For many years now I’ve enjoyed fishing on Georgian Bay. Why? Well, because it offers such a diverse fishery and it’s an incredibly large body of water. There are so many bays, islands, and open water areas where you can catch fish that you could never fish it all in a lifetime.
When I first visited Honey Harbour, on the lower end of Georgian Bay in Muskoka, more than 30 years ago, there was a resort called the Delawana Inn that sat on the point. Since then I’ve always wondered what it would be like to stay at this place that’s now called Delawana Resort.
Well, recently we had the chance to stay for a couple of nights and sample some more of the incredible fishing we have become accustomed to when fishing in these waters. Our time frame was a couple of days in late July and our target species was smallmouth bass. My brother Wayne joined me on this outing.
Delawana first opened its doors in 1897. I’m not sure where that ranks on the list of long-established resorts in Ontario, but there’s no question that it’s been there for a very long time. There are a number of different buildings on the property, which sits on a prime piece of real estate in the hub of southern Georgian Bay.
My first impression, as I drove into the resort grounds, was that the place was huge. In fact, the property covers 25 acres and features a number of activity areas including tennis courts, a basketball court, a kids’ playground, community fire pits, a recreational field, beaches, an outdoor swimming pool, and the list goes on. This place is truly a family resort, with all kinds of things to do for the entire family. You can hang out at the beach; do all kinds of outdoor games; go mountain biking; grab a canoe, kayak, paddleboat, or rental boat and, of course, you can do what I was up there to do, and that’s to go fishing.
Delawana Resort is a self-catered resort offering cottage rentals, family cottages, resort suites, and resort rooms. All of the units include air conditioning and WiFi. The cottages, suites, and rooms all have charcoal barbeques and mini-fridges, while the family cottages have full kitchens and propane barbeques.
Although the resort is self-catered, if you don’t feel like cooking for yourself there’s a great little restaurant called Fin City Fish & Chips that is located right on the Delawana Resort property. It’s open for lunch and dinner and you can pull your boat up and have a meal, or you can walk over from your room.
What I really liked about Delawana Resort is that it was laid back. When Liz and her staff greeted us at the resort office they were friendly and very accommodating. After a short chat with them, we unloaded the vehicles and got settled into our rooms before heading down to the water and launching the boats.
One of the questions I get asked a lot is, "How long does it take to shoot the show?"
Well, I’m going to tell you that on this particular outing it only took us about two hours to get enough material for the show. And that’s including shooting some cutaways around the resort. We caught a number of smallmouth bass up to five pounds during our short outing.
We targeted shallow smallmouth on some of the many rock humps that are in the Honey Harbour area. These humps consist of boulders, gravel, sand, and weeds. Just like many of the smallmouth fisheries in Ontario, Georgian Bay has distinct populations of both shallow and deep fish to be caught during the summer months.
The bait of choice was a brand-new Berkley PowerBait® MaxScent lure called The General. It’s a soft stickbait that sort of smells like PowerBait and Gulp! mixed together. It’s got a quivering-type action and, rigged wacky style is absolutely deadly for smallmouth bass. One of the ways we rigged the bait is with an 8- or 10-pound-test Fireline main line and a 5-foot, 8- or 10-pound-test fluorocarbon leader. We used a 1/8-ounce Ultra Tungsten worm weight and a Berkley Fusion 1/0 hook that we slipped through an O-ring on the centre of the stickbait.
All you had to do was cast this bait out and let it quiver and fall to the bottom, then lift it up and let it fall down again. Many of the smallmouth hit it as the bait was either falling or sitting motionless on the bottom. We hit four small areas and got more than enough fish to get our show in the can, including a fish of a lifetime that unfortunately didn’t make it to the boat.
I had a big smallmouth on that was between 6 and 7-plus pounds. I know that because I had caught a 5-pounder a few minutes earlier and this fish absolutely dwarfed the five.
When I saw how big it was I said to Wayne, on camera, "I’m going to horse this fish in, it’s a monster!"
Of course, you shouldn’t horse any fish when you’re using small, thin wire hooks. The idea is to play the fish out and get it into the net, but in my case, the adrenaline kicked in, and I made a rookie move and horsed the fish a little bit too much. I fought this big bass all the way to the boat and when it was only about a foot away from the net or so, the hook pulled out and the fish swam away. After this many years of fishing, I should know better, but sometimes it makes a better story when you lose the big one. It’s all about the one that got away!
There’s no question that Georgian Bay is one of Ontario’s premier fishing destinations. The diversity of multi-species fishing opportunities it offers never ceases to amaze me. Whether you like fishing for bass, pike, muskies, or walleyes, this huge expanse of water can definitely deliver it. And the Delawana Resort is located right in the heart of some of the best water to fish. If you’re looking for a clean, comfortable, and laid-back vacation spot that offers great fishing, along with a long list of family-friendly amenities, you really should check this place out.