Please click on the questions below to see their answer.
What do I need to bring?
The nice thing about HLL is that you can bring as much or as little as you would like. At a minimum we recommend: long pants for cooler evenings, shorts for hot days, swim suit for dips in the lakes or hot tubs (or sauna), sun screen, polarized sunglasses, good walking shoes for traversing the trails to the out-lakes, good rain gear (including rain pants), and comfortable clothing.
What can you tell me more about the pontoon boat rental?
Our 12 person brand new pontoon boat is available for rent on a daily rate of $250. This is a great boat for large groups or families who want to relax (and even fish) together in comfort. It comes equipped with a live-well, rod holders, leather seats and couches, stereo system, bimini top, lighting and swim ladder. Please contact us directly for reservations.
Is dining formal?
When eating all meals in the dining room we ask that guests dress comfortably based on the weather yet not too casual. Swim suits are not allowed, nor are tank tops, flip flops, cut-off jeans (nice shorts work great) and torn or tattered clothing. Shoes are always required.
Can I bring my own boat?
We do not have room for guests to bring their own boats unfortunately. Plus with the 18 private out-lakes in the ‘bush’ there is no way for you to get your boat there. Our main lake boats are gorgeous and virtually brand new. All of them have trolling motors, full electronics, electric start engines, leather seats etc. Let us do the work for you and leave your boat at home.
When is the balance due?
After your deposit has been paid the balance is due upon departure. This includes the balance of the lodging cost and any additional items purchased including guiding services, tackle shop purchases, fishing licenses as well as tips (which are optional and can be added right to the final bill).
Are we responsible for damages to the boats or other lodge equipment?
Yes. Any damages to lodge property, especially boats will be added to the customer’s bill upon departure. In the case of the boats we ask that guests treat them with great care, especially on the main lake. These are high-end $20+ thousand boats with state of the art engines and electronics. The most common mishap that occurs is with props. A damaged prop will cost approximately $150 to replace/repair. Next up is the skag which will start at @ $500 and up. Rods and reels will be charged current market value. When fishing with a guide all flies and tackle will be provided free of charge.
What is the weather like?
Early May through the 1st two weeks of June can have chilly evenings (50s-60s) with day time highs in the 70s. June-August can see temperatures as high as the low 90s, but usually mid to upper 80s is more the norm. Late August and September will have crisp evenings, day time averages in the 60s. Snow is not unheard of in May or September, but unusual. Heavy rain can be seen in any month but systems are typically short lived. It is unusual to have rain for more than 4-8 hours. Yes, a front can move in for a couple of days but again that is not typical.
When is the best time to come for smallmouth?
Each season we speak with anglers from all parts of North America wanting to know “when is the best time” to fish for Smallmouth. Our stock answer is “when can you get here?” And this IS the truth – there never is a bad time to fish for Smallmouth Bass. But, there is more to it than that. Depending on your interests and what you expect from your trip, there might be better times FOR YOU to fish. To better explain what angling may be like during your stay we have broken the season into five periods. For a more detailed historical or current view of this phenology of Smallmouth consult our season updates page.
This season begins about two weeks after ice-out and lasts until the water temperature climbs into the mid 50’s. Begin looking for Smallmouth when the water temperature is in the mid-40s. Larger fish, more tolerant of the cold water, come in first. Look toward to sun-warmed north or northwest shorelines. Fish the first deep water associated with a large gravel or sand/gravel flat. The fish might be 20 or 30 feet deep or more on this deep drop-off, waiting for the temperature to rise slightly so they can move into the spawning areas.
When water temperature hits the mid-50s, the biggest Smallmouth begin to move in to the bedding areas. The flats you should look for have a very low taper and extend a long way out into the lake, then eventually drop off deep. Spawning beds will generally be found in three to six feet of water. Bushes, stumps and other cover are not necessary, but may add to the attraction of the flat. If you are looking for big fish, angle the outside edges of potential bedding areas in 8 to 20 feet of water. Key in on small almost unnoticeable points. These points, especially the ones out from small sand/gravel bays, will act as holding areas for both male and female bass on spring days when the water temp is creeping towards 50 degrees. Pay particular attention to the north or northwest corners of the bay this time of year.
Pre-Spawn Baits – Fish jigs, grubs and split-shot worms on breaklines off flats and points. Use suspending crankbaits and spinnerbaits.
