Wabigoon Walleye Extreme

Anglers get spoiled at Merkel’s Camp in Northwestern Ontario.

How can you not be spoiled with so many lakes and rivers crisscrossing this region that really only see fishermen for a short period of each year during open water season, before the outdoorsman’s attention turns to hunting during the autumn months?

merkels camp sunset country

Merkel’s Camp - Family-Owned And Operated For 60 Years

We got a sampling of the spoils during a trip near Dryden, Ontario while visiting with the special folks, Merrill and Terry Kluke who we’re celebrating sixty years of operating Merkel’s Camp on Wabigoon Lake. I have heard many an angler’s tale of the fine fishing of Wabigoon Lake and finally had an opportunity to experience it firsthand with one of the guys who actually grew up on the lake and began guiding at ten years old! Yes, Terry knows this lake very well!

Merkel's Camp has been operating since 1963 and is a family tradition. In all aspects, Merkel's Camp is 100% owned and operated by Canadians. It began with Terry's grandparents, Clarence and Violet Merkel. Together they built four cabins and their home. Terry has been a part of the camp all his life; beginning with riding the bulldozer as it built the road into camp and later helping out in all aspects of camp life as he got older from dock boy to guide and all the dirty jobs in between!

Terry purchased the camp in 1983. Since then they have added another larger cabin, more fully serviced trailer sites and a "Drive to Outpost" cabin, one hour from the main camp.  

merkels camp paddling

Clean and Comfortable Camp Life

The camp is in an ideal location on Wabigoon Lake and most guests rarely venture further than one to three miles from camp for excellent fishing! The cottages are as clean and comfortable as it gets.  They have no "main" lodge at camp but end up using their home as such. It is not uncommon to have guests at dinner, a birthday party, or any celebration. They have watched the Stanley Cup Playoffs in the condo unit with guests! Each evening, weather permitting, they have a campfire for guests to converge and discuss their day along with shared ideas, experiences and memories. 

merkels camp dock boats
merkels camp shore lunch

Fishing Trophy-sized Walleye

Our first-morning fishing with Terry saw us venture maybe a mile from the camp docks to an island with shallow rocks leading to breaks ranging from eight to twelve feet of water. Terry fished with jig and minnow, I chose the one-eight-ounce orange/chartreuse jig heads with bright orange/green and yellow soft twister tail and began casting the shorelines as Terry suggested most fish positioned on Wabigoon Lake due to the water clarity and available baitfish.

The walleyes were exactly as Terry instructed, literally four feet from shore to right below our boat positioned on the first break approximately eight feet of water. I was impressed with both the number of walleye and thickness of these fish which ranged from twelve inches to twenty-plus inches all in the same locations. Not to mention the enormous northern pike that attacked our smaller walleye as we lifted them into the boat.

We ventured to several other islands with similar success and found some beautiful Wabigoon trophy-sized walleye in the thirty-inch class off a few of the island points. I guess all the internet chatter about Wabigoon was true after all, this lake had walleye on just about every spot we fished.

merkels camp walleye

Not sure why I waited so long to fish Wabigoon Lake, but I can guarantee you I will be back sooner than later for some of those oversized smallmouth bass and slab crappie that call this lake home.

Experience Wabigoon Lake

Toll Free: 1-888-521-3872

merkls camp fishing boat
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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