Planning to visit the Key River Area of Georgian Bay some time this summer. I have not been on this web-page much the last couple of years due to other interests such as wildlife photography. Than you for your interest in this web-page. I have never placed any ads on this web-page for pay but WordPress has to offset their cost of running the blog page. I could say & write much more about The Key River Area of Georgian Bay but half the fun of wilderness camping & fishing is discovering for yourself the many marvels of the great outdoors. The Georgian Bay is big & there are many places you can explore & lots of wildlife to excite. If my blog page got you there it has served it;s purpose. Talk to the old timers who camped there in 1930 to 1950 & hear their stories of the great yellow pickerel runs, the huge pike & muskie. The fur traders who used canoes to move their goods across country. The fishing & canning industry worked this area for many years. You will see the remains of their businesses. Hope to see you there soon.
This is Ivan the native person that was so kind & nice to us when we camped out in The Key River Area Of The Georgian Bay.
He told us to follow him when he took out fishing parties for Key Harbour Lodge & he would show us where all the good spots were.
He always used & red & white Daredevil ( middle sized one ) & 20 pound line.
As I recall Ivan would sometimes put his head on top of the boat motor & sleep while his party was catching one fish after another in the same spot.
Ivan knew this area better than anyone & could take you places way back in very few knew about.
He knew where to find big yellow pickerel that would get stranded in deep holes when the spring flow subsided & he would take people there to catch them on night crawlers.
He knew where really big largemouth were & in fact had customers catch them on night crawlers back in the area of the bass hole.
Al Lytle also knew about surface lure fishing for largemouth back there as I can recall him taking his young son back to fish for largemouth one year after we told him they were hitting on the surface.
Ivan went way back in one day & never came out & I heard it took them three days to find his body where he had passed away.
They finally found his boat but had no idea where he had gone inland on this particular island.
Ivan knew all the islands all the way out to the Bad River & beyond.
He was trully a legend to me , countless other fishermen & outdoorsmen who were blessed to have crossed his path.
Over the years we have gone out to the French River where it dumps into the Georgian Bay at Dallas Rapids.
There used to be a fishing camp out there called Camp Mc Intosh & that is where people stayed that liked to troll for large yellow pickerel with seven-inch silver & black floating Rapalas at night-time & big musky with large silver flatfish in the day time.
I took the picture of the forty pound musky years ago.
Some of the best big smallmouth bass fishing in Georgian Bay is also to be found in this area but mostly out on the shoals & rocks near the bay itself.
This is without a doubt the best big yellow pickerel (walleye) fishing in all of Canada that equals what The Moon River Basin used to be.
Thousands of big yellow pickerel in the fifteen to seventeen pound range have been taken here trolling seven-inch floating Rapalas at night.
Years ago you had to camp out on the islands as all of the lodges were booked when the big pickerel made their annual spawning run around June 10 of each year which usually lasted for about ten full days & nights.
A hundred boats would be slowly trolling The French River each night & all of them would be taking trophy sized fish.
Camp McIntosh was full of pictures of the big walleye, pike & musky taken in this area.
I have no idea whether this lodge remains in business or not but when it was it was booked solid.
At the base of Dallas Rapids you can catch walleye, smallmouth bass, channel catfish, sturgeon & musky & do this from the bank when the water is low enough.
I have never caught many yellow pickerel trolling this area in the day time as the water is clear & not real deep for the most part so it is mostly a night-time affair only for the serious fishermen.
However, out around the bay in this area is a different story as it is full of trophy fish & they do hit well trolling or casting lures in the day time.
If I were going to fish this area for a week or more The Georgian Bay Fish Camp would be a good place to stay if you do not like wilderness camping.
This is bear country out here & they can be a problem for campers at times.
There are many areas to explore out here & it is a large area far away from civilization.
You can also go to the Bad River Channel from here which can also be good for yellow pickerel night-time trolling at certain times & The Bustard Islands are not far away either.
The Bustard Islands are full of trophy fish but one should not venture out that way unless properly informed & equipped as bad weather could get you stuck out there or killed if your boat is to small or not safe enough for the big water you must cross to get there.
Boats loaded down with camping gear, gas & food for a week are not safe in big water & a ship to shore radio is a must unless you can get a cell phone to work out there.
I always wanted to go out there & camp for a week but it was never in the cards & we just never made it mostly because of safety concerns.
There used to be fish camps out there but I was told they closed down because of the bad weather problems & fishermen getting stranded & not home on time & all that.
Best to get a guide to take you out there the first few times or forget it just to be safe.
This area is a long way from the road at Route 69 & Key River Junction but well worth the trip as the scenery & beauty of the area is something to behold & especially on a clear day when you can see the Killarney Mountains in the background.
