Brennan Harbour Resort
One of the most common questions I get asked is, "Where can I take a fishing trip that I can drive to and stay under six hours from the Toronto area, but that offers great fishing?"
Of course, the opportunities in Ontario are endless, but many times they’ll also say that they want to go north for the Northern Ontario experience. They need rental boats, cooked meals, and comfortable cabins. That narrows the choices, but there are still a number of places that fit the bill.
One place I can highly recommend is Brennan Harbour Resort. It’s located on the Whalesback Channel on northern Lake Huron, at the mouth of the Spanish River, and it’s less than five hours from the city of Toronto.
You really get a sense that you are off the beaten track up here. The scenery is stunning and it’s everything you would expect from Northern Ontario. From the resort, you’ve got a clear view across the water at a number of tree-covered islands, granite outcroppings, and forests that go on for as far as the eye can see.
Casey and James run this great little operation. They’ve got cabins to rent and several accommodation plans including housekeeping -- where you cook your own meals in your cabin; modified American Plan where dinner is provided in the lodge and you take care of breakfast and lunch; or full American Plan where all of your meals are prepared for you in the main lodge. The chefs are very good and they offer a great variety of wonderful home cooking.
Brennan Harbour has 16- and 18-foot boats for rent and they are all fully equipped with a trolling motor, a fish finder, and all the required safety equipment. If you want to bring your own boat, there is plenty of secure dock space available.
What makes this place really special is that the fishing is absolutely incredible. Being on the north part of Lake Huron you’ve got smallmouth bass, salmon, trout, pike, muskie, and walleyes -- you’ve got everything up there. Being part of Lake Huron, the Whalesback Channel has a small lake feel with Great Lakes fish. The Channel is 14 miles long by about a mile to a mile and a half wide, and it’s protected from the larger water by a number of large and small islands.
On our trip early this spring, we decided to focus on walleyes and maybe a few pike. We had three days to fish up there and, unfortunately, we got a lot of rain during our stay. Despite the weather, we still had some incredible fishing and we got a great show shot as well.
The walleye fishing was absolutely off the charts. I didn’t know that this quality of walleye fishing existed at a drive-to location. We literally caught dozens and dozens of them up to seven pounds during our short stay there. The fish were everywhere and we started catching them as soon as we dropped the trolling motor, right at the dock that our boat was tied to. One group of folks set up on a point just out from the resort, and they caught over 100 walleyes in a few hours one morning without moving.
One of the great things about the fishing at Brennan Harbour is that it didn’t take any special techniques to catch the walleyes. We got them on a variety of jigs tipped with soft plastics that we worked along the bottom in 5 to 8 feet of water. One of our guests, 2016 FLW Canada Classic Champion Danny McGarry, caught a pile of walleyes on a 1/4-ounce jighead tipped with a Berkley Powerbait Twitchtail Minnow. We also caught fish on Berkley Powerbait Pro Shad Swimbaits that we cast out and reeled back with a slow, steady retrieve. From what we heard from some of the other anglers at the resort, bottom bouncers and worm harnesses tipped with Gulp! Crawlers or live worms were working on the walleyes as well.
Aside from the food, the fishing, and the accommodations, what really makes Brennan Harbour Resort so special are the owners, Casey and James. These are two of the nicest people you will ever meet. James is from England and he is always happy. I think that even when he’s unhappy he’s happy because when we were there he was always whistling and walking around talking to the people at the resort. Between them, they made us feel like old friends instead of just clients. Their welcoming personalities and their willingness to accommodate our needs made the trip as much as the fishing did.
If you’re looking for a drive-to-fishing resort that offers fly-in quality fishing, clean and comfortable accommodations, great meals, and a friendly, hospitable atmosphere, you really should check this place out. I know I’ll be going back!