miles to the fishing spot, Bow Narrows Camp is located right in the best area to fish. Great fishing starts at the dock and you never need go more than a few miles away.
The camp and most of the fishing areas are located in areas that are protected from the wind no matter the direction.
You can see this for yourself by clicking on this link to Google Maps. Switch the map to satellite view and then zoom down to the camp. Note that the camp is located in a very long protected narrows and then look at all the bays and islands accessible from this narrows.
We furnish you with an excellent fishing map of Red Lake, Ontario that shows depths as well as shore features. Our staff will mark on this map where the fish are biting and will pass on what lures and techniques to use, times of day to fish at the various spots, etc.
Would you like a copy of this map mailed to you? Click here and fill out the form and ask us to send you a map.
The lake is easy to learn and any "hidden" rocks that you could strike with the outboard in travel corridors are marked. For non-travel areas, just idle slowly away from the shoreline before travelling at high speed and you'll be safe from striking rocks.
Finally, Bow Narrows Camp cleans all your fish for you back at camp. Incidentally, we remove ALL bones, including Y bones from northern pike and these fish are absolutely delicious in Red Lake.

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Sunday, December 30, 2007

Red Lake Walleyes Everywhere

Canadian walleye fishing
Red Lake, Ontario, has some of the world's best walleye fishing, especially in the vicinity of Bow Narrows Camp.

In the spring, walleyes are found in exceptionally shallow water, 3-8 feet deep, and key in on those areas where the water warms up the fastest. The ice will only have been off the lake a couple of weeks by the time walleye season opens the third Saturday in May. So the water temperature is still very cold. The places that warm up the fastest are shallow spots with good exposure to the southern sun. Unlike other times of the year, the walleyes don't seem inhibited by bright sunlight in the spring. They are hungry and can be found right out in the open on the sunniest of days.

If you like to jig for walleyes, use a 1/8-oz to 1/4 oz jig with bait of any kind: minnows, worms or leeches. A good technique is to anchor and pitch your jig right up next to the shoreline and then jig it slowly back to the boat being alert to any resistance on the line. There are no weeds at this time of year and that slight increased weight on the line will be a walleye. Set the hook!

Many anglers at Bow Narrows Camp also do well this time of year by trolling minnow imitations such as Rapalas. Floating models in the 5-7 inch length work well. The Shallow Runner Shad Rap is also a favorite. Colors preferences vary from day to day and even throughout the day so bring a selection.

As the water warms in June the fish start keying more to structure such as the emerging weedbeds, rocky reefs, points, etc. The walleyes will likely be in 6-12 feet of water. They become very wind-specific. Always fish the windy shore or shores parallel to the wind. In addition to the above-mentioned lures and techniques, the Little Joe spinner is a favorite with Bow Narrows Camp fishermen. This inexpensive lure consists of a monofilament snell on which is a small round spinner blade, a few beads and a single hook. Sometimes there are two single hooks or even three. This latter version is usually called a nightcrawler harness and is fished with nightcrawlers.

These rigs are virtually always backtrolled. By trolling the boat in reverse, it travels more slowly and also keeps the propellar away from the fishing lines. The exception to backtrolling is when the waves are too large for this operation and come splashing over the transom. In those conditions the boat is trolled forward.

The key to all walleye fishing is to fish as close to the bottom as possible without being continually snagged. This requires a sinker as the spinners have no weight themselves. The size of the weight depends on the depth you are fishing in and the speed of the boat. Generally you will need a sinker of 1/4 to 1/2 oz.

Experts are able to keep their spinners within a foot of the bottom at all times. They do this by a number of methods but mostly by letting out line until slack appears, then reeling up a few turns. They keep checking for the bottom in this manner every few minutes.

Others use the bottom-walker sinkers that have a large wire through a lead sinker. With these you can feel the wire dragging the bottom. Your lure is attached to a length of fishing line on another wire and swivel above the sinker. The length of this "lead" varies with the conditions but in general the more aggressive the fish, the shorter the lead. The more finicky they are, the longer it should be. Say 3-feet at the shortest and up to 9 feet at the longest.

You will want a wide variety of colors of spinners but make sure you have: silver, gold, yellow, orange, blue and purple.

When using spinners with a single hook, when you have a bite, swing your rod towards the direction of the fish, giving it slack. As the movement of the boat tightens the line again, Set the Hook! This action lets the fish take the bait into its mouth before you set the hook.

All these techniques work throughout the season.

