Destinations North

Ontario

Ontario is a natural draw for U.S. anglers, especially those from the Midwest. Opportunities are plentiful: A fisherman can choose from among big-ticket lodges, multi-plan lodges or wilderness adventure trips. One of my favorite operations is Evergreen Lodge on Eagle Lake, northeast of Lake of the Woods. Owners Pat and Mal Tygesson offer a variety of plans with or without meals. Boats also are available there. Summer is prime time for muskies, and Eagle Lake offers some of the best fishing for them on standard lures. Late summer into early fall, you'll find fat northern pike moving shallow and smallmouth bass sliding toward wintering reefs. If I just wanted to glut out on walleyes, Eagle Lake would be my pick. Any method seems to work, from jigging to trolling in the evening over reefs. The walleye population is terrific, mainly because of a slot limit and a conservation (catch-and-release) license option that still allows an angler to take home a few fish. If you can't go this year, try next spring, when the walleyes move back into the shallows. The lodge opens in mid-May. Get there the first of June and you'll find smallies in the bays and walleyes in the weeds. If you're in the mood for a true wilderness experience with a dash of adventure tossed in, book a run on the Winisk River. The river flows about 180 miles north before dumping into Hudson Bay and you cover about 50 miles one-way from the Ojibway settlement of Webequie. A normal trip involves staying at rustic riverside camps. The fishing is mixed bag: walleyes, pike and big brook trout. Or you can stick to flyfishing tackle and elect to concentrate just on brookies, as I did. If you go strictly for trout, Bearskin Airlines (800-465-2327) gets you to Webequie, where you meet Ojibway guides who transport you by big freighter canoe to Goose Camp (about four to five hours down the river). This is a long, hard run for the guides and you're expected to help with chores, including cooking. You'll stay a couple of nights at Goose, fishing by day, then run to Tashka camp, a premier trout spot at Baskineig Falls, for two more days of fishing. You can tack on extra days if you wish. I flyfished using a 150-grain shooting head for the swift edge water, but switched to a sinking tip and floating line for more traditional water. Contact: Evergreen Lodge, April 15 through December 1, 807-755-2434; December 2 through April 1, 708-352-3907; evrgrnlg@dryden.net; Winisk River, Elijah Jacob, 807-353-6531; Mocassin Trails, 800-347-4421.