Depth/Fish Finders

Guests often ask us what depth finder they should bring up on their trip to the lodge or outposts.  For a long time we recommend Humminbird portables, but recently we've been using and recommending the Garmin portables.  For about the same price, you get a color screen plus GPS.  While these units don't come with maps, our lakes aren't mapped anyway.  The Garmin has been easy to use and good on battery life.  The one we'd recommend is the Garmin Striker 4 portable, which can be found for around $200 at your favorite fishing store or a little cheaper on Amazon.  The menus are easy to navigate and it does everything you'll need on your Canadian adventure.

Now if you want to spend more money, the Humminbird Helix 5 or 7 with the side imaging is the way to go.  I wouldn't suggest that unless you're going to be using it back home on your local lakes. Of course, you'd have to set it up for portable use (battery, mount, transducer suction cup or clamp setup).  Side imaging is cool to look at, but you really don't need it on our lakes.  

For mounts, a suction cup mount is the simplest, cheapest and lightest.  If you want something more robust, the Sully universal mount is nice.


What happens to a fish when it swims away with your lure?


Fisherman have always speculated on whether its better to try to dig out a deeply hooked lure or simply cut the line and let it go.  Mike ran across an article that discusses this issue on the CBC.CA website.  

Fortunately, the researchers at Carleton University's Cooke Lab found that fish were able to shake the lures in a relatively short amount of time, even when hooked deep in the mouth:

By and large, most of the lures were shed in a relatively short period of time. Barbless hooks - as one would expect - came out usually within 24 hours. And deeply hooked [lures] also came out relatively quickly, although they were retained for a number of days.

Based on years of observing fish and fisherman at Dogskin (and learning about fish biology), the factors that anglers can affect in the survival of hook caught fish are:

- How long the fish has been out of water
- How hard fish are played
- How much of the protective coating has been rubbed off (for pike in particular)
- How deep the fish was caught and how quickly it was brought to the surface

Knowing that a fish can shed a lure fairly quickly means that the best way to keep a deeply hooked fish alive is to cut the line at the lure and get it back in the water quickly.  If its a trophy, hold it appropriately for your picture (we'll talk about this in the future post), take a measurement while touching the skin as little as possible and get it back in the water.  

Catch and Release at Dogskin Lake Lodge


Hailing from the rural parts of Northern Wisconsin, we grew up fishing.  Whether it was bullheads in the creek down from the house, small mouth and crappies in the local lakes or trailering the boat to Canada for walleye and northern pike, we often could be found by the water.  Like most families, we loved to eat fish.  When you had a family of 5, you could bring home enough fillets from your trips North of the border for some great fish frys back home.  But like most fisherman, those fillets stayed in the freezer for a few months, dried out and never were the same as the fresh shorelunch out on the rocks.  In addition, we found that as time went on, the fishing in the drive-to Canadian lakes that we went to in Ontario didn't produce the same amounts of fish.  We always caught enough to eat, but some years we missed the quantities that we were expecting.

When we bought and started running Dogskin in the 90's, we decided that quality and quantity of fish were both very important parts of the experience of going to Canada.  Taking fish home and letting them get freezer burnt or bringing home one of the trophies to put on the wall didn't seem like the right thing to do - especially with the advent of impressive graphite replicas.  So we were one of the first to voluntarily institute a "Catch and Consume" policy.  It was definitely something that took a few guests by surprise.  Catch and release was supposed to be something that you did to bring a poor lake back from the brink.  Our philosophy was that since it took 15 or more years to get to a Manitoba Master Angler sized fish (28" walleye/ 41" pike), why not let them grow and not allow fish - trophies or eaters - to be taken home.  

Guest that have been going to Dogskin many years before we took it over note that they have seen an improvement in not just quantity of fish, but quality of them as well.  In addition to more Master Anglers, our guests find lots of mid-20" walleye and high 30" pike.  Feedback from our guests makes us feel that our decision long ago to go "Catch and Consume" was the right thing to do.  We feel that Dogskin and our outpost lakes are the healthiest that they've ever been since they became a destination for fishing in the late 50's and early 60's.

One Guide's Journal - Times Like These

As the end of the season fast approaches it feels like just yesterday that I was taking my first steps onto the dock, and unpacking my gear into my pike slime smelling room.  Time truly flies up here and although we do our best to keep you updated with the latest and greatest, there are so many stories, pictures, and memories that we don't get a chance to pass on to all you fellow die-hard Dogskinners. Here's a hand full of good times that will not be soon forgotten!

Straight up, die hard, passionate, polite, and just awesome guy to fish with… Ian is one of those refreshing young anglers who brings hope to the future of the up and coming sportsmanlike fishoholic community.  Also pictured below is an awesome shot of him and his little sister Alyea! 

