Many areas boast beautiful scenery, some have an outstanding fishery, others are host to world class lodging. Northwestern Ontario is lucky to have all of this.
The Cedar Lake / Perrault Lake system is home to some of the greatest fishing in Northwestern Ontario. It is as scenic as you would expect a shield lake to be. The area offers lodging from the modest to the high end, where you will be pampered from dock to dinner table, all while being easily accessible by major Highway #105. Almost all the lodges have little, to no gravel travel, which allows guests to bring boats of any size. Public launches on each lake allows access to day users as well. Both lakes offer everything an angler could ask for, and then some.
Cedar and Perrault Lakes are a 30 and 45 minute drive north of Vermilion Bay, Ontario. For U.S. guests it is a two-and-a-half-hour drive north of the International Falls border crossing. From Manitoba it is a three-hour drive east of Winnipeg, and from Thunder Bay, it’s a four hour drive west.
Most lodges recommend guests get a fishing license ahead of time, as most do not offer on-site licensing. Dutchie’s General Store in Perrault Falls offers licenses and much more. (see sidebar.)
Anyone visiting for a day trip, staying in the Vermilion Bay area, can visit Bobby’s Sport Shop for all their licensing and tackle needs. They are a full-service gas station, convenience store and bait and tackle shop.
CEDAR AND PERREAULT LAKES
Both lakes are well known by locals and Americans, but yet seem to be just off the radar. They are in the shadow of the ‘walleye factory’ that is Lac Suel to the north, and the big two, Eagle and LOTW just south and west. However year after year word gets out about the amazing fishing on these lakes. Other than the aforementioned lakes, not many lake systems can offer truly legit world class fishing for as many species. 30” walleye, 21”+ smallmouth, endless perch and crappie fishing, northern pike up to 45” and beyond, and the apex predator, and bucketlist fish, the Musky. Every cast on these waters is a chance at a true legal, 54” musky. Not many lakes can produce fish of this quality and quantity.
Both lakes offer trophy fishing yet a number of lodges offer fishing at smaller, off the beaten path lakes. Taking a quad or high clearance four wheel drive into a ‘boat cache’ lake will be an adventure unto itself. Fishing a small lake where you will likely be the only boat on the water is something everyone should experience once in a lifetime. To go one step further, Clark’s Resorts and Outposts offers fly-in fishing to a number of great lakes, including winter ice fishing trips by snowmobile, please see sidebar.
While many will choose a well equipped lodge to stay at, it is not totally necessary. For those from nearby Manitoba that may camp in the area, or have summer cottages both lakes have easy to find public launches. The entire lake system is easily navigated by most boaters and good quality maps are available for both lakes. As a bonus the Navionics lake chip shows both lakes quite well, however caution must be used as not all hazards are shown. Local camp owners do a very good job of marking all the hittable hazard areas. As someone who fishes both lakes quite often, I feel the combination of maps, gps chip and hazard buoys make this a safe waterway for all but the most inexperienced boater.
WHAT TO EXPECT
The beauty of these lakes is staggering. A common sentiment heard is “I can’t believe this”. An American friend once told my buddy Dave, after looking around and being dumbfounded, “This is just a Saturday to you isn’t it?” I’ll admit we sometimes take it for granted, but there is no denying the beauty of Northwestern Ontario.
Each lake covers many acres however both fish much smaller. Both can be broken down into manageable areas. Cedar can be thought of as West Cedar, clear water and for the record my favorite section of Cedar. The centre section, green stained and home to “Times Square”, a well known musky landmark and finally the large East Cedar basin with clay coloured water.
Follow the river up to Perrault, past an old logging road bridge foundation, you’ll enter the eastern part of Perrault. Whale Rock is a landmark that needs no introduction. Probably my favorite area of Perrault, it’s a big fish playground. Current from two rivers meet and dump into Perrault and all the baitfish bring the predators along with them. The main basin of Perrault is more or less ringed with islands that offer ample fishing opportunities.
OH, THE FISHING!
Then there is fishing. No matter the species, outside of Lake Trout, you’ll be covered. In full disclosure, I come from the musky fishing world, and these lakes are a musky anglers dream. Numbers of fish, average size of fish and true trophy potential. Not hollow brochure promises, true on the water giants. Cedar and Perrault produce huge musky. Sept. 2019, while fishing with my wife, Kyla on Cedar Lake, I had the pleasure of hooking the cleanest musky I caught all season. Figure 8 boatside strike! Those memories happen a lot on these lakes. Bass and walleye are both plentiful and large. Well I have no hard data to prove this, I believe Perrault produces as many 30”+ walleye as any lake in the area. Bass are caught in numbers and it’s not a stretch to say average size is 17”. Both lakes have great crappie and perch numbers, and are a favorite target of many anglers. A week at a lodge here can keep any angler busy. We fish it as day trips and can hardly scratch the surface of all it has to offer.
LODGES FOR EVERYONE
I won’t mention every camp and lodge by name, a quick google search of the area will suffice. To say there is something for everyone, and every budget is true. A couple that I deal with on a personal level are worth a quick note.
Manotak Lodge on Perrault offers everything you could expect on a fishing vacation. Start with an amazing American plan, with meals you would expect in high end restaurants, to full service fish cleaning and packing and every amenity along the way. The Swafford family takes great pride in their operation and it shows. They also take reservations for dinner, something anyone visiting the area should check out. This author can attest to the fabulous meals he has had there.
A UNIQUE EXPERIENCE
For a unique experience, Cedar Lake Lodge offers a private island as home base for their operation. Back your boat in the private launch, only metres off the highway and camp is a short 5 minute boat ride away. Island life never felt so good.
Clark`s Resorts offer cabins as well as RV parking, not to mention access to a sister resort on nearby Edward Lake. Cedar Lake also doubles as the base for the fly out business they operate. While it may seem busy here at times, the once a week camp dinner is not to be missed. Everyone joins in and camp life slows down, albeit for a few hours.
Cedar and Perrault Lakes are two of my favorite places to fish and visit. Don`t take my word for it, come visit or book your next summer fishing vacation here, you won’t be disappointed. The fishing brings me back time and time again, but the amazing camp owners, friends and staff keep me here long after the fishing day is over.
http://clarksresorts.com/ Clark’s resorts and Outposts
http://www.sportfishin.com/ Cedar Lake Lodge
https://manotak.com/ Manotak Lodge, Perrault Lake