The largest freshwater apex predator in North America

Musky on the Fly:

There are a lot of unique fish around the world worth targeting on a fly.  This includes arapaima, golden dorado, kundzha, Taimen, mahseer, but there is one fish often left off this list that deserves your attention.  This is of course Muskellunge. A fish that is only native to a very small part of North America, and not found anywhere else in the world.

People may sometimes associate Musky with Pike which are one of the most common species of fish found in the world.  However, make no mistake, Musky deserve their spot on the top of the list for worthy, difficult fish to catch on the fly.  Musky are the blue marlin of freshwater fishing. They are extremely rare creatures, but there are definitely places you can go catch this giant predator. Our fishery – Lake of the woods, is the cream of the crop for fly anglers.  This is where you have a dense population of big fish in shallow water. These are the shockingly big musky that can bring grown men to their knees.

In the granite fortress of western Ontario, lies the crown jewel lake of North America: Lake of the Woods. One of the most prolific lake systems in the world, this gem has long been cloaked in lore for musky fishing.  With over 47 species of fish you never know what will attack your fly.

The Lake of the Woods area has a rich history dating back to 7,000 BC when small bands of Palaeo Indians were hunting prehistoric large game. The aboriginal peoples who first settled in the Lake of the Woods area over 7,000 years ago called the lake “minestic” or “Lake of the Islands”, a name befitting an area with over 14,000 islands

 

Why go Musky Fishing?

Fly fishing for musky presents many challenges. In all honesty, if you can cast a good line, you are just as likely to get a musky eat fishing flies as you are with gear.  Modern musky flies are extremely productive, and in some cases pressured musky are even more apt to follow a fly than a lure. There are some great fisheries in the United States to find trophy Musky, but anyone in the know will consistently tell you about one iconic area that surpasses the rest by an exponential degree.  These of course are the famous lakes of western Ontairo, not far from the US border.

After exploring this area for several seasons we eventually found the perfect musky fishery for those wanting to target them on the fly.

We searched for a fishery with:

  • sheltered waters to be able to cast out of the wind.
  • visible structure, because we are steelhead anglers by nature and we need to see what we are working with.
  • Musky in shallow water so we could target them on the surface and with floating lines.
  • tea stained water to ensure musky would feel extra comfortable close to the boat.

This long list of wants and needs was not an easy task, however eventually we struck gold, we found the perfect location.  We partnered with a lodge in Lake of the Woods to bring you Canada’s first Musky on the fly operation.  Although the lodge will have their regular guests gear fishing during our musky season, they have sequestered off a section of the lodge for epic waters guests and guides.

Musky fishing is an extremely intense fishery  as you are targeting the largest apex predator in north America. Make no mistake, these fish stand in a league of their own when it comes to freshwater fishing.  There is no other freshwater fishery in North America with as many similarities to trying to catch a steelhead or chinook on a swung fly.  It is also very similar to Permit fishing in many mays.

Lake of the woods feels like fishing the everglades. The weather is typically in the 80’s and the water temps in the 70’s.  You will in large part be fishing all by yourself, and the act of bringing 50 inch fish boat-side is an experience all serious fly anglers should see in person.

  • Epic Waters staff will be your musky guides, going at these fish with a steelhead mentality.

Conservation: With record setting temperatures happening each summer, it is time for anglers to search out fisheries that thrive on this heat.  When the lake is in the low to mid 70’s the musky are feeding aggressively throughout the moon and sun phases.

We are targeting musky when they are in shallow water and looking up.  Our favourite time to fish musky in this section of the lake is in July.  They have moved off spawning reds and settled in what we call steelhead water.  That is jiggly, nervous current, boulders, granite ledge rock and above and bellow islands.  Sound familiar? It will hit close to home for all steelhead anglers.

Before you decide to travel around the world post-pandemic to target exotic fish on the fly, come try Musky first.  If conditions are half decent, and you can throw a good line, you will be immediately smitten with these fish after your first boat-side follow or top-water explosion.

The Lodge

The lodge is a beautiful lakefront facility with excellent fishing right off the docks.  There is a large main lodge with a full sized commercial kitchen.  The cabins are lakefront with spectacular views from the oversized decks.  Guests will share 2 per cabin with a shared bathroom.  Meals are eaten both in the main lodge or in our private cabins depending on time of day.  We will also enjoy plenty of fish fries with walleye on the lodges beach. Guests will enjoy hot showers, internet, and occasional cel service which are all found at the lodge. Although well off the power grid and far from town it is powered by a large diesel generator.  Unlimited free ice available at all times for cold beverages.  The location sets this lodge apart from any other fly fishing musky destination in the world.  Simply put, there is no better place to target musky on the fly on earth.

