Anglers excited for high water 

summer should give musky anglers more opportunity to find big fish in shallow water. 

The April blizzard we got hit with last week across northwestern Ontario was kind of depressing if I’m being honest. It had already been a brutal winter as far as snowfall so that extra foot last week was really unnecessary. It’s going to set us back at least a couple of weeks on ice out – that’s the depressing part for me. Like many anglers across the region, I want to get my boat in the water as soon as possible.  

There is some optimism for anglers after all of this snowfall. We should get to experience some higher water levels this year. The last time we’ve had a high water occurrence in Sunset Country that has lasted through the whole season was back in 2014 so it’s been a while. There are several advantages for anglers when water levels rise.

On lakes like Lake of the Woods and Rainy Lake that have a significant amount of flow to them, the higher water is our friend because it will generate more current in all of the neck-down and narrow areas, which will attract more fish and set them up in predictable locations. Walleye, bass, pike and musky all like to take advantage of moving water and let it bring the food to them. They will hide behind structure or cover and wait for an easy meal to drift past.

The higher water is great for fish that like to use shallow water cover throughout the summer months like bass and musky. There will be more vegetation and wood cover available and these fish will move into these areas where they can hide and feed opportunistically.

John Peterson and I won the 2014 Fort Frances Canadian Bass Championship tournament on Rainy Lake and we had three excellent days of fishing during that event, catching all of our fish in five feet or water or less, around shallow vegetation and wood. I look forward to seeing similar conditions this summer.

For anglers who enjoy catching largemouth bass, the high water is a really good thing. They live in shallow vegetation throughout the summer and when the water is high and there is the two or three feet of water that they need under the lily pads and in the reeds, they flock to those areas. You would think that when the water is low, it would just pull the fish out and congregate them more but it just doesn’t work like that. The high water pulls them into the places that look good where anglers can catch them on fun techniques like frog fishing and flipping.

Obviously, high water can wreak some havoc with docks and other property so hopefully all of this snow brings up the water, but not the point where it causes damage. We have had several years in a row of low water so it’ll take a lot to really bring it up to extreme levels.

Another upside to the higher water is that all of the extra cover in the water in the form of vegetation can be really helpful for giving newly born fish of all species some cover to hide out in during the first part of life. It gives them a chance to grow up a little bit before they set out on their own.

Remember that the higher water might move fish around a little bit so the same spots that have been good the past few years might not be as good this year. It doesn’t mean the fishing is no good, you just have to move around and try new spots or different depths to find where the fish are set up.

Just trying to take some positives out of this brutal snow situation we have going on here in northwestern Ontario. Hopefully we start to see some melting soon!