This Fish’n Canada episode will guide you on where to look and what to expect when seeking a drive-to fishing destination in Ontario. From roughing it in a rustic outpost cabin while making your own fresh fish meals, to luxurious accommodations with full-time pampering, Ontario has the perfect easy-to-access fishing oasis for every angler!
We’ve all heard the expression “getting there is half the fun” well nowhere is that more appropriate than a drive-to fishing trip. If planned properly traveling to and from one of the many wonderful northern fishing lodges can be an adventure on its own.
Now unfortunately or fortunately depending on how you look at it, this global pandemic we find ourselves in just might be the perfect reason to finally pull the trigger on that fishing staycation you’ve been talking about for years.
With restricted travel in effect in some areas drive-to fishing packages are becoming a great alternative to the annual vacation down south. The truth of the matter is there’s never been a more affordable and more logical time to do it.
It’s a commonly known fact that Tourism and Tourism related businesses have been severely impacted since the global pandemic first reared its ugly head in 2019. Airlines, hotels, curse ships, car rentals, and restaurants are the more obvious ones but in Ontario as well as the rest of the country our resource-based tourism, in particular fishing lodges, are in dire straits due to covid 19. We put together this episode because these lodges can really use our help right now.
In this article, we are going to recommend to you and of course to relive some of the more interesting drive-to trips we’ve made over the past few years and see if we can’t get the juices flowing and help you decide to take the plunge. Now, remember these are all going to be drive to’s.
When you think about it, it’s amazing how lucky we are to be living in a country where you can travel from urban to rural in a matter of hours if not minutes. From Vancouver to St. Johns regardless of which of Canada’s major urban centers you live in or near a fishing trip to the outback is always close by.
“Now let me just throw in a little disclaimer here,” Says Ang “you see when it comes to distance and time it’s all relative to what your used to. You see for Pete and I distance, and time is irrelevant if we think there’s a pot of fishing gold at the end of the rainbow. One time I pulled a boat from Oshawa Ontario to Port Alberni BC, with my entire family, in the dead of winter, that’s 4,800 kilometers one way. I dare you to try and top that!”
Now fortunately for us, the bulk of our trips take place at “drive-to” locations. Places with road access and because we’re in our “work” or “Fish’n Canada” bubble we can still go fishing together, as long as we abide by provincial protocol, (which we do), we’re good to go. And the same goes for you.
Even if we fly to a different city, many of our ultimate destinations can still be reached by vehicle. And that includes fishing resorts and lodges.
Most Canadians have this perception that fishing lodges are only affordable by the rich and famous. Indeed, some of them can get expensive, but for those trips, you’re paying for the full-time pampering, this level of bling you’d expect to pay “the big bucks” for, but it has very little to do with the actual fishing experience.
Drive-to an Ontario fishing lodge vacation for example is much more affordable than you may think when you consider that you’re eliminating that expensive airfare. By omitting a floatplane, helicopter, or even a jet (yes there are lodges that bring in guests by the jet load), your travel costs simply add up to fuel, food, and “maybe” overnight in a roadside motel.
Depending on where you reside, a trip to a drive-to fishing lodge can be done in as little as an hour or two, and all the way up to 20 plus hours. But no matter how long the trip, it’s all about planning.
As an example, if you are traveling from south-west Ontario, all the way to the Northwest of the province, you better plan it properly because you could be sitting in your vehicle for up to 24 hours.
Something we do on this exact trip plans an overnight point somewhere between Sault Ste Marie and White River. DON’T BE A HERO, when you’re tired, take a rest!
And if you think you can cut some time by sneaking through the USA… uh-uh, not during a pandemic!
There are fishing lodges throughout the world. Yes, believe it or not, you can travel down to Mexico, and stay in a full-blown fishing facility. It does sound odd, but that is only because we as Canadians, feel that it is the far frontiers of our north country that warrant these specialty fishing experiences.
Of course, we are here today to dispel that myth. There are lots of affordable fishing lodges throughout all of Canada.
