A Bucket List Fishing Challenge

Ashley Rae casts a line for as many species as she can find on this Northeastern Ontario Fishing Road Trip!

Over the summer I had the opportunity to set out on a fishing road trip throughout the BIG Northeastern Ontario region. This was a bucket list fishing adventure! Having the chance of fishing four different bodies of water, each holding different fish species, sparked a challenge. My goal was to catch different species throughout the trip at each location. Could it be done?

The adventure began at my home in the Ottawa area. Joining me on this eight-day road trip was my fishing partner, Eric, and our deep-v style boat "Dreamcatcher."

Deepwater Lodge, Lake Temagami

We made our way up north, beyond North Bay to our first destination, Deepwater Lodge on Lake Temagami. The boat-in accommodations were the first time for me, and I was excited to settle in on an island for a couple of days. Lake Temagami is such a scenic lake dotted with what seems like endless islands and untouched scenery.

After meeting the lovely owner, Jen, and getting settled in at our cabin, we wasted no time in getting out there and chasing some fish. This lake is well known for lake trout, walleye, bass, and northern pike among others. We got some advice from local fishing expert Mackie at nearby Blue Haven Lodge. Lake trout were on my mind and I knew this body of water held some big ones, so off we went to do some exploring.

Vertical jigging with blade baits in the depths was our most successful presentation, bringing some nice lake trout to the boat for both Eric and I. We also got into some smallmouth bass as well. Two species checked off the list!

White Pine Lodge, the Montreal River

Our next stop, located approximately an hour away, was White Pine Lodge, located on the gorgeous Montreal River. This was another boat-in accommodation, which I have to say is quite a nice way to escape! Pulling up to the shores of White Pine Lodge is so picturesque. We were greeted at the docks by the owners, Lorraine and John. They so kindly helped us bring our belongings to our cabin so we could get settled. Although time slows down in a place like this, we didn’t waste a moment in getting back out on the water and crossing some more fish off our list.

We successfully checked off: northern pike, smallmouth bass, walleye, and perch. Although we used a variety of tactics, spinnerbaits and drop shot rigs worked best for us. Three more species caught brought us up to five types of fish!

Wolseley Lodge, the French River

Next, we made our way to Wolseley Lodge on the French River where we would stay for a couple of days. The lodge is located along the shoreline of the river, with several cabins stretched out along the water's edge. This beautiful area is known for many species, but we were hopeful that we could check musky off our list.

After meeting with Harald and Ingrid, the lodge owners, we had an informative chat with Harald about the layout of the river. He went over his own personal map with us, pointing out some great fishing locations. He is so knowledgeable, and I swear he knows where every weed line and shoal is located on the river. As we set out to chase musky, Eric hooked one up with only five casts in! Unfortunately, heartbreak ensued as it jumped wildly and shortly after became unbuttoned. It was our only shot at a musky in our time on there, but it just further instilled that we need to go back!

We caught walleye, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass and northern pike during our visit on the French River. We were now up to six species (almost seven if Eric had landed the musky).

Meldrum Bay Inn, The North Channel of Lake Huron

Next up, our final destination was the North Channel of Lake Huron. We checked in at the marvelous Meldrum Bay Inn. This place triggers instant relaxation with the breathtaking view of the North Channel right across the road, but inside has such a lovely and old-fashioned atmosphere that it makes you feel as if you’ve stepped back in time. Shirin, Bob, and their staff took great care of us during our stay.

I wasn’t sure what to expect on the big waters of Lake Huron, nor did I know if we would successfully locate some fish. As it turns out our trip came to an end with some memorable catches!

We went out exploring the big water in search of salmon and lake trout. We were marking lots of fish on and near the bottom of the sonar. Eric and I tried trolling for a little while in search of some suspended fish (that could potentially be salmon) but didn’t have any luck with it. After switching to jigging blade baits and locating some active fish that were chasing our bait, I landed my first-ever pink salmon!

That was pretty exciting and encouraging for us to keep up with the jigging technique. Following that fish, we had a nice flurry of activity with each of us landing our largest lake trout yet (Eric's featured up top)!

Releasing my laker!

There was some screaming and celebrating involved, haha! It was a fantastic ending to this bucket list adventure where we landed a total of seven different species in eight days, including the two personal bests and a new species for me! Without a doubt, it was a successful road trip and an unforgettable experience.

About Ashley Rae

Ashley Rae is a year-round multi-species angler residing in Ottawa, Ontario. She is a full-time fishing writer and content creator. Ashley is passionate about chasing anything with fins from her boat, kayak, from shore, or on the ice

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