Possibilities Abound on a Sturgeon Lake Vacation

Let’s take a fishing adventure on Sturgeon Lake, found an hour-and-a-half drive north of Ignace, in Ontario’s scenic Sunset Country. This is a lake I have fished numerous times, a classic Shield-country lake with good numbers of walleyes, northern pike, lake trout, and smallmouth bass.

Great walleye fishing
Sturgeon Lake is noted for larger-than-average walleyes. A standard 1/4-ounce jig-and-minnow combination does the trick on these fish, in my experience. It’s a fairly clear lake, with walleyes being found relatively shallow in May and June, then deeper in the heart of summer.

Once a good deep weedline sets up, work that zone for both walleyes and pike.

Also spend time fishing weedy points that drop into deep water, flat areas of the lake connected to shallow bays, long underwater shallow points that extend out into the lake, then drop suddenly to deeper water, and incoming creeks that are bringing in darker water.

These and many more areas provide great fishing.

Do not forget about trolling during twilight hours; some of the biggest walleyes are caught trolling floating minnow baits that we add weight to. This works during sunset, and after dark. Later into the season, we focus on deeper fishing, using live bait, like the classic jig-and-minnow combo already mentioned. We probe deeper rock bars and steeper ledges. When looking for walleyes, fish shallower than the lake trout are holding. An assortment of jigheads in a variety of sizes and colors is great ammo for catching walleyes, bass, and pike. We also like to cast a variety of plastic baits, and some topwater lures.

As for rods, bring your favorite bass and walleye rods, along with a muskie rod for casting or trolling up the big ones.

Pursuing pike
Using several varieties of spinners and bucktails works well for northern pike, along with topwater baits and long, narrow spoons. Do not forget a traditional largemouth bass jig-and-pig combination as the pike move deeper at midsummer.

Pike love jigs; just ask walleye anglers how many times they catch pike on their jig-and-minnow combination. Larger crankbaits work well when casting or trolling over deep weeds and around rock bars. Fishing along the outside of shallow, weedy bays can be excellent, too. And spend time working large, shallow flats that have a distinctive drop-off surrounding their edges. Try a weedy location that is connected to a rocky shoreline; this type of spot could be a new honeyhole for you, especially if the spot is a weedy bay connected to a main-lake point.

Targeting smallies
Catching smallmouth bass is a lot of fun, especially in June when you can sight-fish for them in 1 to 5 feet of water. Topwater baits, small plastics in dark purple or black all work well. Other colors also work. Minnow baits and small spinners are killers. As the summer moves along, fish a little deeper, depending on what lake you are fishing (some lakes have very dark water, so smallies might stay shallow most of the year).

In clear water, we like using a larger plastic bait, such as a 6- or 8-inch worm with the hooks already embedded into the worm. Working areas of shallow flats, deep wood and deep weedlines works well. During late summer, catching suspended smallmouth is a great challenge that most anglers don’t try about, probably because they don’t know about it.

Locate the fish and the rest can be easy. If the water is clear, use a topwater, even though the bass are often suspended quite deep. Make long casts and slowly retrieve your bait. The bass will swim up from 20 feet or even more to take the bait, and the strikes are awesome.

Chasing lake trout
There are several ways to catch lake trout, and everything starts with finding trout on your electronics. They are basin fish most of the year, although they venture shallow more often than most anglers realize.

For the most part, motor across deeper basin areas and look for the telltale “hooks” on your depth finder that indicate lakers. Some of the fish will be other species (including giant pike), but you’ll get a good idea of what depth level many trout are holding.

Using a heavy-action spinning rod with 20-pound-test braided line and vertical jigging a vibrating Zip Lure, or other type of vibrating lures such as Sonars and Cicadas, is a good way to start.

In my experience, it’s effective to jig or vibrate the bait for a bit, then reel it straight to the surface. Then you drop the bait back to bottom and start over. This gets tiring, but the work is worth it when you get fish with this presentation.

Jigging with jigs and plastic tails also catches trout, and so do heavier jigging spoons. Trolling works really well, using trolling spoons on a downrigger setup.

Exploring new waters
If you wish to venture off for the day to a different lake, there are lake maps included in each cabin. With so many lakes very close by, such as Young, White Rock, Whatcom, Lake of Bays, Press, Six Mile, and Shiny, your fishing vacation is almost boundless.

Fall hunting options
Hunting begins in the fall for grouse, bear and moose. Hunters begin arriving in early September and stay throughout the fall.

Sturgeon Lake Lodge maintains bear-hunting locations that are ready for you to try your luck. The ruffed grouse hunting is very good, with strong bird populations and lots of good public land with gravel roads close to the lodge. Walking or slowly driving the hundreds of miles of gravel roads is encouraged.

You will need current licensing, your own bow and/or gun, and proper documentation to cross the Canadian border. Also, you will need to know all laws required for each type of hunting you wish to pursue, and this can easily be done by looking this information up on the internet.

Good to know
Live bait, gas, a good breakfast, fishing supplies, groceries, beer and spirits, and maps of the area are sold within four miles of Sturgeon Lake.

It’s easy to tow your own boat, because all roads to Sturgeon Lake are blacktopped, and a new docking facility installed in fall of 2015 holds several boats. Boat and motor rentals are also available. A new fish-cleaning house, also built in 2015, will help you get the dirty work done without getting messy.

The mascot for Sturgeon Lake Lodge, where I stay, is “Dorothy Lee,” a 45-foot red-and-white tugboat. This boat is used to take people out into the big part of the lake for lake trout fishing, and to transport anglers and hunters to the outpost camp 20 miles up the lake. It’s such a beautiful experience.

The facilities include recently remodeled cabins, and an all-new main lodge that will open in early spring, 2016. There are eight cabins, all facing west so you can relax and enjoy the magnificent sunsets this region is famous for. When the northern lights are out, you can easily see them from the decks of each cabin.

Kayaks and canoes are available to you to use, at no additional charge. There’s a sand beach near the lodge, with a picnic table and nearby hot sauna. Spend some time in the steam, then jump in the lake. It’s fantastic.


For more information … Contact Margaret Chambers, owner and manager. sturgeonlakelodge@shaw.ca, winter 807-344-8265, summer 807-934-6983 or visit SturgeonLakeLodge.com.