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Experience the Cochrane District

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Experience the Cochrane District

• Credit: Jeff Morrison

Featuring Kesagami Wilderness Lodge and Cochrane Air Services

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Cochrane is one of the those Northeastern Ontario towns you can quickly fall in love with, not only for its quaint Northern charm, but its access to some of the province’s premier hunting and fishing opportunities. Many folks have heard about the fabled Polar Bear Express, the historic train that runs from Cochrane to Moosonee. The town also boasts the impressive Tim Horton’s Event Centre, a huge facility with tons of minor hockey on an NHL size rink, but also includes an expansive waterpark with a 21-foot waterslides and a simulated indoor tropical beach... Not too shabby!

What hunters and anglers seek each spring from Cochrane lies a stone’s throw from town in the immense Cochrane District, the second-largest district in all of Ontario. It is a region to behold, and if you have never visited this part of the country, do yourself a favour and check out Kesagami Lake Wilderness Lodge and the Cochrane Air Service.

Cochrane Air Services.

cochrane air

For those adventure-fueled individuals wishing to navigate the over 140,000 kmthat is Cochrane District, travel by air is preferred. Cochrane Air Service operates both Cessna and Beaver floatplanes and is legendary in the “sportsmen shuttle service” business, especially in spring, when sporting enthusiasts eagerly descend on cold Northern waters in search of quarry. Big and toothy quarry, I might add.

They maintain a number of fly-in outpost camps as well, each equipped with motorboats. Starting May 18 when the fly-in season kicks-off, Cochrane Air is busy jockeying anglers out to camps on different lakes where Northern pike, walleye, brook trout, and lake trout opportunities abound. The skies come alive in May with floatplanes transecting the air on a daily basis, where they specialize in something near and dear my heart, remote brook trout opportunities! Every trouter’s dream is access to serene and virtually untouched wild brookie waters, and Cochrane Air offers access too Verena, Echo and Audrey Lakes—three of the best Spec lakes in Cochrane district.

Walleye from Cochrane Air Services.

Cochrane Air is located just north of town at #620, Concession 6 & 7. Travelling from Highway 11 West, turn left on Western Avenue and follow this road, take Highway 579. Turn right on Concession 2 & 3 and then an immediate left. Travel past the Skywrench hangar, and you will arrive at the north end of the lake where the airbase is located.  Cochrane Air Services is also the main air shuttle for Kesagami Wilderness Lodge.  For more information on Cochrane Air Service: 1 (888) 234-8882 or via email: cas@puc.net

Northern Pike at Kesagami Lake WIlderness Lodge.

kesagami lake wilderness lodge

Kesagami Wilderness Lodge prides itself on offering high-quality trophy fishing in God’s Country, which is the Cochrane District. Their remote fly-in fishing lodge offers world-renowned pike and walleye opportunities that has anglers coming from all around. This four-star lodge boasts excellent meals, accommodations in cabins or deluxe motel style rooms, and guided or unguided fishing for trophy pike and walleye. Kesagami has giant Northern pike through and through, but as Lodge Owner Charlie McDonald says, it doesn’t stop there: “Yes, we are famous for our trophy pike, especially in springtime, but we have many guests who come just for the spring walleye fishing.”

So, how big are the pike at Kesagami? This lodge set the Canadian record for live- released pike back in 1995, and Charlie says they have “unofficially” broken that record many times since. Two trophy northerns of 54″ have been hooked in recent years, tipping the scales at over 40 pounds. Charlie and his staff protect their special “trophy fishery” with tooth and nail, be it walleye or pike, using a selective harvest for walleye (allowing for a tasty shore lunch) and a total catch-and-release policy in place for pike. Add to that a policy of single barbless hooks, and you know why fishing here is world-class! 

In the past few years, two magnificent 54″ fish have been caught, which would have set new Canadian release records, had the measurements and photos been submitted. But both fish were photographed and quickly released, so as not to put them through the rigors of weighing and measuring. Hundreds of trophy pike (36″) and larger are released at Kesagami each year. As a result, the average size of Northern pike caught has continuously gotten bigger since Charlie introduced his conservation policies. 

Shore Lunch at Kesagami Lake Wilderness Lodge.

In this region, every ’eye over 16″ is released, and no fish can be taken home. Shore lunches, however, are traditional part of the Kesagami tradition and remain integral to any remote fishing experience. The maximum allowable size for walleye kept for shore lunch is also 16 inches. At Kesagami all pike must be released, and no live bait may be used. 

Getting there:

  • Taxi / shuttle to Cochrane, ON (overnight accommodations available in Cochrane)
  • Taxi to Cochrane Air Service airbase (five minutes from Cochrane)

Charlie suggests, as per his mission statement, that his guests “enjoy an unforgettable wilderness experience with great relaxation and friendship.” He also strives to protect Kesagami’s natural resources, to grow more and larger fish each season, and to leave Kesagami a better place in the end. I would say Charlie McDonald definitely has his priorities in order! 

For more information on this ultimate trophy pike factory in beautiful Cochrane District, contact Charlie McDonald: 1 (800) 253-3474, or check them out online: https://kesagami.com/

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