The 20-foot flat erupts into an elongated boulder pile topping out at around 14 feet. My wife, Francine, and I brace for action as we drag live bait rigs tipped with night crawlers. We’re following Jamie Robinson and his wife, Carol Anne. They’ve already plucked a couple of fat 19-inch walleye from this intriguing piece of structure, and just as our rigs start to bounce up the shoal, Francine and I both connect with more Fushimi walleye.
And it’s not just rock shoals that hold the walleye of Northern Ontario’s Fushimi Lake; we find action on sharp breaks, sandy edges, and weed flats. Even gradually sloping sand flats hold pods of eager fish. Walleye seem to be everywhere they should be.
Compared with parks like Algonquin or Lake Superior, Fushimi Lake Provincial Park maintains a pretty low profile. However, as an angler with my ear to the ground, everything I’d heard about Fushimi pointed to an attractive fishing destination, and it wasn’t hard to persuade Jamie and Carol Anne, along with their children Lindsay, 15, and Brett, 13, to join us.
Fushimi lies at the end of a 13-km gravel road off Highway 11, west of Hearst. North of Fushimi is mostly roadless wilderness, stretching hundreds of kilometres to Hudson Bay. But unlike other remote lakes with exceptional fishing, Fushimi has a launch ramp, fish cleaning station, flush toilet/shower comfort station, and more than 50 campsites.
The staff at Fushimi go out of their way to make us feel welcome, but it’s the friendliness of fellow campers that really helps to make Fushimi a special place. Virtually everyone we meet seems genuinely happy to be here. There is an openness amongst park users that makes us feel like part of one big family.
Beware the Hatch
After a few days on the water, we’ve explored most of the main lake and poked into a few of the many elongated, shallow, weedy bays. It’s early July, and although the mayfly hatch would normally be over, it’s been an unusually cool summer and the hatch is in full swing. Our last full day on the water is hot and calm, and the lake is alive with hatching mayflies. Walleye gorge on mayfly nymphs, and although the hatch is a notoriously bad time to fish walleye, we are catching some of the largest of the trip.
After Jamie Robinson releases the third in a trio of 25-plus-inch walleye caught under the hot afternoon sun, he wonders aloud: "Can you imagine what the fishing is like when the mayflies are done?"
In addition to catching walleye, pike, and perch we’ve watched loons, bald eagles, and moose. We have cruised past sloping granite shorelines, splashed through the shallows of deserted sandy beaches, and breathed the cedar-charged air of interior campsites and hiking trails.
And developed a keen sense of why our fellow campers seem so happy here.