The next two shows of this season are going to be of great interest to all of you who fish more than one day at a time. It’s about having one day when you can do no wrong and the very next day where you’re wondering what the heck happened. They’re about structure and pressure and how modern sonar can make a good day on the water spectacular, and turn a seemingly “skunky” day into a day you can brag about to your buddies.
In the first episode Pete is fishing Nagagami Lake for Walleye. According to our sources, this is one of the best structure lakes in the province. It is located 29 kilometers northwest of Hornepayne, Ontario, in the Algoma district, home to beautiful Timberwolf Lodge, our home base for the next five days.
First lets talk about structure. For as long as we’ve been in boats, whether fishing or exploring, mariners have been desperate to know what was below them. How many times did they have to run aground to figure that one out?
First, it was line sounding. Lines with a lead weight at the end running along the bottom and markers every six feet or so, allowing them to read how deep or shallow they were. Then, as science progressed, it was echo sounding or sonar, a device that emitted sound waves to the bottom and recorded the time it took them to bounce back. Higher and lower areas appeared wavy on the graph. This gave us hydrographic or contour maps that a lot of us still use today.
These days sonar has become a very sophisticated, complex, computer based science that can map the floor of a body of water with precision and acuity. You’ll think you’re looking at a 3 dimensional photograph.
FIND AN EDGE
Gone are the days of the local old timers verbally telling you where the hot spots were… but if you can still get one to talk… dig deep!
So, what is structure, and why is it so important that we find it? Most fishermen have a pretty good idea of what it is, but as a refresher: structure is any change in contour of the bottom of a body of water that causes a change in depth.
Points, vertical bluff walls, humps, submerged islands, ledges and creek channels are a few examples. They all have the same common denominator: an edge – a change in depth. Find an edge, and you’ll likely find a fish. And that’s the reason we try so hard to find it.
Nagagami was gouged out of the earth by the Laurentide glacier about 10,000 years ago. It has huge inflows (the Foch and Obakamiga rivers) and a massive outflow (the Nagagami River), so the lake is well circulated and well oxygenated and therefore full of nutrients.
Nagagami is also full of fish: predominantly walleye, but pike, perch and whitefish abound. The complicated structure at the bottom of this lake complemented by all these fish, presents the perfect stage upon which to show you during the episode, with the aid of modern day technologies like Garmin’s portable EchoMap units, how to locate and read the structure, adding waypoints so that you can return to it; but, also show where the fish are within the structure – a feat impossible any other way.
The weather on this day was perfect: a bright day, few clouds with a little chop on the water. Fish were all over the place and relatively shallow at around 12 feet, but concentrated around and along ridges.
By splitting the screen, Pete could see where the boat was relative to the ridge on the GPS screen, and where the fish were relative to the boat on the fishfinder screen. By marking the hits with waypoints, he could maneuver back to the exact spots along that breakline whenever he wanted.
On this trip”, says Pete, “I discovered a great little trick on my Garmin for Walleye fishing. Once I located my fishing area I turned my unit on to the split frequency screen. The 200kh on the left side shows bottom features with fantastic detail but not so great on fish while the 77kh on the right defines actual fish with perfect clarity but only the basics on structure. If you are fishing for Walleye or any other species of fish close to the bottom, it’s a must to check out the split frequency screen”.
“What a great day”, Pete says, “once I dialed the structure in, I literally caught fish after fish. But, the reason wasn’t all about the electronics. Mother Nature and her barometer had a lot to do with it, too. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was fishing on the cusp of a falling barometer, a pre-frontal low, when all the creatures in the food chain are active.
Ang realized it the next morning when, using my waypoints on the Garmin as a guide, found himself in believe it or not empty water! But he’ll tell you that story in the next web article when he experienced part two of our ‘Nagagami experience”.
As usual, Ontario’s Algoma region didn’t disappoint!
GETTIN’ THERE with RAM TRUCKS
To get to today’s awesome Walleye fishing we first took Hwy 400 north to Hwy 69. We then took HWY 17 to White River. We turned right onto 631 which took us to the Ford Air Base near Hornepayne Ontario. From there it was a short flight to Timberwolf Lodge.