Birch Lake Resort,
by Mark Melnyk.
Northern Ontario has a catch and release bass season outside of regular bass fishing season. Think about bass fattening up for winter in the fall, catching them through the ice in the winter and targeting pre and post-spawn fish as they aggressively feed in the spring.
The drive to Algoma Country from any direction is a drive to be taken at one’s pace. All year long, it’s a drive that rivals Australia’s Great Ocean Road, or Highway 1 from San Fran to Big Sur. Picturesque, topographically dynamic, twisty-turny and generally a ton of fun to drive.
It isn’t long until you arrive at your rustic cabin, deck sitting two feet from the water’s edge, loons on the lake, water lapping on the shoreline and a horizon of green poplars and evergreens staring back at you from across Birch Lake. Birch Lake Resort is one of those secrets you want to let out, but really don’t want anyone else to know about.
There isn’t anything overly special about the resort in itself, comfortable, clean cabins, with a kitchen, a fridge and stove, a well-used dining room table that screams poker with friends, or crazy 8’s with the kids, twin bed in one room and tri-bunks in the other. What makes this resort special is what lies in the surrounding area, what lies underneath.
The first day we fished in May, we loaded up our aluminum boat and headed to one of the lakes in the surrounding area. The lake was glass calm and we determined where our best chances were to catch post spawn bass. We pulled into a bay which had deep water at its mouth and started casting. It wasn’t but a minute or two when we saw violent slashing on the surface, with what seemed to be minnows launching through the surface of the water attempting escape.
We cast into the disturbance and were left in awe as we watched a giant fish attack the school of baitfish, its back coming clear out of the water. It was a smallmouth, it was a big one and it was hungry. We observed what was on the menu and did our best to match the size profile of our offering, throwing flies into the nervous minnows on the surface.
The bass that were bait-balling the minnows then went on the hunt, searching for a more substantive meal. We witnessed fish cruising the flats and switched to top-water poppers. We managed to release at least 10 popper bass all in the 3-5 lb range before we decided to call it quits. What a first day we had in May!
Our 2nd day in May, started out a little differently. Big wind, whitecaps and slightly cooler temperatures, this time we were looking for lee-shore calms with windy points. The result? Just a 7 lb smallmouth, followed by a 5 on another point then another 5 on a third point. It was what bass fishing dreams are made of. We continued our day fishing calm shallow back bays for cruising fish.
It was, hands down the finest day of smallmouth bass fishing we have ever had. Average size was 4 lbs with the big fish to end the day, a 6.5 lb smallmouth. So to recap, a 7, 6.5 and at least 2 five pound fish in a day!
Birch Lake Resort was our home base for these 2 days in May: the secret we’re dying to tell!