In July and August, some walleyes begin making their way to the edges of the deep bays. There will still be fish in the shallow bays too, especially on windy days, but now you will also find them in 12-20 feet of water around reefs and flats that are not far from extremely deep areas (100 feet or more).

It is at this time that it just seems like there are walleyes everywhere: shallow, medium and deep. Many times in recent years Bow Narrows anglers just for fun tried fishing areas of the lake they had never considered for walleyes. And they found fish everywhere they looked.

In September, the fish move to about 30 feet in many of the same places they were in the summer. But in addition they key in on entrances to narrows, such as the one where camp is located (lucky for us).

Minnows seem to be the bait of choice in September. The fish can be in very large schools at this time.

Depthfinders are useful when walleye fishing mostly to find the depth. Fish don't show up on the depthfinders too well until you start fishing deeper. They work perfectly for spotting fish when they are 30 feet deep in September.

Red Lake walleyes are exceptionally large, especially at the west end of the lake where Bow Narrows Camp is located. The average fish in 2007 was 22 inches with a great many in the 24-28 inch range. Since then we have also started catching smaller fish as well. In 2010 we were still catching large walleye but also many 14-18 inchers too, perfect for eating.

Most anglers release the big fish these days. They are the important breeders and don't "eat well" anyway. The best eating fish are the 16-18 inchers.

Every year the fishing gets better and better and anglers themselves are largely responsible for that. Keep it up!

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Bow Narrows Camp
Red Lake, Ont.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Lighten Up for Red Lake's Northern Pike

Red Lake Northern Pike at Bow Narrows Camp

If you want to catch more Northern Pike on Red Lake, Ontario, next summer, try fishing with lighter tackle.

I should add right here that I'm talking about anglers who like to cast for pike. Those who prefer trolling need heavier equipment just for the drag of their line and lure behind the boat. Trolling will be the subject of a future blog. Right now let's talk about casting.

Casting is the most popular way to catch these abundant and voracious gamefish. And although you can catch some northern pike virtually anywhere on the lake by casting any old lure, there are techniques and equipment that will help you catch the most and biggest fish.

And oddly enough, the key is to use lighter tackle.

Red Lake's Northern Pike zero-in on spoons that are 2-2.5 inches long (2/5 to 1/2 ounce), Mepps spinners of about the same size (#3, #4, #5), 1/4 oz jigs with 3-4-inch plastic twister tails. Beetle Spins (1/4 oz size) are deadly and so are 3/8 oz and 1/2 oz spinner baits. Topwater buzz baits of 3/8 oz to 1/2 oz can be lots of fun although pike miss these more than they connect.

Crank baits work well but they are difficult to take out of the fishs' mouths since they usually have multiple treble hooks. The 6-7 in length are good on straight stick baits like Rapala, Cotton Cordel, Rebel.

Shad Raps and the like also work well, especially the Rapala Shallow Shad Rap. Stick to the 2.5 to 3.5 inch size in these. They have the added advantage of being pretty darn good at catching walleyes.

It takes a fairly light rod and reel to cast these smaller lures any distance and you want to do exactly that: plunk them 75 feet or so away from the boat. It is the rod and reel (and line weight) size that so many fishermen make a mistake. They instinctively want heavy outfits which would seem natural since they are looking for big fish. Unfortunately, these rod and reel combos won't let them cast the smaller lures more than 30 feet. That's not far enough to catch the quantities of pike that are laying farther away.

A spinning rod with 8# test monofilament or braided line is perfect for this. That's not a mistake, 8# test. It's likely the same outfit many people use for bass back home.

How do you catch 20#-plus pike on 8# line? You set your drag so the fish can pull out line when it runs (but against the resistance of the drag). After a half dozen runs the fish gets tired and lets you bring it to the net.

What about the braided or fusion lines like Spider Wire or Fire Line? Couldn't you use the line that is the diameter of 8# but the strength of 20# (or whatever it is). You would be better off to use the line that is the diameter of 4# and the strength of #8. Why? Because you can cast smaller lures!

Those anglers who fish with smaller lures catch many more fish than those using large lures, sometimes 10 x more fish. The difference is like night and day.

They catch more fish and they catch more big fish.

The key to catching large quantities of pike by casting is to run the lure several feet below the surface as opposed to spinning it just below the surface. This presents a challenge when using the smaller lures because if you crank them in too fast they pop right to the top. Sometimes it helps just to choose a heavier lure, such as in the case of smaller spoons. Select spoons that are made of brass (heavier than steel) or which are of thicker metal. Little Cleo, Len Thompson and Dardevle are best. Cheap, thin metal spoons are worthless.

