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Mattawa River Resort

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Mattawa River Resort

• Credit: The New Fly Fisher

The perfect home base for not only anglers but couples and families

A lake-side retreat with ample recreation opportunities for kids, or a quiet escape for couples.

You pull off the highway and begin the downward downhill journey to the river. Twisting and turning through old growth forest, dodging potholes and rabbits, you pass a couple of horses, and a few signs signalling the friendliness of the owners—You’re Almost at Almost There!—hand painted on rough-cut planks nailed to trees. You pass the deer and turtle pond (perfect exploration place for kids) and pull up to the multi-level topography that holds Mattawa River Resort. Driveways spit off the main road leading to your personal private cabin. The main road leads right to the very well-appointed lodge and Cardinal Restaurant.

aerial footage mattawa river resort

Open year round, Mattawa River Resort consists of 13 cabins all lovingly decorated with couples and families in mind. Actually, the entire property is designed that way. With ample recreation opportunities for kids, or a quiet escape for couples, the first feeling I had upon arriving was a feeling of inclusivity. The cabins are all spaced far enough away from each other separated by that same old-growth forest that welcomes you on your drive in, you really feel like you have the place to yourself. And while all this is truly great, we were there for one thing…the fishing!

mattawa river resort cabin

Local guide, Sean Costello is dialed into the fishery in and around the Mattawa River area with his specialty being “multi species adjustment” depending on time of year and water temperatures. This attracted us to fish with Sean as we arrived in June and the weather had been quite unpredictable. We decided to head out to a local creek in search of some of the big brook trout we know Northeastern Ontario is fast becoming famous for. We loaded up our canoes and set out downstream in search of “specs”. As we set out, I dipped my hand in the water and became concerned about the warmth. I started to develop a game plan as we silently slipped away from the trucks.

brook trout

Our first spot, at a formidable set of rapids, set my concerns to rest as moving water is generally the perfect spot to begin in your brook trout search. Well oxygenated, generally cooler, with access to deep protection (and cooler water) I decided to begin with a meaty offering skating terrestrial for aggressive brook trout. It was the right choice as at the tailout of a fantastic run, a nice fish came up and crashed my Chernobyl Ant. Not a bad way to start the day. We moved around the river, catching trout on top. (5 weight fly rods with 5 weight, weight forward floating lines and long 3X leaders). We brought a number of fish to hand that morning, but then something changed. The temps got too warm and the fish scattered! We caught a fantastic smallmouth bass in one of the runs and decided to start our journey back upstream to regroup and get a game plan for tomorrow. It was a fantastic start to our Mattawa River Resort adventure, but we were going to have to dig into our bag of tricks for day 2.

angler releasing brook trout

The next morning started out idyllically as we pulled up to a remote backcountry drive-to lake in search for smallmouth bass and northern pike. This particular small lake was crystal clear and glass calm to start. We could see cruising fish and were offered the opportunity to sight cast to these cruisers. Loaded up with 6 weight rods for smallmouth, the popper bite didn’t disappoint first thing in the morning. But it slowly simply died. Just as we arrived at the lake, we noticed a flurry of activity out offshore. This activity slowly dissipated as we rigged up and headed out. It was on the first fish we caught that indicated what was going on. That first fish, when hooked on a popper, ejected a pile of dragonflies from its belly. The pre-dawn bite had happened on mature dragonflies. The fish were taking them in the air! Well, that explained the happenings on the lake that morning – they were gorged full of flies! We had a lull in the action until mid-afternoon when things picked up again both on the smallmouth bass side of things as well as the northern pike angle. We had switched techniques to a streamer (Scotties McFly) with a dragonfly nymph tied off as a dropper. We figured the dragonfly bite was going to go off again in the morning, but the nymphs would be emerging late afternoon getting ready to hatch. We nailed it! Catching both northern pike and smallmouth bass on the streamer and the nymph, it really was a great way to end our day with numerous fish to hand and released back to the lake.

paddle mattawa river resort

Mattawa River Resort is the perfect home base for not only anglers, but couples and families. The river itself is a fantastic fishery just off the docks, and the year-round recreational activities (from stand up paddle boards, ATVs and snowmobiles) are perfectly suited to adventure seekers. The cabins are incredible and isolated enough for a romantic couple get-away from it all. The fishing opportunities in Northeastern Ontario are extremely low on the pressure side, with awesome multi-species lakes, rivers and creeks throughout the area. I’ll be back to Mattawa River Resort for sure with my fly rods and my family of course!

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