Articles & Other Destinations
Beyond East Texas
I have fished in Alaska, Minnesota, Washington, Costa Rica, Mexico, Brazil, Florida, and other places. I can make suggestions to help you plan that special fishing vacation.
I'll periodically post articles about these other places, just click on the title that interests you and be taken to that article.
A Northwoods Fishing Vacation, Two Lodges with Two Different Styles
Wed May 1, 2013
This is an excellent fishing vacation for groups and families. I'll highlight 2 lodges, one in northern Minnesota and one in western Ontario.
They're both a long way off, and they represent 2 different approaches to enjoying the outdoors.
The 2 lodges are Vermillon Dam Lodge ( www.vdl.com ) near Cook MN, and Black Bear Lodge ( www.fishblackbear.com ) near Red Lake ONT. You can drive to either, and all but the last several miles are paved. Both use the weekly plan (Sat-Sat), but only Vermillon uses the half weekly plan (Sat-Wed or Wed-Sat). Both of the plans are very common in the North and Canada. Both are on the water, the boats are right there, so you set your own schedule.
Black Bear is a little more rustic: you have to bring your own sleeping and fishing gear, there is no TV and no store. You have to park 1/4 mile away, they use 4-wheelers to bring you and your equipment to and from camp.
You are free to use you car though, to go into town (about 20 miles) anytime.
They require a minimum group size of 4, can handle a group up to 16 per cabin. The cabins are bare: sturdy log cabins, with no electricity or water. Beds are basic wood frames with 4 inch foam pads that you place your sleeping bag on. Heat is from a kerosene heater, light from battery or gas lanterns (provided). Cooking is not allowed in the cabins. There are tables and chairs, and we've always found these cabins to be comfortable in all weather. There is a screened porch for fishing gear, ice chests, relaxation, etc. There are central toilet and shower facilities.
The main building is fully electric, has the dining area, and a sitting area with books and games. Meals are done here, family-style breakfast and supper. At breakfast they put out "brown bag" lunch makings: cold cuts, cheese, peanut butter, jelly, bread, cookies, and fruit, no lunch is served. Each group takes turns at "KP", setting the tables and then cleaning up after the meals. A group usually gets 2 KP's for the week.
Each group is assigned boats. The boats are open 14-16 ft with 15 hp motors, with 2-3 fishermen assigned per boat. One tank of gas is provided per day (which is plenty). Boats have all safety equip, nets, etc, you just need your tackle and bait. Live bait is available for purchase there, at prices about the same or lower than in town. There is also a fish cleaning house and cold storage (with an ice machine).
Fishing is for northern pike, walleye, and lake trout primarily, but you can also fish for yellow perch and bluegill. Fish for pike as you would for bass by casting, using jerk baits (my favorite way) spoons, or cranks. The walleye and lake trout are usually caught on live bait or combinations.
Most of the lakers my groups have caught were 8-17lbs, and we used our regular walleye gear (med spinning tackle, 8-10lb test). The walleye are excellent eating, they taste like crappie, they're just bigger. The lodge will also put on a "shore lunch" for each group, on request, at no charge, to cook your walleye.
Black Bear Lodge costs about $600 per person, with all taxes, and a Canadian fishing license is about $17 for the week. Group discounts may be available.
Vermillon Dam Lodge is a typical (but nicer) northern lodge, catering to families and smaller groups. All amenities are provided with the cabins ("full housekeeping"): beds, linens, towels, eating and cooking utensils, kitchen, indoor plumbing, etc. There are a variety of sizes of cabins to select from, so that families/ groups from 2 to about 12 can be accommodated. You prepare your own meals, but one fish fry for everyone is done each week by the lodge.
There is a small store and a bar in the main building, tackle for sale and rent, gas for sale for the boats, and live bait available. There is a fish cleaning house, but you'll have to store your fish in your own cooler, freeze it in you cabin, or cook it yourself.
Boat rental is separate from the cabin rental, but package deals are available. The boats are 14-18 open, with both gas and electric motors, fish finders, and live wells on each boat. Fishing is for muskie, northern pike, large- and smallmouth bass, walleye, crappie, and perch. The lake is well known for muskie, and is considered one of the trophy lakes for that fish in the US. Surprisingly, largemouth bass fishing in the western end of the lake (where the lodge is) is very good, I've caught several there in the 3-5lb range, using Texas rig soft plastics (they don't know how to do that up there). We've caught a lot of smallmouths using Texas rigged Speed Craws, too.
Vermillon Dam Lodge costs will vary by the size of the cabin you get and your boat rentals. You can figure about $350 per person for a week, fishing license is about $25, plus food.
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