World Class Walleye Fishing at Vermilion Bay Lodge

Eagle Lake has over 68,000 acres of clear Canadian Shield waters with world-class walleye and muskie.

Gord and Susanne Bastable have been around the fishing lodge business for a long time. In fact, in the early years, Gord put himself through university by working as a fishing guide at a lodge on Eagle Lake. That is where he met Susanne. The way the story goes, they met in the spring and were married in December of that same year.

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Well, for the last 26 years, Gord and Susanne have owned and operated Vermilion Bay Lodge on Eagle Lake. I had heard that they run a great operation, and I finally had a chance to get up there for a quick fishing trip. Over my fishing career, I’ve done a lot of trips to Ontario’s Sunset Country in the northwestern part of the province. There are literally hundreds of lakes and fishing resorts in that part of the world, and fishing is off the charts for a number of species of fish.

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The first thing I noticed upon driving into their property was that everything was immaculate. The attention to detail, from fish cleaning stations to the main lodge and the cabins, was immaculate. There’s a boat launch right on the property, with docking available as well as rental boats. Guides are also available upon request.

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We had a tight schedule and only had a few days to visit Vermilion Bay Lodge, so I asked if Gord would like to come out with us to show us around. Even though Gord has done a lot of guiding over the years, he hadn’t been out recently and said he was a little rusty, so he set us up with professional guide Greg Bruetsch, from Vermilion Bay.

Greg operates Eagle Eye Guiding and he has definitely paid his dues. He first started guiding at the age of 13 on Eagle Lake at his grandfather’s fishing lodge. He’s a multi-species guide who has caught pretty well every species that swims in Eagle Lake. He asked me what I’d like to fish for, and I said I’d like to sample some of the walleye fishing on our outing up there. He had been catching a lot of walleyes on live bait rigging with minnows so that’s what we went out to do.

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When you do a TV fishing show for as many years as I have, you know that sometimes you’re going to get some pretty challenging weather thrown at you. Well, as soon as we got out to our first spot, the rain and wind started to happen. We waited it out, and after about 45 minutes we were able to start fishing on the first spot, which was a main lake hump. We were fishing in the 25- to 35-foot depth range and within minutes we hooked up. With the camera running, we opened the TV shoot with a double-header of walleyes, both in the slot limit.

Many years ago a slot limit was put into place on Eagle Lake where any walleyes between 18 and 23 inches are non-keepers— they must be released. If you want to harvest a few to eat, you can keep a limit of four fish under 18 inches, or three fish under 18 inches and one over 23 inches.

We trailered up our new Ranger multi-species aluminum boat with the new Mercury V6 four-stroke engine on it. Most of Eagle Lake is charted on Navionics, so it was interesting to see where Greg took us as he certainly knew every shortcut to get to his fishing spots.

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The first thing I noticed was Greg’s amazing boat control. He used my Motorguide Xi5 bow-mounted electric motor with precision. One of the keys was keeping the live bait rig with a walking sinker as vertical as possible to prevent snagging, while still remaining in contact with the bottom. Throughout the day we caught walleyes at every stop that we went to, and ended up with a final total of about 30 fish for the day. Many of those were good, healthy walleyes that were in the slot size. That shows you that proper fisheries management can really help sustain a great lake like Eagle.

We spent our day walleye fishing, but Eagle Lake also has a reputation for world-class muskie fishing, and many of the guests at the resort were targeting them. I spoke to a few folks, and all of them were having success either catching or having lots of follows from muskies.  

Even though we had a short stay at Vermilion Bay Lodge, I will say that our time spent with owners Gord and Susanne Bastable and guide Greg Bruetsch was memorable. These folks are down-home, salt-of-the-earth friendly folks who I can now call friends.

VERMILION.END

Eagle Lake has over 68,000 acres of clear Canadian Shield waters with more than 400 miles of shoreline. Do you know what that tells me? I’ve got to make another trip up to fish this incredible lake and visit with my new friends Gord, Susanne, and Greg.     

About Bob Izumi

Bob Izumi is a Canadian professional angler, and the host of Bob Izumi's Real Fishing Show. He is most known for his success in bass fishing, and was awarded angler of the year in 2004.

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