Lakes, especially the larger ones, don’t warm up uniformly. Therefore, not all bass will spawn at the same time. Generally, the Northwest side of lake warms up first. The spawning area must have direct access to the sun’s rays, so look for shallow flats protected from wind-swept water. Smallmouth will spawn on sand, rock or gravel next to solid objects such as wood, boulders or weeds in 3 to 10 feet of water. Generally speaking, the bigger the bass, the deeper the water and the earlier they will spawn. After the spawn, some Smallmouth will remain shallow around flooded bushes or stumps, while others will move to the first available deep water adjacent to their spawn site.
Spawn Baits – Use minnow type baits in clear water. Rapalas, ShadRaps and Pop-Rs are good choices. Split-shot grubs and Texas rigged senkos in salt/pepper, blacks and purple colors work well in our clear water. Remember, do not directly angle bedding areas at this critical time of year. Fish the nearest drop-offs and adjacent points.
Immediately after completing spring spawn rituals females will leave the bedding areas to return to their summer range area. Male Smallmouth will remain in the bedding area, protecting their spawn and fry for about three weeks then they will return to their home range areas. If the beds are empty, fish points and drop-offs near flats and search for suspended bass. Post spawn bass typically are tough to catch until they reach their summer areas. Once home, they start feeding again. Post spawn doesn’t happen to an entire lake at the same time due to differences in water temperature. Look for Smallmouth Bass suspending under down trees. Use neutral buoyancy jerkbaits, crankbaits, jig spinners or lighter jigs.
Once they return to summer ranges Smallmouth tend to be “home-bodies”. They frequent rock and boulder strewn shorelines with about a 45-degree slope. There is generally deep water close by. Look for cover such as down trees, rock reefs and long points and fish 4 to 15 feet of water. Smallmouth often move up shallower early or late in the day where they feed on nocturnal forage including crawfish. Look for rocky banks. Points with a deep water access, offshore humps and channel breaks are also good. These fish will be feeding on insects, crayfish, leeches or minnows.
The best producing technique in the summer is split-shotting small worms, grubs or live bait. This is also the most productive topwater time of the entire season – especially in low-light conditions.
Smallmouth congregate on long points as the water temperatures move back down into the 60s. However they will locate on the extreme ends of the points as opposed to the shallower, flatter areas. The deep sides of the point are also productive. Many fish will continue to suspend along 45-degree slopes. As water temperatures rise during the day, they may wander shallower and can occasionally be taken on topwater lures. Use the same lures you used in the summer, adding big crankbaits and more jigs to the list. Crayfish have become scarce so Smallmouth will begin to favor minnow type baits. Slow your presentations. Smallmouth tend to group more tightly in the fall. They are not as scattered as they are in the spring. Once you find them, you usually have a whole school to deal with.
How are the bugs?
The bugs are nearly non-existent most of the summer. Honestly they are probably worse where you are travelling from than at the lodge. This is due to several factors. One, you will be fishing from boats in the middle of lakes, where there are few insects in general. Add in any slight breeze and you will be bug free. The only time you may see some bugs are in the evenings when the sun goes down and the mosquitoes come out. On a still night, during a wet summer you will see encounter them. But again, few and far between. A little bug spray and its not a big deal. We also have black flies that hatch in early June and are with us for maybe 7-10 days. They are more annoying than anything and are held at bay with some bug spray. In the heat of the summer we do have biting house flies (well they look just like your typical fly) that just love to chomp on your ankles, nothing more! For these we recommend spraying your socks and you should be all set. In and around the lodge insects are pretty much non-existent.
How much is a typical gratuity?
A 10-15% tip to the staff is greatly appreciated. If you had a guide, $50-75 per day is appropriate. All tips should be given at the end of the trip when checking out (they can be added to the final bill) so they can be distributed appropriately. Hawk Lake Lodge pools all tips (except for guides) and distributes equally among all staff members.
Where is the closest airport?
Winnipeg, Manitoba or International Falls, Minnesota. Both are @ a 3 hour drive right to our doorstep. Kenora, Ontario also has a regional airport and can be used for private aircraft. This airport is just 20 minutes from the lodge and shuttle service can be arranged.
Do I need to bring tackle?
