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.
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.
Years ago a fishermen that used to stay at Key Harbour Lodge told us all about The Walleye Spawning Grounds & allowed us to go fishing there with him in his boat.
He had an eighteen foot big lake boat with ten horse power trolling motor & down riggers hooked up.
He carried cases of Helin Flatfish in his boat & that is all he used in Georgian Bay period as did many of the best big musky fishermen of the time.
I was brought up bass fishing with the F-7 yellow flatfish with swivel & two treble hooks & red & black dots.
We would put a split shot eighteen inches ahead of the lure & it would absolutely murder smallmouth bass in Southern Ohio Creeks.
I caught, scaled, cleaned, cooked & ate the World Record Rock Bass that I personally caught with this lure & had no idea I did that until several years later when I was looking up world record fish in Sports Afield Magazine.
The record rock bass was only 2lbs. 2 ozs. & the one I ate was 3 & 1/2 pounds & all black from old age.
All the witnesses are now dead so you will just have to take my word on it or simply dis-believe.
The old time Flatfish fisherman showed us how to take the swivel hooks off & then put a single hook in the end of the lure to put a piece of nightcrawler on.
He would use a three way swivel & attach a heavy sinker that would drag along the solid rock bottom & keep the Flatfish a foot or less off the bottom.
He would let it down to the bottom & then troll backwards with his boat in reverse gear very slow.
He would do this going into the wind.
He would hook a nice yellow pickerel every thirty feet or so & had his limit in less than an hour & took us back to Key Harbour Lodge.
Since that time I have personally caught & released hundreds of yellow pickerel using this deadly method in The Old Walleye Spawning Grounds.
The small floating Rapalas also do well using this bottom trolling rig back trolled into the wind & also Mr. Twister Grubs.
The Walleye Spawning Grounds used to be a hot area for Big Yellow Pickerel & Pike not to mention hundreds of trophy smallmouth bass.
To get there you have to go through quite a few shoals so it is best to get someone to follow the first time you go by yourself.
The unique thing about this area is the banks are relatively flat & you can walk around & fish off the banks much easier than many other areas of Georgian Bay.
There are also largemouth bass back in the creeks that run into the spawning grounds & also in The Henvey Inlet where the spawning grounds is located.
One man caught a 28 pound pike almost every year he fished this area & he kept the locations secret.
I fished The Henvey Inlet all the way to the road one time & we caught a lot of really big largemouth bass on Rapalas & the perch color seemed to work the best.
Try this area out if you get a chance as it can be some of the best fishing in this area at certain times & one of the best big pike areas of the entire Georgian Bay.
Go way back in & up the creeks that feed the spawning grounds & there you will find largemouth in the deep warm water holes.
If the water is real low the spawning grounds is not as good as when the water is up high.
Troll the mouth of the area where Henvey Inlet dumps into Georgian Bay as there you will occasionally find really big muskie & pike.
Fish & troll along the steep deep cliff faces & rocks for big smallmouth & pike.
This is the best fly fishing area around as the banks are flat & smooth in the spawning grounds & perfect for long backcast.
You can get a lot of nice pike & smallmouth fly fishing there & you can do that walking around on the flat rock banks.
You will also find flat camping spots here & plenty of black bears.
This is a large area that would take many years to explore throughly.
I basically just touched on it & have only been there several times over the years.
Each time we caught plenty of smallmouth, yellow pickerel & pike plus a few largemouth.
Rapalas are by far the top lure to use in The Key River area of The Georgian Bay for trolling for yellow pickerel or for anything else as far as that goes.
The big seven inch floating Rapala closely resembles the Cisco which is the number one bait fish that pike, muskie & yellow pickerel eat in The Georgian Bay.
Anything that swims in The Georgian Bay will hit Rapalas trolling & you can also cast them but they are much better for trolling than casting.
If you know how to jerk or kick them on the surface they also are top surface lures. Use a split ring & tie your line to the ring. No wire leader or wire works best.
The two lures in the above photo are the only two sizes you need in the Key River area & silver & black are favored by most. The smaller ones are better for kicking or jerking on surface. Floaters are best.
Both are floaters & the larger one is used more often than the smaller one because it goes down deeper & is the lure Georgian Bay fishermen use to catch large pickerel trolling at night.
Deep divers get more weeds than fish in Georgian Bay Back Bays but they are good in deep weed free water at times especially along steep rock cliffs.
I always use twenty pound test with the bigger Rapala for trolling or casting.
The large one goes deeper than the smaller one.
Use the small one in shallow water weed areas or shoals but it will not cast well with twenty pound line as it is much lighter than the big seven inch one.
Always use a wire leader or a solid s.s. .020 wire like I explained under Zara Spook in the day time.
The length does not matter but I prefer six inch long.
You do not have to use a wire leader for night time trolling for yellow pickerel & the action of the lure will be much better without one.
Pike & muskie very seldom hit after dark where I fish but I have caught a few at night.
I always jam the knot down on the eye & put a split shot eighteen inches ahead of the lure to keep the nose down for yellow pickerel trolling at at night. This is very important so experiment with it to get the nose down action right.
Big Yellow Pickerel knock the hell out of this lure at night & will do that in three feet of water right on the bank or shoal. You can cast them on shallow shoals & get big pickerel that way if they are feeding there.
Find out where they feed at night & you will be rewarded.
The camping in Georgian Bay is the best you will find anywhere in Canada & you can camp anywhere without permits or hassles. The area we fish & camp in is now a part of The French River Provicial Park & all the local stores & lodges have really good maps of the area. You have to go by boat or canoe or float plane as there are no roads only waterways in the form of rivers that run into Georgian Bay which is 150 miles long with 30,000 solid rock islands large & small. You can buy groceries, gasoline & other supplies at many fish camps & lodges on Georgian Bay & they have boat docks to tie up to. The Georgian Bay is great for kayaking or canoeing trips & many routes are available. We recommend canoeing & camping books by Bill Mason or Cliff Jacobson which tell about about these things in an expert way. Everything you will ever need to know about wilderness canoe or boat camping is defined & also pictured.