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The French River has been rated as one of the top trophy walleye-producing rivers for fishing in Canada. They are our most abundant game fish.

Ontario fishing early spring provides the best opportunity to catch your limit of Walleye and Northern Pike. Late spring and summer bring the added challenge of lunker size largemouth bass, smallmouth bass and dinner plate size crappies that are being caught in ever increasing numbers. Throughout the summer and well into late fall, huge tackle smashing muskie and northern pike patrol French River waters, with an appetite that increases as the water starts to cool down. The Fall season is a world unto itself - gorgeous color, warm days and cool nights make this our favorite time of the year. Large walleye are migrating back up the river from Georgian Bay, the smallmouth bass are feeding in full frenzy and the muskies' appetites are at their peak in northern Ontario fishing hotspot.

23 Years ofSuccess

For Fishing Slot Limits on French River-1994 Introduced

See more here...

The introduction of a slot-size fishing program was a realistic effort to restore the sport fish population in the French River and it has definitely worked in the French River Delta, not only sustaining the quality, but improving the quantities of fish for each species. The Ministry of Natural Resources has studied our positive results in the significant improvement of our fishery and since then, started implementing slots sizes throughout Ontario, Canada. The slot sizes of fish represent the breeding stock of each species of fish determined from the biological research completed in the French River. Walleye Index netting from fall 2013 reports the best fishing is in the French River Delta, Lower French River. Send, post or share your fish photos and stories from your stay at Bear's Den Lodge Facebook . See current fishing French River photos and current news stories!

French River Fishing - Zone 10, Georgian Bay - Zone 14, Pickerel River - Zone 11

Smallmouth Bass and Largemouth Bass Fishing in Canada - live release between 33 cm – 43 cm 13" & 17" (Length)

Walleye - Pickerel - live release between 40 cm - 60 cm 15.7" & 23.6" (Length)

Muskie - Musky - French River 122 cm or 48" (Length), Georgian Bay 137 cm or 54" (Length)

Northern Pike - live release between 53 cm - 86 cm 21" & 34" (Length)

FISHING REPORTS - Northern Ontario Fishing Hotspot - Fishing Reviews

img Walleye fishing in the French River Delta and Georgian Bay have one of the highest rod hours in Ontario Canada. Ever increasing numbers, these fish naturally spawn in the Delta of the French River under the protection of slot limits since 1994.

Walleye or Pickerel, as locals call them, grow large and fight hard in this great Canadian wilderness river system, French River Provincial Park. They have large cloudy light sensitive eyes and prefer the stained waters of the French River and Georgian Bay. Walleyes tend to feed at sunrise, sunset or at night in the clearer water areas. Migrating walleyes head for the Georgian Bay late summer and begin to return late August to prepare for spawning in the spring. Many lunker size walleye remain in the French River all summer providing fisherman the opportunity to trophy fish walleye all season.

  • 23 Walleye caught during the week of May 22 - 28. Largest reported was 26 inches at 5.5 lbs
  • June 6 - 16 Pickerel produced a shore lunch with the French River fishing guide and returned those not needed for lunch. A great experience for all!
  • June 12-14, 25 inch Walleye caught with a grub in 30 feet of water on the 13th. 26 inch reported as of the 14th.
  • On June 15 a massive storm, unstable weather patterns and cold fronts scattered French River Walleye adding challenge to fisherman
  • Week of July 17, Lots of 21-23 inch Walleye being caught in shallows.
  • July 30 - August 06 6lbs caught by Lewis family.
  • August 6 - 8, group of four (Bob, Tom, Scott Neilson) caught 18 pickerel with the largest at 5lbs.
  • August 15-18, 26.5 inch walleye caught by Shawn, Paula & Mason.
  • Water levels will change approximately 13 feet throughout the season (May - October).
  • Walleye are scattered off rock points in May, this will increase and produce more catch numbers for fisherman.
  • Walleye will move to shallow water with the Mayfly hatch (Late May to mid-June).
  • In June, check water currents for walleye and depths of 10-20 feet.
  • July, water levels are normally changing and fish are diving to depths of 25 feet.
  • By September they are in deep currents (30ft. and deeper).
  • By September they are in deep currents (30ft. and deeper).
  • Walleye fishing is scattered among various depths in October of the French River Delta.
  • A 10 pound French River walleye will produce 250,000 eggs during spawn.
  • Walleye are caught throughout the French, Pickerel River, and Northeastern Georgian Bay.
  • The French River Delta in Northern Ontario is continuing to enjoy an increasing walleye or pickerel population.
  • Migrating male walleye and several other fish species, return to the French River for next year's spawn in late August and remain there until early June. Large walleye fish remain in the French River Delta all season!
  • Q:What is the average size of walleye/pickerel caught in the French River Delta? A:20-22 inches, but it changes throughout the season.
  • Q: How many walleye/pickerel per week? A: Depends on the weather, water levels, experience of the angler, etc.
  • Q: What's the largest walleye/pickerel caught at your facilities? A: 37 inches
  • Q:What's the best time to fish for walleye/pickerel? A:When you're here!

