Saturday, April 23, 2016

2016 Ice Out!

Well the ice is out on Banning - meaning we can launch a boat & actually get fishing!

Darcy - our head guide - went out on the water last night...he put in one of the upgrade boats and went for a spin. Fished for about an hour and did great....very quick action - which was a nice surprise. You never know what these "transition times" will serve up as far as fishing goes.

The official ice out date was April 20 - which is a full week early than the average date of ice out over the last 50 years. Looking like there may be early spawns or at least on time. Still. you never know. If weather gets particularly cooler than average, it can quickly break the hopes that an early ice out brings. Still looking for the pike to begin their spawn in our back bay...nothing yet, but it should be soon!

Of course, on the Seine Chain, with the current, we're always out earlier than most landlocked lakes in our area. Still waiting for the lake trout lakes to open up. Walleye of course is closed now on the area, but the bass & pike can be a lot of fun. Darcy caught a bunch of fish - including a half dozen nice bass - in 20' of water last night.

Looking like it's going to be a great - and very busy year! Cabin 4 is almost done and looks amazing! Pics will be up here soon.

Also looking like we may have some news about a fishing TV show filming here in a months time. We've got something slated to film the 3rd week of May - will focus on topwater bass. Of course that may be a little bit earlier than the "peak" topwater times (the only time we could fit it in though), but still should be excellent. That's the big reason that I'm hoping that the water warms up quick and pushes those footballs up to the banks!

Will keep you posted!

Sunday, March 6, 2016

2016 Winter Update

Well, we're here in Milwaukee wrapping up the end to our sport show season. We did more shows this year than we have it many real reason why (aside from booking trips of course!), just with the kids all off on their own, it makes it much easier.

The shows have all been really good from a business perspective, but also it has been absolutely great to visit with many of our friends that we usually only see in the summer. Had an absolutely great dinner with the South Chicago crew...good food, good drinks & great company! Saw Larry Pozarski in Milwaukee for the first time in several years. Larry started coming to the camp in 1977, but hasn't been able to make it for a while- but hoping to in 2017.... saw Gil from Perch Lake there as well and great seeing Mike K in Milwaukee too...oh yeah - and Tal D  who we haven't seen in a while! Plus John & Al.. and Norm & John.... and Joe & Pheasant Run and  - plus a great surprise with Doug, Dan & Mark (just missed Dean!)....actually we had 3 old groups come in to the booth in Chicago all at once so there was sure was a buzz of activity around our booth for a little while. ... It's funny how when something like that is going on, it attracts all kinds of others curious to see what all the hoopla is about. Great seeing Curtis P & his son in law in Schaumburg. Mike P & the guys stopped by in Minneapolis...geez - I'm sure I'm missing some too!

Anyway, we haven't been home a lot this winter, but it certainly has been a good winter weather wise. Right now, it's really starting to look like an early spring. Had some ice fisherman sporadically throughout the winter taking advantage of the great weather - saw some nice lake trout as well as nice walleye & pike!

Just getting ready to order some new boats and motors...looking like we'll be getting 3 new 16' & 15 Hp...good trouble I guess - looking really busy, but having to buy more gear & equipment. I absolutely love my Honda 15 HP motors....but I really like the Yamaha units as you may see some more "Yammies" at the camp this summer. Looking at different boats, but right now leaning towards Lunds to complement our fleet of Lunds & Nadens. Likely be sticking with the MinnKota trolling motors and various brands of fish finders. Not adding any more upgrade boats this year (even though they're incredibly popular!).

We added some new 17' Souris River kevlar canoes last year and will add more this year. They were our first 17' kevlar (our others are 18')....the new ones received  a big thumbs up from our canoe groups. Also in canoeing, we'll be refreshing odds and ends of equipment - stoves, packs maybe some tents etc.

