Frequently Asked Questions

GENERAL QUESTIONS:

When is the best time to come to Ontario Wilderness Houseboats in Morson, Ontario, Canada?

Our season runs from the 3rd weekend in May until mid October. The “best” time to come depends on what you are looking for! The most popular time for fishing and houseboating on Lake of the Woods is from opener until mid August.  Walleye fishing is great all season long. The warmest and sunniest times are mid June to mid August. Muskie & Northern Pike fishing is best late August through September. The autumn starts creeping in around the beginning of September and the leaves changing colours makes for a beautiful time of year – and the best Crappie fishing!

 

What should we bring for clothing and gear for our trip?

Check out our handy packing list HERE!

In general, we recommend a mix of clothing that can be layered! T-shirts and shorts for sure, but don’t forget to bring a pair or two of long pants, long sleeved shirts, a fleece jacket and rain gear!  

Make sure you’ve got your sandals but don’t forget to bring some shoes with good grip for navigating slippery rocks and gathering firewood in the bush. Water shoes are a good idea on the beaches too.

Other important must haves are: bathing suits, beach towels or blanket, life jackets, mosquito repellent, sunglasses, sun block and fishing gear.

 

What is the price of gas in Canada?

We use only non-ethanol blended premium 91 grade gasoline.  Currently, the price is $2.299/litre CND (approximately $7 USD per gallon). This is subject to change without notice.  (Updated October 30/2023)

 

Where can we buy fishing licenses, bait, ice, groceries, liquor/beer?

We sell fishing licenses, minnows, leeches, nightcrawlers, and cube or block ice at our base at Gill’s Morson Marina.  Please note that we ONLY accept cash (US or CND) for fishing licences. Liquor and Beer can be purchased at the L.C.B.O. in Rainy River, ON when you cross the border (call ahead of time for hours of operation and closures). There is also a small selection of liquor, beer and convenience groceries available at J&J’s in Morson. A full grocery store, Beaver Mills is located in Rainy River.

 

Where do we check in? Can we park our vehicle there?

You will check in at Gill’s Morson Marina, located at 10045 Hwy 621, Morson Ontario. When you arrive, you will be greeted by our team who will advise on the check in procedures. Yes, you can park your vehicles here, including your trailers. Parking is included with your houseboat rental. There is a small fee for launching your fishing boat.

Will my cell phone work there?

Our area has decent cell coverage over most of the area of the lake. There are some areas where you may be out of cell range. If traveling from the US, we recommend that you discuss your travel plans with your service provider, as roaming charges may apply. Most providers will offer packages for calling, text and data while in Canada.

What if I forget something? Or run out of something during my trip?

If you forget something, there is a good chance that we’ve got you covered! Morson Marina has a great supply of fishing gear, tackle, boating equipment and outdoor supplies. Hanson Bay Café, right next door, has toiletries, pharmacy items and clothing.

All 7-night trips include a mid week supply run. We ask that you call in on Tuesday and let us know what you need. We will bring out ice, bait, grocery items, beer, toothpaste, paper plates, etc! All of these items will be added to your final bill.                                                        

Do I need a special licence to drive the houseboat?

For our Canadian guests – yes! The captain is required to have a Pleasure Craft Operator Card. These are easily obtained via an online tutorial and test for approximately $60. The marina requires a copy of your card and you should keep it handy while you are out on the lake. 

For our American and International guests – No! You are not required to have any special licence. We go through a boaters safety checklist as well as a comprehensive orientation which combined, act as a temporary boaters licence for non residents. 

What forms of payment do you accept?

For deposits, we accept checks, Visa, MasterCard and American Express.

For the balance of your trip costs (paid on arrival) we accept US cash, Canadian cash, Visa, MasterCard and American Express. Please note that a 3% convivence fee applies to all trip balances paid via credit card. To avoid this fee, use cash or send a check at least 3 weeks prior to your arrival date.

For your incidental charges (paid on departure) we accept US cash, Canadian cash, Visa, MasterCard and American Express. No credit card fees incurred for your incidental charges. 

What are your policies?

