Excellent Fishing on the Cedar Lake Chain
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Traditions. Traditions (especially when it comes to family trips) can vary widely depending on where you live. They can be weeks spent on a favorite beach or a yearly pilgrimage to a Big 10 football game. For those of us who consider ourselves more fortunate (or just downright lucky), a treasured tradition it is to head North of the US/Canadian border and take a family fishing trip to seek out trophy Walleye, Northern Pike and Muskie. Our fishing tradition involves groups of families that include parents, grandparents, and grandchildren; though mostly it brings groups of good friends that love to fish the pristine lakes and rivers Canada has to offer.
There's clear blue water bordered by pine and white birch trees, often no other boats in sight while fishing for multiple species from dawn to dusk; it's just fantastic. While my wife and I prefer to take our family for a mid-summer fishing trip north, my group of friends and I normally fish Ontario during the Spring Opener. We mainly target Walleye and Northern Pike; though Muskie and Smallmouth Bass are caught from time to time. Several Spring Openers ago one of my friends caught a 49 inch Muskie while back trolling a Lindy-rig with 6 lb. test; and this past Spring another caught a 48 inch Muskie on a 4 inch twister tail in about 6 feet of water at the back of a bay with emerging weed growth.
Reading this, I'm betting you have likely been up North to a Province in Canada or have talked about "some-day" taking that fishing trip. You've heard about the great fishing, heard about the great meals and stories of how wonderful it is to just relax around the cabin. Perhaps you're unsure where to go or where to start in getting all the arrangements made. What type of Camp or Lodge to choose...a drive-in or fly-in? Which province? Lastly, of course...which lake to choose? While reading this can't answer all these questions, I will give you some valuable information to consider as you plan what could become your new tradition. The Cedar Lake Chain
For the last 6 years our group has driven up to the Cedar Lake Chain (Near Perrault Falls) in Ontario. It is located about an hour past Eagle Lake, due north from Vermilion Bay (this is approximately 3 and a half hours from International Falls). We have stayed at two camps on this lake. Both are very well run, clean and reasonably priced. My friends and I all drive up and bring our fishing boats all the way from Southern Ohio, Southeast Wisconsin and the Twin Cities in Minnesota.
Highlights from our 2015 trip
Where to stay on the Cedar Lake Chain?
Cedar Lake Lodge
The first camp we stayed at on the Cedar Lake Chain was Cedar Lake Lodge, operated by Al & Kim Remple. It is located on an island in the South Arm of the Lake Chain. Al has several newer cabins that offer two full bathrooms along with three large bedrooms, as well as older log cabins that are clean and good for smaller groups. This Lodge will pick you up from their private dock and ramp, and transport you and your luggage to their island via pontoon boat. If you like the idea of staying on your own island and having the camp owner knowledgeable about trophy Muskie Fishing (and who wouldn't?) then the Cedar Lake Lodge is a great place for you to stay on the Cedar lake Chain. We stayed there for many years in a row. Be sure to check out their fishing page as it gives you an idea of the fish caught recently and is a great resource to prepare you for the quality of fishing to expect during your stay. A week up at this lodge with the Housekeeping plan (where you prepare your own meals) can be done for under $500.
Cedar Point Resort
After several years at Cedar Lake Lodge, we decided to venture out and stay at the Cedar Point Resort, which is located at the "Times Square" of the Cedar Lake Chain. This is another drive-in camp that is more centrally located on these connected lakes. It offers both the American Plan (meals prepared and provided by the lodge) as well as the Housekeeping Plan described above. This camp is located overlooking Cedar Lake with several islands directly visible from the camp. The camp boat ramp and docks are in a protected cove where owners Ray & Kathi Pfieffer have installed a large new docking system (which is great if you bring up your own rig) with electricity for charging boat batteries. Their ramp for loading and unloading your boat is next to the docks. Ray also added a new state of the art fish cleaning station just up from the docks last year, and has added new decks on to most of the cabins over the last few years.
The majority of the cabins at Cedar Point Resort are two bedrooms with single beds, a bathroom and a kitchen, and sleeps 6-8 (though 4-5 people is ideal). They each have large living rooms and kitchens, so there's plenty of room for meals, card games, or solving the world's problems with some cold beverages after a great day of fishing. The cabins overlook the lake, and it's a short walk down to the docks or over to their dining room for your meals if you've opted for the American Plan. The camp boats at Cedar Point Resort are 16-foot Nadens, with swivel seats and 15 hp Yamaha motors. You can upgrade to boats with flat floors and 25 hp Yamaha motors, or the newer 17-foot Alumacraft boats with 40 hp electric start Yamaha motors. These boats also come with front mounted trolling motors, depth finders, and padded swivel seats.