A common question that comes to the minds of those looking into their first fishing lodge trip is, what to expect?
This is where the fun begins.
If you are on a budget, the drive to fishing destination is normally on the lowest end of the price scale. It is usually an isolated cabin on a lake or river that can either be accessed by vehicle or by boat. These are normally called “outpost” cabins.
Although this is not literally classed as a “fishing lodge”, most outpost camps are owned by legitimate fishing lodges and can be rented through the lodge office or website.
The outpost cabin is for that hard-core angler. It is for those who like to go camping or go to the cottage without the desire to be pampered. It could be called roughing it, but… it’s a good roughing it! This trip is all about the fishing during the day, great fish stories in the evening and winning the lottery with meals upon meals, of fresh fish!
On an outpost trip, the anglers bring in all their food, which they cook themselves, a couple of towels, a sleeping bag and pillow and of course their clothing and fishing gear.
At the opposite end of the spectrum in comparison to the outpost camp, is the full-blown drive to fishing lodge experience. Here again you can access the facility by vehicle, but the differences in comfort can be astronomical.
If you are going for the full enchilada, then you will be purchasing both accommodations as well as meals. This is known as the “American Plan”. The accommodations can be anything from rustic to luxurious. Of course, this is price dependent.
Believe it or not, some people will book an outpost cabin for a couple of days, and then finish off their fishing trip back at the main lodge. This truly is the best of both worlds.
The bottom line here is, drive to fishing outfitters offer the travelling angler a great package, into a beautiful destination, all while saving money by not having to pay that extra fee for airplane costs.
On a trip for 4 – 6 people, that could equate to thousands of dollars!
What can you expect “fishing-wise” when taking a trip to a drive to destination?
Well of course you have done your homework as to what species you would like to target. Now you need to be prepared for all situations. We have been to some of the best lakes in the country, only to have a bad day. We have also been to lakes with an average reputation and had a stellar day.
We say look at it like any other fishing trip. Do not go in with expectations of catching a fish on every cast. That rarely happens anywhere. Remember fish are fish and they don’t think the way we do.
That said, you won’t be disappointed in the fishing. If a bad day hits, often a great day follows.
Another point; do not go in as a “one-technique-wonder”.
If you are a Walleye on spinners kind of angler, it’s a good idea to bring some crankbaits and jigs, just in case.
Bring an ample amount of fishing gear, remember since it’s a drive to, there really are no restrictions.
Here’s another suggestion for future thought. A drive-to fishing lodge just maybe that perfect corporate event destination that you and your team have been looking for.
Booking a few cabins or maybe even the entire property can lead to one of the best “get-aways” truly deserved by your hard-working crew.
Areas of interest
Here is a little taste of where to look, when seeking a drive to fishing destination throughout the province of Ontario.
There are some facilities in the southwest portion of the province, mostly on or around Lake St Clair. This is a phenomenal body of water for Muskie and Smallmouth Bass. There is a multitude of other species there as well.
Eastern Ontario has a beautiful area just north of Kingston and west of the Ottawa River. The fish species list there is incredible. All it takes is a little research.
Ontario’s Algoma region is laden with drive-to fishing destinations. We travel here every season and are always pleased with the results.
The central area of the province and up to the north-east has a number of destinations and to us, these are the real sleepers.
We have had some of our best fishing ever in this area.
And finally, the king of all fishing destinations in the province, the north-west portion. There are so many drive-to fishing opportunities in the area that it will blow your mind. And the best part is, you would be hard-pressed to find one that doesn’t have world-class fishing. Here the Walleye ranks highest to visiting anglers, however, this is a multi-species mecca!
You really cannot script a better “buddies get together” than taking a trip to a drive-to fishing lodge. It truly is the ultimate in camaraderie.
As we stated previously though, please think safely and stay within your bubble.
And of course, let’s not forget the family. Why not take a week’s holidays where mom can chill out, have a glass of wine and read, the kids can go hiking and exploring, and dad… well… there would be some fishing involved too you know, just sayin’!