How do you enjoy Northern Ontario fly-in fishing without a taking plane? On a boat-in adventure!


The author shows off a 40” northern pike, landed during a boat-in outpost trip to Chapleau, Ontario

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Outpost trips are the best value in the Canadian outdoors. If you’re not familiar with the concept, here’s the outpost trip in a nutshell: drive north for 8, 10, 14 or 24 hours, board a floatplane, get dropped off at a cabin on a remote lake or river, fish like crazy and then get picked up a week later.

The cost of an outpost trip, including cabin, use of a boat and motor and flight, is typically a fraction of what you’d pay at a full-service fishing lodge. The trade-off is that you have to cook and clean for yourself, and fish unfamiliar water without a guide. It’s a deal I’m usually willing to make. This year, I learned something new about outposts: you don’t have to fly, to get fly-in quality fishing.


Always on the hunt for new experiences, my fishing friends and I landed on a fresh spin: a boat-in trip with Kanipahow Wilderness Resort & Outposts. We chose Kanipahow for a few reasons: its location, near Chapleau, Ontario, was a manageable 10-hour drive from our homes in southern Ontario; we’d have the only cabin on the entire lake; the owners, Jamie Thibault and Josée Robitaille, were patient with my many questions and, most importantly, passionate about conserving their fishery. That last one is crucial, and believe it or not, many operators aren’t overly concerned about stewardship.

Chapleau, Ontario, is about 10 hours from Toronto, 11 hours from Ottawa and four hours from the U.S. border at Sault Ste. Marie

So, on the appointed morning in early June, we met Jamie and another staff member outside town. We followed them into the bush along a series of ever-narrowing industrial roads, to a rough-and-ready boat launch on Vezina Lake. We then loaded up our gear and took the boats to the end of the lake, across a short portage using an ATV and trailer, and into our final destination, Northwind Lake.

A rule to live by: The smaller the road, the better the fishing will be

The full story of this remarkable experience will appear in Outdoor Canada magazine in 2024. But for now, here are a few things we learned, and experiences that stood out during our week on Northwind, including why it soon became a truly memorable angling adventure…