Want more Walleye Fishing Tips & Tricks for French River Fishing? Click here
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Are you hooked for 2016 French River walleye season Zone 10 in Ontario? Click here

img Trophy smallmouth bass fishing French River Delta has one of the best action in Ontario Parks, Canada. Ever increasing numbers, these fish regularly spawn in the Delta of the French River freshwater system.

Smallmouth (a.k.a. Brown Bass or Bronzeback), grow large and fight hard in this Ontario Provincial Park. Bear's Den Lodge has seen an increased quality and quantity of the bass population. Like their Largemouth cousins, they are shallow feeders that prefer leaping after spinners off of rock points in the bays of the French River. The spacious wilderness waters of the French River provides structure, rock ledges and weed edges for this populous predator. Many "football" sized smallies remain in the French River producing action packed fun for anglers of all ages!
Many smallmouth bass are being caught between 18-22 inches with an ever increasing population and size of smallmouth bass in the river. Bass Season opens on the 4th Saturday in June. Smallmouth bass are quite active - 22 inch smallmouth bass released late May 2010. August produced many 3 lb. plus bass in 2010-2014. When weeds are dying - fish rock points. Great Canadian Female Anglers boated bass for photos, smiles and then released their catch!

  • Currently not in season till 3rd Saturday of June. However, are currently active as fishermen have indicated they are chasing lures.
  • June 12-18, several been caught and released in 8 ft of water. The largest currently reported at 14 inches on a yellow spinner.
  • Aug 6-18, lots of bass reportedly being caught
  • French River smallies will be hitting off rocks in high waters of spring, but are not in season until the 3rd Saturday of June.
  • Smallmouth remains active off points and in current areas in July.
  • Smallies will move to shallow water with the Mayfly hatch (Late May to mid-June).
  • In June, check river channels and rock walls for bass at depths of 3 – 25 feet.
  • July, water levels are normally changing and fish are diving to depths even over 25 feet.
  • By September they are in deep currents (30ft. and below).
  • Even if water levels drop, they will remain scattered along promising rock points.
  • Pound for pound, they're the "fightin'est" fish, in freshwater!
  • Bass are caught throughout the French, Pickerel River, and Northeastern Georgian Bay.
  • Male smallmouth bass build circular nests pre-spawn 1-6 feet in diameter near protected areas in sand or gravel.
  • Female bass lays thousands of eggs then leaves to the protective eye of the male for days after the hatch.
  • Bass do not migrate to the Georgian Bay, but move within the river system.
  • Q:What is the average size of smallmouth? A:16 to 18 in. at 2.5 – 3 lbs.
  • Q: How many smallies per week? A: Varies during the season, but are usually plentiful.
  • Q: What's the largest smallmouth caught at your facilities? A: 10 lbs. smallmouth have been lost and tipping the scale over the 7 lbs. mark.
  • Q: What’s the best time to fish for smallmouth? A: Anytime after opener.