Deposits are required to secure your houseboat and your dates. Deposits must be received within 14 days of making your reservation or your dates may not be held. The balance of the rental is due before leaving the dock. All incidental items (gas, bait, ice, etc.) must be paid upon return to the dock.

Cancellations with at least 90 days notice have the following options:
– Move the entire deposit to different dates in the same season, pending availability
– Move the entire deposit to a future reservation, at prevailing rates
– Refund 50% of the deposit via the original payment method and forfeit the remaining 50%

Cancellations of less than 90 days forfeit their entire deposit.

We do not offer cancellations or refunds due to weather, fishing conditions, border issues or changes in your group count. Early checkouts will be charged for full time booked.
Ontario Wilderness Houseboat Rental is a small operation with a short season and we are greatly affected by last minute cancellations. We recommend you purchase travel insurance for your houseboat trip.

Your houseboat will be available for boarding at 2:00 p.m CST. Houseboats will not be allowed to leave our docks if you arrive after 4:00 p.m, as you must complete orientation prior to departing our docks.
The houseboat must be back at our dock by 9:00 a.m. on the day of your return.

All rates are in CND funds and include 13% HST. US rates are approximate and can change with the current bank rate.

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HOUSEBOAT QUESTIONS:

Where do we spend the night?  

We provide a map on board that shows 25+ beaches to park your houseboat. All of these spots are sheltered from the wind on 3 sides, are clear of rock hazards coming into shore and have good trees to tie up to.  Before you leave the marina, we will discuss what you are looking for in a trip (a great swimming beach, to be in a great Muskie fishing area, to see spectacular sunsets, a large beach for kids to play etc.) and recommend a parking spot to start your trip. If you decide to move, we do ask that you listen to the weather forecast to ensure you choose a spot that is sheltered from the direction of the wind. 

Can we anchor out in the middle of the lake?  

No! The anchor is for emergency use only. Before dark, you must be securely beached and tied up to the trees on an island. You cannot anchor the houseboat during the day either. With the rocky bottom of much of Lake of the Woods, there is a good chance that a change in wind direction will lodge the anchor and you will be unable to get it back up. The anchor is ONLY for emergency use!  

How far can we go with the houseboat?  

We require all of our boats to stay within a 20 mile radius of our base. This keeps you within the possible range of radio contact and allows a service call to reach you in case of mechanical issues. All of our recommended parking spots are within this 20 mile radius. You can you your smaller fishing boat to venture further, if you’d like! 

Can we explore the lake with the houseboat?  

We recommend that you use the houseboat like a floating “cabin”. The houseboat acts as your “homebase” – securely tied up on the beach, a place to come back to each evening. Most groups on a 3 or 4 night trip just choose one beach as their “home” for the trip. Some groups on a 7 night trip may move once or twice during the week, often spending their last night close to the marina in order to get back to the dock on time. The houseboat isn’t meant for touring around the lake all day or for fishing. For fishing, exploring and touring, you use your small boat and come back to your houseboat each evening! Your small boat gives you access to much more of the lake than the houseboat ever could and allows you to take advantage of the evening bite, without the worry of trying to get the houseboat tied up and secured before dark. 

Do you supply pots, pans, cutlery, and dishes?  

All of our houseboats have those items as standard equipment. We even include shorelunch pans on board. Electric Coffee Makers are also standard equipment, but don’t forget to bring coffee filters! Items such as paper plates, paper towels and plastic cups are helpful for a speedy cleanup so you can get back to fishing!  Ziplock bags and foil pans are great ways to store leftovers.

What about bedding/linens?

Kitchen linens are included with every rental. All beds are equipped with a fitted sheet. Bed linens are not included. Bathroom linens are not included. You can bring your own or rent from us. Our linen package includes a fitted sheet, flat sheet, blanket, pillow and pillow case (we make your beds) as well as a bath towel, hand towel and face cloth. Our linen package is $50 CDN ($40 USD) per person, per trip.

How does the water work on board the houseboat?

The water for the showers and sinks comes from the lake.  We provide 20 gallons of fresh water on the large houseboats and 15 gallons on the smaller boats.

How many gallons of gas does the houseboat hold?  What about extra fuel for fishing boats?

Larger boats have 60-70 gallons, smaller boats have 50-60 gallons.  All boats have extra fuel tanks from 25-60 gallons in size.  You will not run out of gas on your trip.

