Lake Norman & Mooresville

Canadian fishing is a whole new experience

Gus Gustafson holds a 28-inch walleye on his trip to Canada.
Gus Gustafson holds a 28-inch walleye on his trip to Canada. GUS GUSTAFSON

It felt like a cool day in March when we boarded a float plane in Winnipeg, Canada, earlier this month for a week of fishing on One Man Lake in Western Ontario. Its trophy waters were teeming with walleye northern pike and smallmouth bass that were hungry after being under the ice all winter

The fish were in shallow bays, where they were easy to catch with gold weedless spoons, chartreuse spinners and crank baits. The walleyes were concentrated on sand bars and rocky points and were attracted to curly-tail jigs and minnows bounced off the bottom.

While 40-inch northern pike were few and far between this year, there were plenty in the 30- to 36-inch range, along with smallmouth to 19 inches and walleye to 10 pounds.

It wasn’t just the fish that got our attention. One group watched a bald eagle swoop down, carry a walleye to the shoreline and began to shred and eat it, only to be chased away by a bear that eventually finished the meal.

Beavers, pulling branches to rebuild their dens after a cold winter, and loons sitting on eggs were common sights. The islands were filled with nesting terns, gulls and white pelicans.

Because One Man Lake is so isolated, the only boats on the lake are aluminum fishing boats owned by the camp operator, Gene Halley. It’s quite a change from Lake Norman, where pleasure and wakeboard boats outnumber fishing boats 10-1 during the summer months.

Another point of interest was the absence of Jet Skis. An occasional float plane delivered supplies to our fishing lodge, no trucks or delivery vans.

Numerous eagle sightings and an abundance of loons, decked out in their mating plumage, made for some great photo opportunities.

Those who have been to Canada know that the scenery is breathtaking, and the fishing is fabulous. There are thousands of lodges and camp sites to choose from. The all-inclusive One Man Lake Lodge ( is in the middle of the English River System.

Points to consider when planning a Canadian fishing trip:

▪ Choose the lake and accommodations carefully. Each has a different mix of fish. For example, if it’s muskies you wish to target, be sure they live in the lake you are fishing.

▪ If it’s big fish you are after, choose a catch-and-release, trophy-designated lake.

▪ Since most cold water fish are toothy, boga-grips, long nose pliers and wire fish mouth spreaders are useful.

▪ Ten- to 20-pound spinning and bait casting tackle is ideal for most fishing conditions.

▪ A passport and Canadian fishing license is needed.

Hot spots of the week

The sun is getting hot, and so is summer fishing. Spotted bass are schooling on river points, which makes catching a limit easy. When fish aren’t chasing bait fish to the surface, they are suspended on the drop-offs. Largemouth fishing is best after dark, but they’re hitting throughout the day under deep boat docks and lay downs on deep, shady banks.

White perch, the fish of summer, are schooling in 20 to 40 feet of water in coves and along channel edges. As a bonus, a flathead catfish or two can be taken while fishing for perch. Use a heavy rod, baited with a live fish (perch, bream, shad or herring) and drop it to the bottom. Surprisingly, large crappies are still hitting in deep water throughout the day, but the best fishing is after dark.

Lake conditions

The surface water temperature varies by location, but is mainly in the 80s in open waters not affected by power generation. The water level is about 2.5 feet below full pond on Lake Norman and 3.0 feet below full on Mountain Island Lake.

Gus Gustafson is a freelance writer and a professional fishing guide on Lake Norman. Have a story idea for Gus? Email him at