There was a nice chop on the water as I cast my Hellbender over the submerged log in hopes that a big springtime Ontario pike would be ready to answer the call.
The water exploded as the monster hit on the first retrieve and my line went flying off the reel. I set the hook and realized I had a nice size Lac Seul pike on – maybe a trophy! The line zinged out, I reeled in, line peeled out, reel in – each time I got the lunker near the boat, it found new energy and darted off. I knew I had a trophy on the other end of the line. After 20 minutes of adrenaline-pumping action, the fish surrendered and I boated my 18-pound trophy!
Pat Hoffman (left) holds up one of the big pike she caught on Lac Seul, which is located in Ontario.
The best was yet to come because soon after, I hooked a second 18-pounder!
I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw a lunker just as big as the first, but my tired arms told me it was true.
Lac Seul has a lot to offer northern pike fishermen in June and after nine years of fishing it, I can say there have been few days where I’ve been skunked. I concentrate on the shallow bays where the water is warmer and the fish more active. Northerns are plentiful and in one of my favorite spots, my wife Pat and I caught 16 pike from 4 pounds to 12 pounds in 1 1/2 hours! Pat has caught many nice fish including a 21-pound, 42-inch northern and a 5-pound, 20-inch smallmouth bass. When ever I can get away, Lac Seul is one of my favorite lakes to fish for the big ones.
Gearing Up For Big Pike
Since there are some huge pike in Lac Seul, you will need heavy-duty equipment. By using heavy tackle you can get the fish in quicker and that should result in less harm to it should you decide to practice catch-and-release. Culling (keeping a fish, until a larger one is caught) – is prohibited.
I use a 6-foot, 9-inch St. Croix heavy-action bait-casting rod with a Shimano Calcutta 4CD reel. I also use 80-pound SpiderWire with a 10-inch heavy-duty steel leader. Besides the Hellbender, I like 6-inch Bobby baits, 6-inch Grandma’s baits and a large, bright-colored bucktail. I prefer jerk baits because they typically produce more strikes. You also will need a heavy-duty landing net. June weather can be very unpredictable. It can be cool, cold or warm. Pack appropriate clothing to meet a variety of conditions.
Making The Trip
Before going to Ontario, make sure to check the game laws, the limits often change annually, and the amount and type of goods allowed to be brought across the border. In 1999, the limit on pike was four in possession, and any in the 27-inch to 35-inch size had to be released. Of the four pike allowed, one can be over 35 inches as a trophy and the three others must be less than 27 inches. For walleyes, you also can have four in possession, but none in the 18-inch to 21-inch range. In other words, you can keep one over 21 inches and count it as a trophy and the three others must be under 18 inches. All fish you plan to keep are to be clubbed dead after boating to prevent culling, (keeping a fish until a larger one is caught) which is prohibited.
Lac Seul offers a multitude of accommodations in all price ranges. For more information, contact the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, 421-B North Euclid Ave., Ontario, Canada, or call 909-984-2458. It’s Website: www.ontario.org.
Lac Seul is about 12 hours or 480 miles north from Minneapolis / St. Paul, Minn., One way to get there is to cross the border at International Falls, Minn., and then take Highway 11 East to Highway 502 North to Dryden. You then pick up Highway 17 East to Highway 72 North.
Fishing season opens in mid-May and closes at the end of September. Non-resident license fees are approximately $50, but check with the Chamber for current laws.