Episode 525: Lady Luck

Hey everybody, on this Fish’n Canada episode we have such a unique experience to share with you. This show was as much about the travel and the destination, as it was about the fishing.

We headed to a body of water that fishes like a fly-in lake, but without the airplane! We also had the option of bringing your own boat, so we most definitely brought along FNC 1, our 20’ loaded Princecraft. By the way, we were very skeptical of bringing such a “big” boat into a hard-to-access northern Ontario lake, however, as you will read, things went perfectly smooth.

A Couple of Stops

The cost of a tank of gas for both the truck and the boat
Truck on the left and boat on the right… fishing certainly can be an expensive sport

Of course, when towing the Princecraft on a road trip like this, there are always frequent stops. One is gassing up the truck and boat: it’s one we’d like to bypass, but, if you wanna play, you gotta pay!

The full shelves of a northern Ontario tackle shop
Tackle shop… have-ta’ shop

And of course, who can pass by a local, northern Ontario tackle shop without stopping in and buying all kinds of stuff… which is exactly what we did at Gramp’s Place near Temagami. Between the staff working and the other anglers that stopped in, it very much added to the drive. It’s all part of the fishing-road-trip experience!

Mowat’s Landing

A boat backing into Lady Evelyn Lake heading for Garden Island Lodge
With the remnants of a backroad experience, our dirty Ram and Princecraft/Merc arrived safely at the launch

Our destination for this trip was Garden Island Lodge on Lady Evelyn Lake. Once we arrived at the boat ramp at Mowat’s Landing, we were into a surprisingly short boat ride on the Montreal and Lady Evelyn Rivers. But that was just the start of the voyage.

Up and Over

An old mercury motor attached to a barge heading for Garden Island Lodge
Upon arrival, anglers look and think… “No Way!!!”

Now, this is where the adventure began. We were picked up (that’s our boat and motor) fully loaded with gear, at the bottom of a dam, and trailered up and over to Lady Evelyn Lake. 

A sign reading Sonny's Portage
Now THIS is a portage!

This is such an awesome experience and one we’ve never done with a 20-foot rig.

A large boat trailer backing into the water at Lady Evelyn Lake
The most versatile boat trailer in Ontario!

After dropping us into Lady Evelyn Lake, it’s a beautiful 20-mile boat ride north to the lodge. And, if you’re anything like us, it’s a quick unloading of the baggage and then on to the fishing.

Three anglers looking at a Garmin fishfinder while on the way to Garden Island Lodge
Ang, Pete, and Garden Island Lodge owner Mike McNamara enjoying the northern Ontario scenery while en route to the camp.

Our Ultimate Destination

A sign reading Garden Island Lodge

From the Garden Island Lodge website: Garden Island is a boat-in resort style all-inclusive American Plan lodge located on spectacular Lady Evelyn Lake where all your lodging accommodations, meals and boating needs are provided. Our beautiful picturesque island is surrounded by some of the world’s finest trophy walleye, smallmouth bass and northern pike fishing.

There are only three fishing camps and just two fishing lodges on this massive lake. We want to be the one Lady Evelyn Lake lodge that caters to your next Northeastern Ontario fishing experience of a lifetime with our comfortable accommodations and our attentive staff. We will indulge your fondest fishing dreams at our boat-in lodge with far better rates than those remote and more expensive backcountry locations. Oh yes, plus our walleye, smallmouth and pike fishing is always outstanding due to the fact we are located on one of the most beautiful and bountiful lakes in all of Ontario, Canada.

A Princecraft boat docked at Garden Island Lodge
A wolf docked among sheep at the Garden Island camp.

Our owner (Mike) and his crew have been making many exciting upgrades around the camp. We are also continually editing our website with new information! Thank you to everyone for your encouragement while we continue working on making your Garden Island Lodge experience even better than ever.

Lady Evelyn Lake

A depth chart of Lady Evelyn Lake

Here are a few interesting facts about Lady Evelyn Lake:

  • Ontario’s Near Northeastern Region
  • Timiskaming District of Northeastern Ontario
  • Located on the namesake Lady Evelyn River which is a tributary of the Montreal River which is a tributary of the Ottawa River. 
  • Positioned east of the Lady Evelyn Smoothwater Provincial Park and Obabika River Provincial Park 
  • 36 miles long
  • Completely surrounded by Crown land with 675 miles of pristine shoreline 
  • The lake currently has only three fishing camps and two fishing lodges in operation which are each located on their own separate islands.
  • It is actually classed as a reservoir
  • A dam was constructed at Mattawapika Falls in 1915 and was used to help logging operations with getting logs from Diamond Lake and the Lady Evelyn River to the Montreal River and then on to the mills in Latchford.
  • In 1925 a Hydro dam replaced the original logger’s dam and caused flooding to water levels more than 10 foot higher than it had already been with the logger’s dam. 
  • Today access to Lady Evelyn Lake is accomplished by crossing the Montreal River and then a short hike around the Mattawapika Dam to the docks located on the lake.
  • The deepest spot anglers have found in Lady Evelyn is 98′ 
A detailed map of Lady Evelyn Lake

Things to do near Lady Evelyn Lake

If you want to learn more about Lady Evelyn Lake and all the stops we made while filming this episode, check out our article over at the Northern Portal.

Shoot Conditions

The conditions for this trip were not warm and balmy, to say the least. For the most part, it was windy, cool to cold, and the boys even endured a nasty rainstorm that put the cameras back in the cases and the boys in a hunkered-down position… ahhh the north!

