January 23, 2017
By Cory Schmidt
Flying over the seemingly peaceful, visually spectacular expanse that is the Laurentian Shield, it's nearly impossible to imagine the turmoil, chaos and geologic collisions that once shaped this natural miracle. This precipitous region is the single largest mass of exposed Precambrian rock on the face of the Earth and it stretches all across the southern two-thirds of Ontario. Betwixt and between great glacial outcrops, hundreds of the province's lakes conceal the purported fish of ten thousand casts.
It's a moniker that might fit somewhere else. But here in Canada's muskie-rich region, the next bite can happen pretty much any time at all. This includes while your attention is momentarily diverted toward that black bear swimming from island to island, or directed at the family of otters paddling across the peninsula. Even though you might not talk about it in manly circles, neither do you particularly mind that most of these great muskie waters reside within one of the wildest, most majestic locations on the globe.
Of course, scenery's one thing. Catching a giant muskellunge is the real reason we're here. So, go ahead and pen that bucket list, your own personal wish list of muskie havens to hit before, well, you know. Realize, however, that whether or not it's intentional, Ontario lakes and rivers won't merely be part of your list, they're likely to dominate your bucket list.
Step one toward the ultimate muskie adventure? Fire up Ontario's interactive Plan a Trip app—an awesome resource for finding five-star fishing-centric destinations on world-class 'lunge water. From there, check out the lineup of water bodies below. Desktop users can go here. https://www.ontariotravel.net/en/plan/trip-planner
(1) Lake of the Woods —In the grand scheme of things, it wasn't so many moons ago that Dick Pearson and Doug Johnson set out to explore what was then totally unexplored muskie territory. Decades later, the two legends still haven't discovered all the big lake's endless supply of muskie spots.
Despite its popularity today, on Ontario's side of Lake of the Woods, it's not only possible to collide with a big muskie around any island, reef or rock outcrop, it's equally conceivable you'll do so without another boat in sight.
Lodging —Situated in prime Lake of Woods muskie water, Wiley Point Lodge remains a favorite among many of the world's best anglers —800/66-TOTEM. Another fine operation, Blackhawk Island resort— operated by Bill and Cindy Sandy— caters to muskie hunters.
Guides —Bill Sandy, firstname.lastname@example.org; Darcy Cox, muskyguide.ca, 807/464-1212
(2) St. Lawrence River — Plenty of great anglers believe the next world record will bite in the famed St. Lawrence Seaway. Draining Lake Ontario and flowing 700 miles to the Atlantic Ocean, the "Larry" has probably produced more fish over 57-inches than any waterbody on earth, including a true 60-inch, 60-plus pounder boated by Captain Rich Clarke in November 2011. Fall trolling with Believers and other big plugs remains the efficiency move on this immense, occasionally intimidating waterway.
Lodging — For world record seekers wanting modern comforts and old world charm, the Frontenac Club Inn (Kingston, ONT) offers an upscale bed and breakfast experience —613/547-6167. Or, situated on Lake Ontario's Confederation Harbor, the Delta Kingston Waterfront Hotel has a great on-site restaurant and an indoor pool — 613/549-8100.
Guides —Captain Rich Clarke, 1000islandsfishing.com, 888/686-3041
(3) Lake St. Clair / Detroit River — Harboring one of the most impressive populations of big muskies in the world, this fertile system is known for coughing up a dozen or more fish in a single day. Moreover, nearby big city amenities make the trip a convenient and largely affordable proposition.
Lodging —The historic Iron Kettle Bed and Breakfast is one of the more interesting lodgings in the region, just a block from the big lake. The Holiday Inn in downtown Windsor is economical and centrally located.
Guides — Captain Jon Bondy (Ontario), Spencer Berman (Michigan)
(4) Lake Nippissing —The third largest lake in Ontario, this sprawling (215,000-acre) shallow fishery is a sleeper, even though it lies between Georgian Bay and the Ottawa River—two world-class muskie fisheries in their own right. Ontario muskie angler Gord Pyzer says the lake's western French River arm is particularly productive, with truly gargantuan fish available. Expect to hear more about Nipissing's muskies in the near future.
Lodging — Pyzer calls ChaundiÃ¨re Lodge a five-star resort that "offers muskie fishing in velvet!" Situated on the Upper French River, this wonderful lodge provides a variety of accommodations, fishing packages and some of the best dining in the entire province.
Guides —Dan Colomby, nipissingmuskies.com, 705/752-2600.
