You’ve probably heard of at least one of your fishing buddies talking about fishing the Minnitaki Lake Chain, which is part of the English River System. It’s a fantastic fishery near Sioux Lookout, Ontario, Canada.
In 1989 the chain of lakes was put under a “new” fisheries management program. By adding new limits and slot sizes, the fishery was protected and is now reaping the rewards of such a carefully managed program. Just take a look at the Sioux Lookout District Master Angler Release Awards Program! For example, in 2015, the biggest northern pike that was caught & released by Roy C. Stringfellow on Minnitaki was 48.75”! The biggest walleye submitted to the program from Abram Lake was a 29.5” specimen caught by Rob Colquhoun.
The English River flows from Minnitaki Lake over the Abram “chutes” into Abram Lake on the southeast side, and exits over the Frog Rapids into Pelican Lake at Frog Rapids Narrows on the northwest side, which then flows into Lac Seul. The Marchington River enters at the northeast point of Abram. Traveling east on Abram Lake leads to Botsford Lake and the Sturgeon River.
About the lakes
Minnitaki Lake is 159’ deep at the central basin, where not surprisingly the lake trout are found. The lake is 40 km long and 15 km wide. The densely wooded shoreline is irregular, with rocky and sandy areas as well as fallen trees and submerged logs. There are approximately 46,652 acres of water with 240 miles of shoreline.
Pelican Lake has a maximum depth of 115’ and averages around 34’. It is 5,786 acres (2,342 ha) in size. Water flows into Pelican from Abram via Frog Rapids. The English River exits the lake of the northwest side via Pelican Falls. The Vermilion River flows into the lake on the west side.
Botsford Lake has a maximum depth of 81’ and averages 23’. It is 1,357 acres (1,447 ha) in size. The Sturgeon River flows into Botsford at McDougall Falls on the northeast side from Marchington and exits on the southeast end, flowing towards Abram Lake.
Abram Lake has a maximum depth of 120’ and averages 40’. The widest part of the lake is 19.3 km (12.0 mi) and the narrowest width is 4.3 km (2.7 mi). Abram has 3000’ of shoreline with three sand beaches.
Butterfly Lake is a smaller lake with access into Minnitaki, Abram and Pelican Lakes without a single portage. It’s about 12 miles to Sioux Lookout by car.
A few notes about the fishing on the chain of lakes:
- There is fishing for walleye, perch, pike, lake trout, smallmouth bass, muskie, and whitefish.
- There is great walleye fishing at the connectors (Abram chute from Minnitaki and Frog Rapids into Pelican Lake).
- There are some smaller muskies found in the chain, but not usually in Minnitaki.
- Minnitaki and Pickerel Arm have great walleye fishing. Hotspots are near English River Falls, Red Pine Bay, and Rice River.
- There are three fish sanctuaries where you can’t fish at certain times of the year.
- There is a slot size for walleye on Minnitaki Lake, including Abram, Duck, Hidden, Pelican, Botsford Lakes and the English River, Red Pine Bay, and Rice River. Walleye and Sauger - none between 46-53 cm (18.1-20.9 in.), not more than one greater than 53 cm (20.9 in.). No person may possess any live fish taken by angling other than baitfish.
The lake chain is located in the Ontario Fisheries Management Zone 4. There are lots of exceptions to look out for. You can download the fishing regulations for Zone 4 online.
Some accommodations in the area (see the map below that shows where they are located):
Abram Lake Park
Abram Lake Park is situated on a point with a beautiful sand beach. They offer housekeeping cabins as well as a large RV Park. There are eight gorgeous fully equipped, winterized, housekeeping log cottages; each unique, cozy and hand-built using logs from our very own sawmill!
Contact them on their website or call them at 1-807-737-1247 or 1-807-737-3299
Anderson’s Lodge is an all-inclusive American Plan with some housekeeping options. There is no fixed menu and no fixed meal times. You can dine in air-conditioned comfort each evening between the hours of 5:30 and 9 pm. In addition to the main lodge on Abram Lake, they offer outposts on Lac Seul and Tully Lake.
Donnelly's Minnitaki Lodge
Donnelly’s Minnitaki Lodge is situated on the shores of the Pickerel Arm of beautiful Minnitaki Lake. You can pick from a variety of plans - American Pla or Light Housekeeping, rent a boat or bring your own and you can hire a guide if you wish. Other options include bringing your RV or trailer and staying in their campground or their fly-in outpost camp located on Keikewabik Lake, 16 air miles south of the main lodge.
Frog Rapids Camp
Frog Rapids Camp is located on Pelican Lake right next to the bridge at Pelican Rapids. Frog Rapids Camp has 16 fully equipped cottages ranging in size from two to five double beds, as well as one outpost on Marchington.
Contact Frog Rapids Camp on their website, or call them at 1-807-737-3029
Moosehorn Lodge is located on Pelican Lake. They offer American plan and housekeeping packages with no hidden extra costs. Moosehorn Lodge has an awesome guide service and specializes in muskie fishing.
Pickerel Arm Camp
Pickerel Arm Camp is located on Pickerel Arm, a 20-mile-long branch of Minnitaki Lake, The camp is centrally located at its widest point of the arm. Beyond the Arm is Minnitaki Lake with many bays and rivers that can easily be reached in 20-30 minutes. One housekeeping cabin sleeps eight to 10 people. All other cabins comfortably sleep 4-6 people.
Red Pine Lodge & Outposts
Red Pine Lodge is centrally located on Abram Lake, just minutes north from the “chutes” into Minnitaki Lake. The cabins at the lodge vary in size, accommodating two to 12 people. All cabins are lake view with large decks complete with deck furniture, propane BBQs, and fish cookers. Free WiFi and TV in each cabin.
Contact Red Pine Lodge on their website, or call them at 1-855-737-2904.
Timber Edge Camps
Timber Edge Camps is in a beautiful setting of tall white pines overlooking Butterfly Lake which is connected to the famous bays of Minnitaki Lake. The many miles of little bays and narrow channels ensure excellent all weather fishing and safety. Stay at one of the housekeeping cabins or at their RV Campground.
West Point Cove Camp
West Point Cove Camp is located on beautiful Pelican Lake in the shadow of Sioux Mountain. There are two cabins; one sleeps four and the other, which sleeps eight, is located right over the water. Each is equipped with electricity, running water, heat, cooking utensils, fridge, stove, bedding, and towels.
There are two great fishing tournaments in the area. The Sioux Lookout Walleye Weekend will be held the second weekend in June each year. The Morgan Fuels JR Walleye Championship is held for youth in early July.