I would like to report on a truly outstanding Canadian fishing lodge, Hawk Lake Lodge located near Kenora, Ontario. I researched through magazines, outfitters and the Internet to find a lodge catering to fly fishing for smallmouth bass and northern pike. I kept coming back to Hawk Lake Lodge (HLL). I called several previous guests who fly fished and heard glowing reports of the fishing and the lodge. I was very impressed with the web page and info package I received from Garry and Sandy Delton, who own and manage the lodge. It included a beautiful color brochure booklet, as well as a highly technical booklet on how to fish the 20 lakes available to HLL guests, based on geological and botanical influences of this Canadian fishery. A third booklet included in the packet provided a map of the lakes, a detailed description of each one, including fish species to expect, best spots to fish and how to get to each.
I made the decision to invite my oldest son to accompany me. Gary and Sandy provided me with travel assistance through CanAm Travel Experts in Deephaven, MN (612-475-1618 or 800-642-2283), who steered me through the steps to a pleasant travel experience, which would have been difficult on my own. We arrived at the lodge after a day of travel from North Carolina in the evening. The lodge provided ground transportation for the 30-minute ride from Kenora. An example of the attention to detail: upon our late arrival in the evening, one of the staff showed us to our cabin (which overlooked the 2,600-acre Hawk Lake and had a private balcony over the lake perfect for star-gazing or loon-watching) and brought cold cuts, sandwiches and dessert, in case we were hungry after a day of flying.
The next morning, our hosts Garry and Sandy Dalton greeted us at the enormous original log lodge, complete with a huge rock masonry fireplace burning oak wood. Breakfast consisted of a huge table of fresh fruit, biscuits and gravy, sweet rolls, hot and cold cereals and juices. We could order whatever we wanted, from pancakes, waffles, omelets to the lodge special, a "skillet breakfast."
Following breakfast, we were met by our guide and transported with our gear by a 4 wd drive Kawasaki "mule" over the three-mile trail to Bear Lake, one of more than 20 "portage lakes" surrounding Hawk Lake. We fished comfortably in a 14-foot aluminum boat with a small outboard. Our catch that first day was 80-plus smallmouth bass up to 17 inches. These aggressive, healthy fish readily smashed poppers in the morning until about 10 or 11 am. Then streamers were the choice until the sun cast shadows in the afternoon, then it was poppers again until quitting time. This was a typical day. The young college student guide was very knowledgeable of the fish location and feeding habits, although not very experienced in fly fishing.
Each day, we had an option for a wonderful shore lunch, prepared by our guide. Outstanding fresh walleye, prepared lakeside with fresh veggies, hash browns and biscuits will be remembered for years. After fishing and cleanup, most fishermen (24 guests maximum) gathered on the deck of the lodge for cocktails and tall tales. Most guests were like us, relaxed, enjoying the unregimented style of the lodge without the desire or drive to be "the biggest and best," although the fishing was near the top of my list for pure fishing excellence.
Dinners were feasts for kings. Although the service was most gracious and attentive, the style was very casual, but the meals could have come from any five star US restaurant. Beginning with a dozen choice salads, homemade soup and breads, the dinners included French-cut rib-in steak, lobster, Cornish hen, hickory smoked baby back ribs, pasta, fresh walleye cooked to your specifications, and many other entrees. Homemade deserts would make you cry.
Waiting at our dinner table each evening was a map of our next-day's lake, complete with depth chart, and penciled-in locations of the best spots for each of the four species we sought: smallmouth bass, northern pike, lake trout and walleye.
Week we fished a different lake each day. Some were best for northerns, others for walleye or smallmouth. We had no poor fishing days. All were above average to excellent. The average sized smallmouth was about 12 to 14 inches, although on Mud Lake I caught three in three casts that went 16 to 18 inches on a Crawdad pattern. One can expect to catch smallmouth averaging 12 to 14 inches, up to 80 per day; northern pike from three to 20 pounds, up to 50 per day; lake trout up to 16 pounds; and tremendous numbers of walleye up to 30 inches. The numbers and size vary with the usual determinants of wind, weather, season and luck.
The lodge is open from late May through early September, and is located 120 miles north of International Falls, MN, 30 miles northeast of Kenora, Ontario. Rates are $295 per day, including all tackle (fly and conventional), licenses, meals, cocktails, daily maid service, boat and motor with gas for two, live bait and a special first day guided tour by Garry Dalton. Guides are an extra $100 per day. The boats, docked at a clean, well-maintained marina near the lodge, are brand new and outfitted with four-cycle engines and a powerful trolling motor. I recommend using CanAir for air transport to Kenora. Passport, voter registration, birth certificate and picture ID are required for Canadian travel.
I would strongly recommend this lodge to anyone who likes to fish, canoe, or just relax in a beautiful remote setting. It lends itself especially to a family or father-son, mother-daughter excursion. The fishing is outstanding and just as simple or difficult as you would choose to make it. I think it has potential for fly rod records, especially walleye, and possibly northern pike. There is no regimentation. Garry and Sandy Dalton are absolutely dedicated to making each guest feel comfortable and enjoy their stay at this five star lodge, felt to be the "Finest Smallmouth Bass Fishing Lodge in Canada".