Freedom at Birchland Cottages

The fall fishing opportunities in Algoma are extraordinary.

Crystal clear lakes. Crisp air. Fall colours. To say I was excited to head north was an understatement. As I looked out across Toronto from my cramped, downtown condo, I was daydreaming about early mornings heading out onto a calm lake, fly rod in hand. My name is Yilma Campbell and I’m the co-host of a fly fishing podcast called "So Fly". Me and the other guys in So Fly were about to embark on a weekend trip to Birchland Cottages in Algoma Country.

lakeside cottages, fall

I’m no stranger to Northern Ontario, but this was my first time up in Algoma. After reading much about the region over the years, I was excited to finally go and explore it. It was early fall, and I was curious to see what the forest would look like up North. Leaves changing? That classic Ontario fall smell in the air? Cooler mornings and nights? Hopefully. We hit the road with some fresh coffees, and it wasn’t long after passing Muskoka that the leaves began to show their brilliance. What was green in Toronto was fiery orange and yellow here. Fall had come to the north.

fly casting from boat

As we got closer to Birchland, near the town of Iron Bridge, we were welcomed by several giant bald eagles perched overlooking the Mississagi River. The salmon had started their spawning migration, and the eagles were sitting, waiting to snag an unsuspecting fish. Suddenly it no longer felt like Ontario, but rather British Columbia.

angler holding fish

This is when it hit me. The fall fishing opportunities in Algoma are extraordinary. Sure, you read about it, but when you’re actually there you realize just how spectacular it is. Lake run salmon. Bass. Pike. Walleye. Musky. Steelhead. The salmon and steelhead were running up the tribs of Lake Huron. I had never caught fish from Huron before or even had the chance to chase them. Alas, I had forgotten my gear to do so which admittedly was a rookie move. But I’ll be back just to target these migrating giants. For now, I had to focus on the task at hand – chasing warm water fish, and hopefully getting into a musky or two.

breakfast at cottage resort

Birchland Cottages is located on Clear Lake about 15 minutes west of the town of Iron Bridge. Clear Lake is as advertised – astonishingly clear and teeming with huge smallmouth bass and decent northern pike. The waterfront cottages are not only beautiful and modern but also built with sustainability in mind. Owner Mark has used reclaimed wood to line the cabins and boat docks. Very, very cool. Our cabin was the perfect base camp for a great weekend of fishing.

cottage evening

Each cabin has its own dock, and you can easily launch your own boat or have a rental arranged. Mark was kind enough to lend us his amazing Lund and we spent the day exploring Clear Lake. The bass and pike must have sensed the change in the air and were eating like crazy in a last-ditch effort to bulk up before winter. We ended up fishing a few lakes around Birchland, but easily could have spent the entire time on Clear Lake.

It was a remarkable weekend filled with fantastic fish, lots of laughs, good company, and beautiful surroundings. Certainly, was a welcome change from my little Toronto condo.

About The So Fly Crew

We're a fly fishing podcast here to tell your stories. Our goal is to connect the Ontario fly fishing community one episode, video, and event at a time.