8 Top-Rated Fishing Lodges in Ontario

Oct 28, 2015

The fishing in Ontario is some of the best fishing in Canada. The lakes and streams are known for walleye, bass, northern pike (known locally in some areas as jackfish), muskellunge (muskie), lake trout, and crappie. In the great lakes, salmon and whitefish are also popular with anglers. The remote lakes, particularly in the north and northwest of the province, some accessible only by air, offer the kind of fishing that many people only dream about. Fishing resorts and lodges, with guides and sometimes luxury accommodation, make the whole experience that much more comfortable and enjoyable.

Resorts range from rustic fly-in-only fishing lodges and outposts to five-star luxury accommodations accessed by car. Fly-in resorts, serviced by float planes, offer the best fishing but can be more costly than road-access places. Drive-to fishing resorts provide the convenience of access, without the cost of flights, but fishing is often not at the same level as the remote lakes. However, this is not always the case. Fishing can vary by season, by day, and even by weather conditions. Finding the right resort will depend on individual taste.

1 Totem Resorts: Totem Lodge and Yellowbird Lodge and Chalet at Sioux Narrows

Totem Resorts: Totem Lodge and Yellowbird Lodge and Chalet at Sioux Narrows
Totem Resorts: Totem Lodge and Yellowbird Lodge and Chalet at Sioux Narrows | Photo Copyright: Totem Resorts

For the ultimate in luxury, you can't beat Totem Resorts on Lake of the Woods in Northwestern Ontario. The resort has the distinction of receiving a 5-star rating for 15 consecutive years. Totem Resorts actually operates three main resorts, two of which, Yellowbird Lodge and Chalet and Totem Lodge, are drive-to properties. These are large resorts, capable of accommodating hundreds of guests between the two of them. However, the cabins are well spaced, all are waterfront, and there is plenty of dining space as well as endless outdoor decks for privacy or socializing.

The main resort, Totem Lodge is set on immaculate grounds with modern cabins with all the amenities you could desire. Right next door and within walking distance is Yellowbird Lodge, slightly smaller, but equally impressive. Jacuzzi tubs, marble bathrooms, stone fireplaces, modern appliances, large screen TVs, and immense picture windows offering stunning views are what you can expect at both lodges. Totem Lodge has a beautiful beach and a swimming platform, perfect for those who are less interested in fishing and more interested in working on their tan.

The resort offers a variety of packages, from private housekeeping cabins to American plans with all meals included. Other packages include access to their top-end fishing boats, along with guiding services and shore lunches. The multiple dining rooms have a traditional Canadian wilderness lodge theme, with wood furniture and cottage style décor, and all have endless windows for fine views out over the lake. Unlike many fishing lodges that appeal solely to a fishing clientele, this resort attracts everyone from wedding parties to family vacations, with nearby golfing in the area, and the whole expanse of Lake of the Woods to explore.

Fishing in the area primarily includes walleye, bass, crappie, northern pike, muskie, and lake trout. Lake of the Woods is huge, and having a guide is definitely beneficial, especially for newcomers to the area. Totem Resorts also operates Wiley Point Lodge, a boat-in lodge in a more remote area of the lake, as well as island based housekeeping cabins for those who want to get away from it all. This is a family-run operation that has been in business since 1935.

Official site: http://totemresorts.com/

2 Campbell's Cabins on Lac La Croix

Campbell's Cabins on Lac La Croix
Campbell's Cabins on Lac La Croix | Photo Copyright: Lana Law

On the doorstep of Quetico Provincial Park, in the boundary waters of the Canadian-Minnesota border in Northwestern Ontario, Campbell's Cabins is a fly-in fishing resort that can be reached by float plane from either Minnesota or Canada. This resort offers the complete package, with modern, comfortable cabins designed to accommodate large or small groups, a dining room, store, boats, guides, and everything you need for your fishing trip, all in a remote setting with good fishing. The cabins and boatel (a waterfront motel-style lodge) are spread around the camp, and almost all are waterfront. Two cabins are on islands; one just a short distance directly across from the resort docks and another set off on its own in a lovely private area, one mile east of the camp.

Most people come here to fish for walleye, northern pike, lake trout, smallmouth bass, and crappies. Guests can, and usually do, hire guides from the resort to take them out fishing to find the hot spots and provide a full shore lunch of fresh cooked fish.

The resort property, on beautiful Lac La Croix, has a remote and quiet feel, set in towering pines with some particularly huge red pines. Walking paths link all of the mainland cabins to the store and dining area. The lake itself has all kinds of beautiful islands and old-growth forest. Most of the cabins have a very woodsy décor, with wood interiors, pine furnishings, and decks.

Fly-in guests can access the camp through Crane Lake, Minnesota or Fort Frances, Ontario. The camp can provide guidance on how best to reach these destinations. Since Campbell's Cabins is in one of the most popular canoe tripping areas in Ontario and Minnesota, they also provide services for canoeists, including flights for fly-in paddle-out canoeing, and accommodation.

3 Chaudiere Lodge on the French River

Sunrise on the French River
Sunrise on the French River | Photo Copyright: Lana Law

Chaudiere Lodge is a small resort set in the beautiful surroundings of the French River, an area known for exposed granite shorelines, clear waters, towering pines, and abundant wildlife. This is a boat-in resort within easy reach of Toronto. The drive to the marina is about 3.5 hours from Toronto, and the lodge will send a boat to the marina to pick up guests. For an authentic experience, guests are provided with their own historic cedar-stripped boat, with an outboard engine, but also have the option to upgrade to another style.

