This Fish’n Canada adventure takes place on Ontario’s famous Marten River, which is considered to be the Gateway to Temagami. And just a kilometre away from Old Highway 11 sits Marten River Lodge, celebrating its 90th anniversary.
Lodge owner Ray Sapiano promised our crew unmatched Smallmouth Bass fishing in both the 24 kilometres of the Marten River system, as well as the almost never-fished back lakes, accessed only by ATV.
On this particular trip, our smallie adventure would start on the Marten River portion so that Ang and Pete could get some kind of indication just what the fish were up to. By having the big Princecraft Expedition FNC edition loaded with all the goodies, it gives them every advantage possible—something that can really come in handy on water they’ve never fished.
With such a vast amount of water to fish, you would think that Smallmouth would be everywhere in the Marten River system. But it never seems to be that way, no matter how great the reputation of the water. The boys fished miles and miles of good looking water, however, there were only tiny pockets of fish spread out—probably a good thing for the smallie population.
THE UNDERLYING STORY
One single cast from Ang told the boys the underlying story. The fish were hunkered down and eating tiny minnows in an isolated 10 foot by 10 foot cabbage weed patch just off the main weed line!
“It’s funny how fishing patterns are discovered,” says Ang. “Pete and I cast our hearts out in an amazing portion of the river but were having a hard time. So, in desperation mode, I simply lowered a drop shot Yamamoto Shad Shape Worm in a small weed clump directly under the stern of the boat and wham! Fish on!”
Pete says, “One fish that Ang pulled out of the weeds spit out between fifteen to twenty tiny minnows. That told us we were basically wasting time firing spinnerbaits, jerkbaits, et cetera, out off the weed edge. The smallies were hunkered directly in the weeds and feeding on baitfish that were doing the same.”
This concluded the Marten River portion of the trip.
“So far, our northern Ontario Smallmouth trip has been very successful,” says Angelo. “We’ve fished the Marten River system in luxury with all our fancy gear.”
Now the real adventure begins…
BACK LAKE ADVENTURE
Marten River Lodge offers a unique alternative to the main water fishing. They have access to dozens of backcountry lakes that can only be reached by ATV. Some are close to home base while others are a bit of a drive.
“Ang and I absolutely love these back lake excursions,” says Pete. “Not only is the ride in a total blast, but usually the fishing is second-to-none as well.”
This adventure was probably an hour of driving in total, starting out with trucks at the lodge and then ATVs at a drop-off point into the bush. A backcountry ride like this can really get an angler’s blood pumping, knowing that untouched fishing is at the end of the trail.
The Smallmouth fishing ended up being astounding.
A REAL TREAT
Probably the most memorable incident was when Pete—while eating a delicious homemade cookie from the lodge during a break—had a smallie grab his tube jig as it was dragging along the surface at boat side! That’s right, these Smallmouth were like muskie: fearless! As soon as Pete hooked his fish, Ang cast, too, and hooked up with an excited follower. This went on for about five minutes. Fishing mayhem for sure!
Another great moment was when Angelo fired a long cast with a gigantic seven inch Yamamoto Senko, only to have it pounded by a big smallie. In the boys’ minds, that Senko was more of a Largemouth bait for deep in the south. Mexico, perhaps, would be a good place to throw that. But certainly not Northern Ontario for Smallmouth!
“This little Ontario back lake adventure really capped off our Marten River expedition,” says Ang. Time for celebration with a round of Twizzlers for the boys.
This trip to Marten River Lodge truly was an all-in-one package. Fishing the vast, classic Smallmouth habitat of the main river system, experiencing a wonderful and event-filled back lake day trip and, of course, spending time with great new friends — all with fishing as their shared connection.