Friday, December 14, 2012

Fly-in Diversity: Six Lake, Six Species

This month's blog post is courtesy of guest blogger Tim Holschlag. Tim is the author of the highly acclaimed books, "Stream Smallmouth Fishing," "Smallmouth Fly Fishing" and his latest publication, "River Smallmouth Fishing." Tim has fished more smallmouth bass rivers than any known angler: over 300 different rivers across North America as well as dozens of lakes in both the United States and Canada. He is the creator and host of the popular DVD "Stream Smallmouth Fishing - the Movie" and has written hundreds of magazine articles for the major fishing publications. We are pleased to have Tim as a guest blogger - "Fly-in Diversity" is sure inspire anyone who loves to fish (and we bet those fighting "smallies" will be at the top of every one's list for 2013!)

Tim will be making a presentation at Indiana January 5, 2013, at the Indiana On The Fly Show. Join Tim Holschlag and other fly fishing and wing shooting experts for a day of "cast and blast" at the Indiana State Fairgrounds.

The six lakes that are assessable to Slippery Winds Wilderness Lodge offer one of the most diverse fisheries you'll find in Canada. Here’s just a sampling of some of my experiences at Slippery Winds over the past 11 years:

Yoke—You could probably spend the whole fishing trip on Yoke (some guests do).  This large, deep lake has a wide variety of habitats.  Northern pike are found near weed beds in about 15’ of water.  While some large pike are caught every spring in the shallows, more big fish, pushing 40”  turn up in deeper water near reefs and drop-offs, in summer.

Smallmouth favor rocky shores and reefs such as Luke’s Reef or the islands outside of Gary’s Bay. Walleye can be found on shelves or reefs near deep water, especially if some weeds are present (Marty’s Reef).

A good place to find muskie is none other than Muskie Bay, but they can also be found near points and reefs.  Some nice lake trout are present (including a few over 30”).  In Yoke's main basin there are several deep reefs (over 30’ deep) surrounded by 80’ depths, where summer lakers hang out.

Largemouth have increased in the past decade and now make up about 10 percent of Yoke's bass population.

Straw—Straw Lake is next door to the lodge and is a very good walleye lake.  It can also offer good smallmouth fishing when the fish are on the bite.  Smaller northerns are the most numerous fish, but there are also some very nice ones in the 28 to 32” range.  Straw used to be known for smaller walleyes, but in recent years plenty of fish over 25” have also been caught, too.

Sucan—Sucan Lake is the shallowest and weediest of Slippery Wind's six lakes, but the boat ride to get there is enjoyable.  A variety of wildlife including beavers, moose, and ducks can often be seen along the winding marshy creek.  Sucan is deeper and rockier near the south end and some good smallmouth fishing is available.  

Walleye are most numerous in the north section of the lake and anglers able to fish around weeds will find excellent 'eye action.  But be prepared for lots of northern under 24,” since Sucan has very high numbers of small pike.  Sucan is also the only lake you will find fair numbers of perch over eight”.

Bluffpoint—Bluffpoint Lake is the most difficult to reach, but can definitely be worth the trip.  It is a huge, deep, clear lake with high granite bluffs, islands, long open stretches and sheltered bays.  

Lake Trout can be found in deep water near drop-offs or bluffs.  Sullivan and Yoke probably have bigger trout, but they can’t match Bluffpoint in numbers.  By fishing 15’ to 30’ deep, lakers in the 20 to 26” range can provide exciting action even during June.

In early summer, largemouth bass (no smallies in Bluffpoint) may be found near the many timbered shorelines. And by late June, small weed beds develop in various bays and these attract high numbers of bass.

Northern pike are fairly plentiful in Bluffpoint and will also relate to the weed beds.  Most are under 26” and can provide steady action all day.  But our fly fishing guests have also caught numerous fat pike over 30” on big streamer flies.

Sullivan—If big pike are your hot button, Sullivan Lake is for you.  The fishing isn’t always easy, but no other Slippery Winds lake has provided trophy pike (35” or more) the way Sullivan has, including a huge 43 incher I caught on my first trip to the lake. Plus the pike on Sullivan tend to be fatter than the other lakes.  Look for weed beds near deep water.  Under the right conditions, trolling over deep water in some of the smaller bays often works.

Sullivan also produces good sized lake trout (including a few 10 pounders) as well as some big largemouth.  You need to work for these big bass, but using big lures and flies around the same weeds that hold pike will get them.

Crossroute—Crossroute Lake is the last of the six lakes in the Slippery Winds line up.  And its beautiful island studded lake where the pike and largemouth always seem to be hungry.   And the shorelines are filled with fish holding downed trees because when beavers blocked the outlet creek, a decade ago, shorelines were flooded.  Now these dead trees have toppled in, creating superb largemouth cover.  And summer weeds also develop so both the lake's bass and pike have lots of good habitat to relate to. 

Pike under 26” are most common but I've caught several well over 34”. And each year Crossroute pike sizes seem to be increasing.  The largemouth bass aren't quite as big as they are in Sullivan and Bluffpoint but they are numerous.  And try top water fishing first.  If it works, you are in for a treat!

As the co-founder of the Smallmouth Alliance organization in 1988, Tim's smallmouth bass passion extends beyond how to catch them. His commitment to conservation has meant a strong advocacy for protecting the species and the waters where they live. You can find out more about Tim Holschlag (including how to pronounce his surname!) by visiting his web site.