Fishing Beteau Lake & the magical Attawapiskat River
At 3:30 am one beautiful June morning, I waited anxiously in my driveway for my friends known as the “Walleye Wanderers'' for our trip to Nakina, Ontario for a week of fantastic fishing. While I have visited many lakes in Ontario’s Superior Country on my annual trips over the last 25 years, this year, I am returning to one of my favorites, Beteau Lake on the beautiful Attawapiskat River with Gray Wood Outfitters.
Saturday morning comes early, and the Wanderers are excited to get to the float plane base on Cordingley Lake and get in the air. As we arrive at the airbase, it is already a beehive of activity. The sun is barely up, but Nakina Air is preparing to fly anglers into camps near and far.
It isn’t long before our gear is weighed and loaded into the pristine de Havilland turbo Otter and we are off to Gray Wood Outfitters Beteau Lake Outpost camp, an approximately 130-mile flight. After about 55 minutes, we set down on the lake and taxi to the dock where we are welcomed with enthusiasm. In fact, of all the trips north of Nakina, I have never returned to a lake as many times as Beteau. It truly is a place to be experienced and the fishing, well I call it the “Palace of Pike'' for the huge Northerns.
We received a tour of the camp, which consists of four spacious, comfortable cabins, one large common kitchen building (mini lodge) which is very well equipped with full sized fridges, stove and deep freezer, hot and cold running water, WiFi and even satellite TV!
Our cabins were quite comfortable with two sets of bunk beds, new foam mattresses, two windows for ventilation, wood stove, propane heat, insulated ceiling, and electric lights. A walk around the camp clearly indicates ongoing improvements with a deluxe shower house behind the kitchen cabin, a fully stocked tool shed, fish cleaning station, picnic tables, and Adirondack chairs, full sized gas BBQ, fish fryer, and more. The camp is nicely laid out, the grounds are clean and maintained, and the dock is wide and stable.
After a quick bite to eat and assembling rods and reels, we were soon out on the lake searching for some trophies. However, the weather soon began to turn with the wind picking up and rain blowing in. Even so, it did not dampen anyone’s spirits. My boat mate Erik and I were only about 250 yards from the dock when Erik hooked into a nice fat 41” pike!
Not bad for the first fish of the trip. We chuckled that he may have just caught the biggest fish of the week in the first 30 minutes on the water. It certainly was a beautiful pike but it was not to be the biggest of the week, with several healthy pike over 40” released throughout the week. Our first day went well despite the weather with several nice pike caught and released and many walleye landed with a few kept for a nice fish fry supper.
The next morning was calm and as I sat on the dock with my first cup of coffee, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of tranquility and complete relaxation by the beauty of this waterway and the boreal forest surrounding me.
After a hearty breakfast, we headed west up the river to a favorite bay, a few drop-offs, and a point where we have had previous success with large toothy critters. As the weather turned for the better, we packed a lunch and headed several kilometers upriver. We planned to make a day of it. Partway to our destination we stopped at a small, pebbled beach where the owners had placed a picnic table and some supplies for a shore lunch. Soon, fresh Walleye, potatoes, and beans were cooking on the fire while we stretched our legs and explored the shoreline. After a hearty meal we were back in the boats and on the troll. Erik and I slowly trolled around the backside of an island. In the distance I spotted what looked like a log floating in the middle of the narrows between the island and the mainland. As we got closer, I noticed the log was moving and was in fact a bull moose swimming to the mainland. We quietly followed at a distance and watched in amazement as the moose casually walked up and out of the rocky shoreline and promptly disappeared into the forest almost without a noise.
Some of the wildlife I have experienced at Beteau include beautiful bald eagles, moose, bears, grey jays, grouse, a lot of beavers, and one particularly friendly groundhog we named Thomas. Thomas lives at the camp, has been there for years and he is so friendly he will literally sit on your knee for a carrot!
Beteau is truly a fish factory where the Walleye are very plentiful and can be found pretty much anytime in various eddies near fast water, narrows and drop offs. The camp at Beteau is situated in a bit of a widening of the river which is flowing slowly northeasterly and a short distance past the camp the other leg of the Attawapiskat flowing south converges and the river turns east, flowing out to James Bay. I believe it is this constantly moving water bringing endless supplies of food that create this amazing fishery for walleye and pike.
What else can be said about Beteau—the fishing is fantastic, and the place is simply magical with outstanding scenery including spectacular sunrises and sunsets.
The Wanderers enjoyed another incredible week with several big frisky pike over 40” caught and released and numerous walleye caught and released with a few staying for dinner.
Beteau has changed owners over the years and is now operated by Gray Wood Outfitters. One of the owners, Adam Wood, has informed me that they have updated and renovated all their camps since taking over.
If you are looking for fantastic fishing, unforgettable scenery, wildlife, and being totally isolated in a boreal forest then I would recommend a trip north of Nakina, I don’t think you will be disappointed.