Fox Bay on the way out can be excellent fishing at times along with many other long bays out there.
When you get to Dead Island which is an active Sacred Native Peoples Burial Ground you have to choose to take the inland route to the right which is marked with buoys & winds in & out of islands & bays to protect you from big winds or bad weather or go straight across the big open water if the weather conditions permit.
Use caution here as wind whipped waves can get up to fifteen high in the big open water & do that in an instant.
There are also shoals all over the area & many of them are not marked well after you get off the channel markers & buoys.
The big water is trout & salmon water & very cold & will kill you in a hurry if you go in so keep that in mind when making choices & decisions about trying to cross big water in small boats or canoes which are heavily loaded with camping, gear, gasoline & food.
Kayakers know how to do this & they also have the right equipment on to avoid hypothermia in case of a rare dumping.
A Kayak is one thing & an open canoe another.
If you venture out this way be careful & enjoy it as it will be one of the most exciting parts of your trip to Georgian Bay.
You will be out where people are few & wildlife abounds.
The beauty of the area will take hold of you & you will always long to return for more exploration & adventure.
There are several places out there I have never been to & now I am thinking about them & what they will be like.
I look at the new satellite maps Google put out & I see inland lakes I never knew were there & I am wondering?
Is this where the record largemouth lurks?
A place where virtually no one goes to find & fish for them?
I think I could hike back in there & catch them from the bank.
I can not wait to get up there again to see for myself.
And what about Tower Lake?
Do big largemouth lurk there also?
It goes on & on & on with me.
It’s in my blood.
The Georgian Bay.
Ivan told me about a lake out near Dallas Rapids that you have to hike back into that is full of trout.
He used to take people out there to fish for them.
I could never figure out which lake it is but I have talked to fishermen he took out there & they came back with trout.
One of them said a six foot rattlesnake crossed right in front of them hiking in there with Ivan & he just stepped right over him & kept moving on like it was no big deal.
They say massasaugas do not get much over three feet long so was this a timber rattler?
There is a picture of a massasauga 4 1/2 foot long that showed up in a Chicago pond & they were thought to be extinct in that area for many years.
Ivan was a full blooded Native Indian that spent his whole life exploring all the islands & lakes in this area & he also worked with the Canadian Wildlife people stocking these lakes with fry from float planes.
He actually stocked this spring fed cold water inland lake with these trout.
It seemed to me they were called speckled trout.
He guided fishermen in this area for years & years for The Key Harbour Lodge.
Lucky for me all the times he allowed us to follow him around.
He used to take people places that would take years & years to find or discover on their own.
When Fritts & I first started going to Georgian Bay years ago we would always go to The Key Harbour Lodge to buy gasoline, cigarettes, bread, live bait & anything we would run out of.
Back in those days if you went up in May when the yellow pickerel were running there would be at least 500 fishing parties camped out on the islands & all the lodges were booked years ahead.
This area & The Moon River area of Georgian Bay were the hottest big yellow pickerel fishing in all of Canada for many years.
Fifteen to seventeen pound yellow pickerel were common & very few would run under six pounds when they came out of the big lake & started up the rivers to spawn.
Fishermen would be trolling all over the area & any lure would do but most used the floating black & silver floating Rapalas.
You could easily get your limit in an hour or two or catch & release large numbers in a days time.
When a fishermen got a hook up they would yell out “Fish On”.
We carried on that tradition & always yell out fish on when we get a hookup.
One year one of the guys that went with us tied on a small yellow Rooster Tail & he hooked one pickerel after another & out-fished all of us with six pound line & ultra light rod.
He used the same lure all week & had it when he left minus a few tail feathers.
When we first started going up to the Key River Mrs. Lytle owner of Key Harbour Lodge was very nice to us & took us under her wing.
She knew we were young & inexperienced & worried about us just like any mother would her own children.
We always enjoyed going to the lodge to see the big fish pictures & chat with the experienced fishermen that were staying there.
We would go in the evening when they came in from a days fishing & that way we could see what they got & find out where.
They had an Indian Guide named Ivan Kewakkundo & he told us to get there early in the morning & we could follow him when he took out fishing parties & he would lead us to all the hot spots in the area.
No one knew more about the area than Ivan & probably never will.
Ivan told us to always use twenty pound line in Georgian Bay & he only used one lure A red & white Daredevil the medium or next size down from the standard size model & he always had a wire leader.
Mrs. Lytle’s son Al grew up at the lodge & trapped the area for many years & he had a cabin out on the islands where he & his family lived.
He also showed us where to go & he would help us fix our boat motors when we had a problem.
Mr. Lytle had a stroke & lived at the lodge until he passed away at which time she put the lodge up for sale & retired.
