When I ran into Randy Duvell a couple of years ago he jogged my memory about his fishing lodge near Ft. Francis Ontario. I first heard about Slippery Winds Wilderness Lodge, back in 1992 when I had met Randy at an Outdoor Show a year earlier and he invited me up to fish at his resort. Unfortunately at the time I was unable to coordinate the trip but when I talked to him this time I was determined to make it happen. Why? It was the lure of the largemouth bass fishing that was offered on this trip.
Northwestern Ontario Gem
Slippery Winds is a short float-plane trip from Fort Frances, Ontario. Friend Kevin Stobbe and I had stayed overnight in the community in order to get to the float plane base at 7 a.m. the next morning. As luck would have it, we had arrived on Canada’s 150th birthday party and the place was rocking! In the morning we drove the five minutes from the hotel to the Rusty Meyers Float Plane base for the short flight to the lodge. After a scenic ride we arrived at Slippery Winds, located on a peninsula between Yoke Lake and Straw Lake. This American-Plan lodge offers its guests the opportunity to angle for six species of sport fish, including smallmouth and largemouth bass, lake trout, muskie, northern pike and walleye on six separate lakes that are accessible via boat or short portage.
Yoke Lake holds all six species of sport fish – including monster walleye and trophy muskie. Straw and Sucan Lakes, which are accessible from Slippery Winds’ back dock, are home to largemouth & smallmouth bass, walleye and northern pike. The three portage lakes, Bluffpoint, Crossroute and Sullivan are accessible via fairly short portages. Bluffpoint is accessed from Straw Lake, while guests reach the other two lakes from Yoke Lake. All three portage lakes hold largemouth bass, lake trout and northern pike.
Catch and Release!
Slippery Winds has practiced catch & release since 1993 and the benefits are paying off for Randy as his lodge is pretty much booked for the three months that they open. After getting our gear unpacked we made plans to visit all of the six lakes in our five day stay. During the course of our stay, Yoke Lake produced some outstanding walleye fishing for the guests who targeted this species, including the four other anglers in our group. I was there, however, to focus on largemouth and smallmouth bass, a couple of species I don’t get that much time on.
On our second day we signed up for a portage to Crossroute and a shot at the abundant largemouth that swim in the clear waters of this midsize lake. It took us about five minutes to catch our first fish and the first two hours we landed about 20 largemouth. It was everything I had hoped for and then some. As it turns out Crosspoint was the toughest trek in, with a fairly substantial hike over a good sized hill to access the two boats on the other side.
A Day to Remember!
Our most memorable day occurred on the third day when we ventured into Sullivan Lake. After portaging in, we launched the two 14 foot boats and headed to the far end of the lake. We started fishing a couple of bays that held good populations of bass. As we continued on a couple of hours later Kevin and I managed to stumble on to a shallow rock pile surrounded by weeds.
This spot offered the bass and pike a variety of options and it showed by the number of fish we saw swimming below the boat. With a water clarity of about two metres we could indeed see schools of largemouth bass, mixed in with big pike, swimming among the weeds. It turned out to be one of the most spectacular fishing days I have encountered in some 35 years of doing this. Kevin and I had nonstop action for four hours until the fish finally shut down. We caught a number of bass in the 18 to 19 inch range and pike up to 37 inches.
It turned out to be one of the most spectacular fishing days I have encountered in some 35 years of doing this.
On our final day we headed over a beaver dam and down a small tributary to try our luck on Bluffpoint Lake. This was a fun adventure and we ended the trip on another positive note when I landed the largest largemouth of my career.
Patterning Largemouth Bass at Slippery Winds
To catch the largemouth, look for them along shorelines that have weed lines or sunken timber, pretty standard stuff. I did, though catch my largest fish off of a rocky point that had the wind blowing on it. A variety of lures worked, with top water a good option early but when the fishing slowed down I switched over to a more finesse approach. I can remember catching seven largemouth along one small stretch of shoreline with a slider jig rigged with a five inch Berkley Power Worm. In this particular case the fish wanted the slow fall of the slider. Lots of fish were caught on spinner baits and cranks as well so it pays to pack a bit of everything. You are limited on the float plane by weight so make sure you are efficient in your packing. I do recommend that you bring your own electronics. I brought along my Humminbird and it certainly helped me with the little bit of walleye fishing that I did.
For the anglers who want to challenge themselves on different lakes for different species this trip is for you. It’s not a long trek for those of us who live in Manitoba and it gives us the option of experiencing some really special largemouth fishing. Visit them online at www.slipperywinds.com