Leuenberger Air Service: Your Ticket to Ontario's Best Fishing

The fishing is fantastic and the setting is unparalleled.

If like me, you are someone who loves to road trip and go on do-it-yourself (DIY) fishing trips, you’re in luck! I have just the place for you, Leuenberger Air Service, which operates out of Nakina, Ontario. This summer, I was asked by The New Fly Fisher if I was interested in a DIY destination in the north, and of course, how could I say no? In my opinion, DIY trips are always made better with good company, so I asked my friend Rob Voisin if he would like to join me, and it was an instant yes from him. After we created a solid plan for our trip, we packed the gear and pointed the truck north.

canoe bushplane lake

(Photo credit: The New Fly Fisher)

Rob and I decided to split the drive from southern Ontario into two parts, stopping partway in Sault Ste. Marie; is a city that, in my opinion, is the perfect layover location for any angler. There’s no better way to break up that long drive than with a quick fishing pitstop, as the St. Marys Rapids are easily accessible. While we didn’t have the time this trip, the temptation was definitely there, and we had the chance to chat to a few fly anglers coming off the river about their epic day.

The drive from Sault Ste. Marie to Nakina is breathtaking; prepare to be awestruck as your vehicle hugs the cliffs, and winds along the shorelines of beautiful Lake Superior. If you are driving up as we did, you can get a room overnight at the local motel in Nakina, located no more than two minutes’ drive from the airstrip.

angler fishing whitefish

(Photo credit: The New Fly Fisher)

As we arrived at the airbase the following morning, Rob and I were greeted by the head pilot, Jamie Sofonoff. Welcomed with a big smile and warm handshake, we instantly felt at ease. Leuenberger Air Service runs its operation seamlessly, and after a short delay due to fog, the dock hands had the plane loaded and we were up in the air in no time at all. A quick 40-minute flight due north soon had us landing on a remote back lake, and taxiing past our home for the week. Nestled on the shore sits a cozy, clean two-bedroom outpost cabin, equipped with running water and lighting. The outpost has everything a person could ask for, including a wood-burning stove and oven, in addition to a barbecue on the deck. Leuenberger Air Service equipped the outpost with two boats for guests, ideal for our fishing adventure.

two anglers walleye fishing in river

(Photo credit: The New Fly Fisher)

Now, when it comes to the fishing we experienced during our outpost adventure… I could go on and on! The lake is well known as a number’s lake for northern pike, and we were sure that if we fished it harder, we would eventually tangle up with a giant.  

However, Rob and I were looking for not just fun, but a bit of adventure. Our plan was to explore the two rivers that attached at both ends of the lake, and that’s exactly what we did! It didn’t take us long to get our rods bending during our explorations upriver. We quickly find a run that was loaded with whitefish and walleye. The whitefish stole the show for us, as neither Rob nor I had ever been fortunate enough to target this species. We caught the whitefish nymphing below indicators with basic trout techniques, however, the real fun was taking them on the swing. Swinging size 18 and size 20 nymphs, the takes and fights were epic, and they fought incredibly well. The walleye were by the number, and we caught them no matter where we were throughout the entire system. For walleye, we found the most success throwing mid-sized streamers, such as a Zonker.

two anglers whitefish

(Photo credit: The New Fly Fisher)

The days flew by, and we ended with a cold drink and a good conversation around the campfire. We were even lucky enough to witness the Northern Lights, clear and bright in the remote northern wilderness.

2 anglers fishing for whitefish

(Photo credit: The New Fly Fisher)

Rob and I had a fantastic trip, filled to the brim with adventure and exploring. The fishing was fantastic, the setting unparalleled, but to me, spending time with a great friend, in the great outdoors, is what it’s all about.

About Mikey Metcalfe

Mikey Metcalfe is a life long fly angler based in Fergus, Ontario. He is a Federation of Fly Fisher’s certified casting instructor who specializes in teaching beginner anglers the nuances of fly fishing, and runs the  Metcalfe School of Fly Fishing. The Grand River is his home water, but he guides all year in the tributaries of Southern Ontario.

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