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Batman's Cottages & Campground beach and harbour on Manitoulin Island. • Credit: Bob Izumi

Explore the great fishing and hospitality at this resort on Manitoulin Island

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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.

batman cottages and campground store

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 on 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 WiFi, a sauna, and a laundromat on site.       

In 36 years of doing the Real Fishing Show I’d 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.

ms chicheemun ferry

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.

ms chicheemun ferry

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 1,000 square miles with 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 the locals who 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.

bass fishing lake huron

One of the things that amazed me is that the number of areas you can fish up there are 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 had 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 5 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.

bass fishing manitoulin island

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 dropshot rig. On the dropshot we alternated between a black, 4-inch Berkley Powerbait MaxScent flatworm and the new Powerbait Water Bug in black. Between the two dropshot 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 5 pounds in the pencil reeds.

bass fishing manitoulin island

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 dropshot 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.

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