Tips for Those Going on a Fly-in Fishing Trip

Advice From The Fly-in Outfitters
Gerry Cariou
By Gerry Cariou

Gerry Cariou is the Executive Director of Ontario's Sunset Country.

Last Updated: February 16, 2018

Everyone should believe in something; I believe I'll go fishing...Henry David Thoreau

Tips for a Hassle-Free Fly-in Fishing Trip

For many avid anglers, going on a fly-in fishing trip is one of the top items on their bucket list - and for good reason. If you live in an urban area, the sheer scale of the wilderness in Ontario's Sunset Country is hard to appreciate and the number of lakes we have - 70,000 - is mind-boggling to most people. From the air, these lakes look like diamonds set against an emerald green background of pine trees surrounded by the craggy rock outcrops of the rugged Canadian Shield. As you fly over the landscape, the one thing you'll notice is that most of the hundreds of lakes you pass over have no roads going in or out of them.

That's right, the only way you can get to most of the lakes in Sunset Country is by airplane (or with a canoe). All those lakes just sitting there waiting for you to reach them and try your luck fishing. The good news is these lakes have almost no fishing pressure so luck really isn't required. A fly-in fishing trip offers you the opportunity to "own" one of these Canadian lakes for a week, just you, your fishing party and a cabin in the wilderness. The boats are all gassed up and ready to go and as you land on your chosen lake for the first time, the excitement and anticipation of the week ahead of you is almost impossible to contain. This is the mystique of a Canadian fly-in fishing experience - a trip of a lifetime that will live up to your expectations - and more. 

Locate all Sunset Country fly-in outfitters here.

Aerial view of Loonhaunt Lake in Ontario's Sunset Country

On a Fly-in Trip - Less Stuff is Always Better

Before we get into the specific advice from the outfitters, assuming you have booked a trip, let's identify why a fly-in fishing trip requires you to plan differently than if you were taking a trip to a drive-to lodge. The big difference is obvious, you'll be accessing your lake in an aircraft and unless you have the resources to charter a separate flight just for your extra gear, then limiting what you take is the key element from a trip planning perspective. There is only so much room in a bush plane and outside of larger parties, outfitters generally want to take you and all your gear into the lake together. In fact, every fly-in outfitter has a weight limit that each person in the party is required to follow. So the key thing to remember is to downsize by at least 1/3, the normal gear you would take when you go fishing. In other words:

  • Downsize your tackle box - the fishing will be so good you won't need every lure as most of the time, you'll be jigging for walleye or throwing spoons or crankbaits for bass or pike. Just about anything works so limit the number of lures you take to a small tackle box - it will be more than enough for your trip.
  • Call your outfitter first to verify per person weight limits and seek out any advice they may have on preparing for your trip.
  • Limit clothing to what you will need, don't overpack clothes as they are bulky and heavy. 
  • Ensure your rods are protected with a sleeve or tube.
Bush planes at the Red Lake water base

Tips From the Fly-in Outfitters

When the idea for this article was conceived, a number of existing fly-in outfitters were asked for their top five tips on what people should do when booking and preparing for a fly-in fishing trip. Here's what they had to say:

Harald and Erik Lohn - Kabeelo Lodge and Outposts

Kabeelo Lodge and Outposts is located north of Ear Falls, Ontario with the lodge based on the shores of Confederation Lake. In addition to the main lodge, they own 13 "fly-out" (as opposed to fly-in) outposts offering spectacular fishing and hunting. When asked why they have "fly-out" outposts versus fly-in as most operators call it, Harald chuckled. He explained they inherited the term from the original owner when they bought the property, who stated that guests drive-in to the main base then they "fly-out" from the base to the outpost. He agreed the two terms are interchangeable but they decided to go with "fly-out" because it was unique compared to what everyone else was calling it. Harald's son Erik is the Chief Pilot and operates a turbo beaver most of the time. Here are Harald and Erik's top five tips when booking or preparing for a fly-in (or in their case "fly-out") trip:

  1. When booking, know what the trip includes (food? flight service? accommodations? total number of days/nights, fuel/mixed gas, number of boats and motors?). The corollary to this is what does the price NOT include?
  2. Before you book request an itemized total cost of the trip, including taxes, freight, licenses etc - therefore no surprises.
  3. Know who provides the flight services and what type of aircraft and what does it include?
  4. Ask about the number of cabins/outfitters on the lake you'll be going to.
  5. Lake access - are there any other ways people can access your remote lake?