 

Your Guides

  • Derek Botchford Operator
  • Dave Page Musky Guide
  • Corwin Trent Musky guide
  • Derek Botchford Operator

    As operator and guide of the musky camp it is my job to ensure your trip is a successful one. From the moment you book with us I will be at the ready to assist you in anything that may arise with regards to your trip. From the first contact with Epic, to organizing your travel from Winnipeg to the lodge, to watching you make your first cast, I will be there for it all.  Throughout your stay with us I will facilitate everything with the lodge manager and guide team to make it is a once in a lifetime experience.

The Fishing

Fishing is quite demanding and the biggest fish feed during moon rise and moon set,  sunrise and sunset.  The top water fishing can be very exciting right at dark so we really like to make sure we are on the water at this time.  Our most productive fishing will consistently be early in the morning and late in the evening.  Mid days we take off, or fish for some bass or walleye.  Multiple fishing sessions per day will be offered and guests can fish them all, or take some sessions off to catch up on sleep.  Our goal is always to land a 45 inch Musky during the trip, but guests will have a real opportunity to beat the coveted 50 inch mark.  There may have been a time where slinging big musky flies was just too much work, however modern technology in lines, rods and flies has made life easy. The flies are only double the size of a steelhead pattern and the new shooting heads take care of all the work.  It takes a bit of practice to make sure your rod is doing the work and not your shoulder, but once you get it down it is no different than any saltwater fishing.

Quick Facts:

  1. 90% of the worlds native musky are found only in Ontario and Wisconsin and to this day the only place in the world with wild musky is North America. Tiger Musky which is ½ pike and ½ musky are being stocked around the world but not true musky.
  2. Musky can live up to 30 years.  com   listed the musky as one of the 7 most hard-to-catch fish in the world, right there with Blue Marlin, and Goliath Tiger Fish.  Mysteriously, the musky has never left the North American territories and can only be found in the Northern parts of the U.S. and the Southern parts of Canada
  3. Their speed, resilience, beautiful coloration, toothy smile, and the fact they are only found in one small part of the world makes this fish truly fascinating. You cant help but have 100% appreciation for the true apex predator.
  4. Northern pike are a good sports fish but the distribution is circumpolar. In fact the distribution of the northern pike (Esox lucius) in Europe, Asia, and North America is one of the broadest distributional patterns of any fish species in the world.  Great for beginners pike are easy to catch and populations are everywhere. Than you have Tiger Muskellunge which are the ‘Franken fish’ of the genus and are the hybrid offspring of Northern Pike and Muskellunge. Tiger Muskellunge are usually considered hardier and grow faster than either parent species.  It becomes pretty apparent that Musky are quickly in a league of their own.
  5. There is no doubt in our minds and we can say this with confidence, Lake of the Woods is the finest muskie fishery in the world today.
  6. Conservation: One of the few examples of a fishery that is far better today than it was 25 years ago. The muskie fishing is even better today, thanks to the modern management and high-quality fishing regulations. The objective was to take the finest muskie fishery in the world and make it surreal. And it worked out splendidly
  7. Over 10,000 years ago, Lake of the Woods was carved into the granite of the Canadian Precambrian Shield by receding glaciers. The underlying bedrock of the lake is among the oldest of geological formations to be found on earth.
  8. The Lake of the Woods area has a rich history dating back to 7,000 BC when small bands of Palaeo Indians were hunting prehistoric large game. The aboriginal peoples who first settled in the Lake of the Woods area over 7,000 years ago called the lake “minestic” or “Lake of the Islands”, a name befitting an area with over 14,000 islands. The lake is a natural wonder created without any human interference. It is the 36thbiggest lake in the world

Exclusive Amenities and Facilities

Exclusive Amenities

  • Comfort Food prepared by Narrows chef.  The lodge takes 16 guests a week and our secluded fly-fishing program only takes 4.  The other guests are not Epic guests and will be mostly Walleye fisherman with the occasional musky gear fisherman.
  • Sweeping lake views from the lodge and your cabin
  • comfort foods paired with wines for dinners
  • Wilderness park setting; wildlife abounds
  • The best piece of camp water you’ve ever seen, we have moved 50 inch musky off the dock

Facilities

  • Laundry availible
  • fish fry house
  • Hot Showers
  • internet
  • ice
  • coolers
  • long hours of generator power
  • beachfront bonfire and sitting area

Accommodation

 

Lakefront cabins overlooking Lake of the Woods

  • Single and double framed beds
  • comfortable mattresses and new pillows
  • reading and writing table
  • ensuite bathroom- toilet and shower
  • lights and power (Genny is on most hours of the day)
  • double occupancy

How to Get There?

