Have you ever wondered if the last Muskie or Pike you caught was male or female? It's a common question that everyone has when you're learning about trophy freshwater fishing. Gendering a Muskie or Pike is quite simple, have them fill out a form! Sexual differences between Female & Male Muskies Jokes aside, the simplest way to identify an Esox's gender is to support and gently turn the fish over. On the underside of the Muskies and Pike is a visible pinkish-red urogenital opening (a.k.a. "vent") near the anal fin. Male fish have a "key-hole" shaped vent while females have a "pear" shaped vent. Female Esox have larger vents than males to help release BB-sized eggs during spawning. While the difference is minor, Northern Pike and Muskies have slightly different internal and external urogenital anatomy. In Pike, the genital and urinary ducts open directly to tREAD MORE >
Summer is a time of love and many love to fish. In Northern Ontario, many anglers’ passion is the long warm days of Walleye fishing. For the French River, Walleye are active and move from their spring time patterns to deeper waters and current. Early Summer Walleye Locations? Early summer Walleye fishing is like Spring Opener. Typically, they are near shallows and sticking with vegetation and shadowy structures. They hunt for fish eggs and fry, bug larva and minnows while the waters are cooler. Just like how you like room temperature, Walleye prefer to stay in water temperatures around 19.5°C (67°F), but will tolerate water temperatures between 10°C ~ 24.5°C (50°F ~ 76°F). In the French River Provincial Park, the best places to start for early summer are in the Northern sections of the Lower French River. Your primary areas to target would be shallow bREAD MORE >
Fall is a fantastic time to fish in many of Ontario’s rivers, especially the French River Delta. You don’t have to be a professional to catch trophy Largemouth Bass at this time of year! For over 30 years, we’ve witnessed many guests catch bigger bass on the French River, especially during our shoulder seasons. Below are five simple tips for Ontario fall river bass fishing: Shrinking Habitat Fall fishing in Ontario usually lasts from late August to October. You can split the fall season into three sub-seasons: Early fallIndian SummerLate fall As the days cool, this affects the fish’s habitats and feeding zones. Early Fall Largemouth Bass fishing on the French River Provincial Park, Northeastern Ontario. During the early fall, fishing will be similar to summer fishing as the waters remain warm. But, Largemouth wREAD MORE >
The most sought after gamefish in Ontario is the Walleye. Their meat tends to be sweet and savoury, while being simple to filet. Walleye are also known as Pickerel in Canada, they are the largest member of the Perch family. Catching Walleye can be challenging for beginners fishing throughout Ontario's many watersheds. Yet, learning how to fish for them in rivers is greatly rewarding. Before discussing further, this guide assumes you have a basic understanding of rod handling and etiquette should you fish with a friend or guide. If you need a beginner’s guide to fishing, see the Experience Fishing program we offer for more. Walleye Rods, Lines & Reels Just like a rod for bass fishing, you need the right tools for the task. If you have only one choice for a Walleye fishing rod - select a Medium power rod with a Fast action. Medium power rods are the most versatiREAD MORE >
Canada has held a long tradition of conservation. It first started with First Nations (Native Americans). Next, was the movement of university-trained foresters and industry leaders near the end of the 19th century. The work of “Canada’s first celebrity conservationist”, Jack Miner, led to the Canada-US Convention Protecting Migratory Birds. This paved the way for future conservationists and biodiversity research to protect our ecosystem. Since 1994, Ontario has enacted slot limits to help preserve our fisheries. Today, many anglers take part in “catch and release”. Which ensures the long-term health of Ontario’s vast ecology. Equipment & Landing It’s always a good idea to prepare for the catch of a lifetime. Understand the kind of fish species you will be targeting and the potential size you have to land. The fishing net isREAD MORE >
Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass are North America’s two favourite sunfish and are among the most popular freshwater game fish. Many fishing tournaments occur annually, along with many fishing shows and of course the amazing destinations you can go fishing for them. Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass are popular for many reasons and among many more anglers. For myself, they’re always a simple feisty joy to hook back into my youth — fishing with my mother and father out in our guide boat on the French River. Photo of Mom and Me holding a French River Largemouth Bass before the release. While these two bass may be similar such as their shape, sizes or even a shared river between them. Let’s discuss the differences between Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass and how to catch these fish on the French River. How to Tell the Difference Between LargemouthREAD MORE >
