Esnagami Wilderness Lodge takes it’s turn as #1 on my bucket list fishing trip destinations. This place is an angler’s paradise. When I found that Matt Walne was guiding for them this summer, I approached him about doing an interview. I am so grateful he agreed as we get a lot of good inside information on the Lodge and the fishing.
I know enough about Lake Esnagami to know that I really want to go. What can you tell me about this fishing destination that will make me want to go there even more?
Have you ever caught 75+walleyes in one day before? This is the place to do it along with a chance at some of the biggest pike I’ve ever seen, some up to 45+ inches and weighing in over 25-30 pounds. If that doesn’t get your heart racing I don’t know what will. Not to mention the pure beauty of the scenery and wildlife around the lake.
I believe Esnagami Wilderness Lodge is the only lodge on the lake. Is that correct? What are the accommodations like at the Lodge?
Yes, Esnagami Lodge is the only lodge on the lake. So you have the whole lake to your self. The lodge itself is gorgeous and the cabins are top notch. You will also encounter great staff on and off the lake whether it be the guides, the wonderful house keeping staff, the delicious meals or the kind and humble owners, Eric and Sue.
So if someone reading this wants to become a guide at a fishing lodge, what qualities/attributes do they have to have to be successful guiding at a place like Esnagami?
You have to have a passion for fishing and a passion for the outdoors. It is hard work on and off the water. You must have good people skills as well to ensure your guest has a great day regardless if the fishing is great that day or not. I did not have any qualifications before going up other than a little bit of construction and a very large multi-specicies angling background. I just met Eric and he had a gut feeling about me and I did not disappoint.
3 main species to target while at Esnagami, walleye, brook trout, and pike. How do you rank each species in terms of your favorite to fish for?
It’s very hard to pick just one fish as I’ve grown up fishing for just about anything that swims . I’m a musky nut so the allure of chasing giant pike draws my attention. If you like big toothy critters, August is the time you want to be there . The walleye fishing is like nowhere I have ever seen with 50 to 80 fish days happening like it’s no big deal and the chance of monster 30inch walleyes isn’t out of the question. The brook trout. Well the bookies are gigantic to me coming from Southern Ontario and the areas we fish for them are almost as beautiful as the fish them self. Whether it be the Esnagami River or the Artesian Springs, it is definitely something you want to do while you are there.
Part of my love of fishing new places is the excuse to buy new tackle. What are the must have lures/flies for each species for Esnagami?
For walleye it’s just the usual gear. You want to have 1/4 oz jigs and white or yellow twister tails, marabou jigs and Gulp minnows. Being a musky fisherman I like to try my big musky baits (Bulldawgs, swimbaits and bucktails) for pike with some success but all you need is a couple number 5 or 6 spinners and a couple spoons like Williams Wabler’s and Len Thompson’s. On the fly your going to want a selection of 5 to 9 inch streamers and sink tip line for summer and fall.
One of your photos had a shot of a great stringer of walleye with Bondy Bait Company worms. What can you tell us about this company and why you like using their baits?
That picture was from a great day I had in the spring when me and my guests caught over 100 walleye in a day using the dark green Bondy worms. They are and excellent quality plastic that produce very well and they can handle a lot of fish without getting shredded to bits. My favorite colors were white, dark green and brown.
What were your favorite moments you had this year while guiding?
It’s hard to chose just one moment . Some of the things that make me love my job are the joy in someone’s face after battling a fish of a life time or how happy everyone is when they are all gathered together for a shore lunch or the sight on a young kids face after they have a great day of fishing and you know there hooked for life.
Lastly, what are 5 things that people should know/do when considering or planning for a trip to Esnagami?
Guide rule number 1 , don’t forget your rain gear even if it’s supposed to be sunny and blue skies.
Get quality gear…rods, reels, rain gear…your spending good money to fish there don’t loose the fish of a lifetime because your 6’6 walleye Ugly Stik couldn’t handle that 40+ inch northern.
Don’t be afraid to hire a guide, it’s a good sized lake with lots of islands and structure, this can make the rest of the week a lot more enjoyable.
Do a little research and know what your getting yourself into and what you might need.
Lastly don’t forget you are on vacation. Yes, the fishing is great but there is lots to enjoy and it’s nice to relax on your time off.
I want to go!!!!! Love this last piece of advice from Matt. This is something I have at times forgot on past fishing vacations. Great stuff Matt. Thank you.
You can check Matt out on Instagram. And make sure to visit Esnagami Wilderness Lodge. Once you do, I am sure they will be very high on your bucket list just as they are on mine.