Angling Adventures in Marten River

Marten River Lodge is located just 4 hours north of Toronto and just 30 minutes north of North Bay.

There is a fishing lodge in Northeastern Ontario, approximately four hours north of the big city they call Toronto, dating back to 1925. A lodge that features most of the original, hand-hewed log cabins dating back nearly a century, whose owners take great pride in maintaining and preserving the historic beauty while providing modern-day conveniences. This lodge has that classic look and feels, where you might say rustic meets comfort.

That lodge is none other than Marten River Lodge, just a short hop, skip, and a jump from the big metropolis to the south. We had the honour to visit with a host of Ontario lodge operators every season all across our wonderful province of Ontario, and each location has something unique to offer its guests. This past September, we had a cancellation due to some unforeseen circumstances at another lodge, and only had a few days to work on rescheduling our walleye shoots to end the filming season. As hunting season was on the horizon, many of the lodge operators were booked solid or were prepared to close down for the season.

Luckily for us, the gracious owner's Ray and Donna Sapiano of Marten River Lodge heard of our situation and offered to make room for us, so the show could go on. They not only made room for us, but they also set us up in one of the fully furnished cottages that makes you feel like you’re visiting a friend’s northern paradise. All the décor in these cottages screams “classical Canadian heritage” with the comforts of home: big comfy beds and very spacious rooms.

I’ll get back to the many fine amenities and features of this lodge, but let’s get to the meat of this article, our walleye adventure on one of the lakes that this lodge treats its guests to on a consistent basis. We hooked up with one of the popular guides who operate from the lodge, Sam Rose. Sam and I discussed the options of how we were going to fish the next morning, and he suggested we control our drifts over the edges of sharp drops, mid-lake shoals, and humps that this lake was famous for. We'd use small blades and bead rigs with live bait as an added attraction, with a split shot crimped above the leader line to bounce off the bottom and create a little disturbance which could garner the attention of Mr. Walleye.

I was looking forward to our angling adventure the next morning but first, the lodge owners invited us as guests to the dining room for a mouth-watering meal prepared by their own chef. He specializes in unique dishes that the guests crave and always includes handmade desserts that are enjoyed with hot coffee and pleasant conversation among the other guests and the lodge owners. Good times were had by all. We came for the fishing, our work, and our job, but we sure enjoyed the stress-free atmosphere of being at this lodge.

We set out around 8 am (after a belly-filling breakfast of course) and by 8:45 we were already casting our lines preparing for drift number one on a sharp-dropping ledge close to the shoreline. Walleye number one was hooked and put into our boat's livewell by 9:10! Impressed, yes.

Our guide Sam sure knew this lake and all the hotspots as we fished numerous ledges, mid-lake reefs, shoals, and bars. If no fish were hooked or caught within his set time frame, we took off and visited a bunch of his milk run spots while catching an assortment of walleye, northern pike, smallmouth bass, and yellow perch on the blade and bead rig. The bites felt electric with this setup, and our strike-to-hook-up ratios were very good on this typical late fall day with overcast skies, high winds, and cool temperatures. But that didn’t stop the fish from biting and Sam’s boat control was as smooth as silk.

I could tell he was very experienced in proper boat positioning, so our bait rigs would drift right over any suspended or ledge-holding walleyes, which made my job so much easier. All I had to do was make sure to let out enough line, so my split shot was bouncing off the bottom, and wait for the tick signalling a bite. We fished until just after noon, then the two of us and our camera crew headed to a secluded location that Sam had with a fire pit, wood, and all the essential tools for a tasty shore lunch of freshly caught walleye with baked beans, potatoes, onions, and some special spice recipe that made the entire meal unforgettable.

We were both fortunate and blessed to have had this wonderful angling adventure with these hard working and very friendly lodge operators, staff, and guides over our short stay.

I wish we had more time to experience some of the other angling opportunities that are available at Marten River Lodge, but I guess that will have to wait for another day.

When you’re planning your next angling adventure to Ontario, think of the friendly folks at Marten River Lodge, which earned the Trip Advisors Certificate of Excellence award in 2017 as one of the premier lodges in Canada.

A place where rustic meets comfort in a stress-free environment is waiting for you.

Contact Information

Marten River Lodge
Marten River, Ontario, P0H 1T0
Toll-Free: (800) 561-2067
Phone: (705) 892-2351

Other Lodges along the Marten River

About Karl Kalonka

It's possible Karl's love for fishing began as early as the age of five. His parents took the kids on weekend trips across Ontario fishing for panfish, catfish, and bass. "I started with a bobber and worm from the time I was five years old," says Karl. These days, he has the enviable task of doing what he loves for a living, travelling across Ontario fishing, filming and producing two outdoor series, Extreme Angler and Crappie Angler TV.

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