Ten Mile Lake Lodge

Enjoy true Northern hospitality fishing for splake, brook trout and lake trout north of Elliot Lake.

I anticipated light traffic on my drive from my home in Fergus, Ontario to Elliot Lake, as I would be going against the Victoria Day weekend return rush from cottage country. I’ve driven this route dozens of times but in the past, no matter what time of day you travel, there always seem to be delays. This, however, was very different. When I got onto the 400 North, the traffic was non-existent and I couldn’t help but feel sorry for the southbound travellers crawling home, bumper to bumper. I said to myself, that it won’t last and mile after mile, I waited for the congestion, but it didn’t happen. So with a good radio station and cruise control, I drifted along the 400 and onto Hwy 69 without a glitch, giving me ample time to think about the next four days.  

I was meeting Colin McKeown, Producer at The New Fly Fisher Television Show for a multi-day shoot at Ten Mile Lake Lodge, just north of Elliot Lake. At this point, I didn’t know much about it other than what Colin and I had talked about on the phone so my expectations were low.  I knew that we would be fishing small lakes, for the most part for splake, brook trout and lakers and that there may be a chance to find some “Ice out” conditions, as the ice had only come off the lakes about a week and a half earlier. Expectations aside though, I was reasonably enthusiastic as I’d never fished for splake, so I had a new species on the horizon and I hadn’t spent a lot of time fly fishing in lakes, for trout, in a long time. 

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I made outstanding time and found the boat launch at Dunlop Lake, where I met Dan Marceau, the proprietor, along with his wife Jill, at Ten Mile Lake Lodge. Colin and our DOP, Brett Colpitts, pulled in just minutes behind me and after introductions and loading our gear onto Dan’s boat, we headed across Dunlop, on the first leg of the trip into the lodge. I wouldn’t call Ten Mile Lake a “Drive to” facility, as there are boats involved, but Dan has it seamlessly set up, making it a very pleasant and relatively short trip. About 30 minutes later, after a short portage, where they had a small pickup truck for gear at the ready and another boat ride across Ten Mile Lake, we were pulling into the lodge's dock.

The adage, “You don’t get a second chance at a first impression”, is as true as it gets, and I was more than impressed by the lodge and the property. The grounds were impeccably groomed and the buildings, of which there are several, seemed well maintained and in excellent shape, despite some of them being over 75 years old.

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The Fishing

Colin and I had made the plan to treat this as a “do it yourself” trip and highlight the angling opportunities around Ten Mile Lake. While Ten Mile, itself, has excellent fishing, the big lake is more suitable for conventional tackle and trolling. The lake has some depth to it and down rigging or trolling with various crank baits would likely produce well but we were fly fishing and felt that the smaller lakes would be more suitable for our gear. With that said, there is no lack of lakes within walking distance of the lodge and Dan has boats on all of the major lakes for guests to use.  

The fishing here is unique in that you’ll seldom find all three species in one lake. For the most part, the lakes are stocked and maintained by MNRF and while I’m not certain of the stocking strategy, one lake may hold only brook trout, whereas an adjoining lake may have lakers and splake, just as an example. I’ll say this though, over the four days that Colin and I fished, we caught all three species and for being stocked fish, they were beautiful specimens, bearing no indications of being “Pen reared”. The fish that are provided come from the Tarentorus Provincial Fish Culture Station in Sault Ste. Marie and based on what I saw that facility does a wonderful job. If I hadn’t been told that the majority of the fish were stocked, I never would have guessed it.

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Colin and I did what you need to do when fishing new water. With the help of Dan and a portable fish finder, we were able to locate a high percentage of water by means of locating submerged structure, humps and depressions and variations in water temperature and for the most part, found fish. Using sinking lines of various sink rates, (1- to 3-inch, 3- to 5-inch and 5-inch to 7-inch Ips) we were able to get our streamers down and fish to likely looking structure that could hold fish. Baitfish patterns were definitely the top producers and that made sense as the lakes held an enormous baitfish base. Everywhere we went, minnows such as emerald shiners were visible in the clear water so until the fish told us otherwise, we stayed with what we knew to be forage. Although most of the lakes will get solid Mayfly hatches, and we did see evidence of that, the fish were seldom oriented to the surface, precipitating the need to remain sub-surface. 

After a couple of days, Colin and I were starting to figure things out. Although we were fishing deep, it certainly wasn’t prohibitively deep. Despite some warmer-than-average weather, the water temperatures were still hovering between 55- and 60 degrees F, and that makes trout happy. We found that anywhere we could find a consistent 57 degrees in depths between 12 feet and 15 feet, providing there was structure, we found fish. 

Overall, for our fly fishing efforts, Colin and I were pretty happy. The weather cooperated, almost too much, giving us high skies and sun for the better part of our stay, but in the end, we accomplished what we wanted to do: catch all three major species.

Other Opportunities

Dan and Jill will tell you that they don’t get a lot of fly anglers, and I believe that Colin and I were the first to do it exclusively. Most lake trout anglers don’t really associate fly fishing with that species, but we proved that with a little diligence, it is a more than viable fly fishing destination. Ten Mile Lake Lodge, though, is definitely multi-dimensional, offering just about anything the outdoor enthusiast desires. For the ice fisherman, all of the lakes that we fished offer outstanding hard-water angling and being a stocked fishery, provincial retention limits apply, meaning you can indulge in a shore lunch of fresh trout or take a few home. Obviously, the ice fishing aside, conventional tacklists will fare well with any of their “small lake” tactics and can expect splake and brook trout up to four pounds and even larger lakers. It really is spectacular fishing, and while the ice fishing window is fairly obvious, other anglers should think about the period between ice out and the 2nd week of June for prime time. 

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I’d be remiss, though, if I didn’t mention the winter snowmobile opportunities and that the lodge is not just a “fishing” facility. In fact, I can’t think of a better place to hold a family vacation or even a corporate event. While we were there, Jill and Dan were preparing for a wedding party staying there the following week. What more can you ask for?

Jill and Dan are wonderful people and are terrific hosts. Their facility is just about as welcoming as it gets and has all of the modern conveniences to make your stay comfortable. If you enjoy outdoor getaways, preparing your own menu, relaxing and outstanding fishing, we highly recommend Ten Mile Lake Lodge.

About Mark Melnyk

Currently, Mark is the host and producer of The New Fly Show. With a passion of fly fishing, the shows goal is to help both novice and veteran fly fishers everywhere by giving them a top-quality fly fishing series that will make them better anglers. 

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