Traditionally known for pike and walleye, Esnagami Lodge has incredible brook trout fishing
One of our favourite fly-in destinations in Northern Ontario is Esnagami Wilderness Lodge run by Eric and Sue Lund. Located a short 12-minute floatplane trip from Nakina, the lodge is nestled along the shoreline of the famous Esnagami Lake which is known for massive populations of walleye and northern pike. Of equal importance, this lodge has access to some incredible brook trout fishing on the rivers running into the lake.
The New Fly Fisher recently visited Esnagami Lodge to shoot a TV show. The goal was to experience both the northern pike and brook trout fishing on a fly. What an exceptional experience it turned out to be!
One of the important aspects of Esnagami Lodge is the fact that most guides, and even owner Eric Lund, are fanatical fly fishers. They understand what fly fishers need in terms of guiding, instruction, and even boat control. This greatly helps fly fishing guests, which is why so many anglers come back to the lodge year after year.
In the early season (May to early July), the big northern pike can be caught in shallow flats, bays, and adjacent to structure that holds walleye. Even ss the summer warms up the temperatures, the pike fishing stays excellent because Esnagami Lake is spring fed and water temperatures remain relatively cool. Guides know where springs are, which in turn attracts both walleye and northern pike. Weedbed growth is excellent throughout the lake by late June and using topwater flies can result in some explosive takes! You will need to cast medium to large sized flies for the pike, depending upon when you visit the lodge. Colin found that either a 9- or 10-weight fast-action rod was ideal for punching out big flies. Pike designed flylines with short tapered heads are ideal for casting.
You will need a WF floating line, sink-tip line and possibly a full-sink flyline for later in the summer to get your flies down. Colin likes to use a 4- to 6-foot leader of 50-pound test mono linked to 30-pound bite wire. RIO Products bite wire is perfect for this type of fishing because you can vary the length of the leader and it is easy to tie flies on. Effective patterns included: tarpon poppers, Dahlberg divers (large) and the infamous “Thunder Chicken” for topwater action. For streamers our top choices are Murdich Minnows and Double-D’s.
For those that love catching BIG wild brook trout on a fly, in the months of May to late June, Eric and his staff can guide you on some astonishing waters. The brook trout here vary in size from 2 to 6 pounds! Sometimes they can be caught on dry flies but our most consistent means of triggering a strike is with weighted wooly buggers or white streamers. You don’t need sink-tip lines, just a WF floating line matched to a 9-foot leader. Your tippet should be at least a 3x size as these fish will really slam your pattern. Usually the brook trout are caught in fast water, top of pools and near any structure adjacent to moving water. What we loved about our float trip down the river was the abundance of wildlife we saw, especially bald eagles! Best patterns are: tan or purple woolly buggers (size 6 or 8), white streamers such as zonkers or conehead bow river buggers. You will need 5- or 6-weight rods with fast-actions for making accurate casts and fighting the fish away from fallen trees and rocks. A trip down the Esnagami River for brook trout is something dreams are made of.
Myself and the staff of The New Fly Fisher cannot recommend Esnagami Wilderness Lodge enough. Great fishing, accommodations and outstanding service and staff.
Colin McKeown is the producer of The New Fly Fisher Television Series, and several documentary series for the Outdoor Life Network, the Discovery Channel and the History Channel. With a passion of fly fishing, Colin's goal is to help both novice and veteran fly fishers everywhere by giving them a top-quality fly fishing series that will make them better anglers. Known for his keen sense of humour, Colin has two wonderful children and is married to the most understanding and patient woman in the world.