We'll be adding more boats to more lakes for our remote lakes this year - plus will be adding new smaller outboards for remote lake day trips. As you all know, most don't leave the Seine Chain, but some do like to do day trips. We have a core of about a dozen lakes that are the most popular for day trip lakes....most are launch at or walk to a cache. We have over 50 lake options in the area though that our guests have fished, and some of those that were previously canoe lakes will get boats caches to make it a bit more enjoyable. We'll still have some tougher ones that'll continue to be canoe lakes though - gotta keep some tough!

Big news in these parts is that our spring bear hunt is back. We'll be running a hunt the first 2 weeks of May. The first week is already booked....but we can take 2 hunters the second week. The fall hunt is sold out.

Another new thing for 2016 is that we'll be opening the new Cabin 4! It is going to be an amazing cabin....lots of pine, vaulted ceiling, lots of windows overlooking the lake. It's 2 bedrooms and about 24' X 30'. We'll be hanging pine when we get back.

And - believe it or not, we'll be starting construction on our new lodge & office this year and hope to be opening it by late 2016 or early 2017....the plan is to have a liquor licence and a pool table, along with a short order menu (we'll also do our American Plan meals in the new lodge)'ll be able to have a drink, maybe some wings or a burger and enjoy an amazing view of Banning Lake! And it'll be open in the winter to welcome more ice fishermen & snowmobilers!

2015 was terrific year for us and we're looking forward to an even better 2016. Oh  and, by the way, 2017 will mark the 50th anniversary that the camp has been in our family, so we're trying to plan some great things for next year as well!

Take care everyone - be safe - and we hope to see you in the woods & on the water in a few months!!

Monday, August 3, 2015

July 18 - August 1 Fishing

The last couple of weeks of July were a little quieter for us, but started getting really busy again around the 25th and will be going as such for the next 2 months.

The issue that defined the fishing the last couple of weeks is the fact that our fishermen had considerably strong winds to contend with on and off. The 18th - 21st or 22nd was a period like that....anyone fishing (ourselves included) had to find little inlets....we tried to give anglers an second anchor - which helped a bit. Pete H guided the McKittrick group one day...struggled against the wind but got fish and was able to show them some spots for the rest of the week. We're lucky to be on a system where there re narrow channels and that we're on Banning Lake where the winds aren't as pronounced as they are on larger lakes. You can pretty much always get out  - usually only 1 -2 days / summer where Banning is even too windy  - and people did get out...the strange thing is how it would last for 4 days straight...and not even recede in the evening.

When the winds did recede though, fishing was good. We had a few feeds ourselves. When I (Quent) was out, it was definitely windy and hard to fish, but we were finding walleye at around 22' (before we were blown off those schools. Others went out and had some really good fishing later in that week.

Loris' family was up from Toronto - struggled against the winds, but Wyatt came up and had some really good fishing with them later in the week when the winds died down. We had a great fish fry and lots of action.

The Budrow group were up for their annual trip and did great as they always do....fished out on the Seine and on some downstream "off system" spots.

The Kolhagen's were up for the second time and did very well.

The Rudd's, Handt's, Halgrimson's Miller, Jackie & Buzz  etc were up for their annual trip with their very large group....had some great fishing as they always do. They worked the Seine Chain and a bunch of remote lakes...mainily focused on walleye, but caught bass, pike etc...Jackie got a 37' pike on Pipe - even saw some sunfish on a certain off system lake.  Gene found some crappie like he always does. And they picked lots of blueberries!

The water is still somewhat high....especially for this time of the year...the highest I've seen it at the beginning of August for some time. Not such a bad thing, although there's still a pretty good current going through the narrows, so a little lower levels sometimes translate to a little less current.

Going for the nicer 'eye's in the 25 ' ish always, we're seeing a lot of nice bass come out of those spots as well. Still getting some smallmouth action on the banks at certain times - not like June, but particularly on sunny days there's been some nice ones.

