Ogoki Lake, Ogoki Lake Outfitters, August 2018
One trend that I have noticed when researching trips is that the common sentiment is the further north west you go in Ontario the better the fishing gets. Overall that makes sense to me as tougher access = less fishing pressure.
Our trip to Shekak Lake in 2016 hadn’t lived up to our expectations – we did well but expected more (Shekak Lake Trip Report) So, with that in mind we really started looking at camps out of Nakina, Armstrong and Winnipeg.
After some web research I reached out to Mike Borger of Canadian Fishing Guide
Mike's Website – he recommended quite a few places but at the tail end of the call, almost a throwaway line he said “You guys may like Ogoki Lake”
From there we (I) kicked into serious research mode. As discussed, this meant spending times on various forums, calling outfitters and connecting with some folks who had fished the lake.
Folowing our groups process, we met sometime in the late fall of 2017 to review of options, make our votes and choose our lake. It was almost unanimous - Ogoki Lake with John and Gloria was our destination Ogoki Lake Outfitters
After we booked we met just about every month at a local pub – they must have thought we were crazy, large maps of the lake strewn across the table between beer and wings, handing out various lures, trading off good articles or YouTube videos on late summer walleye fishing or looking at excel spreadsheets with menus, gear to bring and boat assignments.
One thing we liked about Nakina vs Armstrong was the fact that we felt like we could drive it. At 12.5 hours it meant if we were in the same vehicle, we would only need to do a stint of 2.5 hours driving to reach Nakina. The only challenge – what type of vehicle takes 5 guys and a crap load of gear? No problem – we booked a 12 passenger Ford Transit Van; some seats came out and our issue was solved
Leading up to the trip I am sure I drove Gloria nuts with follow up questions and requests - can we get beer and pop flown in ahead of time (Yes) is there a generator on site (Yes), do the boats still have swivel seats (Yes). Gloria offered up a nugget as well – with no guests in camp the week before we headed in, we could go in a day early if we wanted? Quick logistics check and we were in, rather than burning another vacation day we would just leave earlier on Thursday, drive through the night to get to Leuenbergers Air Base at a reasonable time. We figured getting in early and being set up and ready to go Saturday AM instead of waiting to fly out was worth the effort of an all-night drive
The last month leading up seemed to fly and sure enough we met up and headed out at 9:30 PM on the Thursday. A long but uneventful drive put us in Nakina at 2:00 PM and in what seems like no time Leuenberger and our pilot Angus has us up and in the air.
A nice perk was that John and Gloria were in the camp when we arrived – was great to meet them, get a camp walk through and John gave us a few tips on where we should start fishing
John and Gloria’s camp in our opinion had everything you needed – solar powered water pump, lights with an inverter to charge stuff, shower house with sauna, propane fridge, stove and lights, a generator on site if needed (we used this to charge our electronics on one occasion when we hadn’t seen the sun in a few days and didn’t want to hit the solar power to hard). An outhouse that was fine, 3 14-foot Nadens w 2 stroke 9.9 engines which ran like a top, lots of cut wood for our camp fire. Rather than try to explain the cabin please see a video walkthrough in the link below – all I would say is that the cabin seemed bigger in person and we never felt like we were on top of each other.
John and Gloria’s camp is in a bay in the North East corner of Ogoki Lake. The bay is quite big (def bigger than Pickle Lake Pickle Lake Fly In and close to the size of Shekak) - with our gear unpacked we quickly tied up and headed out for a quick fish. We didn’t slaughter the fish but were pleasantly surprised that the fish we did get were quite big, including a 22-inch specimen caught by me within a cast of the dock
I won’t lie – we hit the sack early that night after the long drive – we were beat for the drive and wanted to be ready for our first full day of fishing
Our biggest concerns early on was twofold – 1) What if we got rough weather and 2) what if the fish were scattered. Well for 1) The Bay is sheltered and holds fish – we did better on the main lake, but the bay wasn’t bad at all. 2) It didn’t take long to realize that for us – Ogoki Lake was a fish factory. Basically, if a spot looked like it should hold walleye or pike it did. Sure, some spots were better than others but overall every point, island, shoal, hump and windblown shore held fish.
