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Walleye Ripe for the picking at this Thunder Bay fly-in

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Walleye Ripe for the picking at this Thunder Bay fly-in

RD Carson with an average sized walleye from Northwestern Ontario’s Kagianagami Lake. • Credit: James Smedley

The author and friend fly-in to Kagianagami Lake for remote fishing

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A nervous anticipation occupies that time between landing at a fly-in destination and hooking our first fish. It's a time when we wonder if the trip will unfold the way we'd imagined.

As we leave the dock at Kagianagami Lake, my visions of a shallow, flat-bottomed walleye basin are immediately replaced by the reality of a wildly fluctuating bottom, plunging to well over 100 feet. As we approach a small island, a broad 30-foot flat rises to meet the graduated rock ledges extending from its southern tip. I drop down a worm and a slip sinker rig and back troll. Almost immediately, a reassuring tug confirms the presence of walleye. I drop some line, then sink the hook into a fish that puts up much more of a fight than I'd expect from its 20-inch frame. Less than a minute later my partner, RD Carson, is unhooking a similar-sized beast from a spinner rig.

The fast action is no fluke. The procession of walleye to 24 inches continues throughout the warm and sunny afternoon. After four days on the water we only scratch the surface of Kagianagami's 150 km of shoreline. Numerous islands, reefs, saddles, flats, rock piles, and mid-lake humps provide textbook walleye structure, complete with obliging fish who fall to all classic walleye presentations.

Lake trout don't come quite as quickly, but tales of fish over 30 pounds inspire us to climb into one of the lodge's downrigger-equipped boats to probe the depths for grays. I set my line to 52 feet as we troll along a deceptively flat shoreline, which sinks steeply to well over 100 feet. The first release is mine and I spring from my seat to set the hook into a heavy fish. I slowly play it to surface where she is photographed, revived and released. No giant, but at more than 12 pounds she is a substantial fish. Carson counters with a seven-pound laker and several smaller grays.

Leuenbergers Turbo Otter at the dock at Northwestern Ontario’s Kagianagami Lake. (Photo credit: James Smedley)

Pike anglers will want to plan their trip in spring when jackfish over 40 inches are packed into shallow bays. Whitefish are caught from the dock during the mayfly hatch late June and even brook trout can be found with some effort.

Carved into the southeast point of Kagianagami's largest island, the vertical log lodge meshes well with the lake's exceptional fishery. The dedication of the staff is reflected in the accommodations, equipment and food. Service begins each morning with a 6:30 am thermos of coffee appearing in our cabin as if by magic. It ends with the thorough cleaning and gassing of boats each evening. The dock hands talk excitedly about angling and spend their evenings and days off on the water. They seem genuinely happy to be here. And at Kagianagami Lodge, who can blame them?

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