What’s the difference between Pike and Pickerel? A seemingly simple question but one that can have confusing answers depending on where you are. I grew up in a fishing camp in Northeastern Ontario, Canada and had great opportunities to meet many individuals from all across the US, Canada, UK, Australia and many other countries. What can be fascinating are the names we give fish that are similar and yet can be wildly different. For those in the US, when asking this question they may have the idea of a Northern Pike vs a Chain Pickerel. Whereas here in Canada, Pickerel refers to Walleye in the US or Zander in other parts of the world. French River Northern Pike - Northeastern Ontario So who is right? Perhaps our confusion in North America can be thanked by the late British Rear-Admiral, Sir John Franklin. In Chapter 3 of his book “The Journey To The PolREAD MORE >
Muskie and Northern Pike are North America's two favourite trophy game fish. Both swim silently through the turbid waters of the French River, Ontario. Before exploding into action, striking unsuspecting prey from cover. At a glance, these two slender and toothy apex freshwater predators can be easily mistaken for the other. Just like walleye and sauger, identifying subtle differences between “Muskie vs Northern Pike” is key to understanding their respective habitats. Mike Elhers holding a 55 inch French River Muskie in front of Bear's Den Lodge Are Muskie and Pike the Same? In short, no. Despite their slimy disposition, Northern Pike and Muskie are only close relatives. Both species are from the genus “Esox” along with other members of the Pike family such as Amur Pike, Chain Pickerel and Southern Pike. They are all differeREAD MORE >
Selecting the right bass fishing rod will help you be a better angler. The fishing rod is one of the most important tools for catching and landing bass. The fishing rod is the foundation of your entire angling setup and can influence your choices in bass baits. In some regard, fishing can be similar to golf where different types of irons, woods and hybrid clubs are preferred for different terrains and distances on the golf course. Likewise, the fishing rod comes in various lengths, materials, power and actions. Choosing a fishing rod can make your head spin with a variety of things to consider. With that in mind, I’ve summed up the most important things you should know, as well as the pros and cons of various types of fishing poles out there. So let’s dive in! Dina Emery of GCFA holding a French River Largemouth using a solid bass fishing rod. Types of Bass FiREAD MORE >
Every fishing season, many Ontario anglers who went jigging for walleye (pickerel) may have caught sauger without ever blinking an eye. Sauger are great impersonators of their larger cousins. Often sauger school in similar habits and hunt in similar territories and structures as walleye. Because of this, it’s not uncommon to see hybrids called “Saugeye” between the two species. The differentiation could be even more confusing as sauger count towards your walleye limit, so distinguishing them from walleye can be helpful when you have a good fishing day on the French River! Size French River Sauger as seen with its Black Blotches on Back Sauger are smaller than adult walleye with them averaging between 10 – 16 inches (24 – 41 centimetres) and weighing between 0.2 – 0.9 kilograms (0.5 – 2 pounds) according to studies by Ministry of Natural Resources and ForesREAD MORE >
Spring is a lively and a prime fishing time for northern pike on the French River. In Northern Ontario, after the spawn is a period that offers excellent odds for catching trophies; as well as catching copious amounts of energetic young-lings. Depending on weather and water temperatures, a variety of fishing patterns and baits are effective to reel in the new season. Joe Barefoot, M.B. with a 38 inch French River spring northern pike. Habitats and Areas of Interest Early Spring In the early spring, pike migrate into warmer waters of tributaries, bays and sloughs when water temps are above 40°F (4.5°C). Targeting pike in funneled areas boosts your odds for catching. Structures like channel edges, points, old weed lines to rock piles are prime areas to fish first in the spring. When the water temperatures on the French River reach 55 – 60°F (12.8 –&nbsREAD MORE >
“Fishing is much more than fish. It is the great occasion when we may return to the fine simplicity of our forefathers.”Herbert Hoover For avid anglers, spring is the most wonderful time of year. Bass fishing can be just as fun as an Easter egg hunt where the net is your basket and the fish are the surprise in each body of water. Also like any other egg hunt, the more perceptive and quicker the better your odds are at finding active fishing spots. Habitat & Feeding Largemouth bass seek protective cover such as logs, rock ledges, vegetation, and man-made structures. They prefer clear water, but are tolerant of a variety of other habitats. In the spring, like many other game fish, they rise from cooler depths. Spring bass shed their winter fat during spawn – which occurs between 12.7 to 15.6 Celsius or 55 to 60 Fahrenheit. After their spawn, bass are hungryREAD MORE >
