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Come Experience The Difference!

The Witch Bay Difference - Our Free Fishing Program For You!

Fishing Report…And Our Optimistic Prediction for 2008.

Our Lake of the Woods region experienced excellent fishing in 2007 even though all were constantly changing presentations and patterns because of record low water levels - from our experienced guests to those who were new to Witch Bay Camp. What a difference a year makes! We went from record floods of the previous season and high water levels to very low water - from opening day on. Local Kenora authorities confirmed that 1981 was the nearest year on record when water levels were as low as we experienced last summer.

Generally, it was a summer of good weather - an absence of powerful fronts along with steady water temperatures, although on the cool side until normal readings were reached in mid-July. As every experienced angler in the world knows, weather remains the most important piece to the fishing puzzle. If Lake of the Woods experiences steady and warm temperatures with an absence of cold fronts or series of fronts, fishing holds good and steady. What is perhaps more significant is that steady warm weather allows us to find and perfect productive patterns - for every species, from walleye to muskie.

canadian walleye fishingSuperb Walleye Fishing

What did this do fishing? Sometimes very little…sometimes a lot, though we made subtle changes to our overall patterns. In general, the season was one of adjustment and discovery. When three feet of water is taken away, weed development changes…and it was so for Witch Bay as well as the entire watershed. We saw weeds in new areas, while traditional spots were without cabbage or coontail. In general, weedlines were very important to holding fish, even late in the summer, when evening fish would move in as shallow as 10-foot depths to feed.

May and June started with the fast action of the shallow water bite, which has become the newest tradition for camp. From late May through early July more guests became expert on enjoying shallow water walleye with light jigs, tipped either with plastics or live bait.

The largest adjustment to be made by our anglers was walleye location. Things were quite different, often providing an intriguing challenge for pro and guest alike. Often conversations focused on the changes being seen which all of us attributed to the low water - approximately 3 feet down. Some of the traditional areas of June, July and August were weak this year, while others were newly discovered, often close to camp. Moreover, Witch and Andrew Bay was amazing, producing numbers and quality walleye, at times, through most of the season - from May through September.

"Pitching" jigs in the 1/8-ounce size tipped with live bait was productive in May, June and early July. Also, more guests turned to plastics - urged on by Dick Wilkening and Wayne Papp. Everything from 3-inch grubs and Twisters to 4-inch curly-tailed or finesse style worms were being hit by aggressive walleye in weed cover. Of interest, Wayne walleye fished the entire season without live bait, relying on plastics. This pattern held up well, even during the dreaded cold fronts of spring and early summer. While numbers may go down on those days, enough fish cooperated to make the day successful - even under poor weather conditions.

Crankbaits continued to be successful although changes had to be made. Some shoreline points, boulder reefs, off shore humps, etc. were successful, while others were not… again due to shallow water. However, new areas were discovered, becoming productive because of the difference in depth.

The "usual" summer patterns developed by mid-July as surface water temperatures reached the low 70's. However, this year was different, because large numbers of walleye were not relating to the mid-lake humps and reefs, but trophy fish were available. Bottom bouncing and rigging was the most productive presentation for these scattered fish. Numbers were down…but the quality was there - good numbers of 26, 27, and 28-inch fish.

canadian smalmouth bass fishingFantastic Smallmouth Action

This year was a dramatic improvement over the previous season as bronzebacks cooperated for the entire year. The June catch-and-release season continues to allow the fishery to get better, which translates into fun and action. Average size is improving with large numbers of 2-and 3-pounders released to fight another day. Remember that a 16-inch smallmouth bass is 10-to 12-years old as growth rates are very slow for this unique fighter.

The water levels again created new challenges - some traditional spots were cold, while others (and newly discovered) held fish all summer. Every year more guests are turning to the latest in finesse presentations (available at the camp store) for bass action. Plastics worms, grubs and Twisters are important, as are the time-honored selections - Road Runners, Mepps spinners, Shad Raps, Rapalas, Pop-R's, etc.

Stable weather was the key. Water temperatures warmed slowly, but steadily…and avoided the sudden crashes of the previous summer during the floods.

canadian northern pike fishingNorthern Pike Are Better Than Ever

At times northern pike action was incredible…especially for those hunting large fish. Trophy sizes - let's say 36 inches and larger - are becoming commonplace. What is truly significant and a sea change is that the vast majority of these fish are being released to grow…and fight another day. Previously, 42 inches had been the ceiling, but this year fish up to 45 inches were caught…and released. Do we dare think about a giant northern pike… perhaps a fish of 48 inches? It really is only a matter of time!

As predicted last year, we did see 45-inch fish this season. This year (2005) even larger fish will be caught! All of this is testimony to the slot size limit which protects "quality: fish and allows them to grow into the trophy bracket. As this fishery changes with larger fish in the population, expect numbers to level off.

No one knows what quality can be achieved with Lake of the Woods northern pike. The reason is simple - previous overharvest in past decades kept the population dominated by small fish, because fish 30 inches and larger were invariably taken.

