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.
The seven inch black & silver floating original Rapala is the best yellow pickerel trolling lure for anywhere in Georgian Bay or Canada for night time slow trolling.
Jam your knot down to the bottom of the eye to keep the nose down & place a split shot eighteen inches ahead of the lure & do not use a wire leader.
I always double my line & tie the knot with doubled line to make it stronger.
Sometimes I tie short four inch solid s.s. wires on mine with wire bending pliers just in case a pike or muskie hits.
If you know how to tie The Albright Special knot you can attach a cable to your line & tie that to your Rapala with an s knot to keep the action perfect with a leader.
The s knot will not fail even though it looks like it would.
If you know how to tie a Bimini Twist you can double your line for four feet ahead of your lure & there is no stronger arrangement as it is used in heavy salt water fishing.
Both of these knots can be found in fly fishing magazines.
I have never caught very many pike or muskie after dark so it really is not necessary.
I prefer twenty pound test line for all Georgian Bay casting & trolling but you can go as low as twelve to fourteen pound test & the lure will run deeper.
I have caught many big pickerel with the twenty pound line & the last time I was out at Dallas Rapids in June I got a seventeen pound pickerel with it.
Put the lure into the water & test it’s action with a flashlight to see if it is running nose down & side to side action is right & adjust your trolling speed accordingly.
Let out only fifty feet of line or no more than seventy five feet & hold your rod tip to the water & hold your rod in one hand while you steer & operate the motor with the other hand.
This way you can feel if the lure is touching bottom & move your boat in or out further to adjust accordingly.
You want the lure to run one to three feet off the bottom but not touching bottom.
Big pickerel in Georgian Bay move into shallow water after dark to feed in & around rocks & shoals & that is where you will have the best luck.
The bay just past Key Harbour Lodge is good at night at times & just about anywhere you find shoals out around islands in the big water you will find yellow pickerel feeding at night.
Crystal clear water is best for night time trolling & you will find that out & around all the islands & shoals close to the big water.
The pickerel are very hard to catch in this clear water in the daytime as they stay in deep water at that time for the most part.
In Georgian Bay pickerel travel in schools & follow large schools of ciscoes where-ever they go.
If a school of ciscoes move into the area you are fishing & you are trolling Rapalas you will get them & quickly.
Troll right down the side of the shoals in shallow water but keep the lure from hitting bottom.
You can use the smaller Rapala in four foot water as it does not run as deep as the seven inch model which goes down to about seven or eight feet with fifty feet of line out.
Just keep at it & troll real slow until you catch them feeding or find where they are.
The best nights are when the wind & water is dead & there is no fog on the water.
The full moon nights are the absolute best.
Do not worry about the short line length at night.
I have caught hundreds of them with fifty feet of line out.
Believe me they will come after your lure when they see it as it looks like a cisco & that is their prime food in Georgian Bay.
Trolling in back bays is hard because of weeds so you have to go out where there are no weed-beds in the water that will foul your lure.
The best big yellow pickerel night time trolling is out on The French River in The Dallas Rapids area & the best time is usually around June 10 of each year.
They make their big run there every year & it lasts for about ten days.
They get plenty of yellow pickerel fifteen pounds & up to seventeen pounds is quite common.
The Bad River area is also good.
There are lodges at both places & you would do well to contact them before you go to get all the information ahead of time.
I do not know what the name of the lodge at Dallas Rapids is but it is usually booked for the yearly run anyway.
It used to be called Camp Mc Intosh or something like that.
The Bustard Islands are fabulous for night time pickerel trolling also but I have never been out there.
They are thirty five square miles & surrounded by dangerous shoals & storms are really bad out there at times.
There is no better place in North America for really big trophy yellow pickerel & most of them are taken using the methods I have described.
There are plenty of places to camp out & around French River & Bad River if you can not get a cabin or lodge.
This is bear country & there are many out there & you need to be aware of that.
There are also many rattlesnakes on the islands.
From the road this is a twenty plus mile trip by boat depending on your route or how rough the bay is so you will need to take extra gasoline & a small spare motor with you & do not forget anything.
I prefer my twelve foot Lund & 9.9. H.P. Johnson for slow trolling because bigger motors shake to much at slow speed & the Johnson is smoother & quieter.
The fifteen H.P. also trolls smooth as it is the same motor as the 9.9 with bigger carb.
Some fishermen put a trolling motor bracket on the transom of their big boat & use this motor to troll & use their big motor to get places fast.
The 9.9 matched with a twelve foot Lund like mine really moves out with one man in it.
We usually take two twelve foot boats & fish one man to a boat.
Get the biggest landing net you can find for Georgian Bay.
You may need it.
Big Georgian Bay Yellow Pickerel Will Chase Down A Seven Inch Silver & Black Floating Rapala Trolled Slowly At Night Fifty Feet Behind Your Boat & Literally Knock The Hell Out Of It & Try To Yank Your Rod Right Out Of Your Hand.
If It Feels Like A Snag It’s A Big One.
If you are not the trolling type & prefer live bait fishing & know where the good holes are you can catch big yellow pickerel by dropping nightcrawlers (worms) down in 35 feet of water.
I know one good hole & there are usually boats there fishing for them down deep & I have seen them take many up to 17 pounds this way.