To Harald & Erik, it's the things to think & ask about before you book that is most important. Preparing for the trip is relatively easy according to Harald and they supply their guests with guidance on how to prepare. That's good advice guys, thanks!

Kabeelo Lodge's DHC-2 Beaver

Chris and Jillian Manley - Delaney Lake Lodge

Delaney Lake Lodge is a fly-in lodge located north of Kenora, Ontario on the English River System. While Delaney Lake is where the lodge is located, you can also access endless amounts of fishing waters on the river. Delaney Lake itself holds the Ontario record for largest northern pike at 42.12 pounds caught by Harry Bell in 1946!  Here are their top five tips:

  1. Pack for warm and cold weather conditions! The weather in Canada can be unpredictable and vary from day to day. Pack so you have layers of clothing that will keep you warm in the morning while allowing you to remove layers in the afternoon as the day heats up.
  2. Packing quality rain gear is a must! If you get wet in the morning, it usually makes for an uncomfortable, cold day of fishing.
  3. Sunscreen, the sun is much stronger out on the water. You get rays hitting you from above and from the surface of the water. Don't let a bad sunburn on the first day of the trip ruin your week of fishing.
  4. Bug spray with high deet. The bugs can be bad at times, especially in early spring. Bring bug spray so these critters don't ruin your time.
  5. Pack your favourite fishing tackle! After all, you are going up north fishing!

These are good tips and are especially important because once you get to your fly-in location, you can't go and grab something you forgot from the store. While the lodges may have sundry goods for sale, this is not the case at an outpost cabin so don't forget the sunscreen or the bug spray!

One happy group of fishermen at Delaney Lake Lodge

Michelle and Dave Beauschene - Nestor Falls Fly-in Outposts

"Fishing and friendships go together" is the modus operandi at Nestor Falls Fly-in Outposts. For over 28 years, Michelle and Dave Beauschene have been putting groups of anglers into remote areas of Sunset Country for a fishing trip of a lifetime. When asked for their top five tips, Michelle sent me a list that emphasizes preparation by each angler in the fishing party with the most important message concerning weight-limits for aircraft. Transport Canada has strict weight limits for aircraft and Michelle stated that for new guests, this proves to be the most difficult task (meeting the weight limit) when preparing for their first fly-in trip. Here are Michelle's and Dave's tips:

  1. Make up a menu for each day of your trip and shop accordingly, getting only what you need to meet the menu you came up with. A key hint here is to avoid canned goods - so use fresh or frozen vegetables over canned, powdered drinks over canned etc.
  2. Michelle noted that because of the quality of the fishing, you don't need a huge selection of tackle. Simplify and downsize your tackle box and make sure you include jigs, twister tails for walleye, spoons, spinner baits, crank baits, and bucktails for pike, and then a few of your "favorite" lures - because "that's all you'll need" for a successful trip.
  3. Clothing is another area where you can save weight. So a few pairs of pants, shirts, underwear, socks, a warm jacket, rain gear and a good pair of shoes is all you need. Like the other outfitters, they emphasized wearing layers of clothes when its cooler which you can remove as the weather warms up. Take only the clothes you need!
  4. Do not bring large, hard-bodied coolers - they are heavy and take up a lot of room! Use collapsible coolers instead.
  5. Bring a handheld GPS and a portable depth finder - you'll find these come in really handy.

Michelle wanted to emphasize how much fun a fly-in trip to a remote outpost cabin really is so she added a sixth point; "prepare for an experience of a lifetime!"

As the author of this article and as someone who has taken a number of fly-in trips, I can verify that it really is a trip of a lifetime. Nothing quite like owning your very own lake for a week and catching loads of fish while at the outpost! 

Fly into Nestor Falls Fly-in Outposts' Larus Lake cabin for a truly remote wilderness trip! Photo: Bryon Stoll

The Trip of a Lifetime!

So there you have it, it's both easy and affordable to book a fly-in fishing trip. Just think a little "lighter" than you normally do and you shouldn't have any issues with exceeding allowable weight limits. If you need help or if you just have a question, you can call the outfitter directly. They will be the best source of advice in all cases.

If you have general questions about fishing in Sunset Country, Ontario, Canada, then feel free to give us a call at 1-800-665-7567 or send us an email us at

Remember to order your Free Travel Guide and Fishing Map.