BATMAN’S COTTAGES & CAMPGROUND
MANITOULIN ISLAND, ON
Have you ever gone somewhere and within a few minutes you already feel at home because the people are so friendly? Well that’s exactly how we felt when we rolled into Batman’s Cottages and Campground on Manitoulin Island.
Batman’s was built by a fellow named Ralph Batman, who is soon to be 90 years of age. Ralph was a carpenter by trade and decided that in his spare time he’d build a camp. I don’t know how he did it, but he started clearing the property and building some of the cottages, then he opened for business in 1969.
When we arrived we were greeted by Andre and Lisa Deschamps, who have owned Batman’s since 2008. I can see why all of their seasonal lots are completely full and why they have so many repeat customers for their campgrounds and cottages – they are friendly folks who really, really make you feel at home.
On one of the nights we were there the owners and a number of the trailer camp residents had a party for us and they invited Ralph Batman, the founder of this beautiful property. The group cooked up chicken wings, lake trout, and rainbow trout. That was a fun get-together and a great way to meet some of the wonderful people up there.
Batman’s Cottages and Campground is located in Sheguiandah Bay on Lake Huron, on the northeast side of Manitoulin Island. They have four waterfront cottages for rent as well as a number of seasonal trailer sites. They also have camper and tenting campsites available. The grounds are beautiful and they have a fully stocked store with just about anything you can think of right on the property. There’s a wonderful, big beach area as well as a protected harbour where you can dock your boat. Batman’s has gas, a launch ramp, live bait, a fish cleaning hut and freezer service. There’s a recreation hall with a pool table, pinball, video machines and ping pong for when you’re not out fishing. They even have free Wi-Fi, a sauna, and a laundromat on site.
In 36-years of doing the Real Fishing Show I’ve never, ever been to Manitoulin Island so I was looking forward to this trip. We took the truck and boat aboard the MS Chi-Cheemaun ferry for the trip across Lake Huron from Tobermory to South Baymouth on Manitoulin Island. From there it was about a 40-minute drive to Batman’s. It’s an hour and 45-minutes from Sudbury if you drive and take the bridge to the island.
Taking the ferry was an adventure in itself. They’ve got a restaurant on board, a gift shop, and all kinds of viewing decks both inside and out where you can sit and take in the scenery. The ferry services the island from the spring until Thanksgiving weekend.
When we got to Batman’s there were a number of local fishermen, who either lived close by or have sites on the property, waiting to greet us. All of them were keen and diehard anglers who were more than willing to share their knowledge about fishing around Manitoulin Island. Even though Manitoulin is the largest freshwater island in the world, covering over 1000 square miles and having over 100 lakes on it, we decided that we’d fish the big waters of Lake Huron on this trip.
I wasn’t set up with downriggers on my boat, but all of the locals that were there to help us did. On the first day that we were there we had a nice, calm day and every one of them limited out on lake trout by trolling with downriggers.
My brother Wayne brought his boat and two of our friends, Mike Jenkins from Coleman Repellents and John Ward from Cuda, along on this trip. We decided that we would do some bass fishing on our short two-day trip and ended up having an exceptional couple of days on the water.
One of the things that amazed me is that the number of areas you can fish up there are really endless. There are so many choices and so many species to choose from. You can fish for bass, lake trout, rainbow trout, salmon, pike, muskie, walleye and perch. I’m not sure you could fish all of the water and all of the species available up there in a lifetime of fishing. It really, truly is a part of Ontario that I wish I would have gone to earlier in my career to explore.
On our trip we hit two perfect days of weather. The temperatures were in the 20s C, the winds didn’t blow very much and the fish cooperated. The smallmouth fishing that we did was concentrated around islands and submerged humps. We caught fish anywhere from five-feet deep down to 30-plus feet of water. There are so many islands, humps and shorelines to fish up there, the hardest part is deciding which one to try.
For us, the most effective ways of catching the fish was by using a wacky rigged Berkley four-inch Powerbait MaxScent General in the green pumpkin party colour, or by using a drop shot rig. On the drop shot, we alternated between a black, four-inch Berkley Powerbait MaxScent flatworm and the new Powerbait Water Bug in black. Between the two drop shot baits and the General, it seemed like no matter where we went we ended up catching some good-sized smallmouth bass.