Finally, when casting, get these smaller lures close to cover such as weedbeds, logs and rocks.

Remember, you're in Canada to catch fish, not protect your lure from the bottom.

One last thing: why, you ask, do Red Lake northern pike like smaller lures anyway?

I have no idea. Sorry. I'm not a fish and no matter how hard I try, I can't think like one.

Good fishing!

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Sunday, December 16, 2007

Deadly Bait System for Northern Pike

Red Lake Northern Pike caught on dead bait

Dead bait fishing is a great way to catch big northern pike on Red Lake, Ontario, Canada in the early and late seasons when the water is cold.
Frozen ciscoes (a type of herring) are used for this. Cut a ciscoe in half and put it on a 5/0 or 6/0 circle hook.
The hook needs to be on a six-to-nine-inch steel leader and fished about three feet below a bobber.
When the bobber goes down, count to five and start reeling in. Don't SET the hook when using circle hooks as it will just whip the hook out of the fish's mouth. Instead, just reel in and this slower tightening of the line will see every fish caught in the very corner of their mouths.
This technique allows these really big fish to be safely released.
Another advantage of the circle hook is that you can safely pick up the fish with your bare hand instead of using a landing net. It takes just a moment to remove the hook and let the fish go.
Incidentally, the dead bait system works better than live bait in the spring and fall. And half of a 6-8 inch ciscoe works better than a whole one.
Bow Narrows Camp
Red Lake, Ont.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Switch Map to Satellite and Zoom Right Down to Bow Narrows Camp from Space

View Larger Map

So just where is Red Lake, Ontario, Canada and Bow Narrows Camp?
Thanks to Google Maps, you can see for yourself.
You can use the magnify tools on the map and you can also switch views from Map to Satellite and Terrain.
To see an incredible high definition satellite photo of camp and the west end of Red Lake, switch the Google Map to satellite mode, then slowly zoom in while keeping the camp "A' balloon in the center of the map. You will want to click the X on the little Bow Narrows Camp window to make it disappear.
As you can see, Bow Narrows Camp is in the very heart of prime fishing habitat for northern pike, walleye and lake trout. We meet you with the camp boat at the east end of this big lake and take you past beautiful islands and winding narrows to the west end where camp is located.
We're completely self-sufficient out here. We generate our own electricity, etc.
Our camp is completely modern but its location is entirely wilderness.
Fishing guides are just unnecessary here. You can start fishing right from the dock and you never need go far. We give you an excellent fishing map and mark it with all the best fishing spots. And oh yes, we clean all your fish for you! And take out ALL the bones!
You might want to spend the night before coming out to camp at a motel or you may be planning on flying to Red Lake. You'll find answers to these questions and more by visiting our website:
Please feel free to e-mail or phone and ask any questions you might have.
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Winter phone: 807-475-7246

Bow Narrows Camp slide show

Bow Narrows Camp
Red Lake, Ont.
link to my website:

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Big Fish on Red Lake, Ontario, Canada

Red Lake walleye

Just about everybody who was at camp in 2007 had the same comment: "I've never caught so many big fish."
Whether they were walleye fishing or northern pike fishing, the fish on the end of the line invariably turned out to be of exceptional size.
This was actually a problem for walleye anglers who just couldn't catch a walleye under 18 inches. The conservationist that is in all of us any more says it is a waste to eat big fish but what do you do when that is all you can catch? All we could do was to eat the smallest of the big walleyes. Finally, about mid-July, smaller walleyes started showing up in the catch. This was about the time that some fishermen began catching walleyes around the edges of the deep water, often at about 16 feet. Until this point all the walleye were taken in 12 feet or less.
It was also the year of the big northern pike. Anglers using dead bait during the first couple of weeks of the season caught huge pike left and right. One of our guests caught and released two 48-inch pike and numerous other lunkers in the 40s. These were all caught with frozen ciscoes and 5/0 circle hooks. The beauty of the circle hook is that all the fish are caught in the corner of the mouth.
The monster pike bonanza continued all summer with anglers catching them on a variety of artificials. For some inexplicable reason, big pike like small lures on Red Lake. The 1/3 ounce Little Cleo was dynamite all summer. So was the #4 Mepps. Many fishermen don't bring light enough rods and reels to cast these smaller lures. A medium action spinning rod and spinning reel with 8#test monofilament is about perfect. Just keep your drag set light and you'll get these huge fish back into the boat after a great fight.
I want to thank all those fishermen who have sent us photos of their catch.