The Freshwater Phil guide to Montreal shore fishing spots

Montreal's best shore fishing spots

Friday, August 18, 2017

Kid's first walleye trip to Domaine Shannon

Just got back from a 4 day trip to Le Domaine Shannon. Brought my 11 year old son and 8 year old daughter along for her first attempt at catching walleye fishing on Lac LeNotre. My son had been to Le Domaine Shannon in the past, but fishing for pike on a pike lake. While he's caught his more than fare share of walleye over the years, it was his first outing on Lac Lenotre.

Upon arriving, the owner told us that walleye fishing had been very difficult over the past 2 weeks prior to our arrival. Not what we wanted to hear, as there is not much of a pike fishery on Lac LeNotre aside from the occasional spring giant caught by soaking dead minnows, which is no longer legal in Quebec. As I always tell my kids, it is what it is, let's make the best of it.

After driving another 28 km to our isolated propane/solar powered cabin, I get the boat set up and head out to lac LeNotre for our first attempt at fishing for / catching some walleye, hopefully some keepers.

With a West wind blowing nicely across the lake, I got straight to business setting up a couple lines to put out, Rigged one rod with a Bite Booster lure, of which I removed the treble hooks, and led a 3 foot fluorocarbon leader with #4 Gamakatsu baitholder hook, tipped with a live worm. Second rod was rigged with a Little Joe worm harness tied to a 3 ounce bottom bouncer, again tipped with a live worm.

Having a sonar makes all the difference when it comes to walleye, for the purpose of our drifts, my cheap portable hummingbird got the job done, but it was the one time I could have used a proper unit with GPS ($$$). On our second drift, the rod with the Bite Booster loads, I know it's a nice one when it starts taking drag. I guide her to keep tension with a bent rod at all times, and my son net's the big walleye on his second try.

Measuring over the legal limit at 24 inches, I hand it to my more experienced son for the quick pic, as my daughter was unsure of whether or not she wanted to hold it.


Weighing in at 4.5 lbs, I'll say she knocked that one out of the park on her first try at walleye fishing.

My son followed up with a keeper size walleye on the little Joe harness, during the next drift over same area.



Wind suddenly died down after that drift, and were spent a bit of time trolling our rigs before calling it a days a few hours later.

The following morning, the wind & lake were way to calm for drift fishing, so we started of with more trolling. Sure enough, the first pass yielded another nice walleye for my daughter, this one measure in right at the top limit of the 53 CM (just under 21 inches) slot for keeping walleye in that region of Quebec. Weighed in at a heavy 3.2 lbs for a walleye of that length.



On the next pass, my son hooked up with a keeper size pike as well.



After catching another small walleye and pike each in the cloud some drizzling rain, the sun came out bringing in a warm front, the bite died down, and we headed back to grill some burgers on a log fire.

After getting the fire start, it was back to work for the fishing guide, aka myself :)


With weather changing for heat to thunderstorms, to near freezing single digit temperature to fog, the walleye fishing died down for the rest of the trip. We made the best of it by catching some small pike, and enjoying what we could of the local wildlife, sights and sounds of being out in the forest with a a good 4-5 kilometer stretch of lake to ourselves at most times.



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Some big flocks of young red head ducks getting swimming lesson back and forth across a 5 kilometer stretch of lake / river.


All in all, a learning experience for myself, testing my kids to see how they react to being out for hours without catching much, when they are typically spoiled with non stop action of big fish like carp. They fared well for their age, though I'll probably wait until my younger ones develop more of patience before attempting to take them to Lac Lenotre for some more walleye fishing. Leaving the trip without any walleye for home as a slight let down, as our previous trips fishing for walleye in Lac Lenotre have always resulted in us catching our bag limits, in addition to our shore lunches / walleye dinners.

That's fishing.

More information on fishing Le Domaine Shannon can be found at:
http://freshwaterphil.com/ledomaineshannon.cfm





Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Fishing bass, pike, walleye in Montreal

Finally made it out with my friend Mark Currie who runs Advanced Bassin' Plus fishing guide service for the first time this season. Brought along 11 year old Eli, and for the first time on the St Lawrence in a boat, my 5 year old Zev.

Wasn't too sure how Zev would react to being confined on a boat for 8 hours. Does help when the boat is a nice 21 foot Ranger, fully loaded with gear, latest electronics, etc. More importantly, my confidence in Mark to put us on to some very good multi species fishing in the Montreal area, short drive from home.

Day started off with Zev getting to drive the big Ranger, equipped with a nice 250 HP Mercury engine.



After getting to our first walleye spot to drift fish, Mark decided to head off to troll another area, based on wind direction being wrong for the drift we require to drift fish for walleye.

Next spot has a mix of good numbers of pike, with some big walleye mixed in. None of the walleye came to play, but we did catch 9 pike trolling for a while. I assisted Zev during his turns at the rod, as he's still on the young side of being able to properly reel in most game fish species.



First time he's ever caught pike, those teeth never seem to thrill kids that age.

Eli did just fine fighting the pike on his own, as this was his third time out fishing with Mark.


