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Shallow Northern Phenomenon on Kaby Lake

Fish’n Canada’s Angelo Viola holds an incredible Kaby Lake Northern Pike. • Credit: Fish'n Canada
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Shallow Northern Phenomenon on Kaby Lake

Fishing for Northern Pike at Agich's Kaby Kabins

As Forrest Gump once said, "Life is like a box of chocolates you never know what you're going to get"; so too is a prearranged fly-in fishing trip. Nothing is more challenging than anticipating Nature's behavioural patterns and mood swings, especially in the past few years.

This episode started 14 months ago when, in a boardroom with a bunch of television production people, decisions were made that would profoundly impact today's episode. . .a routine trip to Northern Ontario in pursuit of restless pre-spawn monster Pike.

The destination is a relatively obscure body of water called Lake Kabinakagami or, as it's referred to by the locals, Kaby Lake.

It's early June so our drive to White River, Ontario is full of the early season promise of warmer summer days ahead.

White River Air is one of the most respected carriers in this region. This family-run airline is a staple in these parts not only for the fishing industry but also its deep involvement in the forestry, mining and exploration community.

After a short and scenic flight, we arrived at our final destination: Agich's Kaby Kabins on Lake Kabinakagami, where our host Stuart Agich met us at the dock and quickly informed us of the bad news: unheard-of high water levels and a very erratic barometer. Great, just what we needed, flood conditions and soaring temperatures.

"Not what I expected," I stated.

I knew after a very short time on the water that this was going to be a Forrest Gump kind of shoot because where we expected to see pike, there were none. The bays and shallows were void of fish. They were in post-spawn mode. Their recent procreative exertions had exhausted them and now they were in deep water, recovering.

Fish-filled Kaby Lake cut had Ang busy all day long! (Photo credit: Fish'n Canada)

After the first day, things were looking pretty grim and my host, Stuart, knew it; so, while I was out fishing and not catching, he was out running around the lake looking for fish. At dinner that night, he told me he saw something interesting near the top end of the lake: dozens of terns and seagulls diving and apparently feeding on the surface. I was immediately intrigued; my experience told me that baitfish on the surface where birds could feed on them, meant something was driving them there.

When I arrived I saw what looked like a little river that had been flooded. There was flooded brush on both sides with a narrow clear channel running through the middle- maybe thirty to forty feet across. But what really blew my mind was the sight of thousands of baitfish jumping and scurrying across the surface because they were being preyed upon by masses of pike. It was mayhem!

I rigged up a topwater lure that Pete and I have been working on for years called Mighty Mo, to check out the action and almost immediately caught a medium-sized pike. It was then that I realized that this was not a river but more of a cut or channel.

And this "cut" was black with baitfish with pike lunging and jumping among them gorging themselves! It begged the question: if it's not a river or stream, what the heck was these baitfish doing here?

Amidst the chaos in the cut, it was really interesting to see pike jammed up against the brush just sitting there, digesting, presumably, but you know how after a big meal, and you're full, a delicious looking dessert comes to the table and you have to have some?

Well, I used Mighty Mo again on these sluggish pike and caught one on every cast; they just could not resist that mouse-bait!

(Photo credit: Fish'n Canada)

What convergence of conditions could cause this? Well, this is what we had: we had really high water that heated up 25 - 30° over 3 days; we had a full moon that was bright even during the day; we had new water (the cut) and we had a shallow brush bottom; so were the baitfish migrating? Were they spawning? or both?

The predominant baitfish in Kaby Lake is the Black Chub and they migrate, but usually up creeks and rivulets to spawn and they're broadcasters (scatterers of eggs) but usually over rocks, but sometimes over the surface of aquatic plants. Maybe the confluence of conditions we just spoke of had them confused somehow and created this bizarre occurrence. The pike and walleye, true to form, just came along for the feast and luckily I was there to intercept it.

Mr. Gump was right; you never know what you're gonna get. I'm just glad I was here so you could all see it with me.

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