We like to get them started young here at Dogskin!  The true star of our show, Katie Torgerson, demonstrates her fillet skills during shore lunch at our beautiful Frances Lake location.

Dogskin is most famous for it's walleye and pike populations but it is also home to whitefish, burbot, tulibee, common and red-fin suckers, as well as yellow perch.  On this day, Ethan earned one of his multi-species badges with this respectable bait stealer.

David Rykus is a great fisherman but don't count on him to contribute to the stringer because he only knows how to catch the big ones.  His brother and I watched on as he landed multiple back to back 20 plus inch fish during a morning of nasty weather fishing off of the north flats.  What a guy!

Friend, guide, and pike slayer, Jason, and I enjoyed a night of good company and great fishing as he wrangled this beautiful Bear Lake northern :)

There is no better way to develop or make new friendships than a solid days fishing… Harriss and Ethan might not be blood related but they sure look like brothers as they show off a couple of dandy 20 plus inch walters!

Craig Johnson and I share a similar passion for people and the outdoors, and after 4 years of getting to know one another he feels more like a second dad to me than anything else.  It isn't the biggest walleye in the lake but this picture will always bring a smile to my face…

Shad's father in law Jon Young, Mike, and I, fished out the evening at Johnson's Bar where we were able to get a hold of this laughably massive bodied 26 inch wally!

It isn't everyday that you meet a lady as cool as Nana Sue Belsen.  I have had the privilege of sharing two trips with her family and both were truly unforgettable.  They say a picture is worth a thousand words… 

Here is a picture of Peter Taubenberger in Dogskin heaven.  Happy birthday Pete!!!

Once and awhile mother nature throws us a curve ball and depending on your tolerance for nasty fishing conditions, you might find yourself in fishing jail.  After a few hours in fishing jail the window patterns begin to look like bars as you buzz around the lodge in search of yet another cup of coffee… you may even find yourself perched on a chair, measuring the fish we have mounted around the lodge.  On this particular day, Mike and I jumped the fishing jail fence and hit the lake running in order to bring home enough fish for shore lunch at the prison.  Fortunately, we were able to keep our jobs by bringing back enough fish for the family and even caught these beautiful 24 and 26 inch walleyes pictured below.  I love nasty weather fishing!!!

Your Friend and Guide,

Matt Sobiera

One Guide's Journal - Like Father, Like Son

Father and son trips are always a riot and there's no  better way to maintain focus and boat morale than a good ol' fashioned fish-off! Naturally, having always been out fished by my own dad, I was on team son!  Carefully orchestrated boat control allowed me to position Jig Head Joe directly on the deep drop offs, leaving Mike the Pike to angle shallow, baron areas of the watershed.  

As a result, Joe was able to out fish his dad two out of the three days.  The third day however, Mike took the win by way of some old school Chicago tricks such as spraying bug repellant on Joe's reel and dipping his jigs in gasoline.  

Here's a few pictures you might enjoy from our three day trip together…. :)

Joe demonstrates that no lure is ever really too big by reeling in this 22 inch walleye which had already begun to swallow a significantly sized burbot.

We've all dropped a walleye or two overboard in our day but not everybody gets caught on camera doing it….. THE CHICAGO DEATH GRIP!!!

Like father, like son…. 20 inch doubles!

Jig Head Joe making it look easy with this beautiful July Gator!

Mike sets the hook and a positive example with this juicy 27 inch July Eye!!!

A big thank you to Mike and Joe Strick for including me in their Canadian fishing adventure of a lifetime!  

your friend, and guide,

Matt Sobiera

One Guide's Journal - Family Matters

It isn't everyday that I find myself surrounded by beautiful women, weather, AND walleyes!  I pinched myself several times and finally came to terms with the reality that I might just be one of the luckiest men alive.  It had been a couple years since the Belsen crew and I got to fish together;  i was deeply concerned that I had scared off molly and nana sue after releasing an accidental chain-saw-sounding fart while bending over to pick up a walleye from the bottom of the boat! 

This year, Molly's sister Maggie joined the gang for a few days of good ol' fashioned family fishn' fun.  Here's a pic from Molly, Sue and I's first trip together three years ago!!!

There wasn't a single fish that passed which wasn't greeted with a giant WOOOOHOOOOO! During our three days together, team moral was at an all time high and a boat load full of positive walleye attitudes produced some awesome results.  

Molly and Magz doing their thang!

Magz and Nana :)

On our last day together, mother nature decided us to throw us a curve ball with gail force winds from the the north east.  In turn, we decided to fish a spot we later named "no brainer", which is actually the south-east shoreline right out front of the lodge.  Surprisingly, it produced multiple fish over 24 inches including this beautiful 26.5 incher which miss molly wrangled by way of a chartreuse jig and a minnow.

