The camp facilities were established by former owner Wayne Watkins in 2000, as “Expeditions North Inc”. At that time the camp served primarily as a spring bear hunting camp and fall caribou hunting camp when the George River herd migration brought larger numbers of animals into the Andre Lake area. Fishing activity was often limited to 15 to 20 clients per season.
Built in 2001, the McKenzie River Lodge is situated in the heart of the boreal forest of Labrador, Canada. Accessible only by seaplane, it is located on Lake André, at the head of the basin. Covering an area of approximately 5,700 km2, the Smallwood Reservoir is the 9 largest body of water in Canada. Brook trout and landlocked salmon migrate on the McKenzie river through Lake André to spawn in tributaries such as Quartzite and Come Back.
Located to the north northwest of the Smallwood Reservoir, our waters serve as one migratory route for fish moving between the Smallwood Reservoir and up past McKenzie River Lodge to spawn in our rivers. Fish also move out of lakes in our territory to fill in the rivers. We offer access to three rivers – the McKenzie, Quartzite, and Comeback ( each unique in terms of size, water speed, and bottom make up ) and four lakes – Andre, Quartzite, Montegomery, and Comeback.
The water system drains from our northwest from Marion River, entering Comeback Lake, Comeback River, into Montegomery Lake, and on to Andre Lake. Quartzite River drains into Andre lake halfway down its western shore. The watershed exits Andre Lake past McKenzie River Lodge into the McKenzie River, which begins several hundred yards behind the camp.
Each river section has its own variety of water and bottom conditions, so there’s a wide range of water suited to dry fly fishing, casting wet flies or streamers, some trolling short still water sections, and nymphing. A walking trail system utilizes older caribou paths meandering alongside the rivers whenever possible, as a alternative to wading some shoreline sections. We often have a boat or two positioned at the slower sections for those wishing to reduce the walking time, or prefer to troll or reach middle portions of the still water sections. For most sections of our rivers, there is ample casting room whether you prefer to fish along the rocky shorelines, or wade the rivers width in some sections.
The rivers range between 30 to 200 feet wide. Riffles range from one to three feet deep, holes varying from four to seven feet in depth. Holes can be 5 to 60 feet across. Virtually every client will attest to the quality of this river in terms of how clear and varied the water flow is. This water system faces little fishing pressure, and there’s enough excellent fishable water to offer a surprise at any moment. Spring season finds the lake surface waters hovering between 44 – 55 E F, and throughout July and August will vary between 52 – 66 E F over the last couple of seasons. The river water fluctuates in temperature daily, ranging between 54 – 64 E F for the season. Weather conditions can quickly impact water temperature and fish behavior. Our brook trout are most active at temperatures between 55 – 60 E F. If river temperatures reach 60 E F or more, brook trout are sluggish. A variety of patterns must be tried to turn on what can be stubborn warm fish. More of them move from being scattered throughout river pockets and can be found in the deeper holes and faster chutes. The brook trout fishing then comes as more of a challenge until rains or overcast days quickly change the temperature. Presentation speeds and fly sizes have to be changed up.
Ouananiche seem to be able to tolerate only slightly higher water temperatures, but they too will tend to lie in the deepest holes, or move out of the river overnight and into Andre Lake, so flies and presentation change accordingly.