Sunday, June 16, 2013

Canada - A Different Kind of Camp

by Chuck Jones

This week, at the request of a couple fellow campers, I'm offering a change-up in subject matter that's not stroke related. Retreat & Refresh Stroke Camps are underway and everyone is busy packing or unpacking or attending the weekend camps, and when I get some material about those camps I will share that with you.

The Camp
KCR Camp Lodge
This week, I want to talk about a fishing camp. Last week (June 1-8), I spent five days fishing in Canada, and I thought I'd share that with you. 

The place I fished is called KCR Camp: (

No one seems to know what KCR stands for, not even the owners, Richard and Gloria Castle and their son Rodney, who are the second and third generations of the founder.

 KCR Camp is located in Ontario, Canada, 200 miles north west of International Falls, Minnesota.  International Falls is right on the border of the U.S. and Canada and is known to be the coldest place in the U.S. during winter. 

You can only get to KCR Camp by boat. You drive up past Kenora, Ontario, north west on 596 about thirty miles and park your car at the Whitedog Rapids camp ground and trailer park, owned by Richard's brother, Roger. You load your gear onto their boat and they take you for an awesome ten minute ride out to their island where you stay for the rest of the trip.

The Fishing Hole
Here is a map of the fishing area. A copy of this map is on your place-mat at every dinner in the lodge and it is a pretty accurate picture of the fishing area. I always try to keep mine clean so I can use it the next day to know where I am. Even with a map it is very difficult to find one's way back to camp because it's huge and, from a boat on the lake, everything blends in as shoreline. 

Located about center of this map there is an arrow pointing to the little island where KCR is located. The peninsula just to the right of KCR is a Native American Ojibwa reserve and the source of KCR's 
professional fishing guides. Looking near the top left of the map you will see a large island labeled Boundary Island. That edge of the map there is the border between Ontario and Manitoba.  

Two Dam Fun

At the top center of the map is the Caribou Falls dam that holds back the English River that flows into the lakes and joins the Winnipeg. Northern fishing is usually pretty good here. Walleye has been good also at times.

White Dog Dam
At the right of the map about 3/4 of the way down is the Whitedog dam which holds back the Winnipeg River. There's a bay to the right of this dam that holds a Musky the size of a torpedo. I have seen it cruise right under the boat with my own eyes on a previous trip. My fishing buddy saw it this year coming straight at the bow of the boat. Some day...

Lyle and Guide Pat

I have not caught a Musky on any of my Canada trips but one of the other fisherman at the camp caught one the week I was there, but not at the dam. This fish is 42.5 inches.

The Winnipeg River enters at the Whitedog dam at the right of the map and flows west then north and out through Eaglesnest Lake at the top left of the map and then on to Winnipeg, Manitoba where it empties into Lake Winnipeg. If you go up that far you must be careful not to cross over into Manitoba because there are no big warning signs and all the rules are different.

At the bottom of the map, just left of center, is the Scott River that flows in through a small rapids, and near the bottom right is the Cygnet River that makes an impressive Cygnet Falls when the lakes are at least normal level.

All this water flowing through the entire map is part of the Winnipeg River chain and subject to all the Winnipeg River fishing regulations for that area.

The Results

 I have been going fishing here for several years. Fishing is excellent! I don't do much fishing in Illinois and for a person like me, who is not a fisherman, I do very well here and this year was no exception. 

I mostly catch Walleye in the mornings jigging in water from about four to twenty feet deep using a white or chartreuse 3/8 oz jig tipped with a minnow. However, many time I've caught them while casting for Bass and Northern.  
Walleye too big...goes back in the lake

It hurts to turn these loose. Any Walleye over 17.5 inches goes back in the lake.  The biggest I've ever caught was twenty five inches.

For the Northern I use spoons such as Red Devils, Five-of-Diamonds, anything shiney and Rattletraps. The best for me lately seems to be a silver and blue Rattletrap. The guide this year liked the Five-of-Diamonds. The Northern in the picture I caught a few years ago and it was over 38 inches long. I caught it on a blue and silver RattlinRap. I have that fish mounted. I have not caught one bigger, yet. This year my biggest Northern was only 31.5 inches. The Northern "keepers" have to be under 27.5 inches but you can keep one over 35 inches. It is not uncommon to catch 42 + inch Northern here. Other fishing buddies I've come up here with have caught them that big, just not me.

Small Mouth Bass
The bass I catch on a white 3.8oz jig with a white Twister Tail. My favorite lure and fish to catch. Small Mouth love to jump. If they don't and if you tug on the line just right as you reel them in you can make them jump out of the water. Always a thrill. Between the three of us we caught over 60 Small Mouth this trip. They generally ran from 13 inches to 17 inches but you can only keep them if they're under 13.5 inches and you can only have two in your possession until July when the limit increases to four. You can catch everything while fishing for Smallmouth this way. I seriously believe you could limit out on all species while fishing for Smallmouth. 

Leaving the ole secret "Bass Hole" tired and happy. (Oops, not a secret anymore, eh?)

The Winnipeg River fishing regulations for the area in June allow me to have only four Northern, two Walleye and two Small Mouth Bass in my possession at any time. Possession includes in the boat, cabin, and fishhouse freezer as well as my tackle box and pants pockets. Fortunately they don't count the contents of your stomach.  There are size and slot limits also so care must be taken to make sure you know the rules. The DNR does check from time to time and they are not lenient. I've heard stories. Just like with speeders and red light runners it always makes me feel good to see a poacher get caught.

I always go on what they call the American Plan which includes a cabin with indoor plumbing and heating, maid service, a boat plus gas, and all home cooked meals at the lodge. The only things not included are the guide fees and minnows. Actually, not lunch either, because I always eat the mornings Walleye catch for lunch. Believe me, you will never go hungry! If your diet doesn't allow you to eat fish for shore lunch, arrangements can be made for non-fish meals free of charge. 

Shore Lunch
My son, Mike,  eating his catch of the day.
It don't git no better'n nis!
I have had several different guides over the years and everyone of them is excellent at what they do, and they are fabulous cooks, using an open fire from sticks they gather in the woods and an iron skillet.

I always get a guide because, #1 he knows where the fish are, #2 he drives the boat so I'm free to fish, #3 he cleans all the fish I am allowed to eat and keep plus he cooks the mornings catch, and #4 he cleans up the boat at the end of the day. 

What do I do? I fish, eat, and sleep, then do it all over again the next day.  

Cabin accommodations are very good. There are thirteen cabins on the island. All with a great view of the lake. 

Nice kitchen, but only the refrigerator gets used. You can do a housekeeping trip where you cook your own meals rather than eat in the lodge but the logistics keep me from choosing that option and the camp cooks are much better than I am.

This is the living room and they do have wifi access as you could guess by this picture. Laptops not included. The wifi is nice because it allows me real time gloating with my family and friends. I don't know why they aren't happy to see me when I get home. I send them nice pictures on Facebook.

The bathrooms are modern. And the bedrooms are comfortable. We had a two bedroom cabin so we each got our own room.
View from the porch

This year the lakes were like glass all week. Sunny all day. Morning temps in the high 40's and afternoons in the high 60's. It doesn't get dark until after 11pm but all boats must be in by 9pm. Guides are available only from 8am to 4:30pm. 

Miscellaneous Critters

Looking forward to next time. 
Go here for more info on KCR Camp: (

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