Time is the enemy of a good fishing hole once it has been revealed. The only exceptions are hotspots that are either impossible to access or protected by a diligent caretaker.
Eight years ago I took a floatplane trip into northern Ontario to a camp that was advertised to be spectacular. It turned out to be even better than advertised, and like any good outdoor writer, I proceeded to tell everyone about it.
Last week, I returned to see if Latreille Lake was as good as it was when I fished it the first time.
Five minutes after shoving off from the dock for the first day of fishing, I had my answer.
A white spinner bait was hanging off the back of the boat, just barely touching the water. I noticed the rod jump as I started to open up the motor, so I picked up the rod. There was a 15-inch walleye hanging on to the bait for dear life.
That fish was a fitting start to a week of nonstop bites, hits, follows and bumps from walleye, northern pike and perch.
Latreille and its adjoining lakes are as good or better than they were eight years ago.
All Canadian fly-ins are hard to get to, but shield lakes are not particularly fertile, and with a shortened growing season, can be easily overfished.
Latreille and its adjoining lakes have survived and improved because in 2002 two Indianapolis sportsmen bought the only access to them and have managed the watershed diligently.
Immediately after purchasing Latreille Lake Lodge, owners Jeff Thomas and Mike Horton imposed new harvest rules for walleyes and northern pike. No walleyes over 18-inches or pike over 27-inches could leave the lake.
The lodge fries anglers’ smaller fish every night for dinner, and fishermen are still allowed to take home two of each species if they were under the size limit, but Thomas and Horton prefer no fish go home.
“Fishermen who come here want to catch a lot of fish and have a real chance at a trophy,” Thomas said. “Because of the new rules, we have seen bigger walleyes and pike caught here every year.”
Latreille and its adjoining lakes offer 586 kilometers of exclusive shoreline. There are also several pristine creeks flowing into each lake. Creeks are big enough to navigate with a boat and all end at waterfalls.
Walleyes and big pike congregate at all of the falls year-round and don’t offer much resistance to anglers. Jigs tipped with a night crawler or minnow are enough to entice walleyes up to 30 inches and pike up to 20 pounds, depending on conditions and the time of year.
Chartreuse, round head jigs with a chartreuse twister tail, caught a bunch of fish, but our party preferred a less well-known jig. Lipstick jigs have always been my favorite walleye jig wherever I fish, and at Latreille, they proved their worth.
Both the quarter and eight-ounce version with their flattened pink head and white skirt out fished the chartreuse jigs when worked slow and kept from resting on the bottom.
Because they are Canadian shield lakes, most walleyes still average around two-pounds at Latreille, but the chances of a wall-hanger there are better than in many northern Ontario waters.
Countless weedy bays are home to northern pike of all sizes, but don’t lend themselves to jigs or drift rigs. Oversized, white buzz baits intended for musky fishing produce lots of action and navigate weed cover without snags.
Weed line edges and rocky points allow the use of spinner baits and classic dardevle spoons. Trolling stick baits around islands always produces a northern or two as well.
Guests at Latreille can opt to stay in the main lodge where they share a common area, but have their own bedrooms. For parties who want more seclusion, the owners built a cabin next door to the main lodge.
There are also two outpost cabins on adjacent lakes for fishermen who want total seclusion and want to cook for themselves.
In the fall, all of the facilities are also used for moose and bear hunts. Thomas and Horton have three bull and one cow moose tag to sell every year and maintain several baits for bears.
Find out more about the available fishing and hunting plans at latreille Lake Lodge by visiting: www.latreillelake.com.
Don Mulligan writes Outdoors with Don for this newspaper. He can be reached at outdoor