Wayne caught some pretty good fish in his boat. He got one smallmouth that was well over five-pounds that he caught on a hump, and John Ward from Cuda caught a largemouth that was just under five-pounds in the pencil reeds.
On one of the days we rafted the two boats together while we broke for lunch. While we were tied up together John Ward finished his sandwich and cast out a drop-shot rig. He hooked a bass and we saw a number of followers with it, so Wayne and I immediately picked up rods and we proceeded to catch a triple-header! How good is that, when you break for lunch and still catch three bass at once. This is an amazing area for fishing that a lot of folks seem to overlook. After this trip, I can’t wait to go back to Manitoulin Island to experience more of the wonderful hospitality, and explore more of the great fishing on and around the biggest freshwater island in the world.
BRENNAN HARBOUR RESORT
The first thing that hits you when you pull into Brennan Harbour Resort and talk with either James, his wife Casey, or one of the young people that work there, is how friendly these folks are. You immediately feel welcome and at home with these people. This young family work very hard making sure that their guests are well looked after.
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ONTARIO FISHING ADVENTURES
Last winter we did a special feature profiling several fantastic fishing resorts in various regions of Ontario. The article was so well received that we decided to do it again, with a new group of lodges. All of this year’s destinations provide top notch fishing for multiple species, they’re relatively unpressured and they are easily accessible by car. From high-end, full service resorts to more laid-back fishing camps, each of these locations offer a unique fishing experience. If you’re thinking about where to go for your next fishing getaway the following pages feature Bob Izumi's profiles of some the trips he made last year. Hopefully they will give you some ideas on where to look for a fishing trip that is sure to meet all of your expectations.
FISHING ALGOMA COUNTRY
Wil Wegman is an award-winning outdoor writer, seminar host and tournament angler from Bradford Ontario. In 2017 Wil was recognized for his dedication to the sport by being inducted into the Canadian Angler Hall of Fame. www.wilwegman.com
Tales from the Road
As you may know I like driving, so jumping in a vehicle and doing a road trip is appealing to me. For years I would routinely do 100,000 km per year or more on the road. So this Tales starts with me heading out again, back to Brennan Harbour Resort in Spanish, Ontario. Located in Algoma Country, this friendly resort is operated by James and Casey, who are a wonderful couple.
CHAIN PICKEREL ON STRIKE
I’ve never stalked a whitetail deer, but I imagine doing so is a bit like fishing for large chain pickerel. Success is found by locating those prime areas where the big ones live, and by working those areas thoroughly and patiently with exact techniques.
Elk Tartare with Horseradish Crema
Tales From The Road
Since my last Tales article I’ve been averaging at least six days a week, sometimes seven, on the road. Road trips are, and have always been, a big part of my life. There’s just something about being on the go that I love. In fact, as I wrap up this column I’ll be hitting the road again and I can’t wait, even though I just got back a day ago. I think it’s ingrained in me so much that I don’t mind living out of a suitcase. I know it’s not for everybody, but I like it.
The MGM Fishing Trip
On the first Saturday of June 2020, a group of 20 extended family members will celebrate an amazing milestone. They will be participating in the 50th consecutive year of a family fishing trip begun by four founding members way back in 1971.
Every now and again we anglers are lucky enough to find lakes, ponds or creeks that feel so isolated from civilization that believing they are a reality is sometimes more difficult than finding them in the first place. Stumbling across, or being introduced to, a body of water with such enormous potential for catching fish is what any fishing enthusiast dreams of. Fortunately for myself, I have lucked out three times in one shot.
The black crappie is a member of the sunfish family and features the same deep, laterally compressed body shape as other sunfishes.
Fly Tricks For Fall Trout
In the fall, fly fishing changes. Not only does the weather cool, the bug activity often quiets down as well. Different techniques are needed to adapt to the rivers where fish are often looking for different food. Searching techniques and paying attention to details can improve your success.