Several pike in the 30"-40" ....several bass in the 18"-20" range. Lakers were a little quieter for the ones that went after them. I didn't hear of any "trophy" walleye the last two weeks, but lots of good eaters and several in the low - mid 20 inch range.

As far as canoeing goes, it's been a pretty busy period...troop 206 from MN was in routing through the White Otter area and had some amazing bass action... the Schardt group picked up their canoes here and did their trip near Dryden and had some really great fishing(!! - our canoes have been away up on The Albany River and the Winisk, but this is a first for the Dryden area!).

The Hartnett / Godfrey group was out for the twenty somethingth time and had a great trip on the east side of Quetico. They had some great fishing as always and reported the absolute biggest bass that they have ever seen...Dave caught & released it, but by the sounds of it, it would have been in the record books.

Had a strange go down thing in one area of Quetico recently....there was a "person of interest"'s the public advisory that was released:

A person of concern has been spotted in the areas of Brent Lake and Crooked Lake in Quetico Provincial Park.  This person is male, Caucasian, with scraggly red-blonde hair and a beard.  He may not be wearing shoes and is believed to not have a canoe.  If visitors see a man matching this description, please stay clear and do not engage him.  Visitors should note the time and location of their sighting and report it to the Ontario Provincial Police at 1-807-683-4200 and to a Park Staff Member.  Visitors are encouraged to stay away from the areas of Brent and Crooked Lakes.

So they wound up actually closing about 10 or so lakes in and around that area !!

This morning we were advised that the restrictions had been lifted ...that they have found this man and taken him out of the park..

Haven't seen something like that before....

Anyway.....getting ready for a busy August...been out baiting bears and getting ready for that stuff....looking forward to seeing everyone that's yet to come this year!

Saturday, July 18, 2015

JUNE 30 - JULY 17

Summer certainly has been making it's way to NW ON.....the last week or so, we've seen some hot & humid weather (although not that "hot" as we're reminded by many of our guests!). Mosquitoes finally have kicked in....June was almost mosquito free - dunno why, but don't really care either lol!

We started out the season with some of the lowest water levels we've seen in fluctuated a bit, but has remained high since mid - late May. The levels weren't as high as the last two seasons (thankfully - that was extreme), but high nonetheless. Now, mid July, they're higher than they usually are this time of year. I wouldn't mind seeing it drop an inch or two - maybe to alleviate some current in the narrows for easier fishing, but overall I have been happy with the "slightly" higher water this season. 

The Groh group was in the last of July / first of June...caught some nice used to fishing a little later in the season.

Second week of July saw quite a few lines in the started out really good and then a cold front and the mayfly hatch seemed to mess up the bite. The Meyer group was in camp for the first time and worked hard against the curves that Mother Nature threw at the fishing this week. 

We saw the Volkman group (welcome back!) pick up some nice walleye early in the week - good sized ones using artificial and trolling. I always preach if you're getting all small walleye, mix up the usually always get better sized fish on artificial and trolling is a nice change up to vertical jigging with live bait. When the bite got a little tougher they mixed it up a bit and found some really good action downstream on the Seine. One thing that's nice about the areas that they fished further downstream, is that the water body is much smaller, and it makes it easier to hone in on the fish. Work every angle you can and it'll happen!

The Reid group was in for their second visit. They worked through the tough bite days and caught and ate fish throughout. I think it helps when there's 10 lines in the water...they kept catching! They tried lake trout fishing for the first time (first time here anyway - not sure if it was the first!), and had a great time. Considering they don't have a lot of experience fishing lakers and it was mid summer they did fantastic. Found them in 80' holes suspended between 30'-40'. Lots of bites - and Brian Sr. landed a 6lb and Brian landed a 10lb! 

The Halgrimson group was back....first visit this year (if you don't count ice fishing!).....worked through the slow days on the Seine and other lakes, and caught lots (of course, I've never seen then not catch lots)...See you guys again in a week or so!

