Episode 550 – Esnagi Lake in Late Summer

As seen in a previous article, our end-of-the-season trip to Kenora was a two-parter and our second leg of the trip was, as Ang said on the way there, “a long time coming”.

Now, “long time coming” may seem like a bit of a stretch for those who have been following our show for a long time, as the wooden boats and giant walleye of Esnagi Lake have certainly appeared on your screens many times over the years. However, as anyone who has been to this lodge will tell you, six years away is FAR too long to be away from Lodge Eighty-Eight.

Our trip to Lodge Eighty-Eight started with a plane ride from one of our favourite operators in Ontario, White River Air.

Although the timeliness and quality of experience you get with White River Air will have you wishing they took over as our national airline, Lodge Eighty-Eight is not just a fly-in.

In fact, this lodge gets its name thanks to the fact that the train (otherwise known as the “bud car”) frequently lets anglers and hunters off at mile marker 88, right next to this historic lodge. Ang and Pete have taken advantage of this unique way to travel into the Canadian wilderness and highly recommend it to anyone who has not had the chance to experience it. Seeing northern Ontario from the air may be cool, but a card game with your fishing buddies while travelling through the virtually untouched wilderness is tough to beat.

However, this trip is not about plane rides or card games. This episode is about BIG northern Ontario walleye, and were confident we were going to find them.

a walleye caught on Esnagi Lake

The famous Lodge 88 walleye

Esnagi Lake

Esnagi Lake is situated in the Algoma Region of Ontario. It’s a large V-shaped lake, about 45 kilometres (28 mi) long and 5.0 kilometres wide. 

The primary inflows are the Magpie River at the north end of the lake, and Tripoli Creek on the west side, and the primary outflow is also the Magpie River, which flows downstream from the south end of the lake.

Esnagi is a typical Algoma Walleye lake in that it’s not a super deep shield lake that’s normally associated with Lake Trout. It’s a mid-depth lake with lots of soundings in the 20-30 foot range… perfect for Walleye.

Some of the deepest water in the lake is located directly out in front of Lodge 88. These depths hold an incredible amount of Whitefish for anyone who wants a change from Walleye fishing.

The Fishing

Ang and Pete started out looking at a couple of bays not too far from the lodge. If the boys can avoid running all the way to the far end of the lake, at least on the first morning, that would be perfect. “I guarantee you though,” said Ang, “we’ll end up traversing the 20+ miles looking for that Walleye oasis before the trip is over… trust me, it’s hard to resist!”

A few quick ones from our first spot of the trip

Now although things were looking positive so far, Walleye are a bit of a funny creature. Ang and Pete figured out quickly that the fish had a bit of an attitude.

What we mean by that is, Ang and Pete can usually tell right off the hop what kind of mood the fish are in at any given time. These Walleye are slightly off, meaning were not crushing the baits. They’re still eating, but it’s wasn’t gangbusters. You can tell that by the way they’re mouthing the bait vs aggressively popping it, and we can see their attitude clearly on our LiveScope.

The search for more active fish continues…

Walleye Weather

It’s funny how sometimes you can return to a fishing “hotspot” and it’s full of fish, yet at other times, they’ve completely disappeared.

Well, often it has to do with the weather conditions. No sooner did Ang and Pete arrive at this area of the lake, did the rain start coming down. Not enough to stop shooting, but after a quick couple of fish… we had to take cover.

The Long Run

As Ang stated at the top of the show, we didn’t want to make the 20+ mile run to the opposite end of the lake right out of the gate. We wanted a close-to-the-lodge start. 

He also said it was likely though, that at some time, we’d head north. 

Well, it’s hard to resist when you’re lodged at 88, it’s pretty much a must. The boat ride alone is spectacular and the fishing is usually well worth the time it takes to get there. Plus there are great fishing locations all the way.

As we arrived, we pulled in on a big point and granite high bank. Classic northern Ontario scenery.

Our scenic boat ride didn’t result in the fish we were looking for, however, on our way Back to the lodge, our Garmin’s screen went crazy lighting up with a gorgeous Cabbage Weed bed. We found the weed edge, dropped the LiveScope in and it lit up with multiple fish… definitely worth casting in…

The Evening Bite

So to end this trip, Ang and Pete decided to take a few hours off and let Nikky V and Dean Taylor, our two “up-and-comers” take the cameraman out for a quick evening fish at the spot we just came from.

It’s about 200 yards from Lodge 88, an area that’s near and dear to our hearts. We put them right onto a nice school of late in the day, and hopefully, active Walleye.

They’ve been bugging the heck out of us to get out there and film so… have at er’ boys!

Despite the screen being lit up for most of the evening, nothing big seemed to be in the area and the boys spent the last thirty minutes of the night catching what Dean called “eater-sized” walleye (he was being generous).

One of the beauties about this spot though is that, just a hundred yards away, is one of the most productive whitefish hotspots in the entire lake, as was made apparent by the boat that sat atop it while we were tying to the dock. Location noted, and we already can’t wait to get back to Lodge 88!


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