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img Largemouth bass (a.k.a. Bucketmouth, Bigmouth and Mossback) are one of the most under fished game fish in freshwater of the French River. These game fish tend to change locations through the season and share many similar traits to their smallmouth cousins. However, unlike their cousins largemouth prefer the weedier areas, docks, fallen lumber, dead heads (logs stuck in the mud from logging, see History), and brush.
Let the hunt begin for world record bass just waiting to jump at your next cast!

  • Currently not in season till 3rd Saturday of June, though angler reports suggest are highly aggressive this season.
  • Big Bass 18-19 inches during the week of July 17, largest was 3 lbs.
  • August 12, Doc. Weaverling caught the largest Largemouth Bass of his life at 20.5 inches at 5lbs. as seen here.
  • French River largemouth will be nesting in shallow waters in spring, but are not in season until the 3rd Saturday of June.
  • Early June they are on nests in shallow bays during spawning then move to areas with vegetation awaiting the angler's surface lures, plugs, poppers, spinner baits, Rapalas. Crawdad looking lures entice largemouth bass fish in Canada also.
  • Largemouth will gather in areas with higher concentration of Mayfly hatch (Late May to mid-June).
  • Largemouth remains active off shallow points, freshwater vegetation, and current areas in July.
  • July, water levels are normally changing and these fish are diving to depths even over 15 feet.
  • By September they are in deep currents (30ft. and below).
  • When water levels drop and vegetation is decaying, they will remain scattered through areas of deadfall and beaver huts.
  • Male fish protect the sack fry and will even hold them in their mouth when danger passes.
  • Female largemouth are normally larger than their male counterparts.
  • Largemouth bass do not migrate and opt for hiding in vegetation when possible within the river system.
  • They eagerly attack almost any artificial lure or live bait and maybe the least selective feeders of all freshwater fish.
  • Their diet includes small fish and mammals, salamanders, frogs, worms, leeches, crayfish, snails and turtles.
  • Q:What is the average size of smallmouth? A:16 to 18 in. at 3 – 4 lbs.
  • Q: How many largemouth per week? A: Varies during the season, but are usually plentiful.
  • Q: What's the largest largemouth caught at your facilities? A: 8.5 lbs. largemouth.
  • Q: What's the best time to fish for largemouth? A: Anytime after Bass season opener.

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img Northern Pike fishing French River is plentiful in Northeastern Ontario, Canada. Every year we see increasing numbers of these naturally spawned predatory fish in the French River Delta. Ontario has some of the best Northern Pike fishing in North America.

Pike, which are normally smaller than their musky relatives, can grow to be one the larger game fish in the French River system. They have large expandable mouths with long sharp needle-like teeth and an audacious appetite, willing to eat prey that will fit in their jaws. Migrating male pike head for the Georgian Bay early spring and begin to return late August to prepare for spawning the next spring. They instinctively return to the same spawning beds as past. Many trophy size pike remain in the French River all season for endless catching opportunities.