"The water you touch in a river is the last of that which has passed, and the first of that which is coming; thus, it is with time."Leonardo Da Vinci Spring is often ripe and plentiful of fresh opportunities to start a new fishing season. It is this time each year fishing enthusiasts shed their winter coats and clean their tackle boxes eagerly waiting for game fish to finish spawning. But there are also great opportunities to be found among “pan fish”. One of the most sought-after pan fish in the French River is Crappie, specifically black crappie. Black crappie is very similar to white crappie in body shape, sizes and habits. Key differences between the two crappie species are: Black crappies are darker in colour and are black spotted. Black crappies have seven or eight spines in their dorsal fin. Whereas white crappies, have only five or six dorsal spines. CraREAD MORE >
World Water Day World Water Day, March 22, recognizes the importance of how essential water is to our lives, families, home, and ecosystem – our abundant fishery and our wildlife. In 1993 around the world, awareness was raised to protect our freshwater. Canada’s Freshwater We enjoy 20% of the freshwater in the world here in Canada. Our Great Lakes comprise a major portion of the country, having the most lakes in the world. French River, a 110 km long sparkling gem in this treasure chest belongs to each of us to enjoy, conserve and to protect for years to celebrate. Photo credit: Michelle Bolfova Simple Ideas to Protect and Celebrate French River Waterways: Shorter and fewer showersTurn your faucet off between useStop the drip!Scrape plates and food into garbage can and not down the drainThoroughly clean your boat, live well, and equipment 48READ MORE >
Warm weather is near as the ice begins to melt, we say our heartfelt goodbyes to winter as we pack away our ice fishing tackle. To warm our hearts with the fiery ambition to catch trophy spring walleye we mark our calendars for the 3rd Saturday in May. Anglers who enjoy fishing walleye-rich waters of Northeastern Ontario should visit the French River Provincial Park. There’s approximately 110 kilometres between Lake Nippissing and Georgian Bay. In our area, there is 65 square kilometres (40 square miles) to fish in the Lower French River Delta with varying depths ranging from 1 foot to 180 feet in the spring. The Lower French River system has 3 major inlets flowing into our section of the river. They are the French River, Pickerel River & Wanapitei Rivers that will help narrow your search along with 2 major outlets that flow into Georgian Bay. A happy guest holdingREAD MORE >
Bear’s Den Lodge, a number one tourism full-service business in the French River, Municipality of Killarney area, has gone through a major transformation over the past 35 years. Since 1986, the daily operations and maintenance at the lodge located along Highway 69 now 400 North in Alban, Ontario have been managed by owners Art and Brenda Barefoot, along with their son, Joe Barefoot. The Lodge owners were born in two neighboring small rural communities in Southern PA and each were raised in large families. Their families were well-versed in traditional farming, housekeeping, and banking. When Art & Brenda Barefoot were married -- fishing, hunting, farming, and foraging became part of the new family’s way of life. The Dream Long hours and days away from each other lead the Barefoots to seeking an opportunity of hard work to their own entrepreneurial endeavors. ArREAD MORE >
As days become shorter and the leaves begin to change, walleye fishing too turns over a new leaf. Fall is a fabulous time for walleye fishing on the French River! Schools of walleye return from the Georgian Bay to join the resident walleye population for spring spawn. Measuring a French River Walleye Finding Baitfish In preparation for the winter & their seasonal spawning, walleye form hunting packs looking for a variety of baitfish. While there are many species of minnows, including emerald shiners and northern redbelly dace; the most productive and best areas to fish are ones that hold lake herring (cisco). Image provided by Wikipedia Cisco are a fatty-oily fish that are part of the salmon family. They are a tasty treat to help fatten walleyes in the fall. You can find schools near the water's surface as they pop like popcorn on calm days. However, it is diffiREAD MORE >
Life is a journey that can be full of challenges and unexpected surprises hiding behind even the most simple rock structures. For Chris and his son Austin, they visited the lower French River Delta for just a day out fishing the same as when Chris remembered growing up fishing with his father. My Experience Fishing “My father was the one who started me on fishing. Just about every day — every morning we would go to a spot to catch bait fish with a dip net. Later we would go to one of our bass spots and catch our limit. My father and I would go home and clean all the fish. We probably ate fish about three or four nights a week growing up... Sadly, my father passed away thirteen years ago so I decided to embark on this musky quest because of him. I felt it would be a new challenge to try musky fishing.” “I started musky fishing three years ago. At first, I thought iREAD MORE >
