Chapleau Lodge - More Than Just Fishing

Not only does it have great fishing, it’s also one of Canada’s best commercial diving schools.

Even before I had left the office for this shoot, I knew I wanted to look at this Fish'n Canada episode as learning how to fish a new lake. Obviously, I’ve never been here before and as well I’m running solo… sans Angelo. One less angler in the boat can make things a little tougher to figure out.

For this trip, I was at Chapleau Lodge on Borden Lake within the arctic watershed in the Algoma region of Ontario.

chapleau-lodge
It’s more than just a fishing lodge, it’s also one of Canada’s best commercial diving schools as well.

There are Walleye, Northern Pikeand Smallmouth Bass in the lake. I wanted to concentrate on primarily the Walleye, however, I have been known to stray away... I think that's human nature to an angler.

After arriving at the lodge and talking to the owner of the establishment as well as some of the customers, I concluded that my first shot at this new body of water was a spot suggested by Bob, one of the long-time lodge clients. He said this area is full of depth changes, none of which are charted on any and all bathymetric maps. That sounded very interesting to me as I love running my charts and sonars trying to figure out the lay of the land… under the water, of course.

on-the-water
It’s hard to pull Pete off the water at supper time

SCOUTING

When fishing a lake that you've never been on before, like Borden, electronics become a very important factor. Gone are the days of looking for just a change in bottom composition or a fish or two. Modern-day electronics have opened so many more doors to learning “where and why” about fish.

Take my first spot for instance. I knew there was structure, I just had to figure it out.

After a series of passes using the Quickdraw feature which the folks at Garmin call "mowing the grass," my units quickly revealed an unbelievable piece of structure that looked like it was "handmade" for Walleye.

mowing-the-lawn
This image shows the “mowing the grass” technique used to Quickdraw an accurate bottom reading. Back and forth, to and fro… a bit of time is well worth it.

This is modern-day technology that we as anglers can and should use on pretty much every outing!

borden-hump

Notice the clearly defined “hump” or “shoal” that rises from the bottom (lightest green with red dot). All existing Bathymetric maps did not show this piece of structure. It often pays big dividends to take extra time and learn your fishing area.

DIVE SCHOOL

Of all the fishing lodges Ang and I have travelled to, Chapleau might just be the most unique... there's more than fishing here. It’s also the home to the Canadian Working Divers Institute, a highly-ranked commercial diving school.

dive-helmets
Paraphernalia like these diving helmets are strategically placed throughout the property at Chapleau Lodge giving it that “close to the water” feel

CWDI has been training qualified individuals to be certified Unrestricted Surface-Supplied Divers since 1993. Since that time CWDI has trained well over 500 divers from 25 countries. The demand for certified divers has never been greater, which gives their graduates a prime opportunity to engage in an exciting and rewarding career. Their graduates often exceed into advanced positions in the diving industry.

Think of it: take a diving course and go fishing, all at the same location!

decompression-chamber
Got the bends? This is the place to be!

SMALLIE TRANSITION

Borden Lake is not just a Walleye Lake. It harbors a nice population of Smallmouth Bass as well. Often during the mid-day lulls of Walleye fishing, I'll switch gear for a change in pace, and this trip was no exception.

smallmouth-bass
Smallmouth Bass are prevalent throughout Borden Lake. Incidentally, this lake harbors an insane amount of crawfish… great Smallie!

The two Smallie patterns I found were

  1. Shallow rocks in less than 6 feet of water. It took a lot of casts at a lot of rocks, but eventually, I did score on some aggressive Smallmouth.
     
  2. Main-lake islands. Again, I had to work for my fish, but remember, this lake is easy to access, so fishing will be a bit tougher than a fly-in out in the middle of nowhere.
borden-lake
Beautiful Borden Lake… a long, thin and scenic body of water

BIG WALLEYE

The highlight of this trip was while I was back to my Walleye fishing during a torrential downpour. I was in an area where there was a fast breakout from some exposed rocks. I was dragging a bottom bouncer/slow death hook with a full night crawler in and around the rocks as best I could. Now for those of you Slow Death experts, you are probably barking at me right now, saying “you don’t use a full crawler on that rig, Bowman,” and I agree. However, it was raining, my hands were soaked and I was undecided as to whether a Slow Death or a Live Bait Rig… so I combined both (he said while childishly sticking out his tongue!).

The result, though—well, I certainly can’t argue with it. I popped a couple of gorgeous Walleye on my Lazy Crazy Slow Death Rigmarole, including one close to 5 pounds. Pete’s happy now!

I’m often rewarded on “different” moves like this.

walleye-fishing
With good weather comes bad… and great Walleye fishing as well!

CONCLUSION

This is an episode where I used my Garmin electronics to my utmost capacity. In the process, I learned and will continue to learn about how to interpret the underwater world.

sunset
Ontario the beautiful… a great way to spend an evening

The always consistent factor, though, is Ontario’s fish populations, especially Walleye. With a lake like Borden, in the Algoma region of Ontario, you can pretty much bank on lots of fish in the water, it’s now up to you to find, and then catch, these delicious creatures!

OTHER ATTRACTIONS AROUND THE AREA

Chapleau Crown Game Preserve

RESOURCE LINKS

For a complete guide to Fish’n Canada Show episodes, TV channels and show times, go to www.fishncanada.com or www.facebook.com/fishncanada

About Pete Bowman

Pete attributes the beginning of his fishing success back to fishing as a kid. His dad would plan a fishing trip and Pete would always be included. Between those trips and his summer vacations (which always included fishing) with his family to northern Ontario, Pete’s fishing path was created. As a teenager he was consumed with the BassMasters® tournament events and pros. Pete bought his first bass boat in his early twenties and jumped right into tournament fishing. In the mid-80s he hooked up with The Fish’n Canada Television Show on a part time pro staff basis and is now proud to be a full-time part of the #1 viewed outdoor television program in the country.

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