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Muskie Fishing -> Fishing Reports and Destinations -> Best chance 50” lake for NW Ontario trip
 
Message Subject: Best chance 50” lake for NW Ontario trip
joh10891
Posted 9/15/2022 10:23 AM (#1011804)
Subject: Best chance 50” lake for NW Ontario trip




Posts: 112


Hey all,

I still haven’t broken the 50” mark. Are there any NW Ontario lakes that you’d say has the best chance at a 50” in say, a weeklong trip? Really don't care about getting a good total number of fish, just looking to break that pb. Was thinking Lac Seul, Wabigoon, or maybe Eagle. Open to all techniques- deep trolling, spinnerbait trolling, jigging, casting, etc so a variety of lakes types are on the table. If you’d prefer PMs that’s welcome too! Only requirement would be that we’d bring our own boat (so no fly-ins).

I’m sure this has been discussed before (tried my best searching previous threads), but size classes can change over the years. I appreciate any input!

phselect
Posted 9/15/2022 12:04 PM (#1011810 - in reply to #1011804)
Subject: Re: Best chance 50” lake for NW Ontario trip




Posts: 157


Location: Alexandria, MN
The 3 lakes you mentioned - in that order. Lac Seul can be spendy and difficult to get to, but there's big fish. Casting late summer or trolling in the fall. Wabigoon probably gets less pressure than you'd imagine given it's ease of access and proximity to Dryden. I think a lot of people are scared off by the murky water, but there's some dandies in there and they tend to hang shallow. Eagle is a magnificent piece of water and easy to get to as well, but it gets pounded pretty hard for a Canadian shield lake.
Kirby Budrow
Posted 9/15/2022 3:42 PM (#1011822 - in reply to #1011810)
Subject: Re: Best chance 50” lake for NW Ontario trip





Posts: 2289


Location: Chisholm, MN
Although I've never been to the 3 lakes mentioned (for muskies), I'd say those are good bets. But obviously a week long trip will not guarantee you catch a 50. I know a lot of people who spend a lot of time on big fish water that never end up catching a 50 or it takes them a long time. Or you could catch one on your first cast. What I'm saying is that catching 50s is part hard work, part big fish water, and part luck...or bad luck.
joh10891
Posted 9/18/2022 7:20 PM (#1011927 - in reply to #1011804)
Subject: RE: Best chance 50” lake for NW Ontario trip




Posts: 112


Thanks for the tips folks! Good info, I'll keep thinking it over. phselect great info, glad to hear I wasn't too far off in my planning. And on the time investment Kirby- for sure, definitely might take quite a few trips. Lakes I typically fish in the US tend to have much smaller fish, so want to make sure I'm maximizing the odds during the Canada trips.
Also recently been thinking LOTW would be a good bet too.
Kirby Budrow
Posted 9/19/2022 9:41 AM (#1011937 - in reply to #1011927)
Subject: RE: Best chance 50” lake for NW Ontario trip





Posts: 2289


Location: Chisholm, MN
joh10891 - 9/18/2022 7:20 PM

Thanks for the tips folks! Good info, I'll keep thinking it over. phselect great info, glad to hear I wasn't too far off in my planning. And on the time investment Kirby- for sure, definitely might take quite a few trips. Lakes I typically fish in the US tend to have much smaller fish, so want to make sure I'm maximizing the odds during the Canada trips.
Also recently been thinking LOTW would be a good bet too.


I've been to lake of the woods 5 times now and have one 50 for the boat. I'd say if 50 is your goal, it's not the best option but it's not bad either. Obviously a lot better chance than where you're fishing normally but I would consider it more of a numbers with a good average size class lake.
nar160
Posted 9/19/2022 9:49 AM (#1011939 - in reply to #1011804)
Subject: RE: Best chance 50” lake for NW Ontario trip




Posts: 408


Location: MN
Attached a pic of size distribution for fish entered into the lunge log on some NW ON lakes. Lac Seul is the clear outlier.

