Georgian Bay's Moon River Offers Unique Fishing & Boating Experience
by Ralph Martone
The sound of the reel's drag clicking launched everyone into action. My wife, Denise and Georgian Bay fishing guide, Jody Mills, were heading for the rod as I headed for my camera. I watched in disbelief as Denise's heavy musky rod bent nearly in half.
Somewhere on the other end of her line the big musky surged first one way then the other. Straining to keep the rod tip high, Denise tucked the rod's long handle under her arm, bracing herself for the big fish's next move.
The fight continued for another ten minutes, when the musky headed toward the back of the boat, threatening to become entangled in the sharp propellers, Denise leaned into the rod once again, this time forcing the big fish away from the motors and toward the guide's waiting net.
A 45-inch, 25-pound muskellunge in the net doesn't mean all the excitement is over. We still needed to remove the hooks, take a few pictures and get the big musky back in the water in time to ensure its survival.
Denise's musky was caught in the Moon River area of Georgian Bay during our recent stay on Pennsylvania Island at the PA Club. The waters surrounding the Pennsylvania Club are unlike many of the lakes we fish in Canada. Most musky waters in both Canada and the United States feature lakes with an average depth of 15 to 20 feet dominated by vast stretches of weed growth, known as weed beds. Some weed beds can cover more than a hundred acres and may have weeds growing up to 12 feet in height.
Georgian Bay and the waters surrounding the Pennsylvania Club can reach depths of 120 feet and more. Although weeds can be found, they seldom cover large areas. For this reason many species of fish, including the muskellunge, are often found associated with changes in water depth and rock structures.
For boaters and fishermen, the unbelievable variety of structure below the water's surface can be both exciting and scary. I remember marveling the first time Denise and I trolled along the point of an island. With a wall of rock just a few feet from our boat our sonar told us that below the boat the water was nearly 105 feet deep. Learning to navigate water that can change from a hundred feet deep to just two feet of water above a shoal or rocky point was one of the first challenges we faced when fishing the Moon River area. Our second task was to find musky without the extensive weed beds with which we had become so familiar.
Although we had some success during those first few years, including a nearly 50-inch fish I caught in 2004, we knew we were not consistently finding the local muskies. Thus, for this year's trip the decision was made to secure the services of local musky guide, Jody Mills.
During our morning with Jody we learned more about locating and catching musky than we could have in ten years of hard fishing. Hopefully, many of the techniques Jody taught us will translate into catching more Moon River muskies as well as Pennsylvania muskies.
Denise's musky was just one of many fish, including bass and northern pike our group caught during our week at the Pennsylvania Club. Included in this year's trip were New Castle residents Jim and Karen Haas, along with daughters Alexandra and Jane and nephew Jimmy Rudley. Bill and Paula Devido, their son Christopher and nephew Jordan Devido, along with our son Michael Martone and family friend, Jerrod Stewart rounded out the local connection. Ralf and Beate Kirberg along with son, Christian, traveled all the way from Germany to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary with us at the Pennsylvania Club.