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Trophy-Class Trout and Bucket List Moose

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Trophy-Class Trout and Bucket List Moose

(Photo credit: The Ontario Experience)

The hunting and fishing trip of a lifetime in Sunset Country

Ontario offers many fishing and hunting trips to fly-in lodges and outposts. Read about an unforgettable one...

If it’s a bucket list hunt or a fishing trip of a lifetime you want to experience, look no further than Excellent Adventures and Cat Island Lodge. Excellent Adventures’ float plane base is located in Red Lake in Ontario’s Sunset Country. From there, Faron and his crew fly you to your fly-in destination, whether it be Cat Island Lodge for amazing fishing, or to one of their many remote hunting outpost camps.

float plane at dock

Excellent Adventures and Cat Island Lodge’s owners, Faron and Joyce Buckler, are longtime residents of Red Lake, Ontario. Faron started flying in 1975 at the age of 17 with his dad who had a flying bait business, trapping and supplying minnows to the local camps. In 1983, Faron and Joyce bought their first lodge and ran it for five years until they sold it, bought two float-equipped aircrafts, and started Excellent Adventures Outposts & Air Service.

Cat Island Lodge was originally built on a beautiful setting on a beach shoreline in the early ’60s by Jack Mitchell, E.L. Kenny, and Colonel Carter. In 2004, Faron and Joyce had the opportunity to purchase Cat Island Lodge which is a full-service lodge on Trout Lake with word-class walleye, pike, and lake trout. Since purchasing the lodge, they have added several new cabins in addition to renovating and updated all the existing cabins. Cat Island Lodge can accommodate up to 45 guests and have up to 20 staff on site to take care of your every need. The lodge offers a beautiful and cozy main lodge which you will appreciate after an activity-filled day. The log construction gives it a rustic charm that fits the natural surroundings.

The main lodge is the focal point to their American Plan dining by offering friendly service and three great meals a day. They serve a hearty breakfast in the dining room, shore lunch in the afternoon and a complete evening dinner menu, featuring a variety of delicious meals served family style — assuring you do not walk away hungry. After dinner, just relax and hang out for an evening watching TV, playing cards or a game of pool. Faron, Joyce, and their staff are committed to giving everyone an amazing experience of enjoying what Ontario’s Sunset Country has to offer. This is very evident by the roughly 75% repeat business they receive, including many customers who return yearly since they first purchased the lodge.

In addition to Cat Island Lodge, Faron, Joyce, and family now operate a fleet of three float planes to get their guests to their desired fly-in destination—which includes Cat Island Lodge, Lount Lake Lodge, Brownstone Outpost, Headwaters Outpost, Sumach Lake Outpost, and Scenic Lake Outpost, as well as several camping and remote hunting lakes scattered throughout the region.

aerial view of cat island lodge

Arriving at the dock of Cat Island Lodge and stepping off the plane, we were met by camp manager Mavis and her staff. Their amazing service is a strong commitment to ensuring that their guests’ vacation is an experience to remember. Cat Island Lodge is a full service, luxury fly-in fishing resort located on beautiful Trout Lake with over 99,000 acres of water to fish, which offers an all-inclusive American Plan and supplies comfortable 18-foot Lund and Crestliner boats with 40 hp 4-stroke Yamaha motors.

view of lake

Cat Island Lodge on Trout Lake definitely does the lake’s name justice with some of the most amazing lake trout fishing I’ve experienced—ever! The knowledgeable guides, along with extremely comfortable boats and effective Hummingbird sonar, made it easy to find and stay on these hard-fighting lake trout. The fall pre-spawn bite is something everyone needs to experience if you are interested in catching enough fish to make your arms sore. We were successful in finding areas where we could sit in one spot, drop our line over the side of the boat in 90 to 105 feet of water, and catch lake trout after lake trout with doubles being the norm.