After a while, Mark too us to a spot with some decent size smallmouth bass. Water was clear enough for us to spot them chasing our lures, and we caught 8 smallmouth bass casting over the next hour or so.

As Zev has already caught some bass earlier this season, he knew how to handle them on his own.




Eli managed some smallmouth bass of his own with Mark's guidance as well. Not sure if he's caught smallmouth bass any in the past, but they are the first smallmouth bass he remembers catching.


As the wind had shifted, we headed to a new spot to drift for walleye. We did manage to land 7 smaller fish, all under the slot size of 13 or so inches. Didn't bother with any pics, as we were hoping for bigger ones, shame because Zev's first walleye was caught on camera. As more people started fishing the spot next to us, we opted to get back to trolling.

As it was past noon and a lot warmer, Zev was exhausted and fell asleep on the deck. Perfect timing for Eli's luck, as the pike bite was very good, we landed another 11 pike in about an hour or so. Again, nothing really big, but Eli was perfectly content not having to do much except pick up one of our rods to fight a pike every few minutes.






Against Eli's protests, we headed back to our first spot of the morning to drift fish for a mix of walleye and smallmouth bass. He wasn't quite thrilled to have to work a drop shot rig on the drift, trolling with rods in holders is so much easier. 

However, he was quickly rewarded with the biggest bass of the day, this one pushing 4 lbs. 


After 3 more bass, I managed another small walleye that spit the hook at boatside, and then just as we were about to changes fishing spots, I hook into a decent walleye, first and last good one of the day. I gave it to Eli for the picture.


All in all, a good 40+ fish of 3 game species caught on Mark's boat, who's ability to put fishing customers onto insanely good numbers, of quality fish no matter what the conditions are, is second to none. His patience explaining and teaching technique for kids is very good, and few can compare to his fishing knowledge and experience.

For guided outings, Mark can be contacted by clicking: http://freshwaterphil.com/contactmark.cfm

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Fishing around Montreal in summer

Summer has finally kicked in after much unseasonably wet weather. Water levels are starting to drop slightly, although still higher than normal in many areas. Surface temperature are near their peaks, and will likely start to drop in the next couple weeks or so.

So far this summer, I haven't done much fishing for species other than carp since returning from our bass fishing vacation up North at the end of June. Not that I have anything against predatory species, simply haven't got around to targeting pike, walleye or trout at all, and the few bass outings I put in, were very specific to topwater fishing by bike no less.

Carp fishing has been better than average so far this summer. Last couple outings yielded triple and quadruple hookups, for the first time ever, and most outings are yielding between 15-25 carp hooked.




While fishing for big numbers of carp is great, I also like to put in some time fishing for trophy sized carp. My wife beat her 2 week old personal best with another monster carp, this one weighed in at a whopping 34 lbs. Imagine she was closer to 40 lbs a few weeks earlier before the spawn!


Due to the new bait fish prohibition in Quebec that forbids the use of live or dead bait fish, I haven't bothered targeting channel catfish at all this season. Still, we do get some mid size cats on boilies when carp fishing slows down.



Been doing a decent amount of biking to stay in shape, and have been bringing along a light bass rod with topwater lures to hit some spots during my ride to different areas in Montreal. Pop R is one of my all time favorites.



And a real nice smallmouth bass, biggest bass of the season so far for me, also caught topwater fishing on a Pop R.


Only boat outing I have done after my trip up North has been with my friend and number one musky guide, Mike. Brought my 15 year old son Levi along hoping for him to catch his first musky. He hit it out of the park with back to back 50 inch trophy muskies, caught minutes apart.





Hope to add some more nice pics as the summer goes on.

Friday, June 30, 2017

More big bass at Mijocama

For the 16th summer in a row, our annual family fishing trip was at Mijocama outfitter, home of some of the biggest largemouth bass in the upper Gatineau region of Quebec.

Largemouth bass are not native to that region in general, and the bass at Mijocama are a strain of Florida largemouth that were stocked many years ago, back when the lake belonged to an American family and regulations we likely non existent.

Being a strain of the bass species native to much warmer water, we typically get good fishing condition at the end of June, when the water temperature is warm, and we get long hot days with plenty of sunshine.

This season had to be the toughest conditions we have faced there to date at this time of year. While we normally get maybe 1 of 5 days being rainy on most season, we multiple rain showers almost every day, and steady rain for a full day. Only one day was sunny, and even then, the kids were out in heavy sweaters and windbreakers instead of our usual shorts and t shirts. All that rain  made for swarms of mosquitoes the likes of which we've never seen before at Mijocama, where they are usually only active at night.

Despite the very tough conditions, we made the best of our trip, making sure to fish whenever possible. With our combined years of experience on Giles Lake, the family managed some real nice catches as usual.

As Zev is now 5 years old, he joined us for his first trip to Mijocama and his first shot at landing a largemouth bass. His older sister joined us on my boat, while 3 of my older sons shared their own boat.