I have also heard of fishermen tying a ballon to a pickerel’s tail with a long string & following the small balloon to know where the pickerel are & then cast jigs deep with Mr. Twister Tails.
One year I caught a 3 pound Blue Pike in The Georgian Bay Bass Hole & this fish was thought to be extinct so I quickly released it unharmed. Had no camera at the time. This was back in 1988 or so.
A Blue Pike is a walleye (yellow pickerel) that is actually silverish blue all over & really shiny.
If you catch one of these the Canadian wildlife people would be interested in knowing that because this species in thought to be extinct.
I believe there are are few of them still spawning in this area in so much I have caught one in the past. There used to be millions of them in the great lakes. Take a picture & release unharmed for sure.
The bears below got into our campsite & would not leave so we did.
I accidentally stepped on this rattlesnake with sandals on & he did not bite me.
It was sitting on a portage trail near a carry going around what canoeist call a drop or normal people call falls.
They are very hard to spot when motionless because they blend in with the rocks.
He did not rattle until I touched him with my sandal.
I was wearing shorts & had no socks on.
Please do not kill these snakes as this is their home & we are visitors & they are important to the ecology of The Georgian Bay.
I have seen many more of them over the years including very big ones up to 4 1/2 feet long & very fat & they are not rare in this area.
If you go in the hot days of July or August you will see them lay out on the rocks near the water & wait for a frog or something else to eat.
When they are in our campsite I always catch them & move them to another area but I never harm them & I also know what I am doing.
If you don’t please do not go near them.
I take special equipment to handle them properly & have hunted poisonous snakes for years in Florida & places like that.
If you leave them alone they will simply crawl away & go back to their den.
After they feed they go back into their dens & do not feed again for awhile.
They like to come out at night when it is really warm.
So always be careful when you get out of your tent at night & always look before you step anywhere at night.
If you get bit wrap the bite area loosely with an elastic bandage & keep beelow the heart & remaim calm & go directly to the road & find out where Parry Sound Hospital is & get there asap & there is also a hospital in Sudbury.
Do not cute the bite area or apply suction devices unless you have The Sawyer Snakebite Kit Suction Device with you which has to be used immdeiately to do any good & then it will only remove about 35% of the venom at best.
It would be a good idea to call the lodge owner where you parked & ask them for advice.
It is illegal to kill these snakes even if you get bitten by one of them.
Do not handle a dead snake as they can still bite after they are supposedly dead.
If you do kill the snake after you are bitten put it in a bucket or bag with a long stick & take it with you so the doctors can see what kind & size it is to determine how much anti-venom you will need which will depend on your size & weight etc.
They probably have to do a test first to see if you are allergic to the anti-venom.
Most people that go to Georgian Bay have never seen one of these rattlesnakes so if you do it is a thrill & an experience you will never forget.
Especially if you end up in the hospital with snake bite.
One of the local lodge owners once told me these snakes were very small & if you get bit is it about like getting stung by a bee as they have a small amount of venom.
She was telling a man that knew better.
This snake has a nasty venom & anyone bitten needs to get help quick or you could lose an arm or leg.
Believe me rattlesnake bites are serious no matter what kind or how large if they inject venom with the bite.
If not consider yourself lucky as that does happen & they call them dry bites & that was probably why she thought that was true.
The Massasauga or pigmy rattler has a very potent poison that can be more powerful than the diamond back, canebreak or timber rattlesnake.
A snake expert in Florida we used to sell live snakes to told me a massasuaga rattlesnake almost killed him & it was the worst snake bite he had ever experienced & he had been bitten over seventy times & even by cobras in the past.
They tell you very few people die but they do not tell you about all the amputations they have to do because of rattlesnake bites & tissue damage & infection & how it rots your skin or turns it totally black.
All rattlesnake bites are serious & require immediate hospital attention.
One year a young boy was bitten by a rattler chasing frogs out around Dead Island when we were up there & I have personally been struck several times but usually had my rubber boots on & did not get injected with venom.
There are wolves in this area but I have only ran across them once in 35 years.
One year we noticed strange scats that looked like dog but we thought they were bear.
They were all over the area we camped & there was a kill nearby with vultures & buzzards high overhead but we did not attempt to investigate it.
The third night we were there the moon was full & all of a sudden the cry of the wolf & right in our campsite were three wolves apparently chasing an injured moose.
They keep howling & chasing & we were shocked & had no idea what to do.
We got out of the tent after they left our camp & jumped into our canoe & started paddling to my son’s campsite about a half mile away.
There were a couple of canoeist there nearby also & all of them were up & confused as no one had ever experienced wolves before.
We heard them howling all night long & then never again the remainder of our trip.
The only regret I have is that I did not have a tape recorder with me as that was the most beautiful sound I had ever heard in my life.
I will never forget it & at that time I had suspected that Fritts may have had something to do with that & was probably up there laughing like hell.
The wilderness does that to you.
We have caught a lot of moose & bears swimming across rivers over the years & sometimes you can hear moose snorting or calling in the morning or a bear turning over rocks or tearing rotten stumps at night while you are in your tent.
You will see trails that go in the water on islands where they swim across & if you camp there they will swim across there & go right by your campsite usually at night.