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The Monsters of Makoop

Log cabins are stretched along a narrow peninsula at Northern Ontario’s Makoop Lake. • Credit: James Smedley

There's a large splash on the surface of what turns out to be a vast weed bed 100 metres away. My wife Francine and I are engaged with a procession of fat walleye stacked up in a narrows but we pick up our pike rods to investigate. I throw a topwater plug while Francine lobs a huge muskie spinner into gaps in the weeds. "Got him!" she cries after the second cast.

There are serious runs and clumps of weed dredged from the shallows but Francine holds fast, bringing the beast within sight of the boat. The northern's flat bony head looks the size of a dinner plate, its eyes far apart. I manage to leverage the great fish in with almost half its body thrashing outside the confines of the large rubber net. "Forty-two inches," I say as I lay the esox onto the ruler-equipped boat seat.

makoop lake
By the end of the trip, Francine is growing used to holding large pike at Northern Ontario’s Makoop Lake. (Photo credit: James Smedley)

Earlier in the day, we left Thunder Bay in a Wasaya Airways Dash 8, landing at the remote Indigenous community of Bearskin Lake before a floatplane shuttle south to Makoop Lake Lodge. A clearing straddles the width of a long peninsula where rows of log cabins are stretched along a sandy beach. Francine gets settled into the large horizontal log cabin while I push a 14-foot aluminum off the sand beach and head for the nearest island. It's sunny, warm, and relaxing as I back-troll a jig and grub along a rocky shoreline, immediately connecting a 19.5-inch walleye. I return for my wife and we spend the rest of the afternoon catching 15- to 20-inch walleye interspersed with fat northern pike up to 44 inches.

si is just one of many Indigenous-owned and operated remote tourism operations assembled under Wasaya Wilderness Adventures Tourism Association. It is part of the Wasaya Group Inc. and works to promote the tremendous opportunities for remote outdoor adventure found in and around the northern communities that Wasaya Airlines regularly services. And if Makoop Lake Lodge is any indication then Wasaya Wilderness Adventures offers some intriguing destinations.

Over the next four days, we explore the rock piles, narrows and extensive weed beds from the inflow of the Nekikamog River to the south, up to the outflow of the Makoop River to the north. The austere beauty of this vast boreal-rimmed lake of sand and rock is accompanied by walleye and pike in size and numbers. On our last day, we join Tom the cook and some of the lodge staff for a trip to some of their favourite spots, where we experience surprising success.

We assemble back at the fish-cleaning house and break out filet knives while Tom reports back to the kitchen where he prepares broiled walleye pieces wrapped in bacon. They are a great hors d'oeuvre to accompany the thick steaks Tom is cooking for dinner, but make it even harder to accept that in the morning we have to leave the great fishing, facilities and genuine hospitality of Makoop Lake Lodge.


Makoop Lake Lodge - Bearskin Economic Development Corporation
General Manager
PO Box 45 Bearskin Lake, ON P0V 1E0
PH: (807) 363-9914

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