Moose Cree expands fishing and hunting business

Create: 12/01/2015 - 19:22

Moose Cree First Nation now offers more than 7,000 square miles of prime fishing, hunting and outdoor tourism adventures across the James Bay Lowlands.
“It’s a great business venture that ties in with our culture and what we do,” said Moose Cree Chief Norman Hardisty Jr. “We’re beginning to expand in tourism and marketing is certainly helping out.”
Moose Cree’s economic development corporation recently announced the acquisition of a number of outpost camps from Polar Bear Outfitters and True North Air Services, which adds to the outpost camps already owned by the corporation’s Kesagami Wilderness Lodge and Cochrane Air Services.
“These acquisitions are part of our ability to generate wealth and economic benefits to our First Nations and the surrounding area and we are extremely pleased with these acquisitions,” Hardisty said.
Often been referred to as the “crown jewel” of northern Ontario, the Kesagami Wilderness Lodge is located on Kesagami Lake, which has been ranked as the number one pike fishing lake in Canada. Moose Cree originally bought about 40 per cent of the Kesagami Wilderness Lodge shares about 12 years ago before buying the remaining shares about six to seven years ago.
“We’ve been working on expanding our operation and being able to offer exclusive access to all of our guests to all the lakes in about a 7,000 square mile area northeast of Cochrane,” said Charlie McDonald, Kesagami Wilderness Lodge manager. “We want to push forward and make improvements to all the camps so that anybody wanting to fly in to the James Bay Lowlands north of Cochrane area is going to be guaranteed to be outfitted and hosted by a top-level outfitter with the absolute best fishing and the best cabins available.”
McDonald said the prime fishing season at the Kesagami Wilderness Lodge runs from May 28 to July 27 this year.
“Our outpost fishing starts the third week of May and runs through to the end of September,” McDonald said. “And our moose hunt runs for three weeks starting the middle of September.”
Pike, walleye and brook trout are the main species targeted at the lodge.
“In fact, Outdoor Canada ranked us as the number one pike destination in the whole country in a report they did a couple of years ago,” McDonald said. “And there are a little bit of other species, like whitefish and sturgeon.”
McDonald said the lodge focuses on improving the fishery through conscientious catch and release and selective harvest policies.
“(We) have so many lakes available for the outdoorsman — no one lake has too much (fishing) pressure,” McDonald said. “We’re very particular about that. With the outpost camps, we only book six groups on one particular lake in a season. Once those six groups have been booked, we consider that (lake) sold out. What it does for the potential for the anglers is that it means there is very little pressure on any of these lakes, which keeps the fishing absolutely spectacular. That is why we have achieved such a good reputation for the quality of our fishery, because we are vey passionate about protecting the resource and making sure everybody has a great quality fishing experience.”
McDonald said about 80 per cent of the lodge’s guests are repeat guests.
“Some guests say when they pass on, they want their ashes spread on Kesagami Lake because they have such a deep reverence for the fishery and the whole outdoor wilderness experience,” McDonald said.
The lodge offers three-day to seven-day packages, but 11 or 12-day and even two-week packages are also available. About 60 per cent of the guests are from Canada and 40 per cent from the United States.