With preparations starting and my annual Canadian fishing trip with the guys quickly approaching, it seems like a good time to share some of my recent experiences at Fernleigh Lodge on Kashwakamak Lake, Ontario Canada. I have been fortunate enough to make a number of trips to the lodge over the last 5 years, from vacations with my family, to going with my wife, to week-long hard core fishing trips with the guys and each trip has been a great experience. It is an easy drive, about 9 hours from the Mason Dixon line on Interstate 81, or a little more if your passenger likes to stop and eat every couple of hours to sample Tim Horton’s, and road side stands selling poutine and fish and chips. Tim Horton’s I could do without but I have to admit the fish and chips were quite good. Or, if you are determined you can make the drive with minimal stops and be on the lake fishing just after lunch, yes I love fishing that much!
Fernleigh Lodge is family owned, and caters to any sort of trip you are taking with refurbished rustic log cabins, brand new modern cabins, all that sleep anywhere from two to twelve people and are well kept and very clean. If you are looking at taking a trip with just your spouse, there is nothing better than waking up and looking out the window straight up the lake from cabin Point#5. The lodge has housekeeping plans, boat rentals from pontoons to the more common 16′ V hulls, and of course a meal plan with outstanding food. My friend Ken is planning on writing an article on just the gravy, and a couple of my kids may help him out on that. This is not a lodge in the remote Canadian Wilderness, but remote enough to have that “Canadian” feel, outstanding fishing, and still be as comfortable as if you are at home. Since this is a fishing website and blog, it is time to move on from the lodge but I will include the website for the lodge below.
Kashwakamak is long but relatively narrow lake, about 15 miles long and 1 1/2 miles wide and provides a wide array of fish habit and structure in its clear waters. Luckily the lodge is located roughly 1/3 in from the eastern end of the lake and right in the epicenter of some of the best fishing on the lake. On days of heavy wind there many bays, coves and islands that can offer shelter from the wind, but for mid day fishing I have always found staying in the wind is key to good fishing. The eastern third of the lake is relatively shallow with a max water depth of about 20′ while the remainder of the lake provides deep water fishing opportunities with the deepest part of the lake bottoming out at around 90′. As far as gamefish, the lake is home to smallmouth, largemouth, pike and walleye with rock bass, yellow perch and shiners providing food sources. I can promise you will not get bored fishing this lake, it literally has any type of structure you could want to fish from docks, shallow weedbeds, deep water weedbeds, log jams and stumps, ledges, humps, rock piles and rock faces that drop to 60′ of water within a cast’s distance from shore. There are a number of patterns I have had continued success with on this lake that you may find helpful on your own home lake, or maybe during your own trip to the lodge.
Kashwakamak Lake (Kash) has enough weedbeds to keep a fisherman busy for a month, and possibly my favorite areas to fish on the lake. I found these weedbeds home to numbers of large smallmouth and the very place I have caught my personal best smallie. The deep water weed beds are in 12′-20′ of water with a mix of Millfoil and broad leaf vegetation which hold smallmouth, walleye and the occasional pike. The shallow water weedbeds are found in depths of 4′-8′ with the same vegetation and cabbage (a magnet for pike) mixed in and hold smallmouth, largemouth and pike. Both types of weed beds can be found all over the lake, but from the lodge to the eastern end of the lake is absolutely loaded with them. You can literally drop your trolling motor as soon as you leave the dock and start fishing. Some of these weedbeds are huge, spanning hundreds of yards down the length of the lake, which can be intimidating and challenging to fish. I find it helpful, if you have a boat with electronics, to spend a little time driving around before fishing to set some waypoints on the edges of the weedbeds, and expand on locating the edges and cuts while spending time fishing it. To fish these weedbeds I have found a number of techniques to be very effective, first is while it is windy fishing lipless crankbaits and Lucky Craft Pointers and Rapala Xraps over the tops of the deep weedbeds, for the shallow beds add in spinnerbaits. While quietly moving through some if these weedbeds I found the Roadkill River Craw spinnerbait from Snagler Tackle looks just like the small yellow perch swimming around. If the bass are willing to take moving baits you will know very quickly, if they are not wacky rigged senkos and teaser size tubes will do the trick. It will take ripping the tube through the weeds but the bass can not resist, and having some wind is still a benefit fishing the soft plastics, allowing you to make a controlled drift. The bite can be very light so I do find using Seaguar Invisx, or even the Smackdown braid with flouro leader can be very beneficial.
