Episode 548: Quantz Lake Heatwave

So you think the life of the Fish’n Canada guys is all fun and glory right??? 

After all, they have the ultimate dream job, they get to go fishing.

Well friends, although the fishing part of the job simply can’t be beat, it’s all those little added extras that can sometimes bring that ultimate job status either up OR DOWN a few notches.

Case in point, this particular trip.

Now we’re not at all knocking our location for this shoot, which was Quantz Lake, a fantastic little get-away north of Hearst Ontario. In fact, we would like to get another crack at it during more “tolerable” conditions… and that’s what we are knocking, the conditions we were faced with. 

  • We had 3 days in camp, June 20-22
  • It was during the summer solstice (June 21), the longest day[s] of the year with daylight from 5:20 am to 10:30 pm which is not the ultimate for sleeping
  • Every day of our trip reached over 32 degrees Celsius which is over 90 Fahrenheit and EVERY night was almost the same. One of the hottest weeks of the year in that part of Ontario

Now although we do get the odd spree of a heatwave like this, normally, or should we say hopefully, we’re at home in a nicely air-conditioned house, creating perfect sleeping conditions. 

As you can guess, there was no air conditioner in the middle of the northern Ontario bush country. 

Now before you give us the “Boo-Hoo poor little babies”, we need to add to this the most incredible fluke of all flukes, a bug invasion of the craziest we’ve ever seen! Blackflies, mosquitos and the biggest and baddest… horse flies! It was the oddest bunch of wrenches that we’ve ever had thrown at us in a shooting situation. 

However before you can say it, we certainly sucked it up in buttercup fashion and marched on like the troopers we are.

FUNNY STORY

Upon our arrival at Hearst Air Service, as we were loading our gear into the plane, owner/operator Melanie Veilleux surprised Ang with a special gift. For those of you who haven’t heard, Ang has a “thing” about outhouses. he absolutely hates em’ in fact! As you can see in the pics, it certainly was a fun moment.

Mel V heard about Ang’s outhouse phobia…

And she delivered the goods!

FLYING OVER THE NORTH COUNTRY

As you can probably tell by our past fly-in shoots, we NEVER get tired of these trips. Sitting in an Otter or a Beaver, hearing the roar of the engines and, of course, looking out the windows at the vast amount of forest and water is nothing short of breathtaking. Still to this day, and with the amount of flying we have done, we are constantly staring into the green abyss and shooting pictures and videos with phones and cameras. 

THE QUANTZ LAKE OUTPOST CAMP

Hearst Air’s Quantz Lake Outpost camp

The outpost camp is about a 50-minute flight in from Hearst Air near Hearst ON. The 3-bedroom camp has a propane fridge, a propane stove and propane lights. There’s a large dining area that will easily accommodate 6 people. There’s a barbeque and picnic table outside the front of the building, and an outhouse in the rear. This truly is a destination where you eat, sleep and fish… that’s it!

QUANTZ LAKE

a map of Quantz Lake

Map courtesy of the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry

Quantz is a small lake with a maximum depth of 30+ feet (directly in front of the camp). There is a large fertile bay to the southwest and the lake narrows and gets shallower to the north. It’s the perfect size for anglers to try and figure out for a few days.

FROM THE HEARST AIR WEBSITE

Quantz Lake Outpost Camp

Distance from base: 115 Miles

Lake Size: 6 miles long with 13 miles of shoreline

Average Depth: 13′

Sleeps: 6-8

Species: Walleye, Northern Pike

Unique Feature: Many bays, inlets and outlets allow for exploration

110 miles north of our Carey Lake airbase you will find Quantz Lake. Here is where you will find an outstanding walleye fishery and the typical trophy pike waters of the lakes surrounding the Albany and water system. With 6.5 miles of length and an average depth of 10-15 ft, this lake is THE choice for a group looking for a bigger water body, islands, inlets/outlets and other ideal structure for fishing success.

