Without question the most popular summer sport at Tornado’s is fishing! Many possibilities exist for your angling adventures at Tornado’s drive-in main lodge and our various fly-in outposts.
Fishing at our Drive-In Main Lodge
At our Main Lodge, you can travel the 60 km long Pickerel River water system in pursuit of walleye (pickerel), northern pike, and small and largemouth bass. The lakes accessible through this system include Duck, Pigeon, Wilson, Toad, Kawigamog and Dollars Lake. At our Main Lodge you can bring your own fishing boat to explore these waters.
Fishing at our Fly-In Outposts
Tornado’s Smoky Lake Lodge gives you access to the Smoky/Noganosh lake water system including Smoky, Noganosh, Last, Mud and John lakes. Donna, Livewire, Lost and Doe lakes are accessible from the water system via short portage for some exceptional back lake fishing. Depending on the lake there is fantastic fishing for small and large mouth bass as well as pike.
At Portage Lake you will find fantastic fishing for bass, pike and pickerel. Crowe, Finney and Sunny lakes are accessible via short portage. As they are off the beaten track they are being rarely fished and the offer great fishing for small and largemouth bass.
Sinclair Lake offers fishing for smallmouth bass and pike. The adventurous fisherman/naturalist will also have access to Deep Lake, the Magnetawan River or via a longer portage to Ball Lake. For these excursions the canoe from Sinclair has to be carried over.
Click for additional information about Tornado’s numerous fishing lakes:
Leaving Smoky Lake via “The Narrows” leads directly to Noganosh Lake and, perhaps, some of the best fishing lake on the entire Still River system. With ideal structural features, diverse shoreline cover, and a myriad of back bays to explore and fish, Noganosh has what it takes to produce excellent fishing and trophy fish – smallmouth & largemouth bass, northern pike.
The best largemouth bass fishing on Noganosh comes from the timber – the many blowdowns, logs and stumps which litter the shoreline. As elsewhere, casting a spinnerbait or pitchin’ a plastic worm or lizard into the heavy cover is the best way to coax the lake’s big bass – both smallmouth and largemouth – out to play. However, when the wind blows a bit, or if skies are overcast, the lake’s many islands, points and shoals will produce outstanding smallmouth bass fishing. Here, minnows always outperform everything else.
From Smoky Lake, far down the Still River system lies Last Lake, a shallow, weedy, timber-strewn lake that offers exceptional bass fishing. The shallows and shoreline areas are littered with stumps, logs and blowdowns, perfect cover for bass and northern pike. Water depths seldom exceed 7 or 8 feet, and oftentimes, fish are holding tight to cover in just 2 to 5 feet of water.
Fishing the “LogJam” as it is sometimes called, is no simple chore, and the heavy cover and potential for a really big bass call for heavier tackle. Baitcasting gear and 12 to 17 lb-test line are not too much. Fishing heavy cover also means fishing each individual piece of cover slowly, thoroughly. Pitchin’ a spinnerbait, flippin’s a jig & pig, or working a plastic worm or lizard right in the thick of it will consistently put big bass on the line. Wait until mid-morning, however, so that sunlight will drive bass under the cover and make them easier to locate. Working down one shoreline and back along the other will take a whole day – maybe longer.
Clear Bay offers a whole gammut of bass fishing opportunities. The lake is studded with islands and shorelines offer plenty of cover in the form of stumps, blowdowns and weedy patches.
A good approach to fishing Clear Bay is to “run & gun”, fishing one good looking spot or piece of cover, then moving quickly on to the next. Don’t waste a lot of time straining shorelines here – there is too much good cover for bass to be roaming in non-descript places.
Try a casting approach first – spinnerbaits, rattlebaits, crankbaits, twitchbaits – then work the cover again using a slower approach. Soft pLastics always work if you have the patience to fish them slowly, right in the thickest cover. In and around the stumps and blowdowns, flippin’ a jig & pig will produce big bass.
John lake is reached by running to the extreme end of Last Lake where a small creek allows passage to this little-fished lake. With the exception of the extreme ends and the only large bay on the lake, shorelines are rocky and barren. Select areas have some shoreline cover / weedgrowth, and this is where much of your fishing time should be spent.
John Lake is primarily a smallmouth bass lake, and the best spot for a trophy bass is the main lake point at the entrance to the shorelunch / campsite / back bay.
Entering the lake, the shorelines are heavily weeded or rocky, creating excellent holding areas for bass. Both largemouth and smallmouth abound in the entrance narrows and, little fished, will greedily respond to well-presented lures.
The “top” end of the lake consistently produces good numbers of smallmouth, but in clear, shallow water, a subtle “finesse” approach works best. Use light tackle, small, natural-finish baits and make long casts. Tiny soft plastic baits usually turn the trick if bass are spooky.