An equally crazy experience was catching walleyes in the same deep water area mixed in with the lake trout! We had to move every time we caught walleye, because in that deep water the walleyes are unable to survive. So we would keep moving, but would still catch a few shore lunch walleyes along the way.

angler holding walleye and lake trout

Targeting these deep lake trout is pretty simple—vertically jigging 3/4 - 1 oz white jig heads tipped with 4- or 5-inch white or pearl paddle tails, tubes, or jerk minnows. Typically, these fish are suspended to near the bottom in 90 to 105 feet. A good sonar is extremely important. If you have a fishing partner and they connect on a lake trout, just slowly start reeling in your bait. Lake trout will see the commotion of the fighting fish, look for something to eat, and “doubles” will be the norm. These strong fish will not only make your arms sore, your face will hurt as well from the constant smiling!

angler holding lake trout

It’s not a surprise the walleye fishing is simply fantastic at Cat Island Lodge; as mentioned, we couldn’t keep them off our line in deep water while targeting lake trout. We did spend a morning targeting walleye in 20 to 25 feet of water where we could actually take advantage of some fast and steady catch and release action. Trout Lake does have trophy-class walleyes, but the average-sized fish are equally impressive.

During fall, these walleyes couldn’t get enough of jigging raps and hair jigs. Jig and minnows are very effective, but with the cooler fall air and water temps, artificial baits are equally effective and easier on your hands.

angler holding walleye

If a moose hunt is on your bucket list and you’re looking for a trophy class animal, then Excellent Adventures is a must. They give you the best opportunity possible to connect on a moose by ensuring that you are the only one hunting your outpost area during your hunt. They obviously can’t guarantee you a moose; that is up to you. But past guests have seen a 75% success rate in encountering or tagging a moose during their hunt. Excellent Adventures offer moose hunting packages—from self-guided to deluxe, fully guided options. Most importantly, they give their guests a hunt of a lifetime with an opportunity for an adrenaline-filled hunt.

My moose hunt was a bucket list adventure I won’t soon forget, nor will I stop reliving it in my head anytime soon. Excellent Adventures hire ultra-knowledgeable moose hunting guides who are second to none. My guides, Boyd and Luke, did their homework prior to my arrival and had a number of prime active moose areas scoped out. In fact, the area they keyed in on was definitely an area the moose were using regularly.

Boating to set up and call, the arrival of moose to the area was like clockwork; there awaiting us were a cow and calf along the shoreline. With a bull tag in my pocket, my guides and I were very confident this was the area where I would have my opportunity to encounter a bull. We started my journey to connect with a trophy bull by setting up down the shore from where we had seen the cow and calf to do some bull and cow calling.

moose call

This mid-September time frame, during my hunt, typically the rut is getting started. With cooler temps, which we were experiencing, the rut can typically get pushed into full swing and bulls get into their fighting and loving mood. Hence the reason for the guides using bull and cow calls. The first evening hunt was considered a success, and that was confirmed when we came back to that same spot to encounter bulls responding in the distance to our calls.

The next morning, there was no question we made the right choice. Just as the sun rose over the trees, we encountered my bull of a lifetime. As we landed the boat on the small island, I watched this giant put on a show on the inside edge of the woods, tearing up shrubs and rubbing the bark off trees, as my amazing guides called, confusing and flat-out pissing him off. The bull was so convinced by my guides’ cow and bull calls, he stepped out of the thick woods, giving me a perfect 225-yard broadside shot with my 30.06 Ruger, bringing him to his end just feet from the edge of the lake.

As I stood shaking from the ultimate adrenaline rush, I was in complete excited disbelief of the events that had just transpired. All I can say is having great guides is critically important. From getting you started on your hunt, to cooking your meals, to transporting your moose is back to the float plane base, they definitely take care of you from beginning to end.

It’s amazing, even after I’ve experienced this mind-boggling, successful, bucket list hunt, when I turn my calendar to 2019, there will still be a box next to “bucket list moose hunt” that I sure hope I’m lucky enough to check off again!

hunter, moose, guide

On my fall trip to Excellent Adventures I was lucky enough to experience the best of both fishing and hunting, split into two parts. Part One was flying into Cat Island Lodge for three days of world-class fishing, excellent cuisine, and ultra-comfortable lodging. This was followed by flying back to the float plane base only to unload fishing gear, load hunting gear, and fly into one of their many moose outpost camps. The trip was a nonstop cloud nine experience that was topped off by the best ending to a trip a person could ask for—a 57 1/4” giant!

When picking your next fishing adventure and trophy moose hunting destination, Excellent Adventures and Cat Island Lodge should be on the top of your list. Revisiting soon is my #1 goal!

For more information on Excellent Adventures & Cat Island Lodge, please visit: https://exc-adventures.com/

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