  • In the week of May 22 - 28, fishermen reported a total of 314 Pike caught with the largest at 40 inches at approx. 17-18 lbs. An Eagle also shared in the delight of fishing and caught a 38" Northern Pike.
  • June 12-14, Chris Burnette catched and released a 30 incher.
  • 39 inch released by guest from Buffalo, New York.
  • June 15-21, 21.5" pike caught by Cliff M. while dock fishing. Fishermen reporting elevated levels of pike catches from previous years.
  • June 22-29, 139 pike were catched and released.
  • July 24, T.J. Raytrowsky catching the biggest pike of his life at 37.5 inches; successful release.
  • August 14-20, 35 inch Pike caught by Shane Duppstadt of Manns Choice, Pa.
  • Water levels will change approximately 13 feet throughout the season (May - October).
  • Pike are scattered off rock points in May.
  • Pike will move to shallow water with the Mayfly hatch in search of prey (Late May to mid-June).
  • In June, check water currents for pike and depths of 15-25 feet.
  • July, water levels are normally changing and fish are diving to depths of 25 feet.
  • By September they are in deep currents (45ft. and deeper).
  • Pike fishing is scattered among various depths in October of the French River Delta.
  • A French River pike will spawn in weedy bays and weedy humps and shoals in mid to late May.
  • Pike are caught throughout the French, Pickerel River, and Northeastern Georgian Bay.
  • The French River Delta in Northern Ontario is continuing to enjoy an increasing pike population.
  • Migrating male pike of the species travel to the Georgian Bay and its tributaries, return to the French River for next year's spawn in late August and remain there until early to mid-June.
  • Large female pike remain in the French River Delta all season!
  • Granite rock shoals, weed beds, eddies, current, and vegetation will entice the Pike angler fishing the French River.
  • A pike's diet will change over the course of its life and the opportunities presented. Though larger members of the species tend to display more cannibalistic traits.
  • Q:What is the average size of Pike? A:18-24"with fish reaching over 30+ inches.
  • Q: How many Pike will an angler catch per week in the French River? A: They are one of the most populous fish and will strike anything that moves or shines.
  • Q: What is the largest Pike caught at your Lodge? A: Several lost over 50", but 46" has been the largest released.

img Slot size for 2016 in Zone 10 is: 48 inches Georgian Bay is 54 inches (Ontario Reg ref link) Bear's Den Lodge has set a limit of over 50 inches in 1989, but have been encouraging catch, photograph and release (cpr) of all trophy muskie.

Muskie fishing in the French River Delta and Georgian Bay is the number one hotspot in Ontario, Canada. Is it tough fishing? Yes, but every year we see increasing numbers of these naturally spawned predatory fish. They naturally spawn in the Delta of the French River and have seen additional protection through education and educational groups such as Muskie Canada and Muskie Inc.

Muskellunge (a.k.a. muskelunge, muscallonge, milliganong, or maskinonge) is commonly abbreviated as "muskie" or "musky". They grow to be some of the largest game fish in the great Canadian wilderness river system, French River Provincial Park. Muskies, like their Northern Pike cousins, have large expandable mouths with long sharp needle-like teeth. Migrating male muskies head for the Georgian Bay early spring and begin to return late August to prepare for spawning the next spring. They instinctively return to the same spawning beds as past. Many lunker size muskie remain in the French River all summer providing fisherman the opportunity to trophy fish muskie all season.

  • Water levels will change approximately 13 feet throughout the season (May - October).
  • Muskie are scattered off rock points in May, this will increase and produce more catch numbers for fisherman.
  • Muskie will move to shallow water with the Mayfly hatch (Late May to mid-June).
  • In June, check water currents for muskie and depths of 10-20 feet.
  • July, water levels are normally changing and fish are diving to depths of 25 feet.
  • By September they are in deep currents (30ft. and deeper).
  • Muskie fishing is scattered among various depths in October of the French River Delta.
  • A French River muskie will spawn in weedly bays and weedy humps and shoals in mid to late May.
  • Muskie are caught throughout the French, Pickerel River, and Northeastern Georgian Bay.
  • The French River Delta in Northern Ontario is continuing to enjoy an increasing muskie population.
  • Migrating male muskies of the species travel to the Georgian Bay and its tributaries, return to the French River for next year's spawn in late August and remain there until early to mid-June.
  • Large female muskellunge remain in the French River Delta all season!
  • Granite rock shoals, weed beds, eddies, current, and vegetation will entice the musky angler fishing the French River.
  • Muskie feed on pike and suckers or anything else opportunity including ducks, or anything swimming.

Muskie History Facts about Bear's Den Lodge:

See Area information for more French River musky history. This angler has a record of 15 fish over 50 inches, caught at Bear's Den Lodge.

