Errington’s Wilderness Island Resort Will Have You Saying ‘I Wanna Come Back’ As Soon As You Arrive
If I had to choose one Ontario fishing resort to visit, Errington’s Wilderness Island Resort is it.
Of the several that I’ve been to in the region promising a great time, this one delivers on all fronts, from lodging, ambience and food to facilities, and oh yeah, fishing, too.
As soon as I stepped onto the island and into the main lodge dining room, and then was taken by boat to our cabin, I was already planning my next visit here with family. It’s that good, honest.
One of only two resorts on 20-plus-mile-long, 10,000-acre Lake Wabatongushi, we arrived via the Algoma Central train with Michigan outdoor writers for a meeting in mid-May. It was only a few days after the resort had opened for the summer, and snow patches were still on the ground.
At trackside, Al Errington and crew were waiting, steps from the water, to quickly ferry us to the main lodge docks on the island.
In the few minutes it took to get there, we were already rewarded with the site of a bald eagle above, as Errington pointed out some potential fishing spots on all sides. Our cabin was one of nine on the main island, and there are more on another nearby. There are also six one-bedroom suites with a common deck next to the lodge, all built by Errington and his family.
After registering at the beautiful main lodge/restaurant, we hopped in cedar strip boats for short rides to the cabins—each with dock--our group would occupy the next four days. Each one is far enough from the others that it’s easy to start thinking you’re the only one on the lake.
Errington’s can handle up to 40 comfortably and offers a choice of cook-yourself, dinner only, and all-meals-included packages. Each cabin comes with one of those classic cedar-strip 18-footers with a four-stroke motor, a fish finder and electric troller.
Cabins, with cedar weathered to a rustic gray-brown from Canadian winters on the outside, are warmly welcoming inside, with comforts you’d not expect 205 miles north of Sault Ste. Marie. Our three-bedroom place an easy walk from the main lodge, had comfortable beds for six, a wood stove for heat--wood is replenished daily—with electricity, gas lamps, full kitchen and bathroom. The porches—one screened, the other a large deck—were perfect spots to hang when we weren’t fishing.
Guides are available at an extra daily charge, but Errington said it takes only a day or so with one to learn the waters a bit, and they earned their tips, and they too learned new ways to fish from us.
Fishing? The best. My first 20-inch walleye of the visit came off our dock, casting a Salmo Hornet on the first evening after dinner, as loons called across the stillness.
Our group’s largest walleye was about 32 inches, around 11 pounds. Most were 16-20 inches. It’s still there too, as Errington maintains a slot limit that he began and eventually the province of Ontario adopted as well. Bring your own tackle here; all usual walleye gear will work. The lodge has minnows and crawlers for sale and a small inventory of tackle and lures.
One of our most productive soft plastics was a Zoom pearl fluke popped along the bottom off the lake’s numerous rocky points, especially one known for harboring nice fish about a 20 minute-boat ride away that Errington will gladly show you on lodge maps.
Black flies? Ontario’s summer reputation for these flying carnivores is well-known, but not so much here. “We really don't have much,” said Al. “Mosquitoes are out for an hour or so just at dusk. Black flies are annoying for about a week in early June. We don't have much, partially because we are at the top of the Canadian Shield on the divide between Hudson Bay and Lake Superior, so there are very few springs which black fly nymphs need to survive and hatch.”
“Also we have a huge population of dragonflies that eat most of them. Dragonflies are a great and beautiful insect. We rarely need to use insect sprays here,” he added. While it’s a wise visitor to northern Ontario who always packs repellant, we didn’t need any.
The short walk to the restaurant was always a treat. Grouse often drummed an arm’s length away, and bridges provided great views. Great food, like Cornish hens one night and New York strip the next, was served by cheerful help.
A special treat one evening was a ceremonial boat burning--when an old boat that’s no longer serviceable is set afire, and guests are invited to sit inside for photos.
And, Al’s nature tours make a great break from fishing, or for non-fishing family members, including a trip to one island to walk through mini forests of lichen growing since the last Ice Age, and a boat ride to a point where bears snack on resort food scraps. The island trails are also fun to explore, as is the observation deck where you can sometimes see feeding moose, and if you’re lucky, the Northern Lights at night.
I don’t usually rave about destinations. This one is an exception. I can't say enough about how good Errington’s is, and I've been to some in Ontario that aren't. Errington’s delivers what it promises, and more.
When You Go
Contact the resort at www.wildernessisland.com, or call 705-884-2215 May-September, or 705-946-2010 October-April. Fly in, take the scenic train ride on the Algoma Centrail Railway from Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., about 7 hours, or drive about four hours from The Soo to Hawk Junction for a 1-1/2-hour train trip to the lake.
You’ll need: A passport or passport card to enter Canada, Canadian fishing license (easiest bought online), tackle, beverages of your choice, appropriate clothing, and a readiness to enjoy one of the best lodge experiences you’ll ever have.