The path to Donna’s Lake within 100 yards of Smoky Lake Lodge, yet the lake seldom fished. A short boat ride across the channel and a 300-m portage / climb makes it easy to reach. Ever-changing – from a pike-only lake, to one dominated by smallmouth bass, and, more recently, a good mix of both largemouth and smallmouth bass – Donna’s Lake is easily fished in a couple of hours, making it ideal for an early morning or evening outing. A canoe or small boat is kept at the lake for the use of Smoky Lake Lodge guests.
Donna’s Lake is shallow and weedy at one end, deeper and rocky at the other extreme. It has excellent weedlines and some shoreline cover which seems always to hold bass. The deeper section “down the lake” offers more rock and fast-breaking shorelines. Donna’s Lake bass are definitely shoreline-oriented, but there is one mid-lake hump at the far end that always harbours the lake’s biggest smallmouth. Wherever there is broken rock in deeper water, smallmouth bass are sure to be on the prowl for crawfish-type or live baits. Plastic worms, a topwater plug, and a spinnerbait are all that are needed to catch bass here – smallmouth and largemouth alike.
LiveWire Lake is a tiny back lake accessed from Mud Lake via a wide, 20 m ramp over which the boat is easily pulled. Less than a mile long and 200 yards wide, LiveWire Lake is nevertheless an interesting fishing lake and a great side trip on any outing to Mud Lake. Shoreline cover at LiveWire includes timber / logs, some weeds, and fast-breaking dropoffs are always worth some fishing time. The lake has numbers of largemouth bass in the 1 to 2-pound range, but few trophies. It is rumoured that LiveWire is also home to schools of jumbo yellow perch.
Because LiveWire is a “numbers” lake, it is a good site to experiment with various techniques and lures. Although plastic worms will produce the most fish here, spinnerbaits cast into the timber or along weedlines will also catch bass. Crankbaits and rattlebaits cast parallel to the rocky stretches of shoreline are very effective. Topwater approaches, near the timber or weedy areas, can produce good action, especially early or late in the day or on overcast or cloudy days.
Doe Lake is a long, narrow lake accessible from Mud Lake via a 20 m lift up and over the beaver dam which created the impoundment. Shallow and weedy for the most part, Doe Lake does include a few fast-breaking, rocky sections. At either end, weedbeds and shoreline timber offer perfect habitat and cover for the lake’s numerous largemouth bass. At the upper end of the lake is an ideal spot for shore lunch / camping.
To fish Doe Lake, the boat must be pulled up and over the beaver dam – no easy chore with the larger aluminum boats provided at Smoky Lake Lodge. A better way is to tow one of the canoes from the main camp and use it for fishing Doe Lake. It is well worth the effort.
Doe Lake has only largemouth bass, but they are both numerous and good average size. Tossing spinnerbaits along weedlines, near fallen logs and parallel to shorelines is one way to fish the lake quickly and efficiently. However, a plastic worm fished along the shoreline will always produce twice as many Doe Lake bass ! And, for topwater enthusiasts, this place is eutopian.
This very small lake has been long forgotten by most Tornado’s guests (and unknown to the rest of us until recently). A shallow lake with rocky shorelines, it is home to numbers of smallmouth bass and some largemouth as well. This is a “quantity, not quality” lake, but great for canoeists or a temporary diversion.
Accessible from Mud Lake – not far from the Doe Lake lift – the portage is short (less than 100 m), but you will have to take a canoe along with you. Lost Lake merits about 2 hours fishing time, and on an adventuresome day, could be combined with a trip to Doe Lake, Mud Lake and / or Clear Bay.
Without much in the way of shoreline cover or weeds, this is a good place to fish topwater plugs, small crankbaits, twitchbaits and plastic worms. Our best results came when we move off the bank a bit where the breakline created structure to which bass could relate. Downsize your baits a bit for non-stop action.
Mud Lake is accessible from Smoky Lake via the Still River system. Contrary to its name, the lake is very clear, shallow , rocky and without much weedgrowth. Its rocky shorelines are littered with deadfalls, logs and stumps, making it essential to fish each piece of cover methodically. The lake also has some very fast-breaking shorelines, points and shoals which regularly hold bass. When fishing at Mud Lake, don’t overlook the opportunity to spend a couple of hours fishing Doe Lake – a great largemouth lake in its own right.
With clear, shallow water and lots of wood, a spinnerbait may be the very best way to quickly locate bass. However, with so much cover (logs, stumps, beaver lodges), it is just as important to probe the shoreline cover with a slow bait – specifically a plastic worm or lizard. Largemouth bass and pike will surely be in and around such cover and will readily strike. Off the shoals and deep points, fishing live bait is a proven approach here.
