Pulling the boat along Highway 7 and away from Ottawa, my friend and fellow OOD contributor, Tim Allard, and I discuss strategy for the four days of fishing ahead. Within two hours, we arrive at Springwood Cottages, and as the expansive waters of Kennebec Lake come into view, piscatorial spirits run high.
A quick stroll to the resort store finds us in the affable company of Cezar Spirala and his partner, Jola, who graciously set us up in the luxurious main house – a top-of-the-line four-bedroom spectacle that trumps any cottage I’ve had the pleasure of staying in. “Unpack and settle in,” chimes Cezar, as we begin to empty the truck, “and meet me at the dock in an hour for a cruise of the lake and a little bit of line wetting.”
As we set out in the afternoon sun on one of the resort’s pontoon boats, Cezar points out productive fishing spots, regales us with tales of lake history and happenings, and introduces us to a few scrappy largemouth bass.
It becomes evident that Kennebec Lake is a scenic locale, with large rock walls and impressive boulder slides, tempered with forested shorelines and a dotting of islands. Located in the Land O’ Lakes region of southeastern Ontario and stretching for 19 miles, this relatively narrow lake is sectioned into two arms by the Henderson Road bridge.
Arriving at the dock, with high hopes and an invitation to sample Jola’s home-cooked delights this evening, Tim and I set off in our boat. We begin immediately marking fish. Most are relating to breaklines and hugging bottom.
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“Those have to be walleye,” Tim exclaims.
“Let’s see if they’re hungry for jigs,” I respond.
A few casts in and Tim’s rod slices through the air. I soon slide the net under a decent pike. It’s not the golden fish we’re looking for, but we gladly take it. The next half-hour sees a mixture of bass and pike come over the gunnel before we return to the dock.
After a quick shower, we’re lounging on our host’s balcony, enjoying the view, the companionship, and delicious food. I learn that Cezar and his mother, Margaret, purchased Springwood Cottages seven years earlier.
“We both wanted a life change,” said Cezar. “It was decided that owning and running an affordable vacation resort would ultimately improve our life and others.”
Jola’s mother and sister come from Poland each summer to help. Obviously, keeping things in the family is what adds to this resort’s charm.
“A daily routine of Jola’s mom, Marta, is to light and maintain a huge bonfire on the beach each evening, where the guests gather to roast marshmallows, reminisce about the day, or enjoy a rousing singalong,” said Cezar. Giving back to the community is also important, and the family employs 10 local staff to help run the operation.
Attention to detail is evident in each of the resort’s cottages. All are equipped for housekeeping and five are wheelchair accessible. Custom-made ramps can also be built at no charge upon request and a specialty boat ramp is available for clients with disabilities.
Custom-made ramps can also be built at no charge upon request and a specialty boat ramp is available for clients with disabilities.
Heavy rain, high winds, and cooler temperatures accompany us for the next two days, making for less-than-ideal fishing conditions. During one particularly bad batch of weather, we opt for the safety and shelter of the Henderson Road bridge. This is a time for Tim and I to catch up and let the rain wear drip-dry. A soak in our deck-side hot tub warms things up at the end of the day.
Fishing improves whenever conditions do, and on the third day we put together a pattern. On a hunch, we wander up the Salmon River. There, largemouth bass and pike go crazy over our soft-bodied swimbaits.
Our last day produces a 4-pound-plus largemouth, taken from a shallow rock and weed transition on a flipping jig. I also set the hook on what I’m certain is a 5-pound bass, but she comes unpegged before hitting the net. If only we’d found this spot earlier.
Clearly, Kennebec Lake holds good fish. Memorable catches from the resort include 20-pound-plus pike, walleye over 13 pounds, as well as jumbo perch and bluegill. We strike out on the ‘eyes, but seeing the lodge photos and hearing about the luck of previous guests, we know it was just bad timing. We barely scratch the fishing potential of Kennebec Lake, but I’m determined to get to know it better.
This article first appeared in Ontario OUT of Doors June 2011 issue.