Pike anglers need a variety of lures, including looking at the 6 and 8-inch muskie lures. While spoons, including the traditional Dardevle are effective, a world of new innovations is available for those seeking pike. Spoons, spinners, minnow baits, crankbaits and even jerkbaits are deadly on larger pike. Check them out at your favorite tackle shop or when going to a sport show….

Fish early and late at Witch Bay Camp for walleye, bass and muskie…and save the middle part of the day for a trophy pike hunt. It's fantastic fun…and challenging.

canadian musky fishingGreat Muskie Fishing

What does it take to produce good muskie action on Lake of the Woods? Perhaps the answer is as basic as steady, summer-like weather. As previously noted, last season's weather got muskie fishing started by mid-July when surface water temperatures reached 70 degrees with great action on fish in the 40-to 48-inch range. By August, the fishing was steady and reliable with fish up to 53 ½ inches caught…and released. August got better and early September was terrific with fish up to 51 inches released. However, the sheer numbers of "nice" fish - mid-40 inch, 20-pound-plus muskie are excellent, signifying a growing, dynamic population. Additionally, Witch Bay Camp muskie anglers saw and caught larger fish than the previous summer…again probably due to favorable weather.

Successful Lake of the Woods muskie anglers develop a "milk run" of spots - depending on weather and wind conditions. This year, spots dramatically changed - again a result of lowered water. Some areas were the "dead sea" while new ones were holding fish. Whatever the key - always the combination of forage, structure and cover - the altered water levels made things different.
The Witch Bay region is so different from other popular muskie areas of Lake of the Woods. We don't have the fishing pressure of the "name" regions and most of our muskie guests remark on how they have the water to themselves, allowing them to return to their "milk run" spots on a daily basis. Simply stated, Witch Bay has terrific muskie fishing… and it remains largely undiscovered!

LET'S MAKE THE CALL!

No cautious predictions for 2005, because Witch Bay should enjoy another banner season. The gamefish population is strong with notable populations of walleye, northern pike, smallmouth bass and muskie. Crappie are possible, although very cyclical and because of their rarity in the northeastern portion of Lake of the Woods, vulnerable to overharvest. "Jumbo" perch were not as plentiful last year, perhaps due to the low water, but good numbers were available. These fish are great eaters and a delight when reaching the "eatable" size of 10 inches or so.

Even if water levels remain lower than normal, which could be the case, the Witch Bay pros have a year's experience in reacting to changing water levels - from very high to as recently as two years ago, to last year's record lows. What does that mean for Witch Bay guests…. reliable presentations and fish-catching patterns.

The forage base of yellow perch, cisco, shiners, and various minnow species is especially strong which translates into stronger year classes of predators - gamefish ready to inhale our artificial or live bait presentation. The Witch Bay fishing resource is in excellent condition - a combination of progressive management by Ministry of Natural Resource biologists and selective harvest by anglers. The ethic of catch-and-release is dramatically instrumental to the quality of today's fishery.

Come fish with us at Witch Bay… the camp that sets new standards for Lake of the Woods.


WITCH BAY FISHING PROGRAM

canadian musky fishingWitch Bay Camp is recognized as the leader in creating a unique fishing program, totally designed to help our guests maximize their fishing skills and success.  The program began in 1996 as we developed a total fishing program that featured basic presentations and location patterns for our five species walleye, smallmouth bass, northern pike, muskie, and seasonal crappie.  Our goal was to deliver a great fishing experience to you by caring, involved professional anglers that are famous for their teaching abilities and willingness to share and work with anglers of all levels from beginner to expert!  While we believe in catch-and-release, our goal is for you to catch fish and enjoy the best Canadian fishing trip ever.  We are dedicated to that simple principle at Witch Bay Camp!

Our program is tailored to fit each individual's needs in everything from proper knots to tuning a crankbait, selecting "good" pike spinnerbaits, or answering the many questions about fish location on a daily basis. We offer our assistance with other problem areas - from map reading and marking maps for fish location to "reading" depthfinders.

The Witch Bay team of fishing pros are ready to assist your boat or group while on the water, lead two or three boats to a specific walleye structure (demonstrating the proper approach and presentation), or teaching (everything from horizontal jigging or casting crankbaits to bottom bouncing). The program is there for you to use…and we like to think that everyone would avail themselves of the assistance. One of the most important hallmarks of the program is sitting down with your group after arrival, discussing what species your group would like to catch, and carefully going over the map, discussing fish location, water levels, weed development, lure and bait selection, water temperature impacts, and much, much more.

The Liars Den is a center of activity as map marking sessions and mini-discussions take place. It's where techniques are demonstrated - from jigging and cranking to bottom bouncing. The popcorn machine is ready and waiting for you to make a batch…so everyone can talk fishing!

Remember, best of all, the entire program is part of the package price. There are no extra charges - it is totally free. We are there to serve you and help create a successful and memorable fishing trip on our beloved Lake of the Woods. And it is what separates Witch Bay from other fishing camps in northwestern Ontario!


