When I became fascinated with fishing the Nipigon watershed nearly 40 years, I never thought I’d end up guiding for brook trout, lake trout, pike and salmon on these great waters. The Nipigon River looked so intimidating and huge, its mighty currents creating great whirlpools and eddies. Then there was Nipigon Bay, on Lake Superior, a monstrous sized chunk of water that has countless reefs, rock and islands. Finally, Lake Nipigon, at the head of the Nipigon River, is so huge and remote it remains largely uncharted to this day. Yet all these decades later, these waters are where I spend my summers guiding anglers from all over the world. And the coolest thing is the headquarters I guide out of is a legendary place called Quebec Lodge.
Quebec Lodge is located an hour drive east of Thunder Bay and is centrally located in Nipigon country. You can drive to the lodge from southern Ontario in about 16 hours (or less) depending on where you are located. Or you can get a connection to Toronto and fly to Thunder Bay in an hour and a half. There you can be picked up and brought to the lodge. Once at Quebec Lodge, you will be in the heart of world class fishing. Ray Rivard is the proprietor of Quebec Lodge and has made the place a famous destination for anglers.
Quebec Lodge is situated in the middle of the world’s best trophy brook trout fishery. The Nipigon River is just minutes from the lodge and is the home to the 14. 8-pound world record brook trout caught back in 1915. The lodge has road access to the Nipigon River, Lake Nipigon and Nipigon Bay on Lake Superior. This is big water with equally big fish. Brook trout average 20 inches (three pounds plus) with fish topping 25 inches (seven pounds plus) caught every season. The lodge is catch and release only of wild Nipigon brook trout and this is strictly enforced.
The Nipigon River is large and swift, and much of the river is only fishable by boat. Experienced guides at the lodge will put you on the best holes and safely move you around this huge system. There are three dams on the river there are two reservoir sections. The most popular destination is Jessie Lake and the Pine Portage rapids. The fishing here focuses on casting reefs and shoreline areas. The boat trip from Jessie Lake to the rapids is one of the most spectacular in Ontario. Sheer cliffs and rock faces surround the deep, swirling waters of the Nipigon River. It is not uncommon to see eagles soaring high overhead while you head to the fishing spots.
Brook trout can be caught throughout the open water season and there is nearly always good fishing somewhere on the Nipigon system, including in mid-summer. Both Lake Nipigon and Lake Superior remain relatively cold through July and it is not unusual to see water temperatures in the low 50s F. Brook trout begin to take on fall colours in August and early September.
The season for brook trout on the Nipigon River and in Lake Superior ends on the Tuesday after Labour Day in early September. On Lake Nipigon, the brook trout season ends at midnight on Sept. 15. Lake Nipigon is also single barbless. As mentioned, the lodge enforces a strict no kill on all brook trout caught by guests.
The lower section of the Nipigon River has trophy brook trout, but also resident rainbows, pike, lake trout and chinook salmon. Salmon are generally available from June to October, with the fishery peaking in late August to early September. Most salmon are caught trolling large plugs such as the Rapala J-13 or the Live Target Smelt. The average fish is about eight pounds but one of my guests landed a 17 pounder last fall.
Lake Nipigon is another fantastic option for the multi species angler. Nipigon is home to giant pike, lake trout and whitefish as well as brookies. Pike frequent shallow bays and weed beds and can be caught with bucktail spinners, spoons and flies. Lake trout are caught casting jigs and spoons in June but are commonly taken while trolling spoons like the Williams Wabler . Lakers are big here, averaging about 12 pounds, with monsters approaching 40 pounds caught each year. Lake Nipigon is a huge body of water and provides nearly limitless angling options.
Nipigon Bay, which is visible from Quebec lodge, is where the Nipigon River empties into Lake Superior. This huge bay has “coaster” brook trout, which are generally more silver and sleeker than trout caught in the upper sections of the river. Rainbow trout, lake trout, pike, perch, whitefish and salmon are caught in Nipigon Bay as well. There is good access to Nipigon Bay from the Red Rock marina and the Nipigon Marina.
For huge walleye, Black Bay, north of Bent Island, on Lake Superior, is tough to beat. This is primarily a trolling fishery, and the fish are big, averaging about five pounds. However, walleye of 10 pounds or more are not uncommon. Massive pike are also caught in Black Bay. Many fish can be caught in the 36 to 40 inches, with some true giants available. Black Bay also has a nearly untapped smallmouth bass fishery and summer is prime time to chase them.
Quebec Lodge is a historic log lodge that was built in the 1930s and is nestled on a height of land over-looking Nipigon Bay, on Lake Superior. It has several rooms of various sizes and a central, great room where guests can kick back to have a drink, play cards or chat. Home cooked meals are served in a large dining room. Many evenings end with an outdoor bonfire, sometimes with a guitar jam or two. There is also a sauna available to ease those sore casting muscles.
Guides at Quebec Lodge generally supply their own Lund boats, which are well suited to the large water found in the area. Canoes and kayaks are available for rent. Some spin and fly-fishing tackle and other gear is available for use by guests as well. Please let the lodge know what you will need. Guests use life jackets or PFDs supplied by guides or the lodge.
Guests at Quebec Lodge stay in the main lodge. In-lodge rooms are located near the great room or via a hallway. Adjacent rooms share a bathroom and shower.
The lodge features a large common area with an open post-and-beam vaulted ceiling. There are various chairs and couches as well as a bar. Television and high-speed Internet are both available.
Reaching Quebec lodge is easy.
Many guests drive to the lodge via Highway 11/17. The lodge is located about 100 km east of Thunder Bay on Hwy 628 Red Rock. The lodge is located on road 17, the first left turn before the train tracks at the town of Red Rock.
Most international flights can connect to Thunder Bay. Once you’ve collected your luggage you can either get a pre-arranged shuttle ride to the lodge or rent a vehicle.
Quebec Lodge is a magical place, with the type of fishing people dream about.