Guess what we found? As we were cleaning out our old files we stumbled upon this old report. We thought we should share these significant historical records supplied by Bear's Den Lodge and compiled by Biologist George E. Moran of the French River Cooperative Fisheries Unit. This data includes musky historical records from 1961 - 1994 with a 5 year gap in record when the lodge was not in operation. In 1989, Art Barefoot caught a 59 lb 11 oz French River musky which set a new record for the 14 Pound Line-Class World Record and still remains today. Unfortunately, the fish was caught in the gills making it unable to be returned to the river system. This sparked interest for the new lodge owner to suggest a need for conservation and preservation of the freshwater ecosystem. The report above was one of those many surveys conducted to help understand the population of theREAD MORE >
One of the best times to fish for French River Musky is in the fall season (from late-August to October). The cooler autumn days bring about a change in the musky’s behaviour – going from a territorial couchpotato snatching up easy prey to a nomadic hunter as they move from structure to structure in the shortening daylight cycle. [caption id="attachment_2510" align="aligncenter" width="625"] Harry with French River Musky[/caption] This change in behaviour can be seen as early as the last full moon in August as the younger male muskies return from the Georgian Bay following the salmon and alewife looking for waters richer in oxygen and food for spawn. Muskies particularly begin to display this behaviour, when the water temps begin to drop to around 15°C (59°F). Their instincts drive them to binge feed before going into a torpor (much like bears hibernating) during the winter monREAD MORE >
Welcome back to the French River! The fishing has been excellent with smiles galore. The trees are picture perfect in the windswept landscape. Come see for yourself what your next adventure entails in Northeastern Ontario!READ MORE >
On his first trip to Bear’s Den Lodge, 10 year old Tommy L. caught this 24 pound, 47” musky on a white spinnerbait. In addition, a total of 131 pike were boated by the group in 3 days of fishing with his father and grandfather on the French River. A trip that Tommy will never forget! Will you be next?READ MORE >
"Some People come to fish for a fish, I fish for fish. It's not a contest, big small and in between. I just fish for fish. It didn't count my muskie I caught on a spinnerbait, it was just another fish." - Jim Johnson 53 years fishing the French River at Bear's Den Lodge. [caption id="attachment_2461" align="aligncenter" width="300"] 1966 of Jim Johnson fishing from a cedar boat[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2460" align="aligncenter" width="225"] Jim Johnson's 53 year with a largemouth bass[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2462" align="aligncenter" width="243"] Dr. Robert M. Johnson fishing from the main dock at Bear's Den Lodge.[/caption]READ MORE >
First French River Sturgeon for the Thall's group after 27 years of fishing the French River, during their annual trip. The four foot fish was caught on a hook and a worm after on 6lb test and an hour fight before being successfully released back into the French River System. [caption id="attachment_2448" align="aligncenter" width="576"] Teri (left) & Carson (right). Photo credit to Adam of the Thall Group[/caption] "When the fishing gets tough, the tough use worms." - Art Barefoot Article by Joe BarefootREAD MORE >
In early spring, right after ice has thawed, walleye will spawn shortly after. The next ten days from pickerel spawn, they become rather lethargic - not wanting to go very far from their spawning beds and put in little effort to catch bait fish. By two weeks, they return to normal schooling patterns and continue through the French River System. After returning to their normal patterns, the walleye will search through the waters for the recent perch spawn, shiners and other bait fish during their spawn. Sometimes, they will even go out of their way to target bass spawning beds since largemouth and smallmouth bass spawn later in the season. A good fisherman or fisherwoman would be wise to bring a selection of lures to mimic the local prey. Even better is the use of minnows for the picky pickerel. Article by Joe Barefoot, M.B.READ MORE >
4 Tips for Spring pike fishing from local legendary French River fisherman & guide, Art Barefoot - owner of Bear's Den Lodge. 1. Look in the shallow dark bottom bays along the edge of emerging weed beds. 2. Great lures to use at this time of the year are spinnerbaits in white, yellow or chartreuse with spoons in the 5/8 - 1 oz sizes. 3. If you are only finding small "hammer handle sized" pike, turn around and look at the back of the boat and cast deeper. 4. Larger Pike are usually in deeper water, staging on structure to ambush the smaller pike that are traveling in and out of the bay. By Joe Barefoot Click here for more pike fishing tips.READ MORE >