If you do not want to bring your rods with you we have a good supply of spinning and fly rods for you to use, complimentary. We do not supply tackle, but have a full tackle and fly shop at your disposal.
What about food allergies or vegetarian etc.?
Chef Martina can accommodate nearly any food allergy. Please let us know of any allergies as soon as possible, preferably when you make your reservation.
Is there shampoo in the bathrooms? What about hair dryers in cabins?
We provide body wash, shampoo, conditioner and hair dryers in every cabin. We also have umbrellas you can use on a rainy day walking to and from the lodge and guests cabins.
Do we need to bring towels?
We have bath towels in every bathroom. If you would like to swim we encourage you to bring bathing towels for those dips in the lake.
Do we need to bring life jackets?
We have life jackets for your use. Additionally all boats have landing nets, anchors, emergency kits and leather seats.
Do you supply bait?
We provide leeches and or night crawlers for your use, complimentary. Depending on time of summer either or both may be available. We do not supply minnows. Leeched typically run out in mid July.
How many in a boat?
On the main lake 2-4 people can be in the same boat without any comfort issues. On the out-lakes 3 people can fish comfortably. When making a reservation we assume and plan for 2 guests per main lake boat. For example, a group of 6 people will be assigned 3 boats on the main lake. Of course they can combine to go 3 per boat (or even 4) with no problem.
Is there medical care nearby?
We have basic First-Aid kits at the lodge, including hook removers. For anything more serious there is a 24 hour hospital in Kenora, 25 minutes away. They accept cash and credit cards for payment. Just keep your receipt and process through your insurance company upon return. We recommend bringing up all prescription medicines with you as refills can be be difficult to fill in Canada.
Can I use my cell phone?
Usually. A new tower near the lodge has brought cell phone service to 90% of our territory, including all out-lakes except maybe 2. The lodge has full cell phone service as well as a land line in case of emergency.
Do you have portable depth finders?
We do not. We recommend if you would like to use one that you bring your own.
What if I forget something?
We have a full tackle shop as well as some supplies (toothbrushes, toothpaste, razors etc.). We also have spare rain jackets as well as shirts, hats, gloves etc for sale. For more personal items town is just 25 minutes away and can supply nearly any item.
How do I sign up for the portage lakes?
Ahh yes. The portage lakes (up to 18 in all, in any given summer) are some of the best fishing you will ever experience. They are your own personal private lake for the day. A boat on a lake that is maybe fished 50 times a summer, has been catch and release for centuries and has no public access. Incredible fishing to be sure. Upon arrival guests can sign up to fish the various out-lakes during their stay. We do not allow guests to sign-up ahead of time nor do we allow the same lake to be fished more than once during your trip in order to ensure that all guests have a chance to fish the lakes of their choosing. Because of our size (on average just 20-22 guests at a time) and the number of boats on the out-lakes (@ 26 boats) there is plenty of room for everyone! Also keep in mind that some of the out-lakes can be fished in the evening for a few hours after dinner, allowing for even more opportunities. And finally, the main lake (Hawk Lake) has incredible fishing and is where the giant walleyes can be found.
“I do not fly fish but you are an Orvis endorsed fly-fishing lodge” or “I only fly-fish but see you have spin fishermen” or “I just go after a certain species of fish” – is this an issue?
We get these questions quite often. A guest is concerned because they think we are one kind of lodge or just specialize going after one kind of fish. Far from it. Here is the bottom line. Do you like to fish? That’s all we need to know. We enjoy catching fish on any tackle. We are at ease bottom bouncing for walleye, fly fishing for pike/bass, bobber fishing with kids, bait casting, spinning… you name it. In fact I personally love to mix it up depending on the conditions. That’s what makes Hawk Lake Lodge so unique and one of the best lodges in the world. We have 4 world record species to go after (i.e. you have the opportunity to set a world record in not one but four species). We also have top notch guides (including Ted, the owner) that can fly fish or spin fish or both. Many guests bring up multiple sets of tackle to mix it up. For example fly fish as the sun rises, spin fish all day, stalk walleye with a bait caster after dinner and maybe throw a 6 weight fly rod as the sun sets. The diversity of the fishing opportunities is unparalleled.
