Explore, Scout, Recon, Snoop…

Explore, Scout, Recon, Snoop…

“Do NOT go on an unguided fly-in fishing trip without one of these!  Okay, I’ll repeat that and I’ll even put the friggin’ thing in red… Do NOT go on an unguided fly-in fishing trip without one of these! “

No, not Snoop Dog, for christ-sake! Snoop around… as in, snoop around the lake. Do some exploring, some scouting, some recon and some snooping. My favourite fly-in fishing trip is to an outpost camp, where you are dropped off, on your own, without a guide, for the whole trip. If it’s my first time on the lake, I surely will have some exploring, recon, scouting and snooping to do. I wanna (rugged for “want to”) catch fish, after all.

A typical fly in fishing trip is anywhere from 4 – 7 days. I’ve always thought that it takes a day or so to figure out where the fish are. Yes, there are usually a few obvious places, like rivers with a good flow, the outflow from a set of rapids, or a tight channel to a different section of lake. But, what I normally do, for most of the first day, is more looking than fishing. I’ll spend the balance of the day scouting the lake, moving from bay to bay, island to island, point to point and I’ll locate some wicked spots where I should be able to come back and catch fish. Of course, I’ll toss a few lures around too… “just in case!”

A portable sonar unit is one of those “essentials” for any fly-in fishing trip and I would never go without one. It’s right up there with ultra-rugged cast iron frying pans and fishing tackle… and lake maps. They should have one for you at the float plane base camp. Not only can a sonar and map combo help you find fish, it can also help you to find rocks and reefs that you don’t want to smash into… yes? (Not that I would know anything about that…)

Explore, Scout, Recon, Snoop…2

“There could be a wicked reef out there in mid-lake and you’d never see it without a sonar unit.  Reef equals fish.  Fish equals rugged.”

Let’s take walleye for example, because they are Canada’s number one game fish, especially on fly-ins. Walleye are known to prefer certain types of structure, like reefs, mid-lake humps, points, around islands and sometimes, oddly enough, long flat gravel and sand bars. So, instead of just hopping into your boat and casting and trolling your ass off trying to find fish, get out your map and set up your sonar. Drive around at fairly slow speed and pay attention to your screen. Go to those spots on the map that look like good spots and when you find something note-worthy, mark it on your map with a pen. For mid-lake humps, reefs and big holes that are far enough away from shore that you might have hard time finding again, use a GPS and pin ‘em down. Or, if you’re like me and don’t use GPS (I hate tiny screens full of even tinier buttons!), toss out a few marker buoys.

Explore, Scout, Recon, Snoop…

“At the end of the day, it’s all about catching fish… it is after all, a fishing trip!”

So, let’s say, you’ve just spent half the first day, or even most of it, cruising slowly and finding likely fish magnets. You’ve caught a few fish here and there, but most of your time was spent learning the lake. Now, you have the remainder of your trip to go out, hammer those points and kick those walleyes right square in the ass!

Get the pan ready…

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