"Gods Lake Pike Heaven!"
Published in Woods-N-Water News, March 2008, author Chad Sandy
Gods Lake - 2007
After 10 years of fishing various lakes in Manitoba and Ontario, a recent trip to Olafson's Gods Lake Lodge proved to be the best trip yet. We specifically planned this trip for August to fish the mid summer to early fall location patterns of pike and increase our opportunity for heavier pike.
Many people head to trophy pike fishing destinations in Canada during the early part of the season. Ice-out or early season fishing is thought by many to be the best time of year to catch trophy pike. Ice-out is usually mid May to early June depending on how far north you go, and of course this varies slightly from one season to the next depending on local weather conditions.I will agree that if you time it right, you can find more pike shallow, including some larger fish. However most of these larger fish have just finished spawning and their weight can be lower compared to other times during the season.
I have personally found the early season to be hit or miss. If you happen to catch an early spring and the weed growth is underway by the time the season opens, the fishing can be very good. However, if there is a late spring, you could be fishing inlets where there is current due to the rest of the lake still being frozen. You might also be fishing 38 degree water and using dead bait or extremely slow presentations. I have fished in these conditions, and it can be brutally slow . . .
Boats ready for the day
Boats ready for the day
I fish closer to home in Michigan during May & June when our fishing tends to be at its peak for many species. I much prefer a trip to the North Country at a time when the cabbage is established. In addition, by this time, the fish have completely recovered from the spawn and have attained their normal weight. The pike will have moved from the shallow bays and will tend to use areas in and around deeper cabbage beds. So, instead of casting the shallow structure, such as rocks, timber, or reeds as you would in the spring; you have to cover more water.
While fishing Gods Lake in August of 2007, our timing was just right to find developed cabbage beds and the large pike in close proximity. There are literally hundreds, if not thousands of cabbage beds on Gods Lake. The pike's location will change day to day and within the day depending on weather. If you are willing to put in the time, cover water and try various presentations, you will likely be rewarded.
Once you identify that fish are in the general area, the specific location will likely be most influenced by the weather conditions of the moment. Wind will concentrate fish more on structure, whereas calm conditions will likely have the better fish deep in the weeds. I favor areas around cabbage beds that are in water 10 to as much as 16 feet of water. I believe another requirement is having a main lake basin within a couple hundred yards of the area.
The guides at Olafson's Gods Lake Lodge know the lake well and helped us maximize our time on quality water by putting us on location as I have described. I would highly recommend using a guide on a large lake like Gods Lake, especially on your first trip. Our guide had actually been fishing the lake for many years and had learned the lake from his grandfather. Our guide literally brought generations of knowledge to our experience.
In a week of fishing exclusively for pike, a group of three of us boated over one thousand pike with fish to 44 inches. In Manitoba, they have a fantastic Master Angler program where anglers can be recognized for their trophy releases. This trip yielded 12 masters 41" and larger for the three of us. We encouraged our guide to fish a few of the days and he boated as many as 60 fish in a day and also boated several masters during the week.
Birds Eye View
Birds Eye View
Besides great pike fishing, our visit to Olafson's God's Lake Lodge in August offered many other benefits as well. The number of guests at the lodge was less than typical of the early season, so there was overall less fishing pressure. Most of the walleye guys come earlier in the year, but the walleye fishing was still excellent. God's Lake also has a healthy population of lake trout, and if you are up to a bit of a boat ride, God's River offers world class brook trout fishing. Master angler 20 inch brookies are not uncommon.
Packing for a trip like this can be a challenge to say the least. I am one of those "what if" guys and tend to always over pack. For late summer pike fishing on Gods Lake, the fish are not too fussy, so you really only need a handful of lures. My top recommendations include; #6 Vibrax in-line spinners, Musky Buck bucktails, 1.5 to 2 ounce heavy duty spinnerbaits such as Grim Reapers or Figure Eight's, 1-1.5 ounce Jig & plastic, and possibly some small musky-type jerkbaits. Although I had a tackle box full of goodies, I really only used 6-8 different baits the whole week. Some friends visited Gods Lake a couple weeks before us, and they literally used just 2 baits the entire week. Their results were similar to ours if not better, and they boated to 46". I have experienced good success with this selection of baits on many different bodies of water.
Manitoba does require barbless hooks, so you will want to take that into consideration when purchasing or preparing tackle for the trip. Other Canadian provinces have different regulations, and some lakes or lodges have their own more stringent regulations regarding the type and number of hooks. Lures with treble hooks hold fish much better than single hook baits, but they also catch on more weeds. Where possible I try to use baits that have trebles. Spinnerbaits were very effective baits for us when the fish were in deep weeds, but the hooking percentages are much lower. We lost nearly as many trophies as we caught just due to the poor hooking and holding characteristics of a spinnerbait.
Regardless of the regulations, or what type of bait you are throwing, you need to make sure your hooks are sharpened. I file all of my hooks, as the factory points are no where near sharp enough to maximize your hooking percentages.
Because you have a very good chance a catching a 20 pound or heavier fish, you should be using stout bass flippin-stick type rods rated for 2 ounce baits and 30 pound line as a minimum. Lighter musky-weight rods are even better for getting the fish to the boat in a timely manner and not overplaying the fish. Lakes like Gods Lake are trophy fisheries, and these fish need to be handled accordingly. In addition to stout rods, I would recommend nothing less than 17 pound mono for line, but personally use 50 pound super braid such as Power Pro or my new favorite Spiderwire Stealth. Fifty to 65 pound steel or titanium leaders are also a must. These fish are not leader shy, so make sure you use them so as not to lose fish, or more importantly you do not want to leave a bait in a fish's mouth.
Using this type of gear will increase your odds of getting the fish to the boat, provide a shorter, but fun fight and provide for reduced stress on the fish. Don't worry, when you hook into an honest 20 pounder, that fish will have your rod bent over and you will still need to do everything just right to actually land the fish. It will still be a very memorable experience.
Visiting a quality fly-in fishing lodge such a Olafson's Gods Lake Lodge on a large body of water can provide for fishing action that is nearly impossible to find with a drive-to fishing destination. A mid to late summer trip can offer reduced fishing pressure and a chance at numbers of true trophy Northern Pike.
Olafson's Gods Lake Lodge (formerly Olafson's Gods Lake Lodge) is under new ownership and management by the Nolden Family and is undergoing many improvements. New guest rooms and boat motors are just a couple of the recent upgrades. The food provided is very hearty, delicious, and includes memorable shore lunches. Charter flights out of Winnipeg are included with their packages and planes land right at the Lodge's private airstrip. For more information visit www.godslakelodge.com or call 1-888-GODS-LAK