Note: I don't look at % 50+ specifically because I've found that a number of lakes have more 50s entered than 49-49.5

Edited by nar160 9/19/2022 9:54 AM



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(NW Ontario Comparison.jpg)



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Attachments NW Ontario Comparison.jpg (32KB - 89 downloads)
Angling Oracle
Posted 9/19/2022 10:08 AM (#1011941 - in reply to #1011804)
Subject: Re: Best chance 50” lake for NW Ontario trip




Posts: 332


Location: Selkirk, Manitoba
As per your reply about multiple trips, time on water will definitely up your probabilities, a one time trip to a big fish lake such as those mentioned not so much (especially without a guide or some really good intel).

If you don't have NW Ontario experience already, LOTW will probably be the best place to learn and really is only relatively short boat rides from high density smaller average fish to lower density bigger average fish locations.

Everyone that comes up here to NW Ont and everyone that is a dedicated musky angler up here wants a big muskie (ie high 40s to 50s), there are just not lots of them and these fish have usually already been through the rodeo, so they rarely succumb to the same lures/methods that other fish might. There is a fair amount of info on what to do to efficiently target them. You will see and catch more big fish than if you are fishing for numbers if you dedicate to this, but be prepared for the mental test that comes with that - which can include someone in the next cabin lucking into a 50 fishing for bass or walleye. Fishing for big fish will up your probabilities to get a 50+ more so than lake choice, but fishing for big fish requires time on water as a prerequisite.

Finally, all those that have come before you that have already put in the time to find big fish are still at it, so no matter where you go the big fish are not unpressured, even though it may seem that way with no boats around. Seeing big fish on a big fish spot is an accomplishment and reward in itself. The contemporary big fish threads "lost a big one" and "where do they go" encapsulate the typical experience with big fish here, which often are fleeting encounters that make you come back for more.

Edited by Angling Oracle 9/19/2022 10:09 AM
chuckski
Posted 9/19/2022 12:31 PM (#1011952 - in reply to #1011804)
Subject: Re: Best chance 50” lake for NW Ontario trip




Posts: 1242


My dad started fishing the Northwoods in 1936 till his death in 2016, I've fished all over for the last 50 years. We fished a lot of water in the Vilas, Oneida, Iron, and Forest counties a trip in southern Wisconsin along with few in western Wis. and metro Minnesota and in Northern Minnesota too and top of that a trip to Lake Of The Woods and 5 to Winnipeg river. there have been trip where people said "man you guy's caught more fish this week than everybody all summer" to " hay those are the only guy's in camp not catching fish" At times we fish hard but also spend a lot of time with the non fishing members of our families. We never taken a Muskie over fifty in Wisconsin with that said back in the day's before catch and release 30 pounds was the standard for a trophy my dad did get a 49" 1/2 31# 2 oz fish in 1950 he was 17 years old and he caught a 20 pounder the week before. Of our Wisconsin fish 25-30 % are over 40" In Minnesota I have the only 50" and it is just 50"
but half our fish are over 40" dad had one just short of four foot. Ontario we taken six trips but stopped going because there was nothing for the non -fishing members of the family to do. With that said I've never been in Canada and not caught Muskie the bad news my best fish 39.5 ??? My dad has the only 50" in Canada it was 53" and very fat. I had a couple chances for big fish up there. We did see one super tanker up there. In the 1940's dad did see a couple super tankers in Wisconsin he also been hooked up to muskies between 48"-54" in Wisconsin. Where ever you go buy good tackle big fish don't come easy. The big girl's the pot at the end of the rainbow but enjoy riding the rainbow.
phselect
Posted 9/19/2022 12:38 PM (#1011955 - in reply to #1011804)
Subject: Re: Best chance 50” lake for NW Ontario trip




