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Five Star Fishing with Birch Island Resort

One of Wayne Izumi's pike
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Five Star Fishing with Birch Island Resort

Fishing in Northwestern Ontario's Sunset Country

Within sight of the town of Minaki, Birch Island Resort offers world-class fishing with an ideal resort for families, weddings, corporate getaways or just a fishing trip with your buddies.

In all the years I’ve been travelling I can honestly say that I’ve never had a disappointing fishing trip to Northwestern Ontario’s Sunset Country. I have thoroughly enjoyed all my trips up there and the fishing has always been good, no matter what species I’ve been after.   

In the spring, I had a chance to visit Reid’s Birch Island Resort in Minaki. I’ve known Phil Reid for close to three decades, and his family has been deeply entrenched in the fishing lodge business for three generations. Phil and his wife, Lizanne, recently acquired this beautiful island property that sits on the Winnipeg River system, within sight of the town of Minaki. In the early years, it served as a family retreat for the T. Eaton Company and, with the railroad going through the town of Minaki, it was the perfect location for a getaway.

One of the cool things about the resort is its boathouse suite. The boathouse is 100-years old and has been completely updated, right down to its ensuite bathrooms. The lodge itself houses 32 guests. Because it was built so many years ago it’s got a ton of history and character to it.

The dining room at Birch Island Resort
Birch Island offers comfortable accommodations

On this particular trip, we had a number of friends join us, as well as some prize winners from a Toro dealer’s contest we were involved with. We primarily focused on the walleye and pike fishing – walleye in the morning, and then we’d do some pike fishing in the afternoon after the water heated up. The guides really knew their stuff and we had memorable fresh walleye shore lunches every day.

The fishing was pretty easy and we kept it simple by using the old jig and minnow setup for the walleyes. It didn’t take long for us to catch what we needed for a shore lunch by slowly working the jig and minnow in the areas where these post-spawn fish were sitting. We caught most of our fish in depths of 18 to 40 feet.

Wayne Izumi with a trophy Birch Island walleye

The pike fishing was very easy as well. After I had caught a bunch of walleyes one morning I said to my cameraman, “Let’s try some of the bays for pike before we meet everybody for shore lunch.” So we hit three small bays in the last hour before lunch and caught in the neighbourhood of 20 northern pike. We caught them on lipless, rattling Sebile Flatt Shads and Berkley Powerbait Rib Shads. By using these baits, we were able to cover water quickly and efficiently. It was a good test to see if I should do some videotaping of pike fishing while I was there, and of course, the answer was yes.

That afternoon, and again the following afternoon, I ran as many bays as I could targeting this post-spawn pike. The key spots were the secondary rock points or shorelines that led into these bays, unlike some other pike lakes that I’ve been to where early season fishing means targeting the back ends of the bays. In this case, the pike had already finished spawning and was definitely on the lead-outs going into the main lake basin. It was textbook pike fishing, and it was so good that you could literally catch as many as you wanted.  

Bob Izumi with one of many pike caught at Birch Island Resort

For me personally, the absolute highlights of the trip were the meals we had at the lodge. I know a lot of you are probably thinking, “Man, this guy is spoiled,” and I guess I am a little bit. I’ve been very fortunate to have visited many, many lodges and resorts in my life, but chef Dave Rosewarne is one of the best chefs I have ever had to cook for me. He cooked at Winston Churchill’s funeral, as well as for three Prime Ministers and for relatives of the Queen. He’s owned his own restaurants and, unlike some executive chefs, Dave also bakes, so he does the desserts, the bread, the pastries, etc. He is definitely the “full meal deal” of chefs. His food was easily on par with what you could only get at the finest restaurants in the world.

Quartet of meats

To give you an example, on the first night there we had Beef Wellington. Beef Wellington is, of course, tenderloin in a pastry, and the beef was cooked to perfection – medium-rare inside, yet it had the hard pastry shell all around it. The next day we had a quartet of meats on our plates – beef tenderloin with a Hollandaise sauce, chicken parmesan, a lamb chop, and pork tenderloin, all on the same plate with side dishes that were absolutely delectable. I cannot tell you how incredible the meals were.

Beef Wellington

Reid’s Birch Island resort was an absolutely beautiful place to stay. It was comfortable, it was clean and its history made it a very unique place. This is an ideal resort for families, weddings, corporate getaways or just a fishing trip with your fishing buddies. With world-class fishing, some of the best food you’ll ever eat, incredible service and extremely welcoming accommodations, there aren’t many places I’d rather go to for a dream fishing vacation.  

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