This is a first in what I hope (health and wife dependent) will be a long series out Outfitter reviews. When researching trips for our group I am always very appreciative when I find a trip report or post from a neutral source talking about their experience on a lake and their outfitter. These trips are not inexpensive, there are so many different outfitters to choose from and that can make pulling the trigger difficult. Hopefully these reviews and trip reports help you in your decision making. You can find my previous trip reports here https://www.northernjacks.com/blog To sort for easier finding select fishing trip or fishing trip report at the top of the page.
Slate Falls Outposts is in Sioux Lookout, Ontario. Its approximately a 4-hour drive from the Thunder Bay International Airport to Sioux Lookout. Ryan Runge is the owner and operator, to find out more about Ryan you can read the interview I did with him here Interview with Ryan Runge. Slate Falls Outposts operate 10 cabins (their 10th on Carling Lake will be open for the 2021 season) on 7 Lakes. For more detail on each cabin please check out the SFO website here SFO Outpost Overview. Slate Falls has a solid mix of cabins – large and complex lakes like St Joe and smaller single cabin lakes. Slate Falls also has a bunkhouse right at the Slate Falls Airplane base which is very nice and very convenient. Our group really enjoyed having beers on the patio the night before and then rolling out of bed (slowly due to the beers) in the morning and simply walking down to the office to prepare for our flight.
Our group stayed at their Root Bay Camp on Lake St Joseph and our experience at this camp is the basis for my review.
Excellent: As one of the key planners in our group communication between our group and the outfitter is critical. I would rate timeliness of communication and honest feedback as critical. Ryan exceeded our expectations on both. Honestly most times we thought we should check in with Ryan to confirm any details he beat us to the punch and followed up with a phone call, email or text. I also appreciated Ryan’s honesty. He doesn’t sugar coat things. When chatting one day I mentioned that we have never had the elusive “150 fish days” I always seem to read about. Ryan’s answer was that sure, those days can happen but in his opinion for most anglers (read amateurs like me) those are the exception rather than the rule.
Excellent! Service is also an area that SFO and Ryan shine. One of the hallmarks of the SFO premise is to ensure guests needs are taken care of. Generally they spend time with all guests prior to them heading into their lake running through maps, discussing recent fishing trends and if needed passing on any instructions guest require when at the cabin (for example Ryan ran us through a demo on using the Honda 4 strokes that we used a Root Bay) SFO also conducts multiple check ins during the week you are at the cabins and if you require anything they will do their best to bring it in. Our planner (me) hadn’t estimated all our required groceries correctly. We called Ryan prior to our check in flight and sure enough he showed up with onions, peppers and some ginger ale (The Crown Royal was very appreciative). Ryan is also an avid fisherman so he will spend time ensuring you and your group have a sense of the best techniques for each lake. The time he spent explaining how he back trolls a jig around structure is something we all benefited from. Service also extends to Slate Falls Airways and they were also great. As I mentioned in my trip report, we had a plane to catch in Thunder Bay that was going to be tight. Both SFO and SFA made sure they did their best to get us out on time (weather being an X factor always) and sure enough they had us back in Sioux Lookout at 9 AM as we asked for on the minute.
Excellent! Below I have added in a tour of the Root Bay camp and hopefully it shows how well designed it is. From the incredible docking structure, walkways throughout camp, gas pump set up and overall layout we were impressed to say the least. In a way it may ruin us for other camps! The cabin and features were equally impressive. 3 large bedrooms (with a 2 bedroom Bunkie), large chest freezer full of block ice, huge propane fridge, shower with consistent hot water and giant stove that the chefs in our group raved about. For power the camp had solar powered lights, an inverter for charging needs and a gas generator that was used for CPAP machines. There were 4 14 foot Alumarine boats with 15 horsepower engines on site. They ran great but note we did have one motor that started to run a bit sluggish near the end of our week but we easily swapped it out with another on site. We also had a satellite phone provided by SFO for checking in with Ryan, notifying our families that we arrived and in case of an emergency (which there were none of, thankfully)
Excellent! I almost didn’t include fishing but I know that for most of us it’s the primary reason for these trips. At the end of the day fish are fish and weather is weather. In most cases the outfitter can’t control the skill of the fisherman, the weather or the fish! I know our group has had amazing trips on lakes that others didn’t and vice versa. We have also only fished one of the camps and so I can’t comment on the other 9 locations. I will say that for us Root Bay was incredible and met if not exceeded Ryan’s positioning of the lake. We caught over 300 fish more in our week than we did on our previous “best trip”. Note though that we spent limited time fishing for pike so if you are focused on pike you may want to check in with Ryan or Mike Borger’s great report on Root Bay (he loves big pike) Mikes Root Bay Report Speaking to Ryan’s approach if you are interested I would give him a call, be forthcoming with your wants (re numbers, size, pike, walleye etc.) and I believe he will be forthcoming back on which lake or area is right for you.
Great! This was another one I almost excluded as what is a great price to me may be expensive to you. From doing a lot of research I would say that Slate Falls Outposts pricing is in line with other outfitters in the Sioux Lookout region (but probably more expensive than outfitters in Wawa or Nakina) My Dad always said you get what you pay for and personally I found that to be true with SFO. The facilities were amazing, Ryan was both helpful and responsive and the camp, facilities and fishing exceeded our expectations – enough said.
100% Per the above we loved our trip and working with Slate Falls Outposts. Out of all the things I mentioned above the communication and service was the biggest. If you have planned one of these trips, I think you get it. If you haven’t all I can say is when your group is constantly asking you questions or wanting to know if the volt amps on the inverter match the volt amps on the charger for their fish finder, working with an outfitter who is easy to get a hold of, responds quickly and is patient is huge!
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