I use a CPAP machine at night for my sleep apnea, will the Houseboat accommodate this?

Yes. We have two options during your stay. We have batteries and inverters for rent or we have 3000 watt generators that allows you to plug into a wall outlet. These small generators sip fuel at night and are extremely quiet. 

What is the average amount of fuel usage by the houseboat?

Larger houseboats use $250-$400/week while the smaller boats use $125-$225/week.

Is a fishing boat included in the cost? Why do I have to have one?

We don’t include a fishing boat in the cost of the houseboat, but you can rent one from us! Check out more information on fishing boat rentals HERE. You can also bring along your own fishing boat. You must have one with you as a safety precaution. Should something happen out on the lake, you may need to get back to our base quickly. A fishing boat will get you there much more quickly than the houseboat.

What to I have to bring to tow my own boat behind the houseboat?

Please bring a rope about 15′ long and 3/8″ to 1/2″ thick to tow your boats behind the houseboat. 

Is there air-conditioning on the houseboats?

No, they aren’t air conditioned. Some guests opt to bring electric or battery-operated fans.

The windows on the houseboats do open and the breeze from the lake is lovely!

Is there wifi on the houseboats?

No, there isn’t wifi. It’s a lovely break to disconnect from technology. If you must be connected, we recommend ensuring you have a data package from your cell provider. You can use your phone as a hotspot for other devices.  

Do you provide life jackets on board?

People come in all shapes and sizes, so we ask that you bring your own life jackets to ensure the proper fit.

Do we take the houseboat from the dock the first day by ourselves?

You can! For those that haven’t been with us before, we take you out and show you how to drive the houseboat and explain the navigational buoys and hazards.  We will also take you to your first stop on the trip and show tie off procedures if you’d like. We always ensure that you have the proper training and feel comfortable before we leave you on your own.

Are we allowed to consume alcohol on the houseboat?

When travelling with the houseboat, it is considered a vehicle.  At that point, no one is allowed consume alcohol.  When the houseboat is parked at shore, with intention to stay overnight, you may consume alcohol.  Alcohol is prohibited at all times in your personal boat or fishing boat unless you are transporting it from our base to your houseboat. 

 

FISHING QUESTIONS:

Can I fish right off of the houseboat?

You can while it is beached, but it won’t be the best fishing… 

You cannot fish off of the houseboat while it is moving. The houseboats aren’t as easy to maneuver as a fishing boat and cannot navigate easily in the areas you will likely fish in – on reefs, rocky shoreline and weeds. Snags, changes in wind and the chance of line getting caught in the houseboat motor make it dangerous to fish off of the houseboat on the open water. Your group must bring or rent at least one small fishing boat. The small boat will get you to all of the areas with the best fishing!! 

What kind of fish will I catch?

Lake of the Woods has a variety of species including Muskie, Northern Pike, Walleye, Lake Trout, Small & Large Mouth Bass, Crappie and Perch.

Can I bring bait my own bait?

No, you cannot bring your own bait into Canada. Dead or alive, salted or not – no bait is allowed to cross the border from you US into Canada. You may only use bait from the same zone that you are fishing in. You may be asked by authorities to show proof of purchase for any bait in your possession. Failure to show proof of purchase can result in significant fines. 

In terms of tackle for fishing, what do you recommend?

– Walleye typically like live bait presentations.  Lindy style spinners in bright colors like hammered brass, chartreuse, or orange are hot.  Use with bottom bouncers in 3/8oz – 1oz.  Jigs are the other part of the equation.  Think bright colors like white, chartreuse and pink in 1/4oz -1/2oz weights.   Deep diving crank-baits in baitfish patterns work well too.

– Bass and Northern Pike like Spinner-baits, tubes, and crank-baits.  Chartreuse, gold, and baitfish colors for these.

–  Muskies are looking for buck-tails throughout the year.  Make sure to have a good selection of these on hand.  Later in summer jerk-baits and top-water presentations are key.

– Perch and crappie prefer smaller 1/16 oz – 1/8 oz jigs tipped with minnows or tube bodies.

What is the protocol for bringing fish home to the USA?