Set on 17 rugged acres, the Chaudiere Lodge offers accommodation in comfortable Canadian-style cabins. The operation was first opened in 1905, and a historic main lodge contains mounts of trophy fish, comfy chairs, and a full-service dining room serving up hearty and tasty fare. While the resort's claim to fame is muskie fishing, guests can also catch walleye, bass, and northern pike, among others.

4 Anderson's Lodge in Sioux Lookout

Walleye, Anderson's Lodge
Walleye, Anderson's Lodge

Anderson's Lodge lies in the heart of Ontario's great fishing lakes. Lac Seul and the surrounding area are known for fantastic fishing, and this lodge provides full-service fishing options that cover the area, with a main lodge as well as fly-in outposts spread around Lac Seul and on Tully Lake. Walleye, bass, northern pike, muskie, and lake trout are all fished in this area. The lodge offers a variety of packages for varying lengths of time that include boat rentals, full guiding service with shore lunches, housekeeping cabins, or full meal plans.

The cabins come in a variety of sizes to host large or small groups. All of these have pine interiors with vaulted ceilings, four-piece bathrooms, and tasteful decor. Kitchens offer the option of making your own meals, but many people opt for the meal packages and eat in the dining room. Anderson's Lodge is accessible by car and is located near Sioux Lookout in Northwestern Ontario.

5 Garden Island Lodge on Lady Evelyn Lake

Early morning fishing, Temagami
Early morning fishing, Temagami | Photo Copyright: Lana Law

Lady Evelyn Lake is a pristine lake in the Temagami area of Ontario, known particularly for monster-size walleye. One of the best ways to experience fishing on this lake, and to find the fish, is to stay at Garden Island Lodge. This resort is accessible by boat or float plane and lies about 25 miles from the put-in at Mowat Landing. The resort will pick up guests from the marina and rents out Lund Rebel 1650s all outfitted with the latest gear including fish finders, comfortable seats, live wells, and 25 or 30 hp motors. The lodge provides maps with the hot fishing locations highlighted. Accommodation is in cabins, some made from logs that typify the quintessential Canadian wilderness experience. The lodge has a swimming raft anchored out front for a little fun. Other excursions can include a hike to the top of Maple Mountain, the second highest peak in Ontario, or to one of the many beaches around the lake.

The clear waters backed by white-pine-covered hills and lovely little islands provide the scenic backdrop as you reel in the aforementioned walleye, as well as northern pikes and smallmouth bass. Lady Evelyn Lake is big (31.5 miles long and 15.5 miles across at its widest point) and winds out of the southwest can be a challenge at times.

6 Crane's Lochaven Wilderness Lodge on the French River

Crane's Lochaven Wilderness Lodge on the French River
Crane's Lochaven Wilderness Lodge on the French River | Photo Copyright: Lana Law

On an island in the French River, just a 3.5-hour drive north of Toronto and six-mile boat ride along the river, Crane's Lochaven Lodge is a boat-in fishing resort. This is a very scenic area, and the waterfront cabins take full advantage of the views with their windows and decks. The wood interiors are cute, simple, and outfitted with comfortable furniture and everything you need. The lodge offers a variety of packages with varying lengths of stay. Guests can purchase packages that include a boat and guide, complete with shore lunch, as well as full meal plans and everything else you might want on your fishing trip. Some of the fish found in this area are walleye, smallmouth bass, northern pike, and muskie.

7 Cat Island Lodge in Ear Falls

Smallmouth bass

Cat Island Lodge is a fly-in fishing lodge with cute but basic woodsy-style cabins and a traditional open-beam-style dining room. The resort has nine cabins, and packages include round-trip flights in float planes from Red Lake or Ear Falls, cabins with maid service, meals, boat, motor, gas, bait, and fishing license. Fishing guides are optional. Guests simply need to show up and bring a fishing rod.

Cat Island Lodge lies in a remote area of Northwestern Ontario, in the boreal forest. Fishing in this area is quite good, with most guests fishing for walleye, smallmouth bass, northern pike, or lake trout.

8 Lac Seul Floating Lodges

Hundreds and hundreds of miles of shoreline on a flooded lake provide an ideal environment for fish. Anglers come to this lake primarily for walleye, which are not only abundant, but large. Lac Seul, north of Dryden, stretches out over an immense area, and one of the best ways to get out to the fish is to rent a houseboat. This concept was first pioneered by Lac Seul Floating Lodges. They offer eleven "floating lodges" that provide everything you could possibly need. Fully outfitted boats come with kitchens, bathrooms, barbecues, and generators for power, making them almost a complete house on the water. Screened-in sunrooms allow you to watch the sunsets and avoid the bugs. All rentals come with their own fishing boat, a 4.8-meter Alumarine with high back seats. Note that the boats do not come with motors, but you can rent a 20 hp engine or bring your own up to 35 hp. The Lac Seul area is quite spectacular, with pine-studded shorelines, countless islands, and because it's so remote, abundant wildlife. You'll need to bring all your food and supplies. While this is not a traditional fishing lodge experience, it is definitely a unique experience and can be a great option for families or groups.

Licenses, Boating, and Other Tips

  • Fishing licenses can be purchased online in advance of your trip through the Ministry of Natural Resources at www.ontario.ca/page/fishing.
  • Lakes in Ontario have slot limits, which restrict the size of fish that can be kept for consumption. This varies from lake to lake and by species. For information on fish and fishing regulations see the latest version of the Ontario Fishing Regulations Summary. These books are also available in outdoor stores in Ontario or online at www.ontario.ca/document/2015-ontario-fishing-regulations-summary .
  • Anyone operating a boat licensed in Canada needs a Pleasure Craft Operator Card. Online boating courses are available for those unfamiliar with the boating rules and regulations. To receive a Pleasure Craft Operator Card, you must first take an examination, which can be completed online at www.boatinglicense.ca

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