Crowe Lake is accessible via a short, easy 200 m portage from the NE end of Portage Lake, just a couple minutes from camp. An aluminum boat is cached at Crowe Lake for your convenience, but if you want an outboard motor, it must be carried in. Also take in a paddle, boat cushions / PFDs, fuel and snacks. A small lake, Crowe Lake can easily be explored and fished in a half day, leaving plenty of time for other pursuits or another side trip to nearby Finney Lake – just over a rocky ridge which separates the two.
Crowe Lake offers only largemouth bass, but the fishing is exceptional, with most fish in the 1 to 2-pound range. However, the occasional “hawg” topping four pounds is caught here. There is little in the way of cover on Crowe Lake except for a ribbon of “dollar pads” that ring the shoreline. These stretches of weeds always hold bass and fishing a plastic worm and/or spinnerbait is the best approach. At the extreme end of the lake, a shallow, weedy area with a sandbar / weedline / breakline combination is a hotspot. A few shoreline stretches have isolated blowdowns and these should always be fished thoroughly with a plastic worm.
From Portage Lake, Finney Lake can be reached via a 300 m portage which begins just across the lake from the camp. An aluminum boat is cached at Finney, but take seat cushions / PFDs, a paddle, fuel, lunch and cold drinks along. Spinning outfits and a basic selection of lures are best for Finney Lake bassin’.
Finney Lake is the best of the 2-species back lakes, boasting a wonderful mix of “numbers” and trophy bass – smallmouths to 5 lb. and largemouths to 6 lb.
Finney Lake is a long, narrow and very diverse lake offering excellent fishing for both smallmouth and largemouth bass. This long, narrow, clear-water lake has many small back bays with excellent shoreline cover (weeds, blowdowns, rocks) and numerous beaver lodges. Fishing a 3 or 4-inch plastic craw or 7-inch worm at the edge of the weedlines or at the base of beaver lodges is sure to put anglers onto Finney Lake bass – fish averaging 1-1/2 to 2 pounds, with some bass topping four pounds. Beyond Finney Lake, Deep & Little Deep Lakes are accessible via portage.
Atop the hill behind the Portage Lake Camp, Sunny Lake is another little known, seldom fished bass factory. Loaded with largemouths, this rocky lake has all kinds of shoreline cover and weedgrowth. Even fishing slowly, Sunny Lake presents only about half a day’s bassin’. But, oh, what a half day !
The path up to Sunny Lake is seldom used and a bit obscured at times. One route runs up the hill from the large back bay just down from the camp.
A clear lake, Sunny Lake bass are a bit spooky, but respond hungrily when a quiet, subtle approach is used. Try small top ater plugs, crawfish crankbaits, small rattle baits, in-line spinners or small plastic worms or lizards. Use light line and spinning tackle to maximize the thrill of catching one feisty bass after another.
Before going up to Sunny Lake, check with the Tornado’s staff to determine if an outboard motor is available there. If not, you probably won’t want to carry one up !
Deep and Little Deep Lakes:
Little Deep Lake is accessible via an easy 300 m portage beyond Finney Lake. Somewhat remote and inaccessible to most, the lake is a bass angler’s wonderland, offering exceptional opportunities for exceptional largemouth bass fishing. Double-check with the outfitter to determine where the canoe is cached. Deep Lake is connected by a (usually) navigable channel and offers a wide range of structural features – from rocky, fast-breaking shorelines to shallow, soft-bottomed, weedy areas.
Casting a spinnerbait, top water plug, plastic worm or crankbait / rattle bait will quickly locate bass. Check weedy sections, near shoreline cover (logs, blowdowns, beaver lodges), at rocky points and along fast-breaking shorelines.
Beyond Deep Lake, there are yet other small lakes to explore, but that’s next year’s project!
The historic Magnetawan River is accessible via a short 50 m portage from the SW end of Portage Lake, just minutes from the camp. Just upstream, Stovepipe Rapids is a springtime walleye hotspot, while downstream a mile or so, Little Island Lake is a popular destination for canoeists, campers and anglers.
Most folks portage to the Magnetawan River for great early-season walleye fishing just below Stovepipe Rapids. In the deep pool below the rapids, walleyes bunch up and greedily pounce on live baits and jigs. Later in the season, walleyes scatter throughout Little Island Lake and can be caught where current flows are maintained. In Little Island Lake, smallmouth bass abound, but walleyes and northern pike can also be caught near weedbeds, rocky points and mid-lake shoals.
An historic and scenic canoe route with easy paddling, few portages, great fishing and civilization never far away, it is no wonder that the Magnetawan River is one of the more popular canoe routes in Southern Ontario.