D'Orsonnes Lake

By Gord Ellis

It was unlike anything I 'd ever heard - a high, sorrowful cry that seemed to say "Where are you?"

"Did you hear that?" said my buddy, Gene Balec, who was nestled beside our roaring campfire.

"Sounds like a moose or some large animal," I replied. "But I 've never heard anything like that at this time of year."

There were a dozen more cries, all from the direction of the D 'Orsonnes River, which ran in at the north end of the lake. The calls echoed off the spruce trees and bounced into the night sky. Then they stopped and the night was suddenly quiet. Too quiet. We quickly finished our drinks and headed for the security of our sleeping bags.

It was our second night of a four-day trip to remote D 'Orsonnes Lake, about 82 air miles (132 km) north of Nakina. It's about three miles long and a mile wide (5 by 1.6 km), but big enough to be comfortable for a group of anglers, and the fishing is fabulous.

Balec and I had flown in by Otter with Wayne Wilson and his son, Kurtis, of Longlac. The outpost at D 'Orsonnes is owned by Colimar Lodge, in Jellicoe. The lodge's co-owner, Fran Koning, had told us to expect good fishing, and we weren't disappointed. We were kept very busy.

The lake is a widening of the D 'Orsonnes River, a tributary of the Ogoki system. It holds a few large speckled trout downstream from camp, but despite our best efforts none took the bait. We did find walleye, though. For the first two days we caught lots of them weighing between 1 and 4 pounds (.454 to 1.8 kg). On our third day, a south wind blew in high temperatures and the walleye went nuts. Trolling crankbaits or pitching jigs along the windswept shoreline practically guaranteed fish. The average size on the last two days was about 2 1/2 pounds (1.1 kg), but both Balec and Wayne Wilson landed 27-inchers (68.5 cm), I pulled out a 26-incher (66 cm), and Wilson 's 5-year-old son, Kurtis, caught a 5-pounder (2.27 kg).

There was no need to use live bait. I threw orange Power Grubs and a 1/4-ounce green Lipstick jig and caught a ridiculous number of fish. We dubbed this combo "the terminator." A gold and orange floating Rebel was also hot.

We spent most of one day fishing the D 'Orsonnes River above the lake. It's surprisingly swift and deep. About five miles (8 km) upstream we came to a set of sandy flats, where we found real monsters. Lake sturgeon, some 50 pounds (22.7 kg), were soaking up the sun there. It was a spectacular sight. Balec hooked and landed a 40-inch 30-pound (101.6 cm, 13.6 kg) giant, which we released carefully after taking a few photos. Wildlife was everywhere. We saw two moose, numerous loons, ducks, shorebirds, and terns. Spring peepers sang in the marshes.

The cabin at D 'Orsonnes, rustic but comfortable, is on a sandy beach that's perfect for swimming. A large skylight made it the brightest outpost cabin I 've ever been in. A new camp is expected to be ready this year. All in all, I 'd say D 'Orsonnes is ideal for a group of six people who want to catch lots of fish and not worry about having to learn a big lake.

When we got back to the main lodge in Jellicoe, Koning immediately asked us a strange question. "Did you feel it?"

"Feel what," asked Balec.

"The spirit, the Wendigo," said Koning. "It lives on the lake. Did you feel it? " Balec and I looked at each other and thought of that eerie call. A Wendigo? Couldn't have been. For more information on D 'Orsonnes, phone Colimar Lodge at 807-879-2521.