Posts: 157


Location: Alexandria, MN
As others have alluded to.... don't expect to boat a 50" on your first trip to any of the aforementioned lakes. What started out as a "trip of a lifetime" for me to Lac Seul back in 1994 turned into an annual trip to NW Ontario. Boated my first 50"+ in 1998. Put your time in.... do a few years in a row on the same lake and learn the water. Hiring a guide the first go-round is not a bad plan. The lakes are huge, full of structure/spots, and can be intimidating. Eventually, you'll get a "milk run" of spots you'll wanna hit at prime times. There's usually anywhere from 4-8 guys on our Canada trips (so 2-4 boats). We compare notes and try to establish patterns as quickly as possible.
chuckski
Posted 9/19/2022 1:00 PM (#1011956 - in reply to #1011804)
Subject: Re: Best chance 50” lake for NW Ontario trip




Posts: 1242


When we quit going to Canada we were just dialed in dad just read my copy of Dickp's "Muskies On The Shield" He got a stronger trolling motor and went from a 12 volt to 24 volt system and he would just point bow of the boat into the wind and go down the shoreline or around the islands. Then dad got all the fish. (up in the bow) One day he get's 44" and 46" and I'm in the back getting nothing then he lets me take his spot and I caught a Muskie right away 33" First time I caught a Muskie and had smoke coming out of my ears!
Angling Oracle
Posted 9/19/2022 1:07 PM (#1011957 - in reply to #1011956)
Subject: Re: Best chance 50” lake for NW Ontario trip




Posts: 332


Location: Selkirk, Manitoba
chuckski - 9/19/2022 1:00 PM

When we quit going to Canada we were just dialed in dad just read my copy of Dickp's "Muskies On The Shield" He got a stronger trolling motor and went from a 12 volt to 24 volt system and he would just point bow of the boat into the wind and go down the shoreline or around the islands. Then dad got all the fish. (up in the bow) One day he get's 44" and 46" and I'm in the back getting nothing then he lets me take his spot and I caught a Muskie right away 33" First time I caught a Muskie and had smoke coming out of my ears!


I was just about to add to the thread: any "secret" tips that I could ever give would just be rehashing anything contributed by Dick Pearson regarding fishing big muskies in NW Ontario.
td89
Posted 9/19/2022 1:24 PM (#1011958 - in reply to #1011957)
Subject: Re: Best chance 50” lake for NW Ontario trip




Posts: 23


Nar160 thx for the stat sheet. Do you have the raw numbers? I suspect Lac Seul percentages are higher partially due to smaller numbers. Less fisherman and less fish total caught on lac seul making each large fish stand out more. Not taking anything from the lake just interested in total numbers
chuckski
Posted 9/19/2022 2:07 PM (#1011962 - in reply to #1011804)
Subject: Re: Best chance 50” lake for NW Ontario trip




Posts: 1242


In Lac Seul they are only in part of the lake and they get pounded!
Angling Oracle
Posted 9/19/2022 2:21 PM (#1011963 - in reply to #1011958)
Subject: Re: Best chance 50” lake for NW Ontario trip




Posts: 332


Location: Selkirk, Manitoba
td89 - 9/19/2022 1:24 PM

Nar160 thx for the stat sheet. Do you have the raw numbers? I suspect Lac Seul percentages are higher partially due to smaller numbers. Less fisherman and less fish total caught on lac seul making each large fish stand out more. Not taking anything from the lake just interested in total numbers


Cleithrum project had data where Lac Seul fish have particularly fast growth and maximum potential size, so Lac Seul does have unusually bigger average size fish and not an outlier from angling perspective.


