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Let the Sunshine In

The best fishing in Northern Ontario is typically during long hot stable weather conditions
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Let the Sunshine In

Find the perfect time during hot summer weather for success on the water

There are few guarantees in fishing, especially when it comes to predicting the success of a day out on the water. Yet a handful of times this season, you are going to be able to look out the window and say, with almost total certainty and confidence, that you and your friends are going to do well. And trust me — you’ll look like a genius doing it.


Last week was the perfect example, as the northwestern part of Ontario continued to be locked under the massive heat dome that is scorching the western half of the country. For several days in a row, we baked in air temperatures that were flirting with 40°C (100°F) while the surface water temperature, even on the big lakes like Lake of the Woods, Eagle Lake and Rainy Lake, exceeded 27°C (80°F).  And the fishing was hotter than the weather.


As a matter of fact, when my grandson Liam met up with me at the ramp as I launched the Kingfisher, I told him that I’d hope he’d eaten his Wheaties because the fish were going to be pulling hard. Four hours later, I asked him how many smallmouth and walleye he thought we’d landed. He chuckled and said… "At least 40." I think it was closer to 50 and we weren’t done yet.

Liam Whetter landed this gorgeous Sunset Country smallmouth bass during the middle of a sunny day when the fishing was as hot as the weather.


One of the reasons for the fabulous fishing was the fact that Environment Canada had issued a weather alert warning of an impending thunderstorm with high winds and hail, and the fish were going frantic, feeding before its arrival. It predictably happens a handful of times each summer when the weather remains stable and sweltering hot for several consecutive days. Indeed, the longer and hotter the weather persists, the better the fishing builds up, until a thunderstorm arrives, clears the humidity out of the air, drops the pressure and brings the temperature back down to normal.


Don’t ask me how the fish know it is about to happen — many speculate they feel the changing pressure — but the fact is that they do.  And it doesn’t seem to matter what you’re using for bait, the fish are biting and the action is something to behold.

Where to Walleye fish in Northern Ontario

I was throwing a favourite Rapala Jitter Pop, for example, while Liam was hopping and swimming a rainbow trout-coloured Kamooki Smartfish. It really didn’t matter, though, as the smallmouth were trying to rip the rods out of our hands.  Ditto, when we decided later to catch some walleye. As a light breeze picked up in advance of the system, we found a rocky spine that slipped off the end of an island and started casting jerk baits, a Nishine 95 for me and an X-Rap for Liam.  But again, it was a dead heat in terms of which one was better. The walleyes were equal opportunity biters.


But then, Liam turned to me and said, “Was that thunder?” His young ears had picked up the distant rumbling and when we came around the tip of the island and looked westward it was as black as a coal mine at midnight. We hurriedly tugged on our rain suits and I pinned the outboard for home, but we didn’t get eight or ten miles up the lake before we were under the southern edge of the system, watching wicked white streaks of lightning striking the ground and trees in the distance in front of us.


“There is no way we’re going into the middle of that,” I said to Liam, as I swung the boat around and headed south, back down the lake, into the sunshine that we had just departed. Eventually, we pulled the boat onto a secluded sandy beach, ate lunch, had a stone skipping contest and watched the electrical storm drift off in an easterly direction across the northern edge of the horizon. Far better to play it safe when you’re out on the water than risk boating into an electrical storm.

Always head to shore when there is thunder and lightning, but if you can fish safely before the storm arrives, the action is typically amazing

Then a rainbow appeared and all was good in the world again. We gutted a couple of the smaller walleye that we’d kept for dinner, put them on ice in the cooler to stay fresh and boated home safely, eagerly anticipating the next time we’d be able to call our shots and make hay, while the sun shined.

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