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Thread: Advice on NW Ontario Trip (and first musky fishing ever)

  1. #1
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    Advice on NW Ontario Trip (and first musky fishing ever)

    Hi Everyone,

    Just moved to Toronto from western Canada and a musky trip is at the top of my list since Iíve never had a chance to fish for them and it looks like a freakiní blast! I will spend six weeks in the northwest corner of Ontario (starting from opener) and really looking forward to the communityís feedback in helping to make this an awesome first musky experience.

    Considering everything that Iíve read in this forum, with regards to the significant amount time required to dial in a decent pattern, Iím thinking two weeks is probably a good amount of time at one lake, so that leaves me with a three-lake trip. Does that make sense, or, should I try to fit four lakes in at ten days each? Or other? Heck, if it were only walleye, Iíd probably do six lakes because I can usually pattern those fairly quickly.

    From my research, it seems that Lac Seul and LOW are a must and Iím thinking that Winnipeg River (Minaki) might be a good choice too? Is there another lake that I should consider instead?

    For Lac Seul, I was thinking of the Goldpines areaÖ is there another end of the lake that I should consider?

    For LOW, what area could you folks suggest? Morson, Sioux Narrows et al. or Kenora or other? I found posts about the water in Whitefish Bay being very clear and therefore best in low light conditions, implying not as good in sunny conditionsÖ however, doesnít casting very long solve that problem?

    Some things to know about me and my setup: Iíve got a 20 foot tiller so big water and long runs are fine by me. Iíll be lodging in my truck camper which means that some places, like Rainy Lake, are not possible as they donít have lodges with RV parks. I ALWAYS prefer size over quantity, hands down! I know there are musky lakes here, but I like to get away from the crowds and enjoy fishing adventures.

    I look forward to any and all shared advice and thank everyone ahead of timeÖ I feel like Iím so late to this game!

    mike

  2. #2
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    Where ever you go, I'd suggest you hire a guide, at least for a day or two, if you can afford it. you can learn a lot by seeing it done correctly and the guide will know the body of water you are interested in.
    Dave F

  3. #3
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    I think you can figure out the pattern within a week. I would recommend picking 3 lakes and spending 3 weeks and determining which of those you like the best and then return and fish one or two of those lakes to fish again, along with another. LOW and the Winnipeg River near Minaki are going to fish similarly. Lac Seul is a different animal. Why not try Eagle and Cedar as they are close.

    However, although I love NW Ontario, if you live near Toronto you have some great musky water in your back yard, that's just as good if not better than any of the above-mentioned waters. I would spend 3 weeks in NW Ontario and then spend 3 weeks fishing Nipissing, St. Clair, Ottawa and St. Lawrence.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Steve Heiting's Avatar
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    Some good advice here. With regard to LOTW, understand it is a giant water with varying water depths, water temperatures, clarities and musky populations (usually density, but sometimes size).

    An area like Sabaskong Bay or the Northwest Angle typically turns on before the bigger water areas of Sioux Narrows and Kenora, and the ultra-clear region of Whitefish Bay. If you plan your trip around peak times (e.g. going to Morson for the June opener rather than Kenora, but saving the latter for late July or August) you'll enjoy much better fishing.

    A note about guides ... there are some outstanding musky guides in Canada. But some guides are better on walleyes than muskies, and while they may catch muskies through the year they may not be dialed into what's going on when you're there. (I once had a guide take me on a tour of dead weedbeds in early September ... you can imagine how we did.) Do some research before you book your guides and you'll be much better off.
    Steve Heiting

    www.steveheiting.com

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Saric View Post
    I think you can figure out the pattern within a week. I would recommend picking 3 lakes and spending 3 weeks and determining which of those you like the best and then return and fish one or two of those lakes to fish again, along with another. LOW and the Winnipeg River near Minaki are going to fish similarly. Lac Seul is a different animal. Why not try Eagle and Cedar as they are close.
    Thanks Jim, I was really hoping youíd respond, so thank you very much for doing so.

    Great advice on the strategy, I had not thought of approaching it the way you suggested and love the idea.

    I was considering Eagle, but from what I saw in the forums, it appears to be very tough sometimes so was worried maybe I was getting in over my head. Since, as you pointed out, Winnipeg River at Minaki will fish like LOW, I think I will replace it with Eagle/Cedar.


    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Saric View Post
    ...although I love NW Ontario, if you live near Toronto you have some great musky water in your back yard, that's just as good if not better than any of the above-mentioned waters. I would spend 3 weeks in NW Ontario and then spend 3 weeks fishing Nipissing, St. Clair, Ottawa and St. Lawrence.
    Itís funny that you mention Nipissing-WestArm/St.Clair/Ottawa as Iíve already planned a month-long trip to those areas for after labor day weekend (I will add St Lawrence to it as well now).



    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Heiting View Post
    With regard to LOTW, understand it is a giant water with varying water depths, water temperatures, clarities and musky populations (usually density, but sometimes size). An area like Sabaskong Bay or the Northwest Angle typically turns on before the bigger water areas of Sioux Narrows and Kenora, and the ultra-clear region of Whitefish Bay. If you plan your trip around peak times (e.g. going to Morson for the June opener rather than Kenora, but saving the latter for late July or August) you'll enjoy much better fishing.
    I was hoping you'd respond too Steve!

