Anglers Return Year After Year to Bear’s Den Lodge

By Ashley Rae August 31, 2017

Tucked away on the rugged rocky shores of the French River near Alban, you will find Bear’s Den Lodge. Built in 1925, the lodge has seen many changes and updates yet still maintains its original charm, blending in with the incredible natural scenery. Much of the river is surrounded by the French River Provincial Park, which preserves the land and prevents future development.

You will be in awe of the rock formations, wildlife, and amazing landscape on the river. Beneath the surface, the wide variety of fish species provides anglers with plenty of options and inspiration to go exploring for memorable catches.

Explore the French River

Photo: Ashley Rae.

The French River is a unique river system beginning at Lake Nipissing and flowing west into Georgian Bay, the eastern section of Lake Huron. The vast web of channels and islands is a sight to behold from a map, but of course it is best experienced in person and will surely take your breath away.

Don’t forget to bring your camera along. Muskie, walleye, northern pike, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, catfish, crappie, sunfish, perch, bowfin, and longnose gar are just a few of the species found in the river.

Meet Art & Brenda Barefoot

Art and Brenda (far left and far right) show anglers Ashley & Eric the river. (Photo: Bear’s Den Lodge)

An avid angler and outdoorsman, Art Barefoot fell in love with the French River when he visited the area as a teenager. He had a dream to one day operate a lodge on this incredible waterway. Years down the road, Art and his wife, Brenda, found themselves too busy with hectic work schedules to enjoy any time in the outdoors. It was time to make a lifestyle change and thus the journey to the French River began.

Art and Brenda set off on a five-year search to find a lodge on the French River. At the time they heard about Bear’s Den, it had been closed for six years without any clientele, or even fishing boats. Upon visiting the lodge for the first time, they saw great potential, envisioning what the lodge could become.

The Barefoots purchased Bear’s Den Lodge in 1986. For 31 years they have poured their hearts and souls into making this lodge a perfect getaway, yet a home away from home for guests from all around the world. Many guests visit year after year and they even welcome third generation clientele bringing their grandchildren to the lodge. Today Art and Brenda run the lodge, along with their son Joe.

(Photo: Bear’s Den Lodge).

Bear’s Den offers six cottages and additionally has rooms available in the main lodge. They can house up to 55 guests. A variety of plans are available ranging from American Plans with meals included or Housekeeping options where guests may bring and prepare their own meals. Fishing, paddling, relaxation, photography, historical, and culinary packages are available and are just a few of the reasons why guests visit Bear’s Den. There’s truly something for any type of outdoor enthusiast.

Photo: Ashley Rae.

Learn to Fish with Bear’s Den Lodge

Bear’s Den Lodge is part of the Experience Fishing Program, which provides a fun, safe, and educational way to introduce newcomers to fishing. They will teach the basic skills, how to use fishing equipment, follow the fishing regulations, and practise safety around the water. They do encourage catch and release fishing, but can also educate on how to prepare and cook fish. The Experience Fishing program is available with a housekeeping plan or a meal plan (click here for more details).

experience fishing french river

Photo: Gord Pyzer.

As soon as you set foot on the docks at Bear’s Den for the first time, you’ll realize just why guests return year after year. The hospitality, accommodations, and service is excellent. If you decide to go with a meal plan, you won’t regret it, as the food is delicious too. The French River is a truly special place and it’s no wonder the Barefoot family fell in love here and decided to make it their home.

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