Bass and nostalgia bountiful on Buckhorn

by Jeff Helsdon | May 1, 2012

My first walleye experience was on Buckhorn Lake in the Kawarthas during a Victoria Day weekend family fishing trip. I remember walleye being numerous in those days, as well as bass and the occasional muskie. I returned to Buckhorn last fall with my own family to try for bass and walleye, and to renew the good times I remember on the lake.

Three-generation resort
As a youth, I stayed at Beachwood Resort, and it was also the choice for my family: Collin, 14; Abigail, 8; Aliyah, 4; and my wife, Karen. We visited on the Labour Day weekend, a time when the fishing can be good for all species.

Beachwood Resort was built as a fishing lodge in 1926 by a man with the last name Beach. Harry and Florence Morgan purchased it in 1944. Their son, Fred Morgan, and wife, Karen, took over the business in 1971. Fred has since passed away, but Karen still works in the lodge kitchen. Their children, Dave and Krista, plus staff, now handle the day-to-day operation of the resort.

After arriving Saturday evening, we hit the water right away. Armed with a few hot spots from the Morgans, we headed onto Deer Bay in search of bass. A storm front was moving through that weekend, so we were fighting wind and rain the entire time. With that in mind, we moved into Black Duck Bay in front of the Lovesick Lock, where a cluster of islands slowed the wind enough for a manageable drifting speed.

The lodge
A wide range of accommodations include main-lodge suites, standard rooms, one- to three-bedroom condos, as well as stand-alone cottages with full cooking amenities. Meal plans and maid service are available.

Our first drift showed we made the right decision, and we caught several largemouth bass in the fading light of evening. While Aliyah was busy with one of the fish on her 2-foot rod, another with a little more heft grabbed Collin’s worm. Initially, we thought it was a bass, but it emerged as a walleye. It was in the slot size and a perfect eater.

Angling still a priority
Krista told me their business has changed over the years. Beachwood is now open yearround and is a destination for weddings and Christmas parties. Supper Saturday night in the dining room was a top-rate homecooked meal.

The main business is family vacations, but fishing is still an element of that. “All the kids bring their fishing gear,” Krista said.

Beachwood offers rooms in the original lodge, as well as cottages. Our accommodations were in the lodge and the room had a touch of nostalgia, but was still modern.

A diverse fishery
The fishing has also changed. Zebra mussels colonized Buckhorn more than 15 years ago on their move through the Trent-Severn Waterway. As a result, the water cleared and changed the walleye fishing. Now, zebra mussel numbers have stabilized. “The underside of the docks used to be covered with them and now they’re not,” Krista said.

Walleye and perch are still the main targets early in spring. Bass fishing has gained in popularity and Buckhorn has a growing reputation for muskie, with those who target them catching several per day.

The wind was up again the next morning and it soon clouded over. We tried working a weed flat, casting artificial lures and drifting live bait, but the wind was pushing us too fast. We anchored in deeper water and the kids caught a few panfish on worms.

Tired of the wind and drizzle, we headed in for lunch and then went exploring the shops in the town of Buckhorn. One worthwhile stop was Trude’s Bait in town near the locks, at water level. I remember years when there was a foot of water on the floor and customers had to “walk the plank” to keep their feet dry.

Monday dawned calm and beautiful, with loons greeting the early morning sun. Our first stop yielded some small perch. Next, we headed back to Black Duck Bay and used the trolling motor for a more controlled approach. It didn’t take long to tie into largemouths. We took turns reeling in bass for the next few hours before we decided to pack it up to beat the long-weekend traffic home.

The weekend didn’t end with large numbers of walleye in a cooler for the ride home, as long weekends did in my youth, but it still involved catching a good number of fish and furthering the love for fishing that Buckhorn helped instill in me.

Beachwood Resort
3043 Beachwood Dr., R.R.1
Lakefield, Ont., K0L 2H0
705-657-3481, or 1-888-313-1118

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