THE WITCH BAY PROS

The Witch Bay Pro Staff is an expert group of anglers dedicated to making every guest's fishing trip the best possible. Their willingness to share and assist camp guests is what separates them from others. Expert anglers are relatively easy to find; those that enjoying assisting guests in catching fish and have a trip of a lifetime are rare. Our pros want to work with anglers of all experience levels. Simply stated, they love to see camp guests fulfill their Ontario vacation dream by catching fish… lots of fish!

Dick Wilkening (Davenport, Iowa) is a superb bass and walleye angler and Witch Bay tournament competitor, including the famous Kenora Bass Invitational. His vast array of experience of finding a pattern under tournament conditions is terrific for all of the Witch Bay guests. This knowledge serves well when the dreaded cold front makes things challenging or when fish have changed locations.

Brian Gilbertson (White Bear Lake, Minnesota) is rapidly developing a reputation as one of the top walleye pros, having won a Wave Wackers tournament on Mille Lacs in 2003. Besides walleyes, Brian is accomplished multi-species pro and will be in his third year with us this summer. He has years of experience in fishing the northeastern quadrant of Lake of the Woods, including the Andrews and Witch Bay regions.


Some Tips On Techniques & Presentations

WALLEYE PRESENTATIONS

Walleye anglers will perfect their skills with jigging (both vertical and casting/horizontal), bottom bouncing, Roach rigging, and casting or trolling crankbaits. Even slip bobber combos have their place! The Witch Bay Pros will demonstrate rigging and be there to answer your questions. Dick or Wayne are always ready to help.

Our assistance is tailored to fit your needs. We try to answer those all-important questions when you arrive - how's fishing… where are they biting… what are they taking… how are the water levels… shallow or deep… what color, etc. Working with maps is one of the hallmarks of the Witch Bay program - marking fishing areas, structure, and weed cover. The proper depth range is always emphasized along with bait and lure selections.

SMALLMOUTH PRESENTATIONS

Smallmouth anglers - beginner or expert - have the opportunity to learn finesse fishing with plastics - including finesse worms, Senkos, tubes, grubs and Twisters from the staff. How fast do you jerk a jerkbait (Rogue, Husky Jerk, Rapala, etc.)? What are the color selections for LOTW bronzebacks? How about spinnerbaits - should we use ½-ounce or a larger Beetle Spin? Are the topwaters working on the quiet evenings? Russ Warye, Dick Wilkening, and Dave Pagel all love to catch bass and are ready to help you with everything from spinnerbait size to tube color selection.

NORTHERN PIKE PRESENTATIONS

Northern pike fishermen can look forward to conversations about tandem spinnerbaits, spoons, jerkbaits and when to use soft plastics - like Slug-Go's. How about willow blades vs. Colorado's? Spoons vs. spinnerbaits? What are the good deep-running crankbaits for those outside weedline edges? Where do the larger pike go when surface water temperatures go into the 70's? We will try to have answers and as with all species location is everything to success. Our staff will be able to help you locate the prime weedlines and depths for good pike fishing.

MUSKIE PRESENTATIONS

Muskie anglers will receive a "map session" detailing where fish have been seen up to their arrival. These location tips help to "eliminate water" in the annual search for a trophy fish. Our staff is constantly gathering information on location, structure and cover, along with suggested presentations - all on a seasonal basis. We saw some patterns that need to be tried; among them, raising fish with a topwater or jerkbait, then catching them on another style. Russ Warye, author of the book, MUSKIE, The Premier Lakes and Rivers of North America, will work with muskie anglers at Witch Bay and answer your questions about location and presentation.

BOATS & DOCKING

Witch Bay Camp was one of the first to offer deluxe camp boats, featuring all of the amenities that anglers have come to appreciate in the 21st Century. Choose between our Crestliner 17.5 foot console model or the 17 foot Lund Outfitter (transom steer). Both models offer lots of room, are extremely stable and provide a great platform for your fishing needs. However, kindly remember that our Crestliners are the first to be reserved because of their roominess as well as the console steering.

All boats feature two Lowrance depthfinders, 50-pound thrust Motor Guide bow mount electric motors, built-in battery chargers, electric start, carpeting, power trim, live wells, dry storage, rod racks and deluxe pedestal seats. These boats are powered by quiet and smooth-running four cycle Yamahas. Smooth as silk, you can go forward or back troll these rigs with maximum precision to keep you on fish. So be sure to reserve your deluxe camp boat, when you make a reservation!


More Fishing Information...

>>> Learn More About Fishing Lake of the Woods
>>> Go to the Fishing Reports Section
>>> Recommended Equipment & Tackle for Your Trip
>>>
Read the Current Fishing Regulations


Your Hosts: Steve & Gail Hockett
P.O. Box 238 • Kenora, Ontario • Canada P9N 3x3
For reservations call: 1-807-548-3076 or
1-877-468-5838 TOLL FREE
Email:
ghockett@voyageur.ca

Fishing Information Network Outdoor Network


Witch Bay Camp on Lake of the Woods Ontario, Canada