Edited by Angling Oracle 9/19/2022 2:22 PM
chuckski
Posted 9/19/2022 2:36 PM (#1011964 - in reply to #1011804)
Subject: Re: Best chance 50” lake for NW Ontario trip




Posts: 1242


Fishing pressure! when we were driving north the young fish in Mille Lacs and Vermillion were left alone and in 1940's and 50's Wisconsin/Minnesota the boat landing were empty after Labor Day.
sworrall
Posted 9/19/2022 5:57 PM (#1011972 - in reply to #1011804)
Subject: Re: Best chance 50” lake for NW Ontario trip





Posts: 32827


Location: Rhinelander, Wisconsin
I spent nearly 20 years in NW Ontario on and off during Muskie seasons fishing for my idea of a final personal best. I caught 50" and over fish on LOTW in several areas, Wabigoon, and Eagle. Wabigoon provided my PB and a number of tankers, with Eagle a close second and LOTW just an inch back from Eagle. Probably fished 35 lakes and rivers over the years up there.

A lot has to do with how you fish the water of choice. The big deal is having your lure in front of your targeted fish as much of the time you have on the water as is possible. Be where thay are a lot and it will happen.
matchbook454
Posted 9/20/2022 9:01 AM (#1011984 - in reply to #1011804)
Subject: Re: Best chance 50” lake for NW Ontario trip




Posts: 39


Are you set on a NW Ontario Shield lake? What about the Great Lakes? Better chance at a 50” in my opinion.
nar160
Posted 9/20/2022 10:40 AM (#1011989 - in reply to #1011958)
Subject: Re: Best chance 50” lake for NW Ontario trip




Posts: 408


Location: MN
td89 - 9/19/2022 1:24 PM

Nar160 thx for the stat sheet. Do you have the raw numbers? I suspect Lac Seul percentages are higher partially due to smaller numbers. Less fisherman and less fish total caught on lac seul making each large fish stand out more. Not taking anything from the lake just interested in total numbers


I have the raw totals, but not collated in a central data sheet and I'm not going to dig through right now to get all of them. My totals will be a little out of date, as I did this analysis a couple years back, but I've got Lac Seul at ~900 fish entered overall. LOTW is about 35k total, but I'm pretty sure I took a more recent snapshot (like 10k over last 10 years) for the statistics listed above.

My main concern with the total number entered is having a large enough number that I can trust the size distribution stats, and I believe all of those lakes fall into that category. Total numbers are hard to make use of without some measure of angler effort - for example, obviously LOTW has way more total angler hours than LS, but how high is that factor - 10, 100, 1000?

With size distribution, you can at least answer some basic questions. Suppose you want to catch a 52+. On LOTW, you're looking at roughly 1/250 fish. Maybe you can isolate to better big fish areas of the lake, and fish during good times - suppose you can improve 2.5-fold to 1/100. On LS, in general you're looking at 1/12. Do you expect to catch 8-20x as many total on LOTW? If not, then your odds of catching at 52+ are better on LS. If 48+ is the goal, then you'd need 4x as many on LOTW - maybe that's realistic if you know it better, there are better numbers, and you get an extra day to fish with less travel.
BNelson
Posted 9/20/2022 12:59 PM (#1011998 - in reply to #1011989)
Subject: Re: Best chance 50” lake for NW Ontario trip





Location: Contrarian Island
Best shot to me is hiring a guide on Lac Seul. 2nd best Eagle. that said we boat and encounter quite a few on LOTW for a week.. guides are a little sparse on lotw but there are a few decent ones...
Clark A
Posted 9/20/2022 8:32 PM (#1012007 - in reply to #1011804)
Subject: Re: Best chance 50” lake for NW Ontario trip




Posts: 611


Location: Bloomington, MN
My friend got a 53.5" out of Lac Seul last year. They caught 3 all week. He has caught a couple of 50"'s out of the Long Legged chain and they actually flew in this year due to the road being washed out. They got 17 in a week between 5 guys, with none over 42". I haven't been to Wabigoon since 2019, but there are some big fish in there. I've seen a couple that might go 50", but my best in 3 trips is 45". Good numbers of 37"-42". Cedar Lake up the 105 gets beaten like a red headed stepchild, but from the Facebook pages of the 4+ camps on the lake cranked out "many" 50" fish. Easy to fish and you can bring your boat. The big fish pics started showing up in in late August. Perrault is connected, which has the needle in the haystack monsters. The all round best Ontario Lake is Lake St. Claire.