Winnipeg is very easy to get to no matter where you live in North America, why? Because it is the geographical centre of Canada.  No matter what major city you are coming, from the flight will be less than 2.5 hours.  Guests  fly into Winnipeg, Canada, and overnight.  You will be shuttled to the town of Kenora very early on the following morning (2 hour drive), and then it is a 30 water taxi ride to the lodge which is on a private island. We will immediately hit the water!

What equipment and documents should I bring?

 Details

1. You will arrive in Winnipeg the night prior to your trip. From there take your per-arranged shuttle to the hotel of your choice. In the morning  a shuttle will be organized to the town of Kenora, where a water taxi will bring you in to the price island.

2. Please purchase your license. You must have:

  • 8 day angling license for your duration

3. We have a decent supply of beer and wine at the lodge but no hard alcohol. Duty free is a great place to purchase alcohol prior to entering Canada. Our health care is expensive and you will feel it when you buy booze here. Please note there is no liquor store at the lodge and people regularly regret not bringing scotch to toast that 30 lbs Musky they caught!

Before Travel

– Flight times and travel details confirmed directly with airlines
– Passport and/or travel documents reviewed and double-checked- All equipment packed and ready to go

Travel info

Traveling with Special Items: Fishing Equipment

Traveling with outdoor gear and most fishing-related items is permitted. Outdoor enthusiasts should carefully prepare and pack to avoid removal of prohibited items from checked baggage or surrendering prohibited items at the security checkpoint. Here is a specific list of all permitted and prohibited items.

Fishing Rods – Rods are permitted as carry-on and checked baggage. However, please check with your air carrier to confirm that it fits within their size limitations for carry-on items. Ultimately, it is the carrier’s decision as to whether or not it can be transported as carry-on baggage.

Tackle and Other Equipment – Most fishing equipment should be placed in your checked baggage, especially tools and other tackle equipment that can be considered sharp and dangerous. Expensive reels or fragile tackle such as flies should be packed in your carry- on baggage. (*T.S.A. Recommendation from T.S.A. website, March 1, 2009)

* Please keep in mind that these are T.S.A. policies for flight originating within the United States. Canada may apply different standards and different policies with regards to rods, reels, flies, etc.

ID Requirements for Airport Checkpoints

Adult passengers are required to show a U.S. federal or state- issued photo ID that contains the following: Name, date of birth, gender, expiration date and a tamper-resistant feature in order to be allowed to go through the checkpoint and onto their flight. Passengers who do not or cannot present an acceptable ID will have to provide information to the Transportation Security Officer performing Travel Document Checking duties in order to verify their identity. Passengers who are cleared through this process may be subject to additional screening. Passengers whose identity cannot be verified by TSA may not be allowed to go through the checkpoint or onto an airplane.

Acceptable IDs include: U.S. passport

U.S. passport card
DHS “Trusted Traveler” cards (NEXUS, SENTRI, FAST)
U.S. Military ID (active duty or retired military and their dependents)Permanent Resident Card
Border Crossing Card
DHS-designated enhanced driver’s license
Drivers Licenses or other state photo I.D. cards issued by Department of Motor Vehicles An airline or airport-issued ID (if issued under a TSA-approved security plan)
A foreign government-issued passport

Information for Traveling with Liquids: T.S.A.’s “3-1-1 Plan for Carry-Ons”

3-1-1 for carry-ons = 3.4 ounce bottle or less (by volume) for each item; 1 quart-sized, clear, plastic, zip-top bag; 1 bag per passenger placed in screening bin. One-quart bag per person limits the total liquid volume each traveler can bring. 3.4 oz. container size is a security measure. Consolidate bottles into one bag and X-ray separately to speed screening. Declare larger liquids. Medications, baby formula and food, and breast milk are allowed in reasonable quantities exceeding three ounces and are not required to be in the zip-top bag. Declare these items for inspection at the checkpoint.

Packages and Rates

Rates:  $5000usd for 5 days and 6 nights

included:  Food, accommodation, flies, rods, reels and a multitude of lines, beer and wine, shuttle to and from Winnipeg, water taxi to and from lodge, multiple sessions of fishing throughout each day (common to fish 12 hours of more per day all combined).

Not included: flight to and from Winnipeg, hotel in Winnipeg, hard alcohol, gratuities for kitchen staff or guides, fishing licenses 

Dates Available for 2022:

  • June 30 – July 7 Week FULL
  • July 7 – 12 – Week 2 –2 guests
  • July 12 -17 – Week 3 – 4 guests
  • July 17 – 22 – Week 4 – 2 guests
  • July 22-27 FULL

Ready for an Epic Adventure? Contact Us to Book

call us tel:+18778469153

send derek an email

Derek Botchford 
Owner Operator