A gentleman named Chris Brock had given lots of great info about Ogoki and provided a marked map. One of our members used a combo of the map Chris provided, an MNR map downloaded from Adam Dempsey’s site (link above) and google earth. Every time we met in that pub, we made sure we spent 15 to 20 minutes going through the map and marking little spots or sections we felt should be good. I must say and not in a bragging way (maybe a little) every single spot we marked held fish except for those we didn’t try because the water levels were down so much it was not fishable
The way the map was configured also really helped:6 sections of the lake, each spot then correlated to a section and a number (re 5a). On such a big lake we found it helpful to say okay – today we hit spots 4 a, 4b and 4 c and if nothing pans out, we can run to spot 5d. Using the maps and the handheld radios (A must for us, especially on a big lake) took some of the awe out of fishing such a massive lake (to us at least)
Moving onto the fishing. I am going to break it out by day by day as I think it provides some good insight for anyone who wants to take on a lake like Ogoki. During the trip we all kept daily notes on our phones and usually at the end of the day put together a summary. I personally find this really helpful during the trip but also for future trips as we typically go during the same time of the year.
We were up and firing on all cylinders this day, quick breakfast of bagels or clif bars, sandwiches packed in a cooler and we were on the water at 7:30. The weather was cooperating – about 15 degrees rising to 20, moderate breeze and water temps were 65 and holding. We decided we wanted to check a few area’s that were on the main lake but not too far of a run. It was an interesting start – I was the solo boat that day and for whatever reason I struggled. Amplifying my struggle was that the radios were on fire with the other boats getting into fish – even the depths were all over the map – fish in 30 feet and fish in 6 feet.
By the time we met for lunch I was way behind – only two fish and a few that got off before I even saw what they were. We landed on a beach – well we walked the boats into a beach – with the water levels down most of the shoreline was impossible to put a boat on without paddling or walking the boats in.
After lunch and chatting with the guys I decided to go with an old faithful for me – a 2-ounce bottom bouncer with a crawler harness. Wise move – within an hour or so following some of the area’s the guys were fishing I started to pick off fish – and in what would be an overall theme for the week the were a good average size – we had a shore lunch planned for the next day so we wanted 5 fish on the stringer. In all honesty it was tough to get some fish under 18 inches. Once I got going fishing a ledge that went from 18 feet to 9 feet, I had 5 fish in a row that were between 19 and 21 inches. After a while we ran a bit further to an island we had marked – and for me it was awesome. I was still looking for slow tapering flats and where the wind was hitting the corner of the island, I could drag my bouncer from 20 feet to 12 feet over about 200 yards. The goal was to make it to the tip of the island and then try to follow the contour – I never actually made it to the corner – every time I hit the slope, I got fish – sometimes right in 20, sometimes in 15 but I was even getting bites in 7. The other guys were fishing a similar pattern but on a deeper break on either side of the island and doing just as well. Two spots were born – the Trough and Bread and Butter island. We headed back to the cabin with 73 fish in total and we were pumped! Another thing that would prove to work all week was fishing on the back side of points, islands or rock piles where the wind was hitting. Generally, we found that in this little eddy (not sure if there was an eddy but that’s what we called them) they held fish that were generally aggressive
We are fire guys – and after a successful Saturday we weren’t on the water near as early on Sunday. The breeze had switched a bit, but it was still manageable, temps were relatively stable. Boat mates switched and I was no longer the solo guy. We decided to run a bit further south into the lake, a few areas were highlighted and off we went. Our first spot was a large bay framed in by two distinct rock reefs. John had marked this for pike and walleye. As we probed the area, we noticed that with the water down it was quite shallow. I could see bread and butter island over my shoulder, so we decided to run over. The other boats were fishing outside the bay still – focusing on sharp ledges near the rock reefs – they were picking up fish, but it was slower. Bread and butter island were on fire again – the main difference was that instead of 20 – 18 being the key break the fish were up shallower and 18 – 12 was the hot run.