In Georgian Bay, Pennsylvania Island Is One of Thirty Thousand Gems

by Ralph Martone
September 18, 2008

On the boat's stern casting deck Denise struggled to bring in a big pike that struck her bucktail so violently it sent up a fountain-like spray of water, while I was busy in the bow with another pike that devoured my topwater lure before heading toward the open water of the bay. We kept up a constant chatter of both encouragement and concerns as we worked each fish closer to the boat.

Big pike have a way of finding every opportunity to escape and these two fish were no different. Fishing from the back of the boat, Denise had to work hard to keep her fish from getting tangled in the motors. My fish seemed to know that one trip around the electric trolling motor was all it would take to get free. I found myself in a constant battle to keep the big pike away from the motor.

I had just lifted my pike into the boat when Denise's fish cruised by the front of the boat. One quick swipe of the net and the dual battles ended almost as fast as they began.

While a double-header on northern pike isn't common, fishing at the Pennsylvania Club in Ontario's Georgina Bay provides an opportunity to catch a wide variety of species, including a trophy-sized musky. Although, this year's trip didn't produce any big muskies, we did land several large pike, a couple of hefty smallmouth bass and a large, toothy gar.

Georgian Bay is located in the eastern-most part of Lake Huron. This very large bay, stretching 200 miles north to south and 50 mile east to west, could almost qualify as one of the great lakes. At 5,800 square miles, Georgian Bay is nearly as large as Lake Ontario and is larger in area than the state of Connecticut. In addition to Lake Huron, the Great Lakes, often referred to as inland seas, are the largest group of freshwater lakes on earth and include Superior, Michigan, Erie and Ontario.

The eastern shore of Georgian Bay is composed of tens of thousands of islands, known collectively as the "thirty thousand islands". This includes Manitoulin Island, the largest island in a freshwater lake.

Because Georgian Bay is located at the southern-most portion of the Canadian Shield much of the terrain, including the islands, are composed of granite rock formations and eastern white pine. The Canadian Shield, stretching across southern Ontario and Quebec, features granite exposed by glaciers as they moved south during the last ice age. The exposed granite gives the land a hard 'shield-like' appearance.

Granite rock formations and eastern white pine would be an accurate description of Pennsylvania Island as well. Stretching nearly one-mile in length, at its widest point the island is just a quarter of a mile wide. However, at several points Pennsylvania Island narrows to barely 100 yards wide. Composed of an exposed granite rock formation rising up to 75 feet vertically from the water's edge, and windswept pines, the island provides many notable vistas.

For many guests, the best view is offered from the Pennsylvania Club's large front deck. Located on Pennsylvania Point overlooking a popular boating channel, the deck offers an excellent view of neighboring Crooked and Emerald Islands. On summer weekends and Canadian holidays the channel in front of Pennsylvania Island becomes an excellent place to watch yachts of every size and shape pass as they travel through Georgian Bay.

The Pennsylvania Club is a unique place with origins dating back to 1896 when eight gentlemen from New Castle began taking an annual fishing trip to Georgian Bay, Ontario. The Club now totals 70 members, including 49 active members from western Pennsylvania and twenty-one honorary members from ten different states and Canada.