  • Q:What is the average size of muskie or musky? A:37-42 inches and larger.
  • Q: How many muskie or French River musky will an angler catch per week? A: Muskie opportunities depend greatly on the weather patterns, water levels, and experience of the angler's presentation and retrievals. Line Class World Record Holder, Art Barefoot, states, "In a week's time, a muskie fisherman will have the opportunity and most likely catch or boat three muskies. One fish will be 37-42 inches, one 45-48 inches, and one musky will most likely over 50 inches."
  • Q: What is the largest muskie caught at your French River lodge, Bear's Den Lodge? A: 59 inches - 59 lbs. 11 oz. 29 inch girth - 14 lb. Line Class World Record Muskie by Art Barefoot,
  • Q: Does Bear's Den Lodge hold other World Record Fish? A: Bear's Den Lodge remains holder of the 53.5-inch muskie, the 70 lb. Line Class World Record Catch and Release Musky, Kevin Penner of Ontario.
  • Q: What is the best time to fish for French River muskie, musky? A: When you have three days of stable weather pattern, and of course when you are here!

img A general term to describe fish not considered to be "game fish" by many enthusiasts and often to be described as "food fish that could fit in a pan". While there are many different types “pan fish” in the French River ecosystem the predominant ones that is the staple to the food chain are:

Sunfish or "sunnies" are very popular and one of the most colorful fish caught in Ontario fishing around docks by young and senior fisherman. Pumpkinseed Bass and Rock Bass are the only sunfish varieties in the French River Delta and Georgian Bay. Small minnows, worms, or small jigs are the preferred baits. These species spawn in late spring with the male building the nest and protecting their young from predators like pike and walleye. Pumpkinseeds have pharyngeal teeth for crushing invertebrates and can crush snail shells.

    Weekly Report:
  • June 12-18, largest reported was at 7.5 inches.

Perch, are very similar to walleyes and smallmouth bass in nature. Perch are found in the weeds during insect hatches of mud flies and stoneflies. Perch tactics include fishing with worms, small minnows, and small jigs. Perch and walleye are from the family Percidae. The adult perch like walleye tend to live and travel in schools of approximately the same size. Perch's diet changes from plankton, invertebrates, to fish as they mature. Ultra-light to medium/light action rods are best. The lighter the action of the rod, the more you will feel the fight of a fish. Small bobbers with 6-8 lb. test line works best unless working weedy water areas.
    Weekly Report:
  • June 12-18, largest reported was at 9.5 inches.

Bull Heads (or bull head catfish) and Channel Catfish are caught along with perch using the same tactics. More catfish tips and pics while Ontario fishing.
    Weekly Report:
  • June 5-11, Numerous large Channel cats were caught while walleye fishing. Largest weighed 17 pounds in this photo !
  • June 12-18, largest reported channel catfish at 24 inches.
  • August 15-18, 24 catfish caught.

Bowfin, Longnose Gar, and Suckers A variety of Bowfin, Longnose Gar and numerous species of Suckers such as Red Fin Suckers, White Fin Suckers, and Longnose Suckers plus Carp inhabit the French River Delta and Georgian Bay, none of which pan fish are targeted by anglers. Longnose Gar are cylindrical, predatory, has a long narrow snout, and large ganoids scales. Bowfin and gar tend to gulp air on the surface and can survive in stagnant fishing areas.
    Weekly Report:
  • June 18-25, Redfin Suckers observed spawning in the French River Delta. Muskie appetites focused on red.
    Bait Fish include Emerald shiners, alewives, Cisco, herring, several species of suckers, dace, perch, sickle backs, gizzard shad, white herring, and many more bait fish. Alewives are a part of the Herring family and spawn in freshwater and live mostly in salt water thus, anadromous fish. Alewives were reported arriving in the Great Lakes early-mid 1900's.

img They are a protected species since the close of Sturgeon Fishing Season in 2012. Sturgeon are bottom feeders with habits like suckers, carp, and catfish. These prehistoric fish can grow to enormous sizes as much as 9 - 10 feet in length and weigh in excess of 150 pounds.

