Ever wondered what it is like to work at a fishing lodge? Have you considered Garden Island Lodge on Lady Evelyn Lake in Ontario for a future fishing trip? If your answer is yes to either of these questions, you will enjoy our interview with Randi Mac. This young lady spent a summer working at Garden Island Lodge. She fills us in on what it was like to work there and also provides some inside information on what guests can expecting when staying and fishing at Garden Island, an Ontario boat-in fishing lodge.
What did you do for Garden Island when you worked there?
I worked at Garden Island last summer as one of the cabin cleaners/kitchen helpers. Every morning I would serve breakfast to the guests and every night do the same for dinner. Lunch was packaged in the evening for the next day so the guests don’t have to come back to the lodge to eat. Cabin cleaning was every morning. Just sweeping and tidying and bathroom cleaning. On my time off I made sure to spend time down on the dock. I learned all of the dockhand duties such as how to fillet walleye and bass. Pike was a little more challenging.
How did you end up doing it as a summer job?
I knew I wanted to work for a fishing lodge because it seemed like an awesome experience. I originally applied as a dockhand to several different lodges. It turned out that the owners daughter went to school with me and I met her through a common friend. I was hired after a phone interview with the owner, Joe Henry. I guess it helps to know people. I got pretty lucky.
We originally found you based on the impressive walleye you caught while up there. How much fishing did you get to do?
People that can’t entertain themselves shouldn’t work at a fishing lodge, especially a secluded one such as garden island. I did a fair amount of fishing because it was either that or yoga or reading on my time off. I learned the different techniques for bass, pike and walleye. I honestly didn’t know anything about fishing prior to going up there for the summer. I thoroughly enjoyed learning from staff and even some of the guests had useful advice.
How would you describe the fishing at Lady Evelyn?
The walleye fishing is incredible. Lady Evelyn lake feels almost untouched by humanity. It’s an incredible place. The difference between Garden Island and all the other lodges on the lake is that it’s on the right side of the narrows. There are three other major lodges that share one side of the narrows and the fish aren’t as big. All the good spots and big fish are near Garden Island lodge. There were many people that broke the 30 inch mark for walleye. Many anglers would come back year after year, looking to break 30 inches. It’s a life goal for some of them.
What were your best catches while staying there?
Even an inexperienced fisherman such as myself managed to catch a 26 inch walleye. I only went pike fishing once and caught one. I got a few decently sized smallmouth bass over the course of the summer because I was mainly fishing for walleye. I wanted to be the one to get a fish over 30 inches and out fish all the guys. I got pretty close but not quite there.
How would you describe the guest accommodations and food to someone who has never been there?
The food changes from year to year depending on what chef is working there. Both chefs that I worked with last summer were incredibly talented. Joe has a knack for finding people with amazing talent. He wanted to make sure the guests felt like they were eating at a 5 star restaurant in a very remote place. Food can make or break a place like that. We all worked very hard in the kitchen on taste and presentation.
The accommodations are simple but nice. There are nine cabins on the island and they are all different. They are offered to people based on the amount of people in their group. For example there’s one cabin that’s further away from all the rest and has a queen bed and is generally given to a couple. Another cabin has 4 beds but split into two rooms for two couples or four individuals. It all depends on the groups requirements. All the cabins are kept very clean. They each come with a propane heater, a bathroom, a table with some chairs and beds with comforters and sheets.
What are three things that visitors should know before coming to Garden Island and Lady Evelyn?
Some important things to keep in mind if someone is to go to Garden Island Lodge is to make sure you enjoy the people you’re bringing up. You spend night and day with those people and only a few feet away from them in the boat for the majority of the day. It’s a great way to get to know someone very well but be careful what you wish for.
Another important thing to remember is that Garden Island lodge is in fact on an island. And its about a 45 minute boat ride from the landing and another few hour drive into the closest town. If you love the outdoors like I do, then it’s perfect because you’re right in the middle of it. Plenty of guests bring card games or cribbage to play at night to keep themselves entertained. Although fishing is what mainly consists of the day to day activities. Some fisherman would come for up to two weeks and do twelve hours of fishing a day. Others may come for five days and only do six hours of fishing a day. It’s all based on what experience you’re looking for.
A final thing to know about Lady Evelyn Lake is that you will experience sunsets more beautiful than anything you’ve ever seen. Every night I’d say that it couldn’t get better and the next night would be even more impressive.
Based on your experience working there, on a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being the best, how much would you recommend Garden Island to a friend looking for a fishing vacation? Why that answer?
It’s hard to rate the lodge on a scale but I’d have to say at least an 8 or a 9. I definitely have a biased perspective but I’ll try and defend my answer. Some obvious pros is that all the food is made for you, usually from scratch. And it’s delicious. All the motors on the boats are new as of 2015 and the boats and cleaned after every use. Everything is in great condition. The fishing is incredible and your odds of catching an amazingly sized walleye are very high. Even the pike fishing is awesome and there were people that caught some close to 40 inches long. The scenery is always incredible and it’s so remote so everything is very pristine. Since all the other lodges are on the other side of the narrows, there’s not much boat traffic. Compared to three other lodges that have to share space. There’s only 8 staff including the owner so you get to know the staff pretty well. Everyone goes out of their way to fulfill any requests that could be needed. I even babysat for one of the guests on my day off because they wanted to go fishing without having to constantly entertain a year old baby. There are obviously other lodges that are fancier but not many that would feel as homey. There’s groups that have been coming there more than 20 or 30 years and even have been to other lodges but always end up coming back because it’s an incredible place.
Thank you Randi for sharing your experience!