Lake Huron, Brennan Harbour Lodge, Sept 2012
My third trip, 2nd with what has become our “core”. After our Lady Evelyn Experience Lady E Trip Report we coordinated this trip around a special occasion, my brother Dave’s 40th birthday. I had settled into my role as the planning and researching lead for this trip. Fishing boards were read and eventually joined. Lodges were called, referenced check and we decided that Brennan Harbour Lodge in Spanish Ontario was the right choice for us. Brennan Harbour So on a Saturday morning Dave, Scott, Mark and myself headed up Highway 400/69 for a week.
Brennan Harbour Lodge is located on a section of Lake Huron called the Whalesback Channel. The Whalesback is separated by Aird and John Islands from the Huron, but no mistake its big water. For southern Ontario boys I think the biggest surprise was the overall topography. Unlike the great lakes near us this was shield country. Towering cliffs, pine covered islands and big chunks of rock jutting out of the water
Note that the lake can feel busy. While there weren’t a ton of boats and many spots felt like our own, we did see quite a few boats who came from other lodges or just launched on their own. We also saw a few houseboats and 1 huge yacht.
One thing I would call out is that this section of the lake can get rough fast. To this day the scariest boat ride I have ever had was getting back from shore lunch to the lodge area. The wind had picked up just after lunch and by 2 PM the lake was rippled with 6 to 8-foot rollers. The boats handled it fine, but it was stressful. I will always remember going out after dinner that night for 2 things 1) The look on other lodge guests faces when they realized we were still going out and 2) How sore my butt was at the end of the 5-minute ride to our spot. Sitting up front it truly felt like trying to ride a rodeo bull!
Brennan Harbour is a drive to lodge that offered both housekeeping and full-service accommodations. We had opted for the full service and took advantage of the boat upgrade package. For the week we had 2 17-foot Lund Outfitters with full floors, pedestal seats and fish finder. 1 boat had a 30 HP and 1 with a 50. These were great boats to fish out of, but we did find the 30 HP under whelming (so for long runs we put 3 guys in the boat with the 50).
The lodge is in a small harbour and has 9 cabins, a main lodge, main docks and a nice gazebo area. They also had a small playground area and a nice sandy beach which looked ideal for family trips.
The food was very good, full breakfast in the main lodge, bagged lunch (James did also help us out with a shore lunch package as well) and amazing dinners in the lodge. While the meals were set times, we were told repeatedly “if you’re on fish stay and we will put your dinner in the cabin”
The Whalesback area is a true multi fish destination. Walleye, Smallmouth Bass, Pike, Muskie, Lake Trout, Rainbow Trout, Sturgeon– you name it chances it swims in Huron.
During our (my) research a lot of people mentioned hiring a guide for a day or two. Based on our Lady Evelyn experience we decided it was a good plan. Through the lodge we hired Nigel for two days to fish with Mark/Dave one day, myself and mark the next. Money well spent! This is where we really learned how to bottom bounce. Nigel took us out to a large sunken island area and with crawler harnesses on 2-ounce bottom bouncers Dave/Scott caught walleye all day. Mark and I also did well but I do not think we were really bouncing correctly.
Later, Nigel made a run to fish for bass per the guys request and it was a great call. While we are all experienced bass fisherman, the pattern was a little different than we were used to. Nigel helped us understand the areas and to be honest (brag) we refined the tactics. We absolutely nailed the bass on wacky rigged worms, square billed crankbaits and even trolling stickbaits.
Over the week we did well very well (to our standards) for walleye. We generally hit the spot that Nigel showed us on in the AM. After lunch we usually explored, fished for bass, pike or muskie and then at night switched back to walleye. We had a great spot that was a short run from the lodge that was good after dinner. Most if not all walleye were caught on bottom bouncers and worm harnesses. Best colours were metallic gold/orange, firetiger, green/chartreuse and perch.
Throughout the week we tried for pike and muskie but alas we did not have much luck – maybe 2 pike and 0 muskie. This didn’t dampen our spirits. If anything, we were kicking ourselves for not using some of our time with Nigel to fish for either species.
All in all, the fishing was great, the best in my life up until that point. I would bet that each of us caught the most walleye we had ever caught, and we all caught or came close to catching personal best smallmouths. I still have nightmares about a smallie that launched itself in the air and spit my bait - it was 6 lbs (take that w a grain of salt)
Brennan Harbour is another lodge I would highly recommend to first timers. Its about a 5-hour drive from the GTA and the fishing was good. I would recommend getting a guide if you can and upgrade to the bigger boats as mentioned it can get rough on the big lake