I’ve always counted myself lucky to come from a fishing family. I grew up on the water with my dad, reeling in fish and learning all about the wonders of nature. His passion for this sport and the outdoors was infectious, and I can honestly say I’ve inherited a lot of my love for fishing and nature from him. What was the most important though, was all the bonding time we had out on the lake. Over the years, this shared passion has enabled us to become not only father and daughter, but friends. Unfortunately, as is common when children grow up, I don’t get to spend nearly as much time fishing with him as I used to. Which is why this trip to Birchland Cottages was so special. I couldn’t wait to get out on the water and spend a whole week fishing with my dad.
Located just west of the town of Iron Bridge, Birchland Cottages is nestled within one of my favourite areas of Northern Ontario in Algoma Country. Stretching from DeHavilland Bay west of Sault Ste. Marie, all the way to Spanish River, and north from Highway #17 about 30 miles, this region is affectionately dubbed “Trophy Alley.” A title not given without merit, the area is known for holding high numbers of trophy-sized fish… especially smallmouth bass. This region of Northern Ontario is also popular due to its 365-day-a-year catch and release season for smallmouth bass. Nestled in the middle of so much amazing fishing, it’s no wonder why guests love to return to Birchland Cottages.
Both owners and operators, Mark and Joanne Graves are dedicated to making Birchland Cottages the ideal getaway for families, anglers, and even those looking for the perfect waterfront northern wedding. Guests who are searching for a trip that provides the comforts of home with independence and flexibility will be pleased by the options offered at Birchland Cottages. Each of the 8 individual cottages on the property is set up for the perfect do-it-yourself trip, with excellent kitchen facilities, a fireplace, full-piece bathrooms, and even a private dock. Guests can bring their boat (or rent one for a fee), do their own cooking, and enjoy the freedom of exploring other lakes in the area. Additionally, Birchland Cottages has a variety of amenities available to guests free of charge such as kayaks, a children's play area, a water trampoline, and canoes.
During my most recent stay at Birchland Cottages, I was able to connect with local guide Adam Vallee of Angling Algoma. I’ve been lucky to work with Adam numerous times over the past few years, and his knowledge not only of bass fishing but also of this vast area is truly incredible. On this trip, Adam took us to a variety of different lakes located only a short distance from Birchland Cottages. As per usual, we did deal with some more challenging weather, with a front rolling through the area on our first day. Lucky for us, Adam’s knowledge of Algoma came in handy as he was able to find us a few lakes that hadn’t been affected as badly by the weather.
Fishing for smallmouth bass during late summer and early fall can be very different than other times of the year. The fish will often move in shallower water with the change in the season before they begin their transition to winter patterns. With Adam’s guidance, we were able to get into some seriously awesome fish! On this trip, we primarily used 5- and 6-weight rods and came prepared with a variety of lines. This was essential, as it took some time to figure out where the fish were within the water column. We ended up having success on both topwater poppers in a variety of colours, and streamers that matched the baitfish in the area (i.e. cisco and smelt)
Despite the challenges in weather, I found it incredibly rewarding to work for the fish we landed on during this trip. Nature can be fickle, and times like this prove how enjoyable the experience of fishing is, not just for the catch but for the adventure. As always, any trip with my dad is one I will cherish and reflect on with laughter and warmth regardless of anything else. In these uncertain times, it’s exciting to look ahead and dream of all the adventure that waits for us on future fishing trips. All of the lodges and outfitters in Algoma Country look forward to welcoming international anglers when it’s safe to travel once again. Stay safe and stay healthy anglers! Ontario and Birchland Cottages will be here waiting for you on your next adventure.