Sturgeon were often caught using worms, fresh cut bait, and suckers. Most productive sturgeon fishing was generally in or just below fast moving water, current and swifts in the French River, Wanapitae River, and Bad River Channels. Battles with these sturgeons, a prehistoric fish, would sometimes last for hours with the Sturgeon "towing" the angler's boat up and down stream. "Although considered a delicacy, it often takes 100 - 150 years to reach such giant proportions," Prior to the closing of sturgeon fishing on the French River, Lodge owner, Art Barefoot, Bear's Den Lodge, owner recommended, "CPR" catch, photo, and release the giant fish. Sturgeon lack true bones like the other bony freshwater fish living in Canada.

Tips & Tricks

    • Canada Walleye, Pickerel, Smallmouth Bass, and Crappie-4-8# test line
    • Canada Walleye, Pickerel, Smallmouth Bass, and Crappie - Light to medium action fishing rods.
    • Canada Largemouth Bass and Canada Northern Pike Fishing - 8 - 12# test line
    • Canada Largemouth Bass and Walleye - Medium action rods. Or try fly fishing French River.
    • Canada Muskie, Musky - 20-40# test line
  • 11717175_10152903330197212_1155089172_n

    Are very popular for:

    • Bass
    • Pike
    • Musky
    • They come in various colour, patterns, & sizes at the Bear’s Den Tackle Shop:
    • Spring - light colours are recommended like white, chartreuse, & yellow patterns
    • Summer - add orange, brown, & fire tiger fishing lure patterns
    • Fall - pink & purple should be added to your selection
    • Sizes ranges from 12.5 - 28 cm (5 - 11 inches)
    • Heavy gauged wire is used
    • Variety of blade shapes, colours & patterns
    • Premium quality products are used

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    Widely used by serious fisherman & female anglers for:

    • Bass
    • Pike
    • Muskie
    • Crappie

    A variety of quality colours, patterns, and sizes for vibrations, allowing the custom made bait to track true:

    • Spring - bright colours entice with slower action of light skirt patterns
    • Summer - good balance of flashy oranges or firetiger patterns & a touch of brown
    • Fall - heavier rigs with dark colours to create the silhouette for the deeper fishing
    • 1/4 oz, 1/2 oz, & 3/4 oz. are available from $4, $5 & $7 respectively

    Worm-Harness

    Are extremely effective in the Great Lakes and Georgian Bay Biosphere for catching numbers of:

    • Walleye (Pickerel)
    • Smallmouth bass
    • Vast collection of top quality components made with:
    • Dependable 20 lb. test fishing line
    • 2 - 3 custom made hooks adds to varieties
    • Add: worms, minnows, imitation rubber/plastic,or leech baits to entice French River fish

    A must for every tackle box when seeking the elusive toothed trophy sized fish:

    • Muskie (Musky)
    • Northern Pike
    • Dependable quality strength & abrasion resistant wire is ideal for every toothy occasion:
    • 6 & 12 inch casting steel leaders in 20 lbs.
    • 12 inch casting steel leaders in 50 & 90 lbs. tests
    • Swivel snaps for quick changing rigs of all types of lures

    All can be used for trolling your favorite lure or bucktail

  • “Water on the water & beer on the pier.”

    Boaters found impaired or with open alcoholic beverages while operating a boat can have their driver's licenses suspended or fined $250.00. In 2006, Bill 209 amended the Highway Traffic Act to treat impaired boating the same as impaired driving and will face the same consequences as they would for impaired driving, including the impact on their insurance rates.

    Ontario’s liquor laws may be different than your home State, and that bringing alcohol along in the boat, even for a shore lunch, is not legal in Ontario. Boaters who are not impaired can still be charged with other alcohol offenses.

  • Safety equipment must be carried and in excellent working condition! Check your safety kits and flashlight prior to fishing on the French River. Please wear your lifejacket for your own safety especially during spring & fall seasons for the cooler water temperatures.

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Your hosts, Art & Brenda Barefoot

Bear's Den Lodge

Hartley Bay, R.R. 2, Site 3, Box 10
Alban, Ont. P0M 1A0
Tel: (705) 857-2757

Winter Address:

124 Shagbark Rd.
Alum Bank, PA 15521
Tel: (814) 839-2443

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