Three days can feel like the blink of an eye up here, especially when you're surrounded by a family full of awesome people who love nothing more than enjoying each others company.  As much fun as we had catching fish, it really wasn't about that with the Belsen's.  Thank you so much to all you groups who remind me that the most important thing in life will always be friends, and family…. although monster fish are definitely a close third.

One Guide's Journal - Double Birthday Masters!

The 25th of June marked the birthday of one of our long term guests, and legendary fisherman, Pat Doyle.  As many of us can relate to, Pat is a serious fish-o-holic; often found practicing trolling in his bathtub,  and when in the city, he has been spotted jigging down sewer grates for runaway alligators and prehistoric pet goldfish..  

Needless to say, between Pat and his lovely wife Mo, something decent was sure to be revealed.  What I didn't know was that it would happen not only once, but twice!  We arrived at lost island around 9:15am and within 15 minutes, Pat had his first master walleye on the line.  Upon setting the hook, Pat's rod was down!!!  However, I wasn't sure what was on the end of it just yet as Pat was using a fairly light rod but as the fish approached the surface and I saw a barrage of gold dive for the depths, we all knew we were into a big fish.  

Pat patiently allowed for one nice run before once again surfacing the fish and gently guiding it safely into the net.  What more could an avid guy like Pat want for his birthday than a beautiful girthy master wally! Two perhaps?

Fishing died down behind the island so we headed into Francis lake where we maintained a steady pace although fish weren't exactly jumping in the boat.  After fishing a few of my favorite spots, we made a stop at the north face where Pat once again managed to put a monster walleye in the basket. 

Armed solely with a chartreuse 1/4 oz jig with a gold hook, Pat latched into another master angler walleye in 21 feet of water a mere 25 minutes before shore lunch.  It isn't everyday that two master anglers are caught in one boat, let alone two walleyes, by the same person!  The day went by like a puff of smoke and we spent the rest of our time on cloud nine catching fish and sharing laughter and companionship.  I will never forget that day as long as I live…. Happy Birthday Pat :)

One Guide's Journal - Manitoba Sasquatch!

It was 2:15pm on Friday the 13th when Patrick Kelley locked into his pike of a lifetime.  We were trolling a deep diving, fire-tiger, cisco kid muskie bait on the eastern shoreline near square rock in  10 to 15 feet of water when all of a sudden Pat's rod bent in U.  Things got pretty exciting when Mary-Beth and David Kelley's lines both twisted around Pat's but we were fortunately able to keep tension on the fish while unravelling the baits from the main line.  Suddenly, the fish surfaced, flared her massive gills, and torpedoed like freight train across the surface of the water.  After one good run and a near heart attack, Pat managed to once again surface the fish.  I could see that she was just barely hooked and urged Pat to TAKE IT EASY!  Pat did an awesome job of gently bringing the fish within netting distance and once landed, we shared a much deserved BOO-Yeah! The hook popped out in the net and after a measurement and a couple quick pictures, we released her back to the Dogskin depths…. what a day at the office.

One Guide's Journal - More June Fishing

Angling continues to exceed expectations here at dogskin on a surreal level.  With the exception of one day where a 40.5 inch missed the mark, at least one master angler fish has been landed since the opener to our 2014 season.   Right now we are in the transitional period of the year where plenty of fish are being caught in both spring and summer locations around the lake.  Depending on the whereabouts, water temperatures have been ranging between 58 and 68 degrees; allowing fisherman to hone in on warmer bays and shorelines.  As a result, baitfish are being spotted in massive schools and the big fish haven't been far behind.  

My most recent adventures include a trip of a lifetime with Neil Valencia, Tim Gold, and Allan Ketteler.  Amongst numerous high 30 inch class pike, Neil managed to wrangle this beautiful master angler Northern in style below the south rapids. 

Darrel Williams, Dave Wald, and I finished their trip on a high note with another awesome day down river to Hutch lake where Dave landed yet another beauty gator.  

The past few days have been well spent with the awesome folks from the Hansen group.  Countless mid to high 30's pike, and enough 14-24 inch walleyes to feed a small village have been caught casting flies, spoons, crank baits, and dead sticked sardines.      The master angler club welcomes Dwayne with open arms in honor of the massive bodied 28.5 inch walleye by casting a large size solid silver doctor spoon.  I can hardly wait for tomorrows trophy pike hunt.  10 holy walleyes now and 10 hail northerns later, fish Gods, hear my prayer.

Your Friend, and Guide

Matt Sobiera