(5) Eagle Lake — Despite plenty of fishing pressure and publicity, Eagle Lake continues to kick out loads of big muskies. The past several seasons, in fact, Eagle's been epic, with one of the best fall trolling bites in all of Canada. Too, biologists say Eagle Lake's muskies are some of the fastest growing specimens in Ontario. Fantastic fishing for walleyes, pike, and lake trout mean something's always biting, even when the 'skies get touchy.
Lodging —Eagle Lake Island Lodge is a fishing-centric resort, centrally located on an 8-acre private island. A new main lodge offers great food as well as a brewpub, and on-staff guides are friendly, knowledgeable and happy to teach you how to catch Eagle Lake muskies. Andy Myers Lodge is another fantastic place, steeped in muskie fishing tradition.
Guides — Cal Ritchie's Eagle Lake Guide Service, 807/529-4577; Darcy Cox, muskyguide.ca, 807/464-1212
(6) Kishkutena Lake —Accessed by floatplane or portage, Lake "Kish" is but a 20-minute flight from Nestor Falls. The tea-stained lake produces exceptional numbers, with the perpetual opportunity to boat ten or more muskies per day, though most of the fish run less than 40-inches. Great fishing for smallmouths, crappies and lake trout offer outstanding action in your spare time.
Lodging — Grab a flight by Manitou Outfitters in Nestor Falls into Young's Remote Wilderness Camp or Angler's Retreat, each offering a single cabin for six people or more.
(7) Indian Lake Chain —Comprised of nine interconnected lakes—all easily accessible by boat— the Indian Chain remains one of Ontario's most intriguing water bodies. Thirty miles of water hold an ample muskie population, as well as walleyes, smallmouths and lake trout. The Indian Chain's a terrific, fertile fishery where multiple muskie days are a perennial possibility, with the fish averaging 35- to 45-inches.
Lodging —A short drive from Vermillion Bay, Clarks Indian Chain Camp is a topnotch family facility, featuring 10 modern cabins. Clarks also provides unlimited free minnows and is a rare pet-friendly facility.
(8) Lac Seul — Always a top destination for a giant, the legendary Lac Seul gained its reputation for monster muskies in the late 1980s and early 90s, when several record-class fish were caught. A total catch-and-release muskie fishery, Lac Seul remains one of the best multi-species fishing lakes in all of Ontario, with enormous pike and muskies as well as trophy walleyes.
Lodging —Among a host of fine resorts, Lac Seul Outpost has long been a popular destination for muskie hunters. Luxury cabins with cooking amenities are available, as well as limited WiFi at the main lodge.
(9) Georgian Bay — A prodigious 65-pound world record fish was caught by Ken O'Brien in Blackstone Harbour of the Moon River Basin in 1988—just one of thousands of monster muskie spots on the 3,700,000-acre Georgian Bay. Guide Johnny Dadson calls fishing the bay "the ultimate challenge in muskie fishing," but adds that with three 60-pound class muskies to its credit, you can't discount its potential.
Lodging —Severn Lodge on the eastern edge of Georgian Bay offers topflight family accommodations plus fine dining. Sheltered and secluded, Sand Bay Resort is another family friendly option near the famous Moon River region.
Guides — Johnny Dadson —Dadson Blade Baits, Graham Bristow's Musky Charters.
(10) Wabigoon — Another prodigious trophy muskie lake, Wabigoon has a long history of producing monsters. Offering diverse lake sections— dark versus clear water, near industrialized Dryden or out away from it all — the 'Goon doesn't always fish easy. But the potential for a life-altering fish keeps its fans ever engrossed.
Lodging — The preeminent resort on Lake Wabigoon, Davis' Bonny Bay Camp consistently hosts the most diehard muskie groups, offering ample family activities as well as fish-catching gear and advice. A & K's Wabigoon Lake Cabins is an alternative for the DIY traveler.
(11) Winnipeg River —Centered on Minaki, the Winnipeg River system flows through numerous fantastic muskie lakes, including Gun, Lost and Little Sand. The river and region are also renowned for its fine walleye fishing.
Lodging — Each year, Paradise Cove Resort fills up fast, providing clean comfortable cabins, complete with fully furnished kitchens. Owner Duane Hell is a friendly, helpful host and a terrific guide. Bayview Lodge is a fine place, equally comfortable and convenient.
Other Great Ontario Muskie Destinations
Kawartha Lakes Region — Pigeon Lake Resort
Cedar Lake — Cedar Lake Lodge
Canyon Lake — McIntosh Lodge
Dinorwick Lake — Merkels Camp
Lake Nosbonsing — Cozy Camp Cottages
Ottawa River — Portage Place Bed & Breakfast, Ottawa River Musky Factory
Rowan Lake — Alexander's On Rowan
Caviar Lake— Jim's Caviar Camp