Edited by Clark A 9/20/2022 8:35 PM
bloatlord
Posted 9/21/2022 12:49 PM (#1012030 - in reply to #1011939)
Subject: RE: Best chance 50” lake for NW Ontario trip




Posts: 95


nar160 - 9/19/2022 9:49 AM

Attached a pic of size distribution for fish entered into the lunge log on some NW ON lakes. Lac Seul is the clear outlier.

Note: I don't look at % 50+ specifically because I've found that a number of lakes have more 50s entered than 49-49.5 :-O


How did you access the data? I'm a data scientist and would LOVE to play with some variables.
nar160
Posted 9/21/2022 1:50 PM (#1012032 - in reply to #1011804)
Subject: Re: Best chance 50” lake for NW Ontario trip




Posts: 408


Location: MN
It is on the Muskies Inc website. You need to be a member.

I copy-paste the data into an excel spreadsheet that computes various quantities of interest (such as size distribution).
Matt DeVos
Posted 9/22/2022 8:03 PM (#1012080 - in reply to #1011804)
Subject: Re: Best chance 50” lake for NW Ontario trip




Posts: 574


If best chance at a 50" or better is the only criteria, I think that Lac Seul is probably the best choice. But as Brad notes, getting a guide to accomplish the task on your first (or only) week might be necessary.

We (my brother and I) typically get between 1-3 at 50" or better during our weeklong trip to LOTW. But we've also been fishing LOTW since the late '90's with many of those years of doing 2-3 trips in a season. In other words, we've put our time in. We have a good milkrun of spots and have generally figured out how to best put odds in our favor. We still have plenty of tougher trips.

There is lots and lots of really good water in NW Ontario. Whether it is Lac Seul, Eagle, Wabigoon, Cedar, Pipestone, Minaki or whatever, there is no shortage of 50"+ fish. But absent a guide, there is also no real shortcut to success as plenty of really good anglers put in plenty of weeks without breaking the 50" mark on all of those lakes. At the same time....you could very well get one on your very first cast.

Good luck.
jackpotjohnny48
Posted 9/25/2022 12:59 PM (#1012151 - in reply to #1011804)
Subject: RE: Best chance 50” lake for NW Ontario trip




Posts: 256


Location: Madison, WI
Well, I've gone to all of the following lakes...

LOTW
Eagle
Rowan
Dryberry
Pipestone
Clearwater
Crow
Minaki
Canyon
Cliff
Cedar
Perrault

The one lake that has always stood out, head and shoulders above the rest, is Rowan.

I'm guessing that of the 200 biggest muskies I've ever seen in my life, about 150 of them were seen on Rowan Lake, despite the fact that I've only been to Rowan 6 total times out of about 35 total lifetime trips to Canada.

Rowan has been vastly superior to any other lake I've fished.

If my life depended upon encountering a 50+ inch musky, I would choose Rowan in a heartbeat, and it's not even close.

"Jackpot" John Schroeder
chuckski
Posted 9/25/2022 2:04 PM (#1012153 - in reply to #1011804)
Subject: Re: Best chance 50” lake for NW Ontario trip




Posts: 1242


Rowan is fly in only. Rowan is clear and has very big and thick muskies. Only a few resorts and if you fly in as required you are limited to like 70 pounds of gear or something along those lines on the float planes. If you watched In-fisherman all the stuff with Don Pursh is on Rowan Lake. Don is featured in Tony's book All Pro Muskie Guides. Fly in lakes cost more and close early in the fall. From what I hear there are giant fish that have never seen a lure. This is where Tony Rizzo went on vacation.
jackpotjohnny48
Posted 9/25/2022 3:24 PM (#1012154 - in reply to #1012153)
Subject: Re: Best chance 50” lake for NW Ontario trip