As with all our other locations, Quantz is the host of only ONE cabin. The cabin is a three-bedroom camp with propane amenities. There are 16’ aluminum boats with 8hp engines. Quantz is one of 2 destinations Hearst Air accommodates for fishermen looking for a better chance at many trophy pike.

No worries about the walleye fishing though, you will still find an abundance of walleye that will make your walleye fishing buddies very happy, but being in these destinations will give you the best chance of catching those 40”+ pike that get you excited. That is why you choose Quantz Lake.

THE FISHING

Ang holds up the biggest Pike of the trip that he caught on a suspending jerkbait… too bad the main video camera was on another boat and… well… Steve at least tried!

There are both Pike and Walleye in Quantz Lake. Hearst Air sells it as a trophy Pike lake with Walleye being a bonus fish.

During our trip, we were pretty split as to the numbers of fish of each species. Trust us, there are a lot of Walleye on this lake.

As we stated at the top of this piece, we were dealt with an incredible and untimely heatwave. This presents a couple of problems. First and foremost, having to bear those insane temperatures while trying to film a Fish’n Canada episode. The other is how the heat affects the fish. With only a few days to film, this puts more pressure on us than usual.

Pete shows the gorgeous golden underside of a perfect eating-sized northern Ontario Walleye

We definitely tried the morning and evening times as they are usually the times of least heat, however, on this trip, there wasn’t much of a reprieve. The heat was pretty much constant 24 hours each and every day.

As for the Pike fishing on Quantz, we couldn’t find that elusive 40-inch beast that is our self-imposed minimum optimal number when it comes to trophy fishing. We think Ang’s biggie was close to 40 and we did catch a good number in the 30’s along with lots of smaller ones.

Steve Niedzwiecki holds up a typical Quantz Lake pike caught on a rattlebait

Our best Pike presentations were either trolling big plugs for Walleye or casting hard jerkbaits, rattlebaits and soft plastic fluke-style baits in the shallower weedbed areas. If the wind was strong, then a fluke rigged on a jig head was the deal. If we had calmer conditions then that same fluke was rigged on an extra wide gap swimbait hook with a spring lock attached to the eye of the hook. These were either weighted or unweighted depending on the depth.

Flukes rigged either on a jighead or on a weedless hook along with Yo-Zuri’s 3DB Minnow 110, and 3DR-X Vibe were all Pike magic on Quantz

Running flukes, jerkbaits, or rattlebaits (yes it can be done with the latter 2) through a northern Ontario cabbage weedbed is like nothing else. This is a fast and aggressive presentation and Northern Pike are a fast and aggressive fish.

Ang even got onto an awesome clam bite!

Our setup for this is pretty heavy-duty. 

A 7’ or 7+ medium heavy to heavy action rod with a 6:1 or 7:1 ratio baitcast reel is perfect for this technique. 

We use a minimum of 30lb test Yo-Zuri Superbraid line and will go up to 40 or 50. “IF” we go the 50lb test route, we sometimes omit the use of a wire leader… sometimes!

THE TROLLING BITE

Trolling is a surefire way to get bit by both Walleye and Pike in northern Ontario waters. We normally look at lake maps to find contour lines or we create our own maps with Garmin’s Quickdraw and go from there. It obviously takes much more time when we draw our own maps but you would be surprised at how much water you can cover in a few days. If you run your mapping program the entire time, you’ll soon have a workable map to refer to.

The beauty of trolling as well is, there’s no need to troll over the same area more than once if you don’t get bit. If the screen lights up with activity and you don’t get bit, then, by all means, try another pass. Otherwise, just keep fishing new water and creating new maps in the process. It costs nothing but a tiny portion of an SD card.

The following Garmin units show you some screenshots from our Quantz Lake trip:

a screenshot from Quantz Lake

Here’s a screenshot of the deepest part of Quantz Lake which is directly in front of the camp. Notice the insane amount of clutter in the deep hole as well as the big hook on the left side of the break? No, we didn’t catch it BTW!

