With our two sons now young adults, we could no longer just get a room with two double beds, so we opted to treat ourselves to one of their condo-style units. It was gorgeous … complete with private outdoor patio, Jacuzzi, two bedrooms, full kitchen, the whole bit. Upon arrival, I launched my bass boat at a nearby public launch, fished the shore across from the resort, caught a nice three pound smallmouth bass on a drop shot rig and was then able to leave the boat safely in the water at one of the private slips at Deerhurst. Not having to launch each day would be a real treat.
Deerhurst Resort near Huntsville may not be the typical bare bones fishing camp many Fish on Line readers are used to … but it sure is nice to treat yourself to a fancy fishing trip every once in awhile. Photo by Wil Wegman
The only other fishing I had ever done on Peninsula Lake was 10 years ago when I fished an annual spring pike tournament out of Huntsville. Those were the days that well over 100 teams would enter those pike tournaments and somehow we usually managed to cash a cheque. "Pen" Lake is actually part of a three lake chain that also includes Lake Vernon and Fairy Lake. All three lakes are known more for their outstanding pike fishing - short stocky northerns that get big and fat on high protein cisco. I still have a photo on my office wall of a 22 pounder from Pen Lake I caught during a tournament there that won the big fish award.
At home, I have a mount of a 24 pound pig of a pike taken through the ice in Vernon Lake several years ago. I'll never forget catching that pike ... We fished long and hard all day without a strike. I decided to tie on a hot new bass bait sent to me from California called a Tora Tube. This was a massive 10 inch tube jig, fatter than a big Cuban cigar. We drilled dozens upon dozens of holes on the ice that day which were now vacant as our group began packing it in, so I just went along dropping that tube down one hole, fished it a bit and then walked on to the next. I was about to fish the last hole and the rest of the gang was almost done packing up urging me to give up and get off the ice with them before it was too dark. Last hole I shouted back ... the oversized tube never even made it to bottom as that beautifully obese toothy critter engulfed my bait and made the entire day worthwhile.
Ah … but I digress ... during this family vacation in 2008 we would focus on smallmouth and even the largemouth bass that are in the three lakes and leave the pike for another time. Izaak and I began fishing smallmouth early the next morning while Ty and his mom slept in. We would all meet at 10:30 am for a delicious breakfast buffet back at the resort. We managed to catch a few smallies from rocky shoals and points but the largemouth eluded us. We tried several of the good looking weed patches that 'should of' held largemouth but obviously these northern fish didn't read the rule book and had chosen to reside elsewhere in the lake. That afternoon while Loretta and Ty golfed, Izaak and I focussed on fishing docks and boathouses and we weren't disappointed.
Wil's son, Izaak with one of several smallmouth bass he caught during the trip. This one fell for a Rapala Skitter Pop topwater despite the blue sky and calm conditions. Photo by Wil Wegman
Largemouth often prefer the cover of docks and boathouses in the afternoon sun and at the lakes around Deerhurst this holds true as well. We took several nice bass on green colored Berkley Gulp! sinking minnows - rigged weedless and weightless that could be skipped underneath where the big largies sat waiting for passing prey. Another highly productive yet non-traditional dock fishing technique was tossing a drop shot rigged Slammer in front of key edges of the dock or boathouse and then just leaving it there for the bass to come out and attack it. I guess the site of that goby-look-alike plastic bait dangling in front of their domain was just too much for the largemouth to tolerate and they would eventually come charging out and swim off with it in a raging furry. Man, was that ever fun!
Wil with his biggest drop shot largemouth of the trip. Photo by Izaak Wegman
For the rest of the week we would alternate between largemouth and smallmouth fishing while Ty and his mom would enjoy more golf. It was peculiar to see a few other bass boats on the lakes each day though so I asked Deerhurst staffer Bill Thalor for an explanation. "Ah, yah normally you'd hardly ever see so many fishing boats out there but this weekend there will be a big pike tournament in Huntsville, so these guys ... myself included are pre fishing for that", he explained. That sums up the situation at so many northern lakes where locals often don't pay much attention to bass ... which is just fine for visitors like me who adore the chance to fish for God's favorite species in the idyllic surroundings of beautiful Canadian Shield lakes like Vernon, Fairy and Pen.
Back at Deerhurst we enjoyed delicious meals as well as a tremendous show called "Canada Rocks" that covered a musical era both parents and kids enjoyed. The service at Deerhurst is exceptional and although the accommodations and atmosphere may well be more extravagant than most guys are used to during an all boys fishing trip, it is excellent for families and anyone else who wants to treat themselves to a great vacation destination.
Deerhurst offers boat rentals, fishing on your own or with renowned professional guide Mike Bertelsen of Captain Action Charters. There also happens to be a world class golf course, several pools, a lakefront splash zone, spa, tennis courts, horseback riding, off road tours, indoor sports and many more activities available at Deerhurst. Nearby Huntsville, about three hours north of Toronto is a pleasant town to visit, with shops, restaurants, outdoor patios etc. For more information check out: www.deerhurstresort.com.