“Let me tell you something, my fine fishing friends,” says Pete. “When I get something in my head in this great sport, I often get obsessed with it. For instance, this season I have yet to catch a big Northern Pike and, well, that just ain’t right. On a previous trip, I had my butt handed to me by the Pike gods at Pinehurst Lake in Alberta, despite the number of huge Walleye I caught! So I’m pretty much itchin’ to get ahold of some big Pike—a big Pike. Anything!”
On this Fish’n Canada episode, Pete attempts to catch his big Pike in Killarney Ontario. Somebody needs to give this poor guy a break.
If you enjoy the outdoors, you really should come to Killarney. This area boasts some of the most pristine, unspoiled scenery in the world, with its wild Georgian Bay landscapes and white quartzite ridges along the beautiful La Cloche Mountains. The fishing is just a reward for being there. It’s simply spectacular!
“As I said, my quarry for this trip is big Pike,” says Pete. “But I know this place has lots of muskie, Smallmouth and Largemouth Bass, as well as Rainbow and Lake Trout. So, as Ang and I always do, I brought the whole nine yards, just in case.” Basically, that means way too much tackle.
Pete arrived at beautiful Killarney Mountain Lodge, dropped the Princecraft into the water, looked at the time and saw it was just after two o’clock on a perfect early fall afternoon. There’s no way he could sit around until the next day with Killarney Bay just around the corner. “I’m goin’ Pike huntin’ right now!”
A PERFECT SCENARIO
He started out in the back of Killarney Bay, a suggestion by local fishing guide Red Prouix. But fishing can be very humbling. Pete couldn’t get squat! The next logical step, according to the book, is to work out to deeper water.
As he got close to the mouth of Killarney Bay, Pete got pretty revved up by all the baitfish he saw on his bow-mounted Garmin. It’s the perfect scenario for big fish: classic late-season structure covered with bait, and deep water access directly adjacent. The only guessing game was presenting the right lure. In this case, the right lure was a floating Salmo Perch.
Once Pete hit the end of a nice deep structure, he was rewarded with his first Pike of the trip: a gorgeous 40+ inch fish.
GETTING NERVOUS ON THE SECOND DAY
By day two of Pete’s Killarney trip, he was beginning to get nervous. From what he had seen the previous day—even though he caught a giant Northern Pike—things just didn’t seem right. There was hardly any Pike activity in the long stretch of water he fished in Killarney Bay. He felt he should have caught, or at least seen, some more fish. He had a couple of lazy hammer-handle followers; that was it.
So on this day, Pete travelled east out of Killarney and headed to Mill Lake. This is a very protected piece of water when compared to Georgian Bay; it has lots of Pike throughout the entire area and the boat ride up Collins Inlet, running along the north side of Phillip Edward Island, is spectacular.
MOVE TO MILL LAKE
Mill Lake, as well as Beaverstone Bay to its immediate east, is only accessible by boat. Since the ride is a bit long, however, this water is relatively untouched by anglers. And the fact that there are no boat launches there makes this is a real hidden gem. An average fishing day might have local cottagers and the odd fishing camp visitor, but that’s it! There’s a lot of great fishing to be done here.
“I’m gonna push my way to where Mill Lake and Beaverstone Bay connect with Georgian Bay,” says Pete, “and then work my way back. I’ve fished this kind of structure before just to the south of here, near Point Au Baril, with pretty good success. This part of the world is so diverse in geography that sometimes it’s a chore to concentrate on the fishing.”
This combination of wave-worn islands and turquoise water almost looks like it’s from a shipwreck movie or something straight out of National Geographic—eerie, yet mesmerizing!
This kind of structure and cover doesn’t look very “Pikey”; finding weeds amongst the myriad of rocks and channels is the key.
With only one small Pike to show, it was time for Pete to move on again.
A GOOD OPPORTUNITY
“I always bring extra gear when shooting, in case I stumble across something,” said Pete at the top of the show. And stumble he did. “I just so happened to be trolling for Pike, covering lots of water when a gorgeous Smallmouth Bass grabbed the big Pike lure. But it instantly got off.”
Not to pass up a good opportunity, he decided to check that spot a little further. Good thing, too: Pete literally caught smallie after smallie on drop shots, tube jigs, and flipping jigs.
“It was incredible,” Pete later recalled. “I could catch those extremely active and feeding smallies on drop shots, tubes or even flipping jigs, on almost every cast, in less than six feet of water. But if I threw a jerkbait or anything else that ran up off the bottom, it almost seemed like they would shy away from it.”
This area of Ontario boasts some of the most stunning scenery in the province and has captivated artists, including some of The Group of Seven, so much that they persuaded the Ontario government to make it a provincial park.
This scenic area offers backcountry canoeing, kayaking, and hiking, as well as cross-country skiing and snowshoeing in winter.
As far as fishing in Killarney Park is concerned, many of the lakes are fish sanctuaries. Limited fishing opportunities are available in the park’s eastern and northern sections. Bell and Balsam Lakes are popular to fish and easy to access via Blue Mountain Lodge.
Many other lakes are accessible with a canoe; just be sure you contact the park to check for fishing regulations.
Just outside the park is the historic Village of Killarney, which was founded in 1820 as a fur trading post on Georgian Bay. It’s a stopping port for boaters traversing the surrounding waters. The famous Herbert Fisheries fish and chip shop is an absolute must-visit.
BACK TO PIKE
Now that Pete’s smallie distraction was out of his system, he got back to the Pike that he came to Killarney for.
He started throwing the Salmo again and in no time had a beautiful muskie roll on the bait and actually bump it—but it didn’t get hooked! “I will not get a better chance than that for a bonus muskie while I’m Pike fishing. I literally felt that fish hit the bait and it still didn’t get hooked up. That’s crazy!”
“I set out on this adventure seeking Northern Pike,” says Pete. “And I succeeded in catching my biggest one of the season! And as a bonus, I stumbled onto the craziest Smallmouth fishing of the year. Plus, I put a gorgeous muskie in the boat to cap it all off!”
If Killarney, Ontario’s great fishing has been hidden for all these years, we’re hoping the secret just got let out of the bag!