Another consistent pattern I have found for smallmouth and walleye is fishing the many ledges, rockpiles and cliff faces that can be found through the lake. I know this may seem obvious but other than the cliff faces they can be hard to find without having electronics on the boat as much of the lake has flat or a sand bottom and often devoid of fish. Having side imagining is a huge plus and this is when I put my Humminbird units to work, taking time to idle through different areas of the lake. I often target these areas mid day while the sun is high or when boat traffic may turn off the fish that are holding in shallower waters. As mentioned the cliff faces are easy to find and takes nothing more than scanning the shorelines, particularly on the western half of the lake, for rock faces that drop straight into the water, these are the areas that your boat will sit in water that is 60′ deep while still being able to reach the shore in a casts length. While fishing any of these rock type structures and I have found you just cant beat fishing a STC teaser tube on a 3/16 oz head, and you only need to use the color Purple Craw. It does take patience fishing a lighter weight in this deeper water but it is effective, however if patience is not your virtue a 7/16oz Biffle Bug and Rapala Jiggin Raps are also deadly!
While fishing shorelines can be a common pattern while lake fishing I have not found that to be the case on Kash, with one exception, the wind blown shorelines. With a lake as long as Kash wind can be a factor, but as long as it is reasonable and has been blowing from the same direction for a day or two I will target the wind blown shorelines. Particularly those in close proximity to weedbeds or rock structure I have found, but it is worth spending some time working the shores with log jams and stumps. Fishing wood around the lake can be good for targeting largemouth. Although these fish can be more aggressively feeding, they are also somewhat skittish so long accurate casts are crucial, putting your bait almost on the shoreline. At times fishing these areas moving baits such as jerkbaits and spinnerbaits can work well but I will switch quickly to soft plastics if I am not getting bit. As with other areas on the lake, STC teaser tubes, biffle bugs and wacky rigged senkos work well
Last pattern I want to talk about, and of course the most exciting is the top water fishing. Some of the best top water fishing I have experienced is on this lake and how I start and end everyday there, fishing whopper ploppers, chug bugs and buzzbaits over the deep water weedbeds. The waypoints I set come in handy now, as I can program my Minn Kota to zig- zag from waypoint to waypoint, set the speed on the motor and then cast and reel while the boat covers the weedbed. Some days the bite is better than others, and it can be brief at times lasting only 30 minutes with the morning bite usually starting around nautical twilight. For the evening bite you will know when its time, when the mosquitoes are swarming that is usually when there is some sort of hatch and the bite going on. Dealing with the mosquitoes can be brutal, but no way I would miss out on this, and how I caught my personal best smallmouth (pictured below). A little tip that I have found helps when dealing with mosquitoes is Icy-Hot, apparently they are not to fond of it! No different from top water fishing locally, having a rod with a follow-up bait will pay dividends on the fish that blow up but miss your lure, I find senkos and flukes work well for this.
I tried my best to stay on topic, and not rant on about the many stories and memories I have of these trips, perhaps those are for another blog or a day in the boat fishing together hammering smallmouth on one of our local rivers. I do hope this article inspires someone to head off on a new fishing adventure of their own however, if it happens to be at Fernleigh Lodge let me know, I will send you some spots. And to the giant smallmouth that blew up on my whopper plopper…….TWICE….on Sand Point, I will be back for you!
For more information on Fernleigh Lodge, please visit www.fernleighlodge.com