By: Tim Sturgeon
I have seen moose, eagles, beavers and been serenaded by loons. The drive-to lodge experience is something that stays with you the rest of your life. I have stories I come back with from each trip that I long to share, like the time a rutting bull moose was called to the edge of a shallow pond by a buddy in a small 10ft tin boat, I am still not sure what he or the moose was thinking. Or being spied on all afternoon by an inquisitive eagle and then watching it take a recently released pike out of the water for his dinner.
I have done trips with friends, my family, and business associates, I seem to have run the gamut! I have been fortunate enough to be going to North-Eastern Ontario drive-to lodges for the last 13 years. I have done outpost lakes as well as the more civilized drive-to-the-door cabins. Both have been great! While my trips were mostly in late summer and early fall, the colors of the trees always added to the majestic views while being in the rolling hills of the Canadian Shield.
When thinking about doing a trip like this, cost and time play a major roll in choosing locations. For several years, I went to the Chapleau region of Ontario and fished several lakes, catching some huge fish and enjoying some truly inspirational scenery. In my experience the drive-to boat-in camps, where you have the only cabin on that lake is the ultimate wilderness escape. Eating breakfast, watching critters big and small walk along the shoreline in front of the cabin or swim across the lake, just can’t be beat.
The Chapleau area was a 10-hour drive, while the other drive-to-the-door camps I have been to are just north of Sudbury, about a 6 1/2-hour drive. So, travel to these locales is not onerous from southern Ontario jump-off points. The drive was half the fun of the trip seeing fox, lynx, and other critters loping along the edge of the warm pavement as you go along the small 2 lane highways.
Many of the drive-to boat-in outpost camps were quite inexpensive when you factor in that the boats, motors and gas were all included. Heat was provided by a trusty wood stove and cooking and refrigeration was done by propane. The whole trip gets started with a guide taking you in and getting you set up for your week.
The drive to the door locale can be even more cost efficient, again its all what you are looking for. The drive to the door experience gives you the opportunity to be in a remote place but with other folks near by and to have amenities that the outpost doesn’t give you, such as hot and cold running water, showers, and TV. Who doesn’t mind watching a good hockey game after a great day on the water! For an outpost where you are the only cabin on a 5-mile-long lake and with opportunities to fish other lakes near by the cost was around $825 per person for a seven-day week, this included food, the travel expense, and the camp. The drive to the door camps that I have been to, were a little less expensive, averaging about $650/week/person. The drive to camp’s I go to also give you the chance to fish a large main lake and have boats on a number of surrounding bodies of water that are easily accessed with great angling opportunities.
I have fished for Pike, Walleye, Bass, and more at these camps and never been disappointed. Pick your place and your style or try both. Each has its place, depending on your tastes but I can tell you after 17 trips over 13 years, it is something I look forward to each year and enjoy immensely. I am hoping for many more years of enjoying these great spots. If you have any questions, please reach out to me.