It was absolutely fantastic to see Chris & Jackie Rahnasto (and their kids!) for the first time in 6 years! The Rahnasto family has been coming for many, many years and always do well. I think life got busy - with rising young families etc, but it was great to meet the 3rd generation of the family and see that they inherited the fishing skills - even at such young ages!. This time was no exception ....any talk of slower fishing was nowhere to be heard. I looked out at the lake once and saw their boat trolling around some of the islands and shoreline where people either don't often fish or they don't give the spots much of a chance. I asked Chris how they did in those spots and he said they did great! They caught lots of fish.....they caught nice fish....(did I mention that Chris agrees he gets nicer sized fish trolling - a slow doubt to get the depth), along with catching all kinds of different species off shore in front of their cabin. Hoping to see all the others again next time! 

Chuck G & family are back.....been a couple of weeks so far....he agreed with the few days it was slow, but has had some really good fishing as well....and has been kind enough to explain his (incredibly successful) drop shot set up he uses. Chuck seemed to be rediscovering and enjoying some topwater bass fishing the last few days, but it sounds like another continent of his family will be in and he'll be back to dropshotting the ledges! 

Lori & I got out last weekend ( the 11th I think)...this time to see what was happening with the walleye. We just went out on Banning...very hot day...first ledge we went to (not far from camp), we found lots of walleye at 25'. Well, Lori found lots of walleye (I found some!). It's getting to be the norm - her outfishing me (good guide I guess)... a little more practice on setting the hook and look out! Anyway she landed a pile. We missed a bunch too. We were using minnows - real reason, just thought we'd take the minnows - she had a 1/4 oz pink jig, I had a 1/4 oz orange jig....I often think that colour doesn't always matter, but it was the only difference in what we were doing, so pink was definitely the hot colour that day. And we did see a few mayflys on the water. 

Lots coming up....Lori's family is in from Toronto so we should be out on the water with them - will get some reports up! And in the next week or so we will be starting to build a new cabin in place of #4 - the old log one we dismantled a few years ago.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Quick couple of things

Rainy and kind of humid weather wise.....but what are you going to do? Sounds like nicer days are coming tomorrow. Mosquitoes are still strangely low key. Don't know why, but we'll certainly take it!

Just wanted to note a couple of things quickly.....warmer weather seems to have arrived...and the walleye (and others) are starting to head deeper. As a lot of you mid - late summer walleye anglers know, 25' ledges are usually a good bet as far as summer walleye go (and some nice bass & pike come from those ledges as well).

Anyway, we're seeing some people starting to get the walleye at this well as some big bass, but one thing I always like to point out is that many overlook the opportunities to fish walleye in (under) the weeds during the summer months - and much, much shallower. Rick & Joe from IL reported catching some nice 'eyes in weeds to underline this point. Just wanted to point that out as an option that is often overlooked in the summer months.

The Groh party is in, and Donna started the trip out catching a nice 37" pike off the docks. Good way to start!

More to come!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Quick Update - Late June topwater bass

Well, Lori & I got out this evening for a couple of hours - just going for bass...It was a pretty good evening overall. Weather was beautiful....lake very calm. We casted the shores...wanted to get a handle on what was happening with the smallies.

Anyway, I had a couple shake off or hit short....landed a little pike. Lori did much better....including a really nice 18" smallie. Very fat - great fish...would have liked to take a picture, but we didn't bring a time.

We used topwater plugs - even though it's a little later in June. You can use topwater all year, just you won't get the sheer numbers that you get in early June. My hula popper didn't produce much action. Switched to some type of chug bug (or a reasonable facsimilie)  and got a lot more interest from the bass.

Lori used a Torpedo all night, and she had the best luck. It was only a couple of hours, and we got some decent action. Only fished Banning - all within eyeshot of the camp. The action increased considerably on the south shore  - just at dusk when we were making our way back to camp. Likely between 9:00 - 9:30 p.m. The swirling seemed to increase too - seemed to come much more alive just before dark.  The bass were hitting likely 5-10 feet from the shoreline, but many were swirling further out.

