Best of The Musky West

Over the last 15 years I have traveled to some great destinations throughout Ontario, Canada while filming The Musky Hunter, but there's no better spot for angling than in Northwestern Ontario.

Over the last 15 years, I have travelled to some great destinations throughout Ontario, Canada while filming The Musky Hunter. Northwest Ontario is loaded with musky waters, with many lodges located close to fantastic musky fishing. Although there are so many great waters throughout northwest Ontario, my top three picks have to be Lake of the Woods, Eagle Lake, and Cedar Lake. Each has unique characteristics and offers a different musky fishing experience. 

Casting at Sunset in Northwestern Ontario

Lake of the Woods

Lake of the Woods (LOW) in Northwest Ontario is often known as Lake of the Muskies. The lake is huge and relatively shallow with thousands of islands. The overall fertility of this water supports a tremendous musky population. This is water where it seems like every spot that should hold a musky does.

The thousands of islands on LOW are like a chessboard with musky spots. Some islands are large, and others are tiny. Regardless, if you find an island most likely you have found a musky. Actually, you have found a bunch of muskies. I have filmed entire television episodes simply circling islands that take less than 30 minutes to cast around the entire island! These tiny islands may seem like an exception, but I never ignore them. From afar, these small islands may not look like much but as you get closer you might see a patch of weeds as big as your boat or a couple of small rocky points. All of these are potential musky holding areas, which can be easily fished. Simply circle the island casting to all of the great-looking cover and move to the next island. It amazes me; sometimes how many muskies may consistently use such small spots.

Legendary Guide Bill Sandy, owner of Sandy’s Blackhawk Camp with a trophy musky

On the other end, there are large islands that might be close to a mile long or a half-mile wide. It would take days to fish the entire island. Rather than attempt such an act, pick these islands apart and look for sandy bays or rocky points. If the fish are in sandy bays, focus on the calm side of the island and fish a bunch of bays. Some will have weeds, others will simply be plain sand, but may have some scattered wood that holds muskies. If the muskies are on the rock points, I might fish the windy side as it seems to wind on the rocks is best. Regardless, my approach to fishing these islands is to pick a large bay, but start fishing from the point on one side of the bay, fish into the back of the bay, and work my way to the next point. Utilizing this approach, you can determine if the muskies are in the weeds or on the rocks.

Young’s Wilderness Camp

That’s the beauty of LOW—there are so many muskies that once you find them in one type of spot, you can simply fish a similar-looking spot and contact more muskies. There are many great areas and lodges all across LOW such as Young’s Wilderness Camp on the eastern side, or Sandy’s Blackhawk Camp on the far west end of LOW (an area known as the Northwest Angle). Expect lots of daily musky encounters whenever you fish LOW. Check out Sunset Country for more info on musky fishing here.

Eagle Lake

Eagle Lake is a legendary musky water throughout Ontario, Canada. Ask any musky angler and they are aware of the giant muskies that swim in Eagle’s waters. What’s incredible about Eagle Lake is not only the population of giant muskies but also the fact that you can fish in clear water or stained water. Further, so many of the musky spots such as islands, rocky reefs, large points or weedy bays are located adjacent to deep-water basins. It seems like every spot has the potential to hold a giant musky.

 Scott Jaeger, owner of North Shore Lodge with a giant Eagle Lake musky.

I prefer to fish spots on Eagle Lake that have character. This means spots that have a combination of rocky points and ledges with big boulders and rocky shorelines, along with patches of deep cabbage weed. This variety of cover seems to allow these spots to routinely hold muskies in a variety of seasons and weather conditions. One thing that’s different about Eagle lake versus LOW is that the spots tend to be larger and the cover deeper on Eagle. So, you might find your boat closer to 20 feet of water while fishing many spots on Eagle, whereas you might rarely be fishing deeper than 10 feet on LOW.

North Shore Lodge

I have fished all across Eagle and stayed at some great lodges. The two that tend to cater to musky anglers and are located on opposite ends of the lake are North Shore Lodge on the east end of Eagle and Andy Myers Lodge on the west end of Eagle. There are many other great lodges across the entire lake that you can check out here.

Cedar Lake

Located approximately 40 miles north of Eagle Lake near Perrault Falls, Ontario is a slightly smaller water, but one that is loaded with big muskies: Cedar Lake. This lake is unique in that it's horseshoe-shaped and feels like fishing three different lakes. The west end is clear and deep and gives you the feel of fishing Eagle Lake. The east end is shallow and stained and gives you the feel of fishing LOW, and the center of the lake has some colour and feels totally different. Also, Cedar is narrower, so it tends to be more protected from the wind than LOW or Eagle which have many more areas exposed to the wind.

Cedar Lake Lodge

I focus most of my time on Cedar Lake fishing weeds. Whether it be the deep musky cabbage beds in the bays or along the islands on the west side, or the shallower weeds in the many bays on the east end, that’s where the muskies are most commonly located. 

Although you can easily drive from one side of the lake to the other, you can burn a lot of gas and pass a lot of great musky spots taking that approach. On the west end of Cedar, I often stay at Cedar Lake Lodge and on the east end, I have stayed at Keystone Lodge.

If you want an incredible musky fishing experience and are in search of a trophy or are simply on a quest to catch your first musky, you can’t go wrong with western Ontario. All of the waters mentioned above are surefire winners, and all of the lodges can help you catch muskies.

About Jim Saric

Jim owns Jim Saric Outdoors, Inc., which is dedicated to elevating the sport of musky fishing to new levels by educating anglers through print, web, and television. He is the publisher, editor and owner of Musky Hunter Magazine and the Executive Producer of The Musky Hunter television series. Jim has over twenty-five years experience fishing lakes, rivers, and reservoirs from Minnesota to New York and all across Canada. He has boated more than 100 muskies exceeding 50 inches in length, the largest weighing 53 pounds.

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