There were lots of other hooks as well throughout Quantz Lake. This above screen is what we like to see, a big fish or two close to the bottom and by itself. If it doesn’t hit a crankbait trolled by, there’s a good chance it will still hit a jig.

We almost always Quickdraw or “chart” (left side) our own maps while fishing on new, uncharted waters. It ultimately makes our potential fishing area decisions so much easier. It’s also great for hindsight… we look and often say “no wonder we caught fish there!”

Yo-Zuri baits like this Crystal Minnow Deep Diver Walleye in Chartreuse Tiger (among many other colours) worked well throughout this trip

JIGGING

Finally, there’s jigging, mostly for Walleye in our case but the odd time for Pike. Jigging is kind of the be all, end all. If we can’t catch them jigging then we’re definitely gonna scratch our heads.

In the past we used lots of 3” curly-tailed grubs. Now although they still work extremely well, we’ve moved more to fluke or swimbait profiles. And we often up the size. It’s not uncommon to see us using 5” or even bigger plastics. This is definitely a case where big baits often mean big fish!

Colours you ask? 

The sky’s the limit but we always have some kind of white or pearl (baitfish imitation) as well as a greenish hue (chartreuse, ayu, pumpkin etc.) along with us. Go ahead and experiment here, you may be surprised at what Walleye will hit… Pike… not so much as they’ll often hit anything!

HEARST AIR

Hearst Air has been offering outdoor adventures for the past 45+ years. If you can think of an adventure in the truly remote parts of Ontario you would like to take, they would love to help you to the best the north has to offer.

They offer:

  • 7 remote fly-in outpost camps
  • Custom river trips
  • Paddling adventures
  • Wildlife viewing
  • Full Package fly-in Moose Hunting trips
  • Fly-in remote drop camps for do-it-yourself hunts
  • Trophy brook trout on the famous Sutton River

Hearst Air Service offers a wide variety of fishing opportunities that will satisfy a beginner angler to a seasoned pro.  Remote areas accessible only by fly-in access guarantees you’ll be immersed in the natural wonders & tranquillity that Northern Ontario’s deep wilderness has to offer. This is one of the best ways to escape the daily grind at home and to get away from it all for a spell.  Ontario is a land filled with bountiful wilderness and pristine lakes that are fed by the lifeblood of Northern Ontario’s vast Arctic Watershed. All flights to our fishing outposts depart from our air base on Carey Lake in Hearst Ontario. Your destination is limited only by your imagination.

HEARST, ONTARIO

Hearst is a town in the district of Cochrane, Ontario, Canada. It is located along Highway 11 on the Mattawishkwia River in Northern Ontario. It’s just over 90 km west of Kapuskasing and around 520 km east of Thunder Bay. 

Hearst had a population of just under 5,000 people.

It’s been documented that 96% of the town’s residents speak French as their main language which calculates to the highest proportion in Ontario.

Hearst was named to honour William Howard Hearst, then Ontario Minister of Forests and Mines and later Premier of Ontario.

FISH’N CANADA EPISODE GETTIN THERE: HEARST AIR/QUANTZ LAKE

To get to this week’s mid-summer fishing destination, we first drove north on hwy 400 to hwy 11.

We next turned right to continue on 11 at North Bay. 

We followed 11 all the way to the town of Hearst where we over-nighted at the Companion Motel directly in the heart of the town. Remember that most trips to outpost camps commence in the morning so finding accommodations after a long, full day’s drive is essential. 

We highly recommend the Companion for both accommodations and meals.

The next morning we headed west on hwy 11 to the Hearst Air floatplane base on Carey Lake and finally flew into the Quantz Lake outpost camp.

Hearst Air offers an array of excellent fishing destinations catering from Pike and Walleye to an incredible Brook Trout adventure on the famed Sutton River.

You’ll need to overnight in Hearst before you fly into camp. We highly recommend the Companion for both food and accommodations

Hearst Air

Destination Ontario

Destination Northern Ontario

Companion Hotel-Motel 

TV EXTRAS

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