As the long winter is nearing its chilly end and the warm spring around the corner, many anglers are preparing their fishing gear for the new year. On the third Saturday, May 19th, Walleye and Northern Pike will kickstart the Spring Opener for the 2018 season on the French River. So What Does This Mean? Spring can be the most rewarding time of year to fish for either walleye or pike, but it can also be the most challenging. Finding either species, usually is the hardest part of catching them after the spring thaw. However, if you tailor your search methods to the water color and temperature then you'll be on the biggest game fish of the season in no time. So Where Am I? Walleye fishing is about being at the right place at the right time. In spring, some of the largest factors depend on the weather and water conditions as they can affect when walleye and other specREAD MORE >
Where do I start? There are so many options and choices for those who wish to travel and select a "plan" or "package" for your stay in Northern Ontario. It becomes very confusing when seeing different terminology going as far back as even the 1940s still in use. Some younger generations may see terms like 'European' or 'American' Plans and think well I'm a Canadian, Chinese, German, or any other country they are traveling from and ask, "where's my plan?". [caption id="attachment_2266" align="aligncenter" width="300"] French River Shore Lunch[/caption] American Plan vs Housekeeping A good way to plan for your Great Canadian escape is to ask yourself what you and your friends or family want to experience? Do you wish to have no restraints on the time you can go out fishing and exploring the Ontario Park or would your rather not worry on having to prepare your own meals? [captiREAD MORE >
Would you like to Experience Fishing? Did you know that Bear's Den Lodge is a pilot site for this exciting program to help educate "women, children and new Canadians"? What about adults, yes, we will also teach adults. The pilot program was launched in the French River under the French River Resorts Association with hopes to spread the program idea to other outfitters in the Northern Ontario Region showing the opportunities that it creates. 2017, TNO's (Tourism Northern Ontario) Experience Fishing Pilot Program was introduced to the Northeastern Ontario Region because of a growing concern that our fishing heritage has was not being passed along to newer generations. These aims of educating younger generations of new anglers would keep the tradition alive along with revitalizing that particular section of the tourism market by making it fun and safe experience. BeREAD MORE >
“Most of the world is covered by water. A fisherman’s job is simple: Pick out the best parts.” – Charles W. Waterman It’s a passion that etches itself into an individual’s spirit. Each cast is like a painter’s brushstroke in the canvas of the soul where nature is the setting and the passion for the sport are the various colors that breathes life into the angler’s work. Every scratch on the lure, frayed line, and even every reel that lost its crank are all part of the sport we call musky fishing. Musky fishing is not something for the faint of heart as it takes time and dedication to find those “best” spots, earning one of its various nicknames’ “the fish of ten-thousand casts”. Chris Burnette and Harry Haddix, returned to Bear’s Den Lodge because of their successful previous outings fishing the French River, Ontario. [caption id="atREAD MORE >
Ashley Rae of shelovestofish.com, is a multi-fish species female angler and an accomplished well known Canadian outdoor writer from Ontario. Between the times writing as a newspaper/magazine columnist, freelance/travel writer and blogger she travels to different parts of Canada sharing her fishing adventures with all. Ashley joins us, Bear's Den Lodge, this Friday for her next fishing adventure on the French River! Keep watching as she loves to fish! Authored by: Joe Barefoot, M.B.READ MORE >
Can you guess why the bowfin is emerald green? Bowfin or sometimes referred to as "Dogfish" come in a variety of shapes and at times colours. Their bodies are generally cylindrical and eel like in appearance. Normally their sides and back can be olive to brownish in colour with vertical bars for camouflaged pattern. Their underbellies are a whitish-cream colour like most other freshwater fish in Northern Ontario such as this bowfin below. [caption id="attachment_1605" align="aligncenter" width="625"] Chris Crilly's Line Class World Record 29-inch Catch & Release French River Bowfin.[/caption] But, why the brighter emerald-greenish colour you ask? Just like mergansers and other various species of birds, who strut their brilliant plumage. Spawning. Out of mating season, male bowfin (especially younger ones) can be quickly identified by the yellow ring around the blackREAD MORE >
With higher waters this season on the French River Delta, many guests who have an interest in bass fishing have been asking where to go and how to fish these waters in Northern Ontario. Here's our quick and dirty five tips and tricks for both Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass: Spinnerbaits are hard to beat. Spinner photo provided by Cabela's They provide anglers a near perfect bait with a lot of movement and flash to cover large areas quickly and effectively. Largemouth are in or on the edge of weed beds. This is especially true for backwater bays where fewer fishermen have gone to fish. Smallmouth prefer rocky structures to provide cover. Whether it be shelving or rock rubble, smallmouth are known hang out amongst the hard structures and on occasion strike wondering bait fish. As a bonus, they also love current. Finding these two conREAD MORE >
