Originally published March 26th, 2020
The city of Timmins Ontario is situated in northeastern Ontario, Canada, on the Mattagami River. In this area, it’s the fourth-largest city with a population of over 40 thousand people. Our guess is pretty much every one of those people that are old enough to hold a fishing rod, fish. It’s an area of the province that simply put, loves the outdoors.
Timmins, however, is only a portion of the population in this area as smaller towns, etc. dot the surroundings.
We always enjoy traveling to northern Ontario, as it’s either the ultra-scenic HWY 17 route along Lake Superior, or it’s the “drive a bit westward and still north” route in where the dense forest is only cut through by HWY 144. Although you don’t have the fish-filled waters of Gitche Gumme flanking you for hours, you do have a better shot at sighting wildlife along the 144 way. Either route is awesome.
This adventure took us to Red Pine Lodge on Ivanhoe Lake, which is west of Timmins and close to the town of Foleyet. Red Pine is a classic fishing camp that sits on a huge point of the lake, giving the cottagers a great waterfront view. Yet, a well-protected docking and launching area, keeping the rigs tucked away from nature’s raw elements. We know firsthand how convenient this protected area was, hence the title of this writing.
Ivanhoe Lake is almost an anomaly in that it is very untypical of a classic northern Ontario Walleye lake. If you’re looking for that perfect rock structure covering 90% of the lake-bottom, or any other “by-the-book Walleye” features, you’ll be looking for a long time. Yes, there is some structure and weed growth in Ivanhoe, but it’s the sandy bottom that distinguishes it from the surrounding lakes. Sand and Walleye you ask? “Yupper” we say. Sand is one of those lake-bottom substrates that few people take advantage of when fishing. Think of this, it’s easy to distinguish fish in shallow water on sand because you can see them with polarized glasses, you don’t snag the bottom, and the fish also show up well on most fishfinder screens (Side Vu is incredible).
Red Pine Lodge as we said above is a classic Ontario fishing lodge. It has exactly what you need. At the time of this writing, we believe they have dropped their American plan leaving the cooking and eating to be done in the individual cottages. This isn’t a concern to most, since that’s pretty much the norm in a drive-to lodge, to begin with.
The cottages are perfect and comfortable. A great place to kick off the shoes, throw a can of beans into a pot, dip some fresh Walleye fillets in a frying pan and crack a cold beverage (not necessarily in that order BTW!)
After dinner, play some cards or watch your favourite sports team on the tele.
THE BOAT LAUNCH AND DOCKING AREA
You can always tell when a lodge has it all together by looking at the docking area. If it’s nice and protected, they have built in the right place. Red Pine has just that. The boat launch is top tier as well. Lots of room to turn around and park if need be.
LOCAL FISHING KNOWLEDGE
The entire Fish’n Canada team from past to present knows the full value of local angler knowledge. Let’s be honest, a person who’s been fishing on a lake all summer has a much better grasp of things than the person that only fishes that same water for a few days.
Enter Connor Dunn. Connor has fished Ivanhoe Lake, as well as countless others in and around the Timmins area all his life. He’s also caught some real giants. He fishes for fun with his beauty dog and he fishes local tournaments. In other words, he gets around the area in a good way. Pete and Steve hooked up with Connor for an evening of fishing and it was nothing short of laughs, laughs and more laughs.
“When we meet complete strangers while on the road,” says Pete “we never know what they will be like, and just as important, what they will think of us. After all, I’m pretty sure we aren’t your run-of-the-mill TV fishing guys”.
Well, Connor, Pete, and Steve got along almost too well (a heated laughing fit due to the original cable man).
“Connor was there if and when we needed him,” says Steve “and trust me, his advice came in very handy at times”.
THE WALLEYE FISHING
We know by the brief time that we spent on Ivanhoe Lake that the Walleye fishing is great. We say a brief time because this was by far the worst shoot of the entire season for bad weather. It’s not our first “rainy day’s” trip and we know it won’t be our last, we get them all the time. Now don’t get us wrong, we still fish in the nastiest of conditions, however, the camera team can’t shoot in them. Any kind of wind driving the raindrops into the lens creates a “no show”. Granted, we can use some of that kind of footage in an episode, but we keep it to very little.
That said, Pete and Steve put a lot of trolling minutes on both the Merc, as well as the Motorguide. In the midsummer timeframe, sometimes trolling fast with a motor, like the 300 XS-Pro, gives anglers an advantage. Especially with the Smartcraft trolling feature, which allows an angler to dial down the RPMs of the big motor, making it more manageable to troll. Most times, however, a slower troll works best. 1.3 to about 2.5 is a good wide range to try in summer. That’s where the electric trolling motor comes in. It’s precise in that you can dial in your speed to 1/10 of a mile per hour.
Incidentally, if you don’t have an electric or a kicker (small tiller) gas motor, then you can either run drift socks (sea anchors) or if you have Power Poles, you can run the drift paddles on them. Then you can still utilize your main motor to troll.
As far as trolling baits were concerned, the guys varied different-sized crankbaits to cover a variety of depths. Pete was running smaller/shallower baits like CC Shads, or the Flicker series (shad or minnow). While Steve went a bit bigger with Wally Diver and even bigger with a Mann’s 20+ (bright colour) to dig that much deeper. This is a great strategy in that hopefully one of the baits will reveal where the fish are in the water column (more precisely where they are feeding).
A CAUTIONARY WORD
We are going to forewarn you right now, that there are a bunch of crankbait-stealing Pike that linger in Ivanhoe. This is probably just a reminder to most since northern Ontario is synonymous with Pike in most of their lakes. With this said, REMEMBER to bring leaders, as it can get quite expensive with cut-offs!
AN ALTERNATIVE WAY OF CATCHING WALLEYE
When the crankbait trolling slowed down, or the guys simply got bored, they turned to a variety of other techniques. They did do some jigging, however, they also ran bottom bouncers with both spinner rigs, as well as live bait rigs. These alternatives to trolling saved the day with numbers of fish.
Yes, we admit, we got our butts kicked by mother nature on this shoot in the sense of putting fish on camera. That said, we know for a fact that Ivanhoe lake is a “very good” Walleye lake for numbers, it has a solid population of 3-4-pound fish and the potential is great for a 26+” beast!
GUIDED FISHING TRIPS
ATTRACTIONS NEAR TIMMINS
Fine resorts, endless outdoor recreation, interesting tourist attractions, and four predictable seasons make Timmins a must-see destination year-round. Outdoor adventures are never more than a “stone’s throw” away. Peace, tranquillity and legendary northern hospitality guaranteed!