The introduction of a slot-size fishing program was a realistic effort to restore the sport fish population in the French River. These efforts have worked in the French River Delta, sustaining and improving the quality of the fishery. The quantities of each fish species has increased in the French River since 1994.
The Ministry of Natural Resources has studied our positive results. Our fishery's improvement encouraged the implementation of slots sizes throughout Ontario, Canada. The slot sizes for each fish species represents the breeding stock. Biological research determined the most successful breeders in French River. The Lower French River is the best fishing as reported by the Walleye Index Netting (Fall 2013).
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The BEST Walleye fishing can be found in the French River Delta and Georgian Bay areas as they have one of the highest rod hours for any fishing spot 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.
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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 Smallmouth 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 3rd Saturday in June. Smallmouth bass are quite active - 22 inch smallmouth bass released late May. August produces many 3 lb. plus bass. When weeds are dying - fish rock points.
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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.
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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 freshwater 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.
Slot size for 2021 in Zone 10 is: 48 inches
Georgian Bay is 54 inches
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.
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.
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.
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.
Are very popular for:
Widely used by serious fisherman & female anglers for:
Tandem Spinnerbaits come in a variety of quality colours, patterns, and sizes for vibrations, allowing the custom made bait to track true:
Are extremely effective in the Great Lakes and Georgian Bay Biosphere for catching numbers of:
A must for every tackle box when seeking the elusive toothed trophy sized fish:
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.