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


Don Willoughby with a hefty Nortwinds Lake pike (Note: Don is 6’2″ with giant hands, so that fish is bigger than it looks)

There are definitely trophy fish to be had

In the backcountry, catching fish may not be all that difficult, but when you’re on new water, catching a big one is never guaranteed. But the more time you spend on the water, getting to know the lake, the better your chances are.

It took us a few days, and a little work, but we eventually got into some seriously nice pike on both Northwind Lake and one of the portage lakes (more about those in a moment). Throughout our trip, one of the hottest tactics for both pike and walleye was trolling or casting crankbaits. The beauty pike above, caught by Don Willoughby, fell to a trolled Mann’s Baby 1-Minus.


The 1-Minus (below) is a goofy little lure, but a legendary bait in the north country. Expert tip: the standard hooks and split rings are a little small for big fish, so change them out for sturdier ones.

There are a lot of ways to lose a big fish, so you need to control the few factors you can, especially in places where you could hook up with a trophy on any cast. Investing in top-quality hooks and terminal tackle is worth every penny. You do not want to lose the fish of a lifetime because your dollar-store snap-swivel opens up.