Most years I tow up my Lund Pro-V 1900 rig, though one year I towed up a friend's boat for him, and another buddy and I rented their upgraded 17' Alumacraft tiller boat. It really worked great. See their website for views of the camp, their clean large cabins and camp boats. One neat feature of this camp's website is that their fishing photos are posted by month and year. This way, if you're looking to take a Spring Opener trip, you can see the type of fish caught, as well as have an idea of what the weather may be like during that time. You can also look over the summer photos if you are more into shorts and t-shirt weather. A week of Housekeeping can be done under $500 as well.
While both of these camps offer fantastic accommodations, that is not what will draw you back North to a Canada fishing trip. It is the quality fishing found on pristine waters like the Cedar Lake Chain. This chain of lakes consists of six large lakes fed by numerous streams. It is nineteen miles long with no development outside of a handful of personal seasonal cottages. There are over 15,000 acres of water teeming with trophy Walleye, Northern Pike, Muskie, Perch, Crappie and Smallmouth Bass. You may come across the occasional Whitefish as well. The lake opens up in some areas to a mile wide, though most of the lake has small bays and side coves where you can fish and will not likely see another boat.
Perrault Lake and the Ord River
Connected to the Cedar Lake Chain is Perrault Lake, another good size lake. There is also the Ord River, which is a great spot to fish in the early Spring (though it is a community spot so you won't be fishing by yourself).
Three Spring Openers ago, my twin brother Dave and I were fishing out of his Lund Pro-V working one of the smaller coves on the Southern Arm of the Perrault Lake with a jig and a Kalin's 3 inch grub. Seven casts in a row between the two of us netted us seven Walleye between 18-20 inches. After the sixth Walleye, I looked at Dave and said "This is ridiculous!" and no sooner did the words leave my mouth and I had caught number seven. Not all the mornings go like that for sure, though on the Cedar Lake Chain you just don't know what that tug on your line could be, so be ready!
This is a great lake chain for Smallmouth Bass as well as trophy Muskie; it offers numerous points, islands, reefs and weed beds to fish. While you will see other fishermen on the water, there is no lack of areas to "get away by yourself" and catch fish. The camps on the Cedar Lake Chain promote "CPR" (Catch, Photo and Release) for trophy fish, but you can keep your limit of smaller "eating" size for shore lunches and dinners. Whether you bring up your own rig, or use a camp boat, this is a Chain of Lakes that is safe to boat with using normal caution around islands, shoals and points. Even if the weather turns windy, you will be able to find a protected bay or island backside to fish. The lake has a number of smaller coves and bays, so it's never so rough that you can't navigate it safely on most days.
The scenery here is nice as well. While you're out fishing the lake chain you will see numerous Eagles, as well as Loons. There is a good chance you'll see a Moose, Bear or even a Wolf along the shoreline,
Over my lifetime, I have truly enjoyed fishing larger lakes that "fish small" and the Cedar Lake Chain is this type of water. I live in eastern Ohio about two hours south of Lake Erie, and yes, I fish this Great Lake in the Spring and Fall. Lake Erie fishing is truly world class in terms of size and numbers of catch-able Walleye and Smallmouth Bass. Even with that class of fishing nearby, I'll still drive 24 hours north to the Cedar Lake Chain. The beauty of Northwestern Ontario, along with the possibility of outstanding fishing brings me back year after year (despite the two day drive each way).
My fishing started out as a very young boy near Aitkin, Minnesota, with family vacations to a small family resort located 2 hours north of the Twin Cities. Our family would drive north from Fort Wayne, Indiana and meet our grandparents at the lake. Later, after college and as an adult I have fished lakes in northern Wisconsin, the UP in Michigan, and lakes in Indiana, Ohio, as well as the massive reservoirs in Kentucky. I have also fished various lakes north of the Soo in Central Ontario, and the French River as well as fishing a western section of the Trent-Severn River system, various bays of the Georgian Bay and the North Channel, and Lady Lake Evelyn up north of North Bay.
My grandfather (Harold) was the one who passed along his love of fishing to my brother and I. Harold would row-troll and wore out the cork handles on his metal fishing rods more than once (holding the rod in his hand while he often trolled a weighted live frog that his grandsons had caught). My brother and I caught the "fishing bug" early on in life; and have passed it along to our children who now enjoy sport fishing with us up North of the border. In time our children will be passing along this special bond and love of fishing up in Canada to their children and they will know the perfect Canadian lake chain to take their family to when the time is right for them.