Chaya and Zev both enjoyed some great success with bass, with Zev landing a 3, 3.5 and 3.75 lbs bass on one morning, and Chaya landing her personal best largemouth bass at 4.5 lbs.




Avi managed some real beasts as well, his biggest ones going 4 and 4.5 lbs.



While live worms catch lots of bass at Mijocama, giant sunfish are a welcome catch for the little ones. While many are caught as bi-catch while bass fishing, they also make for great fun when the bass bite dies down. Every season, I teach my younger ones how to sight fish using these jumbo sunfish as out targeted species.




While live worms make for the best fishing by far, I leave that for the kids. On the last hour of every evening, I store the bait rods, and get go for my light action rod for some topwater action. Over the years, the Pop R has out fished every other style of topwater lure I've tried. As such, that's pretty much all I use to catch more topwater bass at Mijocama. That one magical hour of possible topwater action before dark is one of the things that keep me returning to Mijocama every season, year after year.

The topwater bass caught are typically smaller than the ones we fish, with most fish being in the 13 to 15 inch range, although I've them up to 3 lbs on poppers at times. I never found color to make any difference, I'l just tie on any one of 5 or 6 color patterns.

First evening yielded 4 bass on the Pop R.


Second evening yielded 4 sunfish and a tiny bass.


Third evening yielded 3 bass and a few more sunfish.


Fourth and final evening was tough, only 1 giant sunfish, as I had 3 other boats working my area of the lake. I finally switched spots at around 8:40 PM, to a very small shallow bay where I had spotted and mid size bass while sight fishing for sunfish the previous day. I've never seen anyone targeting that bay for bass, so I tried a few casts. Sure enough, I got a major topwater explosion on my third or for cast, which could not have been in more than 3-4 inches of water, as I was casting right up to the shrubs on shore.

No mistaking that this largemouth bass was on the feed, just under 3 lbs.


Just as I caught the bass, Avi radioed me on the walky talky, he had just landed a nice 4 lbs bass that measured 20 inches. Probably would have been a 5+ lbs if it were as thick as most of the other ones, but no such luck. As he was around the bend and we were both very close to the cabin, we came in for a father son with almost no daylight left.



Some other interesting catches of the trip were my nephew's first pike, and a couple bass I caught while trying some trolling for pike with a big Rapala Husky Jerk.



 this Northern water snake I caught. Eli posed with the snake that was nearly as long as him, probably over 4 feet and quite fat for that species.



Another great family fishing vacation at Mijocama, some new personal bests for my kids, and best of all, memories that should last a lifetime.

View more information about Mijocama outfitter at:
http://freshwaterphil.com/mijocama-outfitter.cfm

Monday, May 22, 2017

Canadian carp fishing in spring

After a long, cold Canadian winter, where carp spend months wintering in near freezing water temperatures under ice cover, spring is the magical time when the warming water boosts their metabolism, and they go on the feed before the spawn, which typically occurs around the end of spring.

At first, the cold water has them lethargic, and going on short feeding bursts, typically around the time where the water hits it's warmest during a given day. With our 1 rod per person rules, having a few people on the bank at the same time, will exponentially increase your chances for success. The keys to catching carp during early Canadian spring, are:

Having some good spring spots:
A proper good spring spot will have warmer water than most of the surrounding area, as well as less current if located in a river system. Bays, inlets, feeder creeks, flood control reservoirs, etc, are all good spots to prospect during the spring. Carp will often lie motionless near the surface, or right up on the shore, in order to regulate their body temperature in these warmer water areas.

Properly formulated bait:
Over the years, I've found combinations of cayenne pepper and / or paprika to be extremely effective in cold water. As such, my go to bait for early spring carp fishing in Canada would be my Fireball boilies. In rocky areas without much debris, I fish them on bottom, while in areas with lot of silt or dead vegetation, I fish a popup version of the same Fireball boilie.

Lots of patience:
Avoid the urge to keep feeding and chumming during your session. A few well placed boilies will ensure that the carp know where your hookbait lies, and when they are ready to start feeding, they will know exactly where to find your bait. Having too much bait in the water will reduce you chances of taking advantage of a short feeding window. As well, avoid re-casting your line too often. Once you have a presentation that works, trust it. I'll usually let my line sit for up to 2 hours before re-setting it.

If you have the option of pre-baiting a spot before fishing it, your chances of getting onto some good carp fishing will increase. Most will bait with a few pounds of corn, with some quality boilies mixed in. Baiting in a lake or slack water will give more option to the feed that goes in, while the option are limited the stronger the current is in a given area.

This spring, my carp fishing season started in early April, as posted in a previous blog entry. After that, I didn't have the chance to get out again for a good 5 weeks or so, between busy work schedule, followed by holidays, followed by an epic shark fishing trip to Florida.

Finally got out early in May with two of my kids. My 8 year old daughter Chaya was finally ready to attempt catching her first carp, and my 14 year old son tagged along as well. Being that my daughter is to small to properly handle one of my 12 foot carp rods, I downsized to a couple 8 footers and a 9 foot rod, all with short butts, and shorter distances to the reel from the end of rod butt.

