Fishing Makok — Wilderness North

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Fishing Makok

‘MUH’ ‘COKE’ ‘UH’ ‘BAWT’ ‘IN’ (Makokibatan Lake)

While you may struggle trying to pronounce Makokibatan, I can assure you there is no struggle catching fish from it. The Albany River widens to form this long and narrow water body giving anglers incredible access to both main Albany inflow and outflow. ‘Makok’ is a long time trophy Walleye producer also highly regarded for Albany Brook Trout and Northern Pike. Makokibatan Lodge (on the south shore) and Makok Outpost (east outflow) accommodate our guests, putting them within the heart of this fish chuffed waterway.

The actual structure of the lake is quite basic. It is laid out more so like a wide, slow river with the south shore seeing more abrupt drops and depth, and the north shore more gradual and vegetated.  As with all lakes after ice out and into the spring, the fish become congregated in certain areas where structure is ideal for spawning.  There are several such areas on Makok that you just cannot pass up.

If I were fishing there early season I would have a very hard time not gunning my outboard and heading straight for ‘Walleye Alley.’ Just before flowing in to the lake at the west end, the Albany River takes a series of meandering bends that have gouged out some beautiful troughs and rock piles. Combined with the current and ample baitfish that follow, this section of river mouth is loaded with Walleye in the spring. During my first few days at Makok several years ago, I was lucky enough to have the late Eli Baxter Sr. take me out and show me the lake. This was the first spot that Eli took me to, and holding up to his reputation, he had us on a pile of good Walleye. He had us set up sideways to the current, while maintaining a very slow drift through water in the 12-18 foot range. Standard jigs in the ¼ oz to 3/8 oz weight class, with 3” smoke coloured tails had us doubling up every single drift.

Another key spring area on Makok is ‘The Cut.’ About a 10 minute boat ride east of the lodge on the south shore, the ‘cut’ provides high water access to the ‘Back Lake.’ During the spring, when the water is high, the cut becomes a gateway for fish travelling from the Back Lake into Makok and vice versa. It is quite a small channel but at times can produce unbelievable amounts of Walleye and Pike. Move into the cut slowly to avoid spooking fish and ‘bottoming out.’ There are some deeper sections as you make your way through that can be casted to with floating baitsticks, suspending jerk baits, small spoons, spinners, or even jigs. This is another spot that is known to hold some rather large Walleye early season.

Looking for some early season gators? Head straight across the lake to the north shore and follow it west. This shoreline will be home to lush weed beds later in the season that are always stuffed with Pike. But until then, follow the shoreline west until you get to the bay with the island in the middle. This bay holds early season Pike that will chomp down on anything from a Johnson’s Silver Minnow to a whirling, double bladed buzzbait. Weed less rigged plastics like the hollow bellied minnow work well as you will still be plowing through dead weeds and decayed vegetation in some situations. The Back Lake also holds spring Pike and is sure to reward the casting angler. As stated above, move through the cut and into ‘Back Lake’ with caution as well as stealth. Work your way into the lake with long casts and agitating type baits to locate the eager and aggressive fish first. Big Jerk Baits are great for covering water. You can’t go wrong with Husky Jerks and Long A Bombers in clown or fire tiger but make sure to check the hooks and split rings periodically and upgrade if deemed necessary. It is always good to have several extra treble hooks packed as these big Pike will smash your gear up pretty good.

The Albany exits Makokibatan Lake at the east end with a gradual taper that grows stronger in current and eventually splits and rejoins again further down the rapids. During the spring the river is flowing strong, high, and cold, which can be excellent for fishing, yet dangerous for the novice boats man. Makokibatan Lodge provides knowledgeable and safe guides for the adventurous angler who wishes to go down the Albany in pursuit of her world class Brook Trout. Brookies are plentiful here and can reach slobby proportions of 6-8 lbs. Any Fly Guy’s dream really, to tangle with one of these beauties in such a majestic place. Don’t forget to talk to Krista or Meryl in the Thunder Bay office if you’re considering a river trip during your stay and remember all conventional gear fishermen; A conservation minded single/barbless hook policy for Brook Trout is encouraged by WN.

Until next time,
Tyler

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