The water temps were all over the map but let’s just say, they were pretty much in line with the air temps.

The Fishing

Angelo and Pete admiring a freshly caught Lady Evelyn Lake Walleye at Garden Island Lodge

Ang and Pete started out looking for Walleye in one of Lady Evelyn’s most popular big fish areas called The Dome. Ang started things off by dropshotting a live minnow “deep” and caught the first couple of fish.

Pete joined Ang and got his first Walleye on a jig and minnow and Ang followed that up with yet another on the dropshot. 

The problem the boys had was all these Walleye were deep. And when we say deep we mean up to 50 feet!

By this time the boys were showing some concern. With the fish being so deep, they had a quick chat and decided that since the lake was close to the fall turn-over period, making the bite already tough, AND these Walleye were extremely deep, they’d look for something shallower. This would also give them a chance to look for some of the great Smallmouth Bass that the lake has to offer.

Their Garmin chart showed them a large, complex hump that bottomed out to around 30+ feet (see Hotspot section below)… exactly what they were looking for…

New Location

Their new “hump” was clearly a better location in terms of fish safety, i.e. they could pretty much avoid barotrauma, but the problem was, were there any fish?

Well… fish there were!

Their traditional screen LIT UP with hooks & arches, and big ones at that! Time to drop the minnows in and see what was down there.

“What was down there,” says Ang “was a crap-load of Smallmouth Bass of all sizes. Once we dialled them in, it was game on & fish after fish”

The fishing was so fast and furious for the guys that they quickly transitioned from live bait to their plastics.

Tip #1 from Ang:

“Here’s a tip for anglers that are fishing a lake for Walleye and Smallmouth Bass. Try using the dropshot technique. It’s a phenomenal way of locating and catching both species quickly. If you’re a Walleye fanatic, you can start out with live bait like minnows, worms, or leeches depending on the time of year. If there are two anglers on the boat, try what Pete and I often do, one runs a dropshot rig and the other runs a jig and live bait”.

A diagram showing the difference between a live bait rig and a dropshot rig

Ang’s favourite Walleye rig is the dropshot with live bait. For Pete, he’s more traditional and primarily uses a jig with live bait. For this shoot they both used minnows.

“If the fishing is hot,” continues Ang “or you stumble onto a whack of Smallies on live bait, you can then switch over to plastics and totally reap the benefits of the dropshot rig!”

Tip #2 from Pete:

Ang and I rely strongly on our fishing electronics pretty much every time we’re on the water. If you’re at all familiar with our approach, you’ll know that we are absolutely nuts about Garmin’s LiveScope forward-viewing technology.

On this day, however, we honestly had so many fish around the boat that we went old school and kept a split-screen of a map on one side and our traditional sonar on the other. As long as we kept seeing hooks and arches around our boat, we were constantly setting the hook!

A hump shown on a Garmin fishfinder

Episode Gettin’ There (Sponsored By Destination Ontario)

Lady Evelyn Lake on a navigational map

To get to this episode’s great fishing, Ang and Pete first drove north on Highway 12. Next, they travelled north on Highway 11 through North Bay and Temagami. From there, they turned west on 558, which is also called Mowat Landing Road. 

They next launched their rig at Mowat Landing and headed out on a short ride on the Montreal and Lady Evelyn rivers. They were then trailered up and above the Mattawapika Dam and were launched into Lady Evelyn Lake.

From the top of the dam, it was about a 20-mile boat ride to Garden Island Lodge.

For those without a boat, Garden Island Lodge will meet you at Mowat’s landing and have a boat waiting for you at camp.

A Garden Island Lodge trip is a great way of spending quality time at a fishing destination that truly is a “far reaches of the north” experience. Being only a 5-hour drive north of the GTA, this place is easily accessed by all.

Episode Hotspot (Sponsored by Garmin)

N    47 18.679   W 080 11.095

A hump on Lady Evelyn Lake shown on a Garmin fishfinder

This episode’s Hotspot is an underwater hump on Lady Evelyn Lake. The waypoint on the screen above puts you right there.

For this trip, we found smaller fish on the top of the hump in shallow water while the bigger fish were in the 25 – 30+ foot range. As with many deep structures similar to this one in northern Ontario, there were both Smallmouth and Walleye mixed together here.

We started with live bait but quickly transitioned to small Shad imitating plastics on a dropshot setup. Either a straight, light fluorocarbon line from the reel to the weight or a light braid to a light fluorocarbon leader worked fine here for us.

Remember that if you are fishing deep water like we were and there’s a strong wind, upsizing to a heavier weight will help immensely in getting your rig to the bottom, which is a key when fishing areas like this.

Bait colour didn’t seem to matter but shades of green were a good base to work from.

For more Hotspots like this one, check out Fish’n Canada.com  

Baits: 3.5 – 4 Inch Plastics

Presentation: Dropshotting

Depth: 25-30+ Feet

Conclusion

This was our first trip to Lady Evelyn Lake and it didn’t disappoint. Throughout the years we had heard great fishing reports from here but have never had the proper timing to make it to this great destination. Now that we have tested the waters, we can highly recommend this great fishery!

For more northern Ontario fishing destinations visit: https://destinationnorthernontario.ca/ 

https://www.northernontario.travel/northeastern-ontario

https://www.northernontario.travel/fishing/lady-evelyn-a-lake-with-options

https://www.ontarioparks.com/park/ladyevelynsmoothwater

https://www.northernontario.travel/paddling/ultimate-guide-to-lady-evelyn-smoothwater-provincial-park-canoe-routes

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