Mrs. Lytle always treated us special even though we never stayed at the lodge & went out of her way to teach us things & caution us about weather & cold water & the dangers of small boats in Georgian Bay storms & bears & rattlesnakes.
She told us to leave some bacon & grease out overnight in a skillet if we wanted to see a big black bear in our camp & warned us about not cooking or leaving anything in our tents that had an odor including soap & things like that.
She told us black bears in Georgian Bay can get real nasty when cornered so we should always give them a quick way out if we got one cornered by accident walking around the islands.
One time we told her the pike were not hitting.
She laughed & told us to catch a few live perch & put them in a minnow bucket & put one out set four foot deep on a bobber & then come back & tell her what happened.
Boy did we.
One ten to fifteen pound pike after another right off the bank at our campsite.
From that time on when we told her we got a big pike trolling or casting lures she would always smirk & say “Sure You Were Not Using A Live Perch?”.
The Lytles ran the lodge for many years & all of them were top notch people that helped us every way they could.
They went out of their way to teach us everything they knew.
They always had a big smile when we returned each year.
They also had a pay telephone if we needed to call home for anything.
The last I heard Al Lytle moved to Parry Sound & was selling real estate for a living which is a far cry from being a trapper on Georgian Bay.
If you are not the wilderness camping type The Key Harbour Lodge is a great place to stay & learn the area.
You can catch big pickerel in the bay at night when they are running & also really big pike over twenty pounds.
They also have guides & tackle & gasoline.
You can fish the areas we fish from Key Harbour Lodge & even run out to The French & Bad River Areas or Bustard Islands when the weather is right if you have a deep boat & 25 HP motor.
We always camped out there when we went because of our small motors.
If you are after largemouth this area is better than The French or Bad River area if you know where to go.
The smallmouth fishing is good out there but the water is to cold for largemouth & they are hard to locate out in the big water areas & bays.
For largemouth go back in & find the warm water bays & swamps with lilly pads with six to ten feet of water nearby.
Low Water Conditions: Mrs. Lytle told us years ago that Georgian Bay has a 35 year water cycle where it goes up for 35 years & then down for 35 years.
If her theory is correct & I believe it is the water levels in Georgian Bay should start going back up again in the next few years as the water started to go down slowly when we first started going up so the down cycle should be about over.
The water has really been low over the last few years & that hurts a lot of the really good bass holes many of which may be high & dry.
The bass are still around somewhere so you just have to find them.
When we were young & full of vigor we would fish from sun up to sun down.
One year one of the local native people stopped by our boat & simply said:
If the fish ain’t biting boys “Why Don’t You Leave Them Alone?”
He said he drops his worm down & if he gets one right away he keeps fishing & if not he pulls up his line & goes home & drinks a couple of beers.
He knew no one could make a fish bite.
We found that out the hard way but it was sure fun trying.
We really appreciated the Lytles & were very sad when they & Ivan were no longer there when we went back up each year.
Maribou Jigs set three feet deep on weighted small round bobbers work best in weed beds.
Small Mr. Twister Grubs & special crappie tube jigs work well also.
Live bait fishermen use minnows & bobber & they can get their limit in a hurry on a good crappie hole.
We use light outfits with six pound test Stren line.
One to three pound Black Crappie are common & when they are hitting you can catch all you want.
Check with local stores or lodges for information on the best places & time.
The Georgian Bay Bass Hole is full of them in Spring & summer & fall.
There is a pan fish hole on The Key River that is full of Big Crappie & pan-fish & the kids can catch them on small twister grubs one after another.
The Key River is full of crappie & you have to know where to find them in backwater bays out on Georgian Bay & around islands.
We have caught black crappies up to 3 1/2 pounds in The Georgian Bay Bass Hole & that one was caught trolling a small deep diving plug & that is how we found out they were there by accident. We turned him loose & had no camera back then. We returned to this same area many times & they were always there & still are.
The Georgian Bay Bass Hole in the top of this blog post with a picture of me fishing it is the best big crappie hole in all of Canada.
You can stand there & catch all the 1/2 to 1 1/2 pound Black Crappie you want one right after another & never leave your campsite not to mention largemouth & smallmouth bass that come in there to feed or the large pike & muskie right behind them.
The Georgian Bay is full of really big Channel Catfish & we have caught many over the years.
All you have to do is put out a live fish on a bobber at your campsite & leave it out overnight.
Tie your pole down or it will be gone in the morning.
The best place to catch them is below falls or rapids of any type fishing at night.
They hit night crawlers or minnows or any type of live fish or crawdads, etc.
The catfish Duke caught above was close to 40 pounds & the two at the top were twenty five pounds each & were caught at Dallas Rapids below the falls on night crawlers fishing for walleye.