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Blades and Beads Wilderness Walleye

A view of Mattagami Lake at Green Wilderness Lodge • Credit: Karl Kalonka
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Blades and Beads Wilderness Walleye

Bad Weather and Mother Nature didn't stop the Walleye from biting on Mattagami Lake

Green Wilderness Lodge is located in the Arctic Water shed and on the James Bay Frontier.

Sometimes Mother Nature decides to throw anglers a nasty weather curve ball, with some extra spin for her cruel viewing enjoyment. Some may think that we are spared such a fate when planning a trip to shoot a show at one of the many fishing lodges in the Ontario’s northland, but that’s not the case.

wilderness lodge

Sure, we usually narrow down our visits depending on the time of year and try not to clash our schedules with those of actual paying customers, but at times the elements out of our control can make the easiest of trips into ones full of effort and challenge. This was the exact scenario during our visit to Green Wilderness Lodge in Northeastern Ontario last September. We spoke with the owners about our schedule and got enough intel to move forward with our plans to shoot a show at their location in late September, when the walleyes are getting back to chowing down in preparation for the winter ahead.

green wilderness cabin

Our travel time to the lodge was easy and clear as you could ask for. All major highways and a short jog off the main road. Green Wilderness Lodge is located in the Arctic Water shed and on the James Bay Frontier. The local region is called Gogama Wilderness. The lodge is located in this wilderness region and on beautiful Mattagami Lake 20 miles north of Gogama, one mile east off Highway 144. Here are some examples for travel time to the Camp:

  • Toronto - 373 miles (597 km)
  • Detroit - 600 miles (960 km)
  • Buffalo - 465 miles (744 km)
  • Port Huron - 552 miles (883 km)
  • Sault Ste. Marie - 318 miles (509 km)

According to the lodge owners and several guests we spoke to, Lake Mattagami is one of the best Walleye, Northern Pike, and Whitefish lakes in Northern Ontario. Walleyes average around 2.5 pounds with high numbers available, as well as trophy Walleyes up to 10 pounds; there are also lots of smaller 16-inch and 17-inch Walleyes, which are best for shore lunch.


Northern Pike are also very common and guests each year catch many Pike over 20 pounds. The majority of Northern Pike caught in the lake are between 20 and 35 inches. The remote setting Green Wilderness Lodge is the ideal place for that special wilderness vacation. Enjoy the breathtaking scenery as you travel 40 miles of open waterways. Plentiful nature trails offer the opportunity to explore the diverse landscape and snap the perfect photograph of grouse, snowshoe rabbit, lynx, black bear, ducks, geese, or moose. Gogama is a beautiful wilderness area that's here for all to enjoy.

The lodge also offers Moose hunting and one of the top Black Bear hunts in Ontario with extremely high success rates. After a successful day of fishing, hunting, or wilderness exploration, relax in their comfortable and clean housekeeping cottages.

Lake Mattagami is also a rocky Canadian Shield Lake with many rocky points and shoals. Due to the high population of Walleye and Northern Pike, the Smallmouth Bass have not been able to become a dominant species in the lake, but the Bronze backs that survived the gauntlet of pike teeth have grown to be big. Smallmouth bass are not common like Walleyes and Northern Pike.


The lake has an extremely high population of Whitefish. In the spring before the May Fly hatch, guests can experience non-stop Whitefish action with the proper techniques. Whitefish are found in all different sizes up to 8 pounds.

We met up with one of the owners Russell Thibodeau, who is very well versed on the fishing locations and activity at any given time of the year, and his input was vital to our success, this being our very first time on Lake Mattagami. Well, his first words were "a cold front is coming tonight with possible snow and strong winds from the north."

Oh well, the show must go on! We discussed our game plan for the next morning and headed to the main lodge for dinner and some communication with other guests. People were still catching walleye, a little slow but still catching them. Somewhat encouraging news, but we knew it was going too take a little extra effort.

Well, Mother Nature didn’t disappoint.

We packed up our gear and heading to the boat docks to begin our day of fishing, while the wind howled out of the north and the snow began to fall. Ideal conditions for walleye? I can’t say for sure, but I do know our camera crew were not impressed by our decision to carry on and "go for it" with our trusty guide and lodge owner Russ at the helm.

It’s never a good idea to pre-conceive what the fish may or not be doing at any given time, and this morning was a perfect example of that. We could have delayed our start that morning, or stayed inside the main lodge or our cottage and waited out the snow storm. We decided to begin our day’s adventure on a nearby rocky shoreline leading to a main lake point, power trolling slowly along the first breaks in 14 to 17 feet of water with Lucky Strike Victor spoon rigs (blades and beads), and live minnows for added attraction and appeal in these cold conditions.

Our very first power drift / troll produced five total bites and two nice 15- and 16-inch walleyes in our live well. Not a bad start considering the weather conditions and any preconceived notions that the fish may not bite. Oh, they bit and bit hard, all day long.

cold walleye

On every single pass along this exact same shoreline, we duplicated our drift speed and depth and continued connecting with walleyes of every size and shape, from the year class 12-inch fish to some nice 20-plus-inch fish that we released after a few quick photos, and kept just enough walleyes for a incredible shore lunch courtesy of our gracious hosts and friends in a secluded bay close to the main lodge.

It just goes to show you when planning vacations to one of the wonderful lodges in Northern Ontario isn’t always an early spring or summer thing. We visited with these nice people in mid-September with terrible weather conditions, and still managed to shoot our show, as well as catch more than enough walleyes for a shore lunch for the four of us. Enjoyed some great hospitality and meals with our gracious hosts and had the time of our lives, despite the poor weather conditions.

green wilderness cabins

Visit the nice folks at Green Wilderness Lodge and don’t worry about what Mother Nature may have in store for you. It seems like the walleyes are always biting on Lake Mattagami.

Contact Information

Green Wilderness Lodge
Russell Thibodeau (Family Owned)
P.O. Box 308, Gogama, Ontario P0M 1W0
Toll Free: 1- (888) 466-2531
Email: greenwilderness@bellnet.ca

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