Fish must be packaged with clear identification by way of a patch of skin, at least 1″ square, left on each fillet.  Each person should have their fish with them when they head home in the vehicle they are in.  Make sure to have your fishing license handy when heading across the border.

What is the price for a Non-Resident of Canada Fishing License?

There are several different options, but most fishing licenses are between $45-$72 CDN funds/week

If we would like a fishing guide, what hours does he fish with us?

Normally a guide will fish with you for up to 8 hours, which includes a shore lunch.  The rate for a guide depends on many factors including the boat, the number of guests, what you would like to fish for and the time. Inquire within for details. 

BORDER QUESTIONS:

 

What identification do I need to cross the border? 

Americans 18 years old and over are required to carry two forms of identification: proof of citizenship and proof of identity. A United States passport, passport card, or NEXUS card meets either requirement. If you don’t have a passport, you can use a birth certificate or certificate of citizenship or naturalization as your proof of citizenship. You will also need a government-issued photo ID, such as a driver’s license, as proof of your identity. If you are a permanent resident of Canada or the U.S., bring your Permanent Resident Card with you too.

Just like adults, children under the age of 18 must have proof of citizenship and proof of identity. Again, a U.S. passport meets these requirements. If your child does not have a passport, you can use a birth certificate and government-issued photo ID. If you’re traveling with kids that you don’t have legal custody of, CBSA may require a notarized affidavit or letter of consent from the minors’ parents. Make sure the document includes the name, address and phone numbers where the children’s parents or guardian may be contacted, along with your dates of travel. If you share custody of the child, bring copies of your legal custody documents and a letter of permission from the other custodial parent, stating that the child or children are not being abducted or taken against their will. Like the aforementioned letter of consent, the letter of permission should include the name, address and phone number of the other custodial parent, along with your dates of travel.

This information is subject to change without notice. Contact the border you will be crossing at directly for the most accurate and up to date information.

How much liquor can I bring into Canada?

You are allowed to bring in 24-12 oz. cans or bottles of beer OR 40 oz. (1L) of liquor OR 1.5L (2 standard sized bottles) of wine – free of duties and taxes. You must be 19 years of age to import alcohol into Ontario. Any amount in excess of 45 liters will not be allowed entry.

How much tobacco can I bring into Canada?

1 carton of Cigarettes and 50 cigars and 1 – 200g can of tobacco and 200 tobacco sticks.  Duties and taxes are collected on any excess amounts. You must be 19 years of age to import tobacco products into Ontario.

Can I bring bait my own bait?

No, you cannot bring your own bait into Canada. Dead or alive, salted or not – no bait is allowed to cross the border from you US into Canada. You may only use bait from the same zone that you are fishing in. You may be asked by authorities to show proof of purchase for any bait in your possession. Failure to show proof of purchase can result in significant fines. 

What is prohibited to bring into Canada?

List as follows:

*Radar Detector.

*Bait of any kind

*Fire Wood.

*Military style attack rifles.

*Large Capacity Cartridge Magazines (Exceeding 5 rounds for center fire rifles)

*ALL fully automatic weapons, handguns and pepper spray are prohibited in Canada.

 *** This list is subject to change without notice. Check HERE for the most up to date details. 

What food am I allowed to bring into Canada?

Visitors to Canada may bring certain goods as “personal baggage”, duty and tax free, provided all such items are declared to Customs upon arrival, and are not subject to restriction.

A reasonable amount of personal items, supply of food (for personal use) and a full tank of gas.

Gifts not exceeding $60 Canadian for a friend/relative in Canada. This does not include tobacco products, alcohol or advertising material. Gifts valued at more than $60 Canadian are subject to duty or applicable taxes on the amount the gift exceeds the $60 value.

  *** This list is subject to change without notice. Check HERE for the most up to date details. 

Can I bring a pet?

Dogs & cats enter Canada must have a valid rabies vaccination certificate, signed and dated by a veterinarian issued within the preceding 36 months. The certificate must provide a sufficient description and detail in order to identify the pet.  There is a fee of $100 CND to bring your pet.

Didn’t find the answer to your question?

Drop us a line at 1-800-359-6199 or info@wildernesshouseboats.com