We also love to teach and show accomplished fishermen different approaches to catching fish. Many guests have held their first fly rod at Hawk Lake Lodge and found it to be exhilarating. Just the opposite for fly fishermen who love to target smallies. Put a spinning rod in their hand and hook into a 30 inch walleye and we have an instant convert. Or how about going after walleye on the fly or lake trout on light spinning tackle. To reiterate, our guides are accomplished in every aspect of fishing. Our tackle shop is also fully stocked for fly fishermen and spin fishermen. From a myriad of flies and tippets to crank baits and Senkos. We have you covered. We also have rods we can lend you if you would like to try something new.
Can I bring my pets?
We do not allow pets to accompany guests.
I like to run on my own schedule. Do I have to run on the lodge’s?
Good question. No, not at all is the response. We have to-go breakfasts you can pre-order and we will put in your fridge the night before, along with your lunch. Wake up whenever you want and away you go. If the bite is so good you can’t get away for dinner we will gladly plate your meal(s) and put them in your refrigerator for you to re-heat (in your own microwave) at your convenience. Bottom line is this is your vacation, your time and your fishing!
Can I drink the water?
All the water provided by the lodge is delicious and safe. Our water comes directly from the spring-fed lake and goes through a state of the art filtration system which includes ultraviolet lights, 4 different filters and a chlorinator. It is monitored daily and regularly tested at Provincial labs in Thunder Bay. Drink away! Additionally the system quality control is self monitoring. If any impurities are found it will shut itself off automatically, pretty cool.
When is check-in/out?
Check-in is no earlier than 2 PM while check-out is no later than 10 AM. This allows us to prepare your boats and cabin for you.
Drive in lodges don’t have good fishing, how can it possibly compare to a fly-in? I only go to fly-in resorts.
You are right, there is no comparison. HLL has better fishing than a fly-in. You read that right. Here is why. First off there is no public access to our lakes, unlike many lakes in Canada. This means that one cannot drive in, back up their boat and fish. Several of our out-lakes are even in a provincial park, which have even more restrictions. The only way you are able to fish out lakes is to either portage through with a canoe from 40 miles away through multiple lakes or fish with us. From time to time we see campers coming through but they are few and far between. Hawk Lake has a few cottages on the North end of the lake. These are mainly seasonal and owners will come out on the main lake during the weekends when they typically come in. Other than the few cottagers on the main lake we are the only outfitter/lodge/resort present. There are no public campgrounds, access roads etc.
When is the best time for trophy walleye, you know the big boys!
Some times are better than others as we all know. The 30s are with us all summer but the fishing can be dramatically different in August than in let’s say June. Here is what you need to know.
Some of the easiest fishing for the big walleye is from the open until late June into early July. This is pre-spawn through post spawn when the water is still cool. Fish will be very shallow during these times. We find that post spawn (after the 3-5 day cool off period) is when they are both shallow and extremely aggressive. Killer time to get into them. 6-10 feet of water all day long.
Once you pass this period and the water temps climb (early July) they scatter and start chasing baitfish. This means they will be harder to find. You have to start using your sonar (plus we usually know the places they roam of course) and go hunting. As we have top-notch sonar units and the lake is small we usually do find them. But you will cover more water and put more time in than early June. That being said in the early mornings and at dusk they come back to the reefs and humps like clock-work and can be found in 18-22 feet of water fairly consistently. But again this is much harder walleye fishing. You HAVE to fish at dawn and dusk. That being said I would not recommend mid July through late August for trophy walleye fishing.
This pattern continues through most of August until the water temps start to cool and drop in the mid to low 60s. They then start to come shallow once again getting ready for the fall. A killer time to come is in September. They are big, very big. And voracious.
So, PLEASE do not watch all the videos and think you’re going to catch a dozen thirties in a day. Not going to happen. Not even Lindner could do that. But in prime time a very good day is 8-12 big fish (meaning 25 inches and up). If you really concentrate in the evenings and catch a weather break with some light rain or overcast conditions then this number could go up considerably. On the flip side you could work all afternoon and catch just one. Never know.
I (Ted) am a huge trophy junkie. If I want to maximize my chances I go out after dinner until dark, religiously. In just that 3-4 hour window on a good evening I maybe catch 3-6 fish. But they are big, and could be huge which I define as over 33 inches.
Bottom line is if you put in the work with any luck at all you will see fish some fishermen have not nor will ever see in their lifetimes.