    Thatís precisely the kind of direction I was looking for in choosing where to fish LOW when Iíll be there (early season). I was in contact with Mileyís last week and will probably end up staying there, unless someone has a different suggestion.

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Heiting View Post
    A note about guides ... there are some outstanding musky guides in Canada. But some guides are better on walleyes than muskies, and while they may catch muskies through the year they may not be dialed into what's going on when you're there. (I once had a guide take me on a tour of dead weedbeds in early September ... you can imagine how we did.) Do some research before you book your guides and you'll be much better off.
    Understood!


    Quote Originally Posted by Dave F View Post
    Where ever you go, I'd suggest you hire a guide, at least for a day or two, if you can afford it. you can learn a lot by seeing it done correctly and the guide will know the body of water you are interested in.
    I definitely agree and will surely hire a guide (but canít afford to do so at each lake).

  6. #6
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    Mike, just a warning... It is an expensive disease you are about to get involved with.

    Here's my suggestions:

    1.) Sabaskong Bay, Lake of the Woods - even though LOW is huge, the Sabaskong Bay area really fishes much more like smaller water - lots of channels and large islands. You can fish OK in wind. Numbers & size both. Spots that look fishy usually are.

    2.) Eagle Lake - A chance for something huge! Get down to the Osbourne Bay section if possible. A lot less pressure down there. If you want to rough it with your camper, you can set up at one of the boat ramps on the Osbourne side. No services though, but free! Walleye fishing on Eagle is a little different, so it make take a bit to pick up a pattern if you wanted to fish walleyes.

    3.) Cliff Lake - Given you have your own camper, check out Cliff Lake RV Camp. Cliff is a beautiful lake that has good musky fishing, however it is a clear lake & can be tough on sunny days. The great thing about Cliff is that it is right across the street from another great musky lake (Cedar) and is a 40 minute drive from Eagle and less than a half hour from Lac Seul. Now the west end of Lac Seul is not known for its musky fishing, but it is world-renowned for its walleye fishing. So from Cliff you can really do a smorgasbord if you have your own rig. The area known for muskies on Lac Seul is on the eastern end & there aren't really any RV park resorts that would make that area easily accessible.

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    Quote Originally Posted by skindzier View Post
    Mike, just a warning... It is an expensive disease you are about to get involved with.
    No doubt, I’ve been building up a quiver of tackle, rods, reels, etc. and was shocked at how quickly those costs tally up!... and I’ve got just enough to get by ��

    Quote Originally Posted by skindzier View Post
    1.) Sabaskong Bay, Lake of the Woods - even though LOW is huge, the Sabaskong Bay area really fishes much more like smaller water - lots of channels and large islands. You can fish OK in wind. Numbers & size both. Spots that look fishy usually are.
    It appeared to be a decent wind-wise, glad that you are confirming so. That’s why I had Miley’s and Red Wing on my list (protected from west/south-west wind).

    Quote Originally Posted by skindzier View Post
    2.) Eagle Lake - A chance for something huge! Get down to the Osbourne Bay section if possible. A lot less pressure down there. If you want to rough it with your camper, you can set up at one of the boat ramps on the Osbourne side. No services though, but free! Walleye fishing on Eagle is a little different, so it make take a bit to pick up a pattern if you wanted to fish walleyes.
    I would love to camp right at the launch but assumed it was against some regulation – have you seen others doing it? And, are you referring to the launch at Bear Narrows, on east side of bridge?

    Quote Originally Posted by skindzier View Post
    3.) Cliff Lake - Given you have your own camper, check out Cliff Lake RV Camp. Cliff is a beautiful lake that has good musky fishing, however it is a clear lake & can be tough on sunny days. The great thing about Cliff is that it is right across the street from another great musky lake (Cedar) and is a 40 minute drive from Eagle and less than a half hour from Lac Seul. Now the west end of Lac Seul is not known for its musky fishing, but it is world-renowned for its walleye fishing. So from Cliff you can really do a smorgasbord if you have your own rig. The area known for muskies on Lac Seul is on the eastern end & there aren't really any RV park resorts that would make that area easily accessible.
    I didn’t realize that Lac Seul musky were mostly on the eastern end… Is there potentially a launch in the area where I might rough it (like your Osborne Bay suggestion)?

    Staying at Cliff Lake as a base camp is a great idea and I will give that some strong consideration.

    Thank you for the help skindzier.

  8. #8
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    Regarding Osbourne Bay, I believe I've seen folks camping at both the Rice Bay & North Bay ramps. As far as I know, it is legal for Canadian residents (I'm not one). I would definitely have a backup plan though - there's not a lot of space at either one. Probably worth double-checking regs to make sure...

    A note on both of those ramps: They are both pretty rustic and can be a bit uneven. Dropping it in shouldn't be a problem, though 4WD would certainly help. Getting it out lined up on the trailer can sometimes be a chore though.

    Regarding the east end of Lac Seul, I've never fished muskies hard there (and haven't ever caught one in that area). I've launched out of Deception Bay. Most folks that fish muskies there fish out of one of the boat in lodges that are an hour+ boat ride from that launch. I haven't heard of anything like the Eagle situation per se, though there's supposedly some logging roads up that way that could produce something. Lac Seul's reputation is for giants, but not numbers.
    Last edited by skindzier; 12-05-2017 at 08:50 AM.

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