Posts: 256


Location: Madison, WI
chuckski - 9/25/2022 2:04 PM

Rowan is fly in only. Rowan is clear and has very big and thick muskies. Only a few resorts and if you fly in as required you are limited to like 70 pounds of gear or something along those lines on the float planes. If you watched In-fisherman all the stuff with Don Pursh is on Rowan Lake. Don is featured in Tony's book All Pro Muskie Guides. Fly in lakes cost more and close early in the fall. From what I hear there are giant fish that have never seen a lure. This is where Tony Rizzo went on vacation.


Oops. My bad.

I guess I forgot to read the OP carefully enough. I went back and reread it, and now I'm seeing the part where he wrote, "Only requirement is we want to bring our own boat, so no fly-ins."

"Jackpot" John Schroeder
Ogandrews
Posted 10/2/2022 6:44 PM (#1013378 - in reply to #1011804)
Subject: Re: Best chance 50” lake for NW Ontario trip




Posts: 209


Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota
If you want to be in Canada for the sake of going there then great but if all you are after is a 50” then minnesota and st Clair should be up there. Vermilion, Bemidji, plantang, leech, really any mn lake with ciscoes has plenty of 50’s and the pressure goes down once the weather cools down. Even the non cisco lakes have mid 50’s just might not be as fat. St Clair is an obvious choice but not nearly as cool a place to fish as Canada. Vermilion is pretty much my home body of water and I still think it is the best place in the country if you are after a 53+. Very difficult and frustrating Lake but if your after a giant than it’s still hard to beat
Matt DeVos
Posted 10/2/2022 9:15 PM (#1013385 - in reply to #1012151)
Subject: RE: Best chance 50” lake for NW Ontario trip




Posts: 574


jackpotjohnny48 - 9/25/2022 12:59 PM

Well, I've gone to all of the following lakes...

LOTW
Eagle
Rowan
Dryberry
Pipestone
Clearwater
Crow
Minaki
Canyon
Cliff
Cedar
Perrault

The one lake that has always stood out, head and shoulders above the rest, is Rowan.

I'm guessing that of the 200 biggest muskies I've ever seen in my life, about 150 of them were seen on Rowan Lake, despite the fact that I've only been to Rowan 6 total times out of about 35 total lifetime trips to Canada.

Rowan has been vastly superior to any other lake I've fished.

If my life depended upon encountering a 50+ inch musky, I would choose Rowan in a heartbeat, and it's not even close.

"Jackpot" John Schroeder


Ok, based on your post and stats.....I'm curious and have to ask: how many 50"+ have you caught from Rowan? How many from the other lakes on your list?
RickW
Posted 10/3/2022 7:25 PM (#1013427 - in reply to #1012151)
Subject: RE: Best chance 50” lake for NW Ontario trip




Posts: 7


Rowan looks good!

Edited by RickW 10/3/2022 7:27 PM
BNelson
Posted 10/4/2022 2:06 PM (#1013462 - in reply to #1011804)
Subject: Re: Best chance 50” lake for NW Ontario trip





Location: Contrarian Island
some numbers to chew on. 50"ers registered in Muskies Inc. yes, I realize many 50s are caught that are not registered...but this is interesting data none the less....

Rowan. 956 total fish. 104 over 50".. a 50" every 9.2 fish.
Lac Seul. 886 fish. 153 over 50". a 50" every 5.8 fish.
Eagle. 2614 fish. 186 over 50". a 50" every 14 fish.
LOTW. 33,836 fish. 1100 over 50". a 50" every 30.8 fish.

in the 13 trips I have done to lotw, we have 18 over 50" out of 185 fish... so 1 in 10. I would like to hear how many 50"s you have on Rowan out of how many fish Jackpot Jonny. Lac Seul seems like the winner out of the data above....

Edited by BNelson 10/4/2022 2:07 PM
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