Slow, patient retrieve worked best. Cast it out, let it sit, slowly jerk it back. Make sure, after the "jerk" that you reel in so your line is taut while it's sitting there before the next. Missed a couple due to loose line and inability to set the hook. All the bass hit when the bait was idle.

Purposely avoided weedbeds in order to avoid the pike - aside from the one I caught, that worked out. But the pike were doing some swirling of their own in the weeds. Likely could have had some fun with them tonight if we felt so inclined.

Weeds are really coming along...forming quickly. Didn't catch the water temp as we didn't bring  depth finder.

All in all looks positive for working the shore in the next little while...will get out this weekend and try & give some more updates.

Fishing Update June 14-26

Been a tougher week fishing this week (since the 20 or 21), but Amber, Adam & the Danielson's from Minnesota did terrific with walleye and lake trout (good sizes & good numbers) and I'm seeing the Benston group bringing in quite a few 'eyes - some nice ones and lots of good eaters. Newer groups in camp, so it can be hard without all you Seine Chain veterans. Some people are saying that the bass are a bit on the shy side...seeing smaller pike, but no real notable sizes yet this week. Strange because the bass and pike have been very aggressive. The weather has been really crazy though - seems like September.....storms coming and going.....the forecasters are pretty much batting at 0% for the forecasts this week. Won't be long and it'll break though!

Water isn't moving up in temp in a real hurry - still in the mid 60's for the most part. Weeds are developing really quickly....water is staying fairly high - likely about average for this time of year. Nothing like last June though...and bugs are not bad at all (yet!).

Earlier on this period, the Krueger family was up - Dean's second trip this year.....they did terrific as always....some great walleye on the Seine and they did terrific with lake trout on Big McCauley & Little Joe. Pics from their trip going up on FB soon as well as some from Dean's first trip with the guys in May!

The Rogers group was back for the second time and absolutely hammered the smallmouth. The Uebelhach group was up for the second time as well.....I heard about a lot of really big bass with them as well.

The Murphy / Binotti group were up and did great as always.  Hardly saw the guys as - aside from the night when the Hawks won the cup (!!), - they seemed to be on the water an awful lot. They got their walleye fishing out of the way early in the week and had fun with pike and bass later in the week....

and the Emery group was back for their second trip and also did really well.

It was wonderful to see Rita Scholl & the kids again. We all miss Paul, but it was such a great thing for you to come up and fish the areas that he loved so much. And, based on those stringers and pictures (awesome bass Bethany!) you brought in, I'd say that he taught his considerable angling skills to you all! 

Steve & Jo Mitchell wrapped up their trip of bass fishing....reported as their best in the 7 or 8 years that they've been coming (and that's saying something!)....a comment from Steve....

Canada Wow what a trip we had. We caught 551 total fish 2 perch, 7 walleye,91 pike, and 451 bass. We caught 88 between 17-18", 58 between 18-19 inches, 17 between 19-20 inches, and 3 between 20-21 inches.This is the best we have ever done. I would strongly recommend branches seine river lodge to any one looking for a fishing trip. 

I gotta say that it is great to hear someone that has been coming for several years - and has always done great - report that this year has been their best yet! Looking forward to the tackle stats Steve...and I gotta steal some of those pics from you as well!

Anyway, nothing extreme conditions wise...things are progressing along. 'Eyes moving to their summer "holes"...I'd think by early July that we'll be looking for those 25' ledges for them as usual. Had a 19" bass get caught with some guys today fishing deep for they're starting to move as well....but you can usually get action in the shallows all summer. The fact that it seems like it's been mostly smaller pike getting caught along the banks, I would say that those big ones are moving deep as noted...things happening like they always do. The weed formation is coming along quickly and will open up some different angling opportunities...and the lakers on the remote lakes are going deeper, but as shown this week, are still very catchable!