Hawk Lake Lodge, Day Three: Teeth and Mouths

This big pike put up a great fight and brightened what had been otherwise a slow morning.
All photos by Sandy Hays

After two days of fantastic smallmouth fishing at Hawk Lake Lodge, we decided to head for a smaller lake known for its great pike population. Sandy and I once again teamed up with guide Jeff Blum for a very short boat ride, followed by a hike to Shannon Lake. We were not accosted by a single grouse on the path, which I considered a good sign.

Overnight, a cold front had moved in, bringing cloud cover and wind. Any angler knows that such a change in atmospheric pressure can put the fishing off the boil, and sure enough, we started out slowly. A couple “hammer handles,” or small pike, smashed a streamer, but there were long periods of inactivity. Shannon is one of the smaller lakes that HLL fishes, but it’s got plenty of great cover from which a pike can ambush bait or perch.

The girth and shoulders on this Esox were impressive, a sign of a healthy forage base in the lake.

As we made our way along a rock wall that didn’t look so great, however, I briefly took my eye off my fly at the end of a presentation. I head Jeff say, “Hey!” and when I returned my attention to the flashy baitfish pattern, it was in the jaws of a huge pike. The fish was incredibly broad-shouldered and pulled hard, attempting to return to deeper water. Jeff did a bang-up job netting the beast, and there were fist bumps all around.

The fish was simply gorgeous, with beautiful markings, a fat belly, and broad snout. It taped out at 34 inches, but its girth was even more impressive than the length. After we snapped a few photos, we sent her back to the depths.

Guide Jeff Blume shows off one of many mouse-caught smallmouths.

Since Shannon Lake didn’t seem like a hotspot that day, we decided to return to Cliff Lake to continue the mousing experiment we’d begun the day before. It turned out to be a great idea. Sandy and I threw various mouse patterns for about three hours and caught perhaps a dozen fat smallmouths–and we missed about the same number. Some fish would attack the mouse pattern ferociously, but the bigger bronzebacks would simply inhale the deer-hair flies.

It was a wonderful way to end our stay at Hawk Lake Lodge. Our three days had taken us to just 5 of the 19 available lakes, so as I sit in Winnipeg Airport ready to return home, I have plenty of incentive to return.

2 thoughts on “Hawk Lake Lodge, Day Three: Teeth and Mouths”

  1. As smallmouth are not native to the region and are considered invasive by some, what is the potential impact on the native populations of lake trout, pike, walleye and perch? We fish in the region and the explosion of smallmouth are a serious concern of our group.

    1. Smallmouth were introduced to this region in the late 1800s when the railroad was built. They have been coexisting for 140 years with all the other species. The fisheries in NW Ontario are some of the best in the country with little ill effects.

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