Wabigoon Lake and Dinorwic Lake are considered two of the very best Muskie lakes in Ontario. They have also been named by MNR biologists to be among the most probable places to produce a new World Record Muskie. Our Camp is located at the east end of Wabigoon Lake and only a short distance by boat to Dinorwic so our guests have complete access to both lakes and 62 square miles of prime Muskie habitat.
To the left is an 80" Musky that the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) netted while doing Musky population studies out of Merkel's Camp. Please click on the photo to view a larger picture in a new window.
Both Wabigoon Lake and Dinorwic Lake are shallow compared to many big lakes in Ontario and much more nutrient. Some areas of the lakes display the classic Canadian Shield structure while many of the other parts of these lakes are similar to the structure of lakes and reservoirs down in the southern states. There are many rocky points leading into shallow weedy bays and these are the hotspots where our guests find great success. After a strong wind the bottom gets churned up in the shallow areas making the water a little murky. Due to this, our guests shallow fishing lures and tactics work well. This is why, in part, Wabigoon and Dinorwic lakes are such a popular fishing destination for our guests from around the world. Don't worry, tactics that Canadians are used to work just fine. Muskie are common between 38 and 48 inches and guests who target Muskie generally catch lots of them throughout the week. How many Muskie you catch in a day is impossible to answer. Muskie are very sensitive in changes to the weather. Whether it's 80 degrees and sunny or cool, windy and raining, the Muskie will be hitting but only as long as the weather stays consistent over a couple of days. Changes in the weather can actually make them stop feeding for a day or two. In Wabigoon and Dinorwic there are so many Muskie that it's the weather that dictates your luck, not the lure you use or abundance of fish. On a good day guests have caught as many as 13 Muskie, with the larger at 54"! Not to bad for a day of fishing!
While fishing for the 50" plus Muskie, you'll find yourself occupied catching and releasing high 30" and 40" fish. This excitement will maintain your enthusiasm and attention so when the 50" plus hits, your ready! Just about every week someone catches a Muskie in the 50-inch range. Throughout the summer there will be a few guests that will get monsters up to 55 inches long. Muskie in the 50 to 55-inch range are rare and we don't want you to think you are going to catch one but your chances are better on Wabigoon and Dinorwic than most of the other top Muskie lakes. Muskie on our chain of lakes are also well fed. They have an endless banquet of Whitefish, Perch, Walleye and Bass to feed on. As a result Muskie grow fast and grow big. It's also not unusual to catch Muskie that are unusually thick and super muscular. We have had guests catch 40-inch Muskie thinking they had a 50-incher on.
While Muskie fishing don't be surprised if you hook into a big Pike or Walleye on your big Muskie baits. It happens all the time. We ask that all Muskie are caught, photographed and then released so we continue having the best Muskie fishing in Ontario.
In the 80's Merkel's Camp hosted biologists sponsored by the Royal Ontario Museum with the head biologists being Art Crossman. Bernard Lebeau was writing his thesis on Muskie. The Ministry of Natural Resources asked if we would host this 3 year project because of our location and vast knowledge of the lakes involved. The photograph that is seemingly making the rounds, was taken from our camp boat and originated with Merkel's Camp.
The majority of the fish were in the 40"+ range. There were 3-50" fish caught during that week! Fabulous week was enjoyed by all! The great fishing continues at Merkel's Camp/Wabigoon Lake.
It's not uncommon for photocopied pages from magazines to end up on my desk from readers who are trying to draw the paper's attention to something of interest. Of course, the sight of Dryden angler Travis Tourond struggling to support 57 inches of plump, juicy locally-caught muskellunge from page 14 of the February/March issue of MuskyHunter.com, was an irresistible bait drawn past our noses by reader Pete Steiglitz.
Twenty-seven year old Tourond was fishing with buddy David Walker of Thunder Bay on the southern end of Wabigoon Lake on July 30 when he tangled with the brute.
Walker was busy untangling a bird's nest in his reel and Tourond says the duo were thinking about heading home when the fish of a lifetime struck. "We actually fished for 15 hours that day and we saw about six other fish (following bait) but we couldn't get them to bite," said Tourond. "It was right at the end of the night, around 8:30 p.m., we were dead tired from fishing all day. Then all of a sudden I saw this thing come up and just nail the bait. I just put the bait in the right spot I guess."
Tourond said the battle was a quick one, lasting about 45 seconds as the fish swam straight at the boat. After some measurements and a quick photo, the fish was returned to the water.
"I would never keep a fish that big," said Tourond. "Even a big walleye. I keep small ones to eat, but I'd never keep something like that. Hopefully next year I can go back and get him again."
The fish measured 57 inches in length and 26 inches in girth - musky calculators estimate the fish's weight at just over 48 lbs.
Tourond says the catch landed him sponsorships with rod maker St. Croix Rods and Northland Tackle, makers of the Boobie Trap Spinner he used to catch the beast. Working four days on, three days off with Ontario Hydro, Tourond says he spends practically all of his free time in a boat chasing the big fish on Wabigoon and Eagle Lake and says he's lucky enough to have a girlfriend who shares his passion. "If you add up the hours you spend looking for those fish..." he says. "You don't pull up too many like that though. Over the last couple years we're noticing more fish. I don't know if it's because we're getting better at fishing them. It's hard to say, especially with all the electronics and all the data we can get off the Internet."
When you are Muskie fishing, you have to be the ambusher! Meaning that you must look for the spots where those big Muskie hole up.
This could be a little weed bed along the shore or a rocky point with a reef running out from it. Look for the heavy weed and rock combinations. This will prove to be very rewarding!
Wabigoon Lake has a great number and size ratio to go along with ambush spot after ambush spot.
At Merkels Camp, we are centrally located in the heart of this great fishery. This location equals more fishing time and less travel on the water! A good Muskie rod and reel combo are certainly worth the money. An 8' rod makes it easier to make long casts and be able to successfully figure-8 at the boat. A good variety of baits are available ranging from Bucktails, Crankbaits and Spinnerbaits. Its really difficult to beat the old tried and true, Black Suick. In the early part of the season, start of with smaller baits like a larger smallmouth bait. As the water temperature warms up, typically your bait size should get larger as well.
Muskie fishermen have to start somewhere. That being said, grab your strongest rod and highest test line, some of your bass and pike baits and hit the water! After catching and releasing your first muskie, you will likely invest in some hearty Muskie gear!
We had a first timer with the dream to catch a Canadian Muskie on his birthday. Out we went!
We began Walleye fishing in 4' - 6' of water on a beautiful sunny day. Using a spinning rod and reel with 12lb test line, tipped with an 1/8 oz jig and minnow. After boating a few Walleye, he did catch his Canadian Dream Muskie and on his birthday! He looked at me and said "you told me this happens quite often!" Seeing is believing. His first Muskie was 46", caught on an 1/8oz jig. Guess who bought Muskie gear and was hooked??
Remember, with Muskie fishing, most of the fish are in 6' of water or less, all day, all summer!
The one thing I stress to our muskie fishing guests, is to change up your retrieve and pay attention to how and what kind of structure you are fishing. Muskie are notorious for following you bait, and a figure-8 is something you want to do every time you retrieve your bait to the boat. A huge percentage of fish are caught at the boat. When you get that Muskie to take your lure on 3' of line, good gear will be a game changer.
Muskie hunting is not for the faint of heart and will get you excited beyond your wildest dreams.