National Fishing Week, encourages families come together and celebrate one of Canada's oldest family pastimes. Sometimes its new families that wish to tie new bonds and other families that are keep the spirit of sport fishing alive by adventuring to the French River. [caption id="attachment_1996" align="aligncenter" width="625"] Urs donating his trophy 48 inch French River Muskie from 1986 to Bear's Den Lodge (2016)[/caption] One such family is the Duelbergs whose specialize in Large and Smallmouth Bass fishing. While bass maybe their favourite species to fish, they never miss out on any other opportunities. Urs was one of the first in the family to catch a trophy sized French River musky when he was 13 years old in 1986 while fishing with his father. His son, Mathias, continues in his father's footsteps where the two of them were out bass fishing late evening in the shallows. IREAD MORE >
Ready for the spring fling? Ontario Spring Walleye Many seasoned fishermen are currently relining their reels and sharpening their hooks for the anticipation of the Walleye Opener for May 20th (3rd Saturday of May) on the Lower French River. Unlike other large bodies of water like Nippissing, Lake Ontario and even Georgian Bay, the French River is unique. The river is a confluence of five different rivers coming together to form different tributaries. The water is constantly flowing and mixing oxygen from top to bottom (up to depths of 110 feet) through the deep troughs created by glaciers millions of years ago. The remaining granite rock has created structure throughout the French River System, providing areas to hold schools of walleye or pickerel. Example of Spring High Water Runoff from snow and frozen ground of previous winter usually leaves the French River at a high wREAD MORE >
The Outdoor Journal Radio Show is live every Saturday morning 8:05AM EST. If you're in southern Ontario (Canada), tune your radio to Sportsnet 590 The FAN AM or visit www.odjradio.com and listen live online. Angelo Viola has hosted Sportsnet 590 The FAN's "Outdoor Journal Radio Show" since 1996. Traveling around the world to produce popular television programs such as "The Fish'n Canada Show" and "The Outdoor Journal", Ang and fellow explorer Pete Bowman are no strangers to outdoor life. They use their experience and a unique sense of humour to cover the environmental issues and events that are important to the Canadian Outdoorsman. Listen to our Online Radio Outdoor Journal Radio - Bear’s Den LodgeREAD MORE >
Leave the city behind and challenge yourself with a remarkable French River Provincial Park getaway for Canada 150. Would you like to experience fishing in Ontario Parks? Canada was nominated as #1 Destination by the New York Times as the 52 Places to Go in 2017. Travel and immerse yourself in the history the French River Delta has to offer. Hike, fish & boat the amazing wilderness travelway lush and vibrant landscapes with our personal guides.READ MORE >
As every fishing enthusiast can tell you, every fish is a predator. Northern Pike are no exception to this rule as their primeval morphology has not drastically changed over the 60 million years. Their sharp needle like teeth, vacant eyes, thick sticky slime and serpentine shape has them suited to be one of the most dominate freshwater predators to take reign in the freshwaters of the Northern Hemisphere. While there are several species of Pike in the Nearctic and Palearctic realms the most common in Ontario is the Northern Pike (Esox lucius). They reside in places like the French River where aquatic life and wildlife are abundant and have little in the way of natural predators for Northern Pike. Because of this, they are very populace and average around 4 -10 lbs (1.8 - 4.5 kg) but are considered a trophy when over 20 lbs (9 kg). Prime times for fishing Northern Pike on the FREAD MORE >
It's official, French River makes the record books again! Dick Sprenkle's musky is recognized by Muskies Inc. for the Men's Top 25 for 2016. Dick's 54 inch French River trophy fish was successfully caught and released on July 22, 2016 while using a Wiley Muskie King Jointed 9 fishing lure. [caption id="attachment_1546" align="aligncenter" width="926"] Dick Sprenkle with his 54 inch French River Musky, "Catch of a Lifetime"[/caption] French River Places in Muskies Inc. Records of Men's Top 25 for 2016 in the January/February 2017 edition. [caption id="attachment_1738" align="aligncenter" width="884"] Dick Sprenkle at places 20th out of the Men's Top 25.[/caption] Congratulations, Dick as you joined the record book of other record muskies at Bear's Den Lodge.READ MORE >
Fishing the French River contains many hidden surprises for avid anglers. Many of us have our interests from the baits we cast to the fish species we prefer to catch. But it's always good to remember that sometimes thrill seeking for our favourites should not reel past our opportunities for the lesser favourite species of fish. [caption id="attachment_1605" align="aligncenter" width="625"] Chris Crilly with his world record 29 inch French River Bowfin.[/caption] Chris Crilly is an avid bass fisherman from Burke, Virginia; however, during his stay at Bear's Den Lodge he managed to catch two bowfin. At first he thought nothing of this until he mentioned the unusual size of his bowfin. Searching through the record book, lodge owner Brenda Barefoot realized that Chris could have a Line Class World Record fish depending on the test of the line. After some encouragement, Chris sent in whREAD MORE >
I must say that Alicia Moir-Raytrowsky and I have really enjoyed our time at #BearsDenLodge on the French River. Today I managed to catch my first musky! After searching all over for one... I finally caught one right off the dock. He came out from under the dock and t boned my swim bait. He was probably the fish that took Alicia's little pike she caught on our first night here. We weren't able to land him then because he wasn't really hooked and we didn't have a big enough net at the time to grab him. A couple days later and he was ready for another "meal"! - T.J. Raytrowsky [caption id="attachment_1572" align="alignright" width="400"] T.J. measuring his French River Trophy. Photo Credit: Alicia Raytrowsky[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1573" align="alignleft" width="400"] Elusive, but only a cast away.[/caption]READ MORE >
Our party of four from various parts of Pennsylvania (PA) traveled north for a week of fishing on the French River Delta near Hartley Bay, Ontario. Our destination was Bear's Den Lodge which we had been introduced to over fifteen years ago by members of the Johnson Family, who have been coming to Bear's Den for fifty-one years. We began the week of July 17, 2016 on a positive note with Bob Griffith, State College, PA catching a 52 1/2 " Muskie, his personal best ever. Optimism was high as we fished through the week with several smaller muskies caught. Then on Thursday, July 21, I caught and released a 40" Muskie after a thrilling fight. We fished the next day, Friday, July 22, our last day of this trip, with some nice pike caught, but no muskies. We agreed after a mid-afternoon meal to not fish late (10:00 PM normally) and be back to the lodge by 9:00 PM to pack for our tREAD MORE >
"It hit in three to four feet away from the boat. It was raining. The muskie gave me a real fight, it ran three times taking my black and chartreuse eagle tail under the boat. What a fight!" With a quick measure and photo of the French River musky, Bob Griffith of State College, PA, released his largest muskie to date during the group's 51st stay at Bear's Den Lodge. Since 1989, Bob reports that he has caught other muskies in past, but was concerned about releasing them quickly so "Not all fish were photographed". [caption id="attachment_1538" align="alignleft" width="625"] Larry William's Muskie from released 2 years ago (at the time of writing this).[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1539" align="alignleft" width="625"] Bob Griffith with a previous French River Muskie.[/caption] The 51st Year Johnson Adventure Tour Group from PA have enjoyed many other musky catches andREAD MORE >
"Nothing like catching musky in your front yard!" said Chris Burnette to the start of his and Harry Haddix’s week at Bear’s Den Lodge. The seasoned West Virginian muskie hunters had fished some of their favorite French River muskie holes, but after a long day they decided to troll home during the twilight hours. As the minutes passed so did the casts as they entered into Bear’s Den Bay when Harry’s last cast of the evening had action. A boil of water rose to the surface as Harry was retrieving his suick. His hands quickened as he worked his action, doing all that he could to entice the would be trophy to clench his lure, but to his and Chris’s dismay “she would not take the bait” as she eventually lost interest. Without giving up, Harry cast three more times into the same hole he originally brought her out of and to his surprise he hooked into a different muskiREAD MORE >
Returning to the French River Bill and Nancy Hamblin talk to the lodge owners, Art & Brenda Barefoot, before the hunt for the elusive French River Muskie. The weather conditions for the day were spotty with high winds and choppy waters but no musky can be caught without putting effort into it. In their search for the massive monster, Bill trolls his chartreuse bladed black bucktail and bam, the fight begins! Within the first two hours after to their arrival to the Bear's Den Lodge Bill hooked into an impressive 45.5 inch Musky, creating the first of another successful muskie hunt. [caption id="attachment_1465" align="aligncenter" width="578"] Bill's first day French River Fishing , an impressive 45.5 inch Musky[/caption] On day two, just after breakfast at the Lodge, Bill and Nancy went searching for another French River Musky. Once again after several hours of dedication in flailiREAD MORE >
Walleyes (a.k.a. Pickerel) are known to be a finicky fish. Some anglers describe walleye feeding habits as something of a constant “tap-tap” feeling or a bump. But, there are occasions when they are less weary and strike out of instinct; sometimes greedily as they pursue lures meant for large Pike and Musky. While those instances are not unheard of for French River fishing spots, especially during the early spring and fall months, more often than naught, walleye have to be tempted and teased using live bait presentations which account for the vast majority caught. Walleyes, like perch, are a schooling fish. They cluster around structural elements like rock humps, inside turns, break-line transitions, shoals, sunken logs, fallen trees, and docks on the French River Delta. Depending on the time of the season, they will migrate and follow schools of baitfish. Other times, they will laREAD MORE >
"Ever since I was a young boy I always had fond memories heading north and fishing with my brother in Ontario," says Art Barefoot (Co-Owner of Bear's Den Lodge). "From the people, the sights, and even the thrill hearing the reel squeal from another fight with a fish. It was paradise and I wanted to be part of it." "Life wasn't always easy growing up in a humble Pennsylvanian farmstead, but I knew after my first voyage north that I wanted to be an outfitter." [caption id="attachment_1093" align="aligncenter" width="625"] Owner & Chef Art Barefoot providing laugher and warm meals[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1094" align="aligncenter" width="625"] Line Class World Record Muskie Holder Art Barefoot explains the Muskie fishery and structure of how to fish the French River to Bill Hamblin (center) and long time guests Chris and Harry.[/caption] "Through high school I wREAD MORE >
Walleye fishing in the French River Delta and Georgian Bay has 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. Walleyes or Pickerel, as locals call them, grow large and fight hard in this great Canadian wilderness river system. They have large cloudy light sensitive eyes. Walleye have adapted the stained waters of the French River Provincial Park and Georgian Bay. They tend to feed at sunrise, sunset or at night in the clearer water areas. Migrating walleyes head for the Georgian Bay by late summer. They begin to return late August to prepare for spawning in the spring. Many large walleye remain in the French River all summer, providing fisherman trophy walleye fishing all season. We recommend using live bait rigREAD MORE >
Know Your Cast, Fall Pattern Fishing. Northern Pike are an aggressive freshwater fish with an attitude of its own. These predators chase, attack lures and are very territorial. As fall approaches, weeds tend to die causing these fish to establish new habitats and hunting grounds during the cooler waters of autumn. During this period, they hang over hard bottom with green weeds until vegetation wanes and depletes oxygen necessary for aquatic life. This puts strain on pike in the noxious environment, causing northerns to seek new cover habitats over saddles, points, rocky reefs or shelves that descend into deeper water. [caption id="attachment_1084" align="aligncenter" width="960"] Catching Pike on the Cast[/caption] Weed edges over muddy bottoms normally die faster than solid bottoms. Cast for pike on weed edges of green vegetation. Often times in the fall, trolling spoonsREAD MORE >
A Pink Salmon Ends the Fall Season Fishing on the French River Delta is home to some the most diverse freshwater species of game fish, known most predominantly for its muskie, walleye, pike, large and smallmouth bass fishing. However, these waters and fishery are also a home to the pinks, chinook, and coho as they migrate from Lake Huron to Georgian Bay and into the French River Delta to lay their eggs. The salmon make their journey into the system as early as July, but are very rarely seen before September through November. Often times anglers snag salmon while fishing for walleye or even muskie. Fisherman are surprised and often do not recognize their catch and confuse it for a different species, such as trout. Trout normally are not . Average pink salmon weighs 3-5 lbs at maturity and can reach as high as 10 lbs. The fins have large oval black spots onREAD MORE >
“Fishing is much more than fish. It is the great occasion when we may return to the fine simplicity of our forefathers.”Herbert Hoover For avid anglers, spring is the most wonderful time oREAD MORE >
The Value of Experience of Fishing Have you watched the excitement in a child’s eyes when you share the experience of fishing? They are overjoyed with the opportunity to learn how to fREAD MORE >
Trophy Northern Pike fishing in Canada is among the most exciting experiences any angler should hook into. In my experience fishing the French River, Pike that grow to 28+ inches develop personalitieREAD MORE >
Bear's Den Lodge would like to say thank you to all our valued customers and friends who had the opportunity to share your experiences with us this past season! May your seasons be merry with tight lREAD MORE >
Are you planning for a camping trip this year? Already shopping at your favourite retailers and outdoor suppliers? Are you prepared? Something that I’m sure has been bothering many, or at leaREAD MORE >
2870J Hartley Bay Rd.
Alban, Ont. P0M 1A0
Tel: (705) 857-2757
124 Shagbark Rd.
Alum Bank, PA 15521
Tel: (814) 839-2443
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YOUR Canadian COTTAGE FOR YOUR NEXT GETAWAY! French River Cottages available May, 2023 - 0ctober 2023. 3 day minimum charge per person applies. Prevailing rates available for shorter stays. Less than 3 days have added charges and are available. Make memories with family and friends on the French River, arrive as guests and leave as family!View Promotion