Fishing Vacations

Fishing Lake Kesagami with Turner McTiernan


Ontario’s Lake Kesagami is a dream fishing destination for a lot of people. Turner McTiernan has had the chance to experience Kesagami three times. He shares with us what he has learned about fishing this pike and walleye paradise.

Many of us have spent our lives dreaming about Kesagami. As a young man, you have been there a few times. When did you go the last time?

I have had the privilege of going to Kesagami three times including the trip last June. All three times I went there with my dad and brother. We all absolutely love fishing, and we were looking forward to this trip all year long. After going to Kesagami for 2 years we took a year off last year so we had been waiting for this trip for a while.

What was the plane ride like going into the lake?

I have been on a float plane multiple times, but I always get a little nervous before the flight. Once we were in the air it was smooth sailing, and I got to sit in the front seat. The view from the plane is gorgeous. You get to see the transformation from the city of Cochrane to the beautiful Kesagami Provincial Park. You don’t realize how big Lake Kesagami is until you see it from the plane. And landing on the water is a very cool experience.

How long was your trip?

Our trip was originally supposed to be from Monday to Friday, but when we got up at 6:00 am the weather was terrible. We had to wait until Wednesday when the weather was better to fly in. The manager of the lodge was very understanding and let us stay until Sunday to make up for the days we lost.

How would you rate the accommodations at Kesagami Wilderness Lodge?

Once we arrived at the lodge the staff were very friendly and helpful. I would rate the accommodations at Kesagami a perfect 10/10. The cabin we stayed in was amazing for a lodge in the middle of nowhere. We had a small kitchen, fireplace, and 2 bunkbeds.

The best feature of the lodge is the dining area. The food they make you for breakfast and dinner is amazing and the dining area is beautiful and a great place to warm up after a cold day of fishing. They have many photos of fish that have been caught there on the walls. They also have shuffleboard and a pool table that me and my brother used a lot.

Did you use a guide?

On our trip we used a guide the first day and went by ourselves the other days. The guide we used was Jake and he was very helpful. Even though we knew the lake pretty well, it’s still a good idea to use a guide for at least one day.

I would definitely recommend that you should use a guide, especially if it’s your first time to Kesagami. They show you lots of tips and tricks that are specific for Lake Kesagami. Also, they make a very good shore lunch. There is nothing better than taking a break after hours of fishing and having someone cook you an amazing meal.

Now, lets talk some actual fishing. You have a gorgeous pike posted on Instagram. How was the overall pike fishing?

In my opinion the pike fishing at Kesagami is the best in the world. However, they do not come easy. You have to know where to find them and what tackle to use. Out of my three trips to Kesagami the one in June was my most successful by far.

Up until that trip we had not caught a pike greater than 40”. That was my goal going into the trip and it did not take long to achieve it. The first day our guide was Jake, and he took us to the far end of the lake to North Bay. The bay was filled with pencil thin weeds that Jake said are the best spot to find pike.

We never went long without catching a pike and after a few hours I caught a 42” pike, which was my new personal best. After that day, we spent most of our time fishing in North Bay. Over the next three days my brother caught a 43”, my dad caught a 40”, 43”, 40”, and I caught a monster 46” pike. That was and still is my personal best, and one of the guides said that was the second biggest pike of the season. In the dining area of the lodge they have a chalk board where they put all big fish that are caught by the guests and we had our names up there a few times.

What were your top baits for pike?

The bait that we used the majority of the time when we were fishing for pike was a Johnson Silver Minnow with a coloured twister tail. The lure was perfect because the pike love the shiny flash and it cuts through the weeds easily without getting caught.

We learned this after our first few trips to Kesagami, so our tackle box had a lot of Johnson Silver Minnows. We also went out and got some leaders and 30lb fishing line to handle these massive pike.

When using this lure you can cast in any direction, the fish are everywhere. Then just reel it in slow and smooth and let the lure do the rest.

Another lure that is effective is a buzz bait. These pike are very aggressive and they will hit anything that moves so the buzz bait can be very useful. However, the buzz bait only works well in calm weather and Kesagami can have all kinds of weather.

How about the walleye fishing?

The walleye fishing at Kesagami is absolutely crazy. If you are at the right spot at the right time you can get over a hundred walleye in a few hours. For every bay that has a lot of pike there is a point that has even more walleye.

During our trip our main focus was getting a big pike but we still got a good number of walleye. We had a shore lunch every day and we had no problem getting enough to eat.

The top spots for walleye on the lake are the Rock Pile, Eagle Point, and obviously Pickerel Point. All of these places have many rocks are marked by buoy’s. So they are basically telling you where the fish are.

The best technique is to put your boat upwind and let the current take you across the point. You can also back troll if you want to stay in the same spot. The best bait to use is a small jig with a twister tail. Everyone has their own preference but mine is a white jig with a pink twister tail.

To use it just let it sink to the bottom and then bring it up a few feet and just jig it every now and then. If there is a school of fish near you, you will barely have to put it in the water. We had times where all three of us would have a fish at the same time. Over the four days we probably got around 200 walleye with the biggest being 22”.

Did you have any wildlife encounters?

At Kesagami there is wildlife everywhere. Over the several trips we have seen many different types of wildlife. We have seen bears, eagles, blue herons, and we even saw a moose on one of the plane rides.

What really makes Kesagami a special place is the scenery. It is located on a Provincial Park so nature is conserved as much as possible. The sunsets at Kesagami are breathtaking. We had a perfect view from our cabin and we took some amazing pictures. If you wake up early enough you can see the lake when it is very calm and looks like glass. It is truly a site to see.

Everything at Kesagami will take your breath away, my advice is to just take it all in and enjoy your time there.

What are 5 things that anyone considering Kesagami should know about the Lake, Lodge and fishing based on your experience?

#1 – The first thing that you need to know about Kesagami is to prepare for the weather. No matter what time of year you go you can experience all kinds of weather. It can be below freezing in the morning and then 30 degrees in the afternoon. If it starts pouring rain you are not going back to the lodge, you keep fishing. You would only go back if there was thunder and lightning.

#2 – The next thing you should know is you can never have enough bait and tackle. If you manage to hook a monster pike and your tackle is not in good shape, the pike will easily break it. For the three of us on our trip we brought 8 rods and reels, and 2 full tackle boxes with every kind of bait we might want to use.

We would take 2 rods each into the boat, one with a pike lure and one with a walleye lure. This allows you to switch between what fish you’re going after quickly. If you’re jigging for walleye and they suddenly go quiet there is most likely a giant pike nearby. The quicker you can get your pike lure in the water can make the difference between catching the fish or not.

#3 – Lake Kesagami is a massive lake. It would be impossible to fish every corner of the lake so you should only focus on the spots that are working for you. The first day you can try and hit all the popular areas of the lake like Small Bay, North Bay, Pickerel Point and Eagle Point. Then, the rest of your trip you can fish the spots that are the best for you.

#4 – Kesagami Wilderness Lodge is very serious about protecting the fish they have. They only allow single barbless hooks so you don’t injure the mouths of the fish. They also have special nets for the fish that reduces the stress of the fish. When you catch a fish, you should try and keep it in the water as much as possible. Especially if you catch a big pike you should make sure that it is strong enough when you release it.

#5 – The final thing people should know before going to Kesagami is be ready to fish a lot. I get that this is obvious but in order to get the full experience of everything Kesagami has to offer you have to fish many hours a day. You have to absolutely love fishing and be ready for times when the fish just aren’t biting.

If you are that kind of person you will absolutely love your trip to Kesagami as I did. However, don’t make your entire trip about catching a big fish. Make sure to enjoy your time there whether the fish are biting or not. It’s a once in a lifetime experience.

Great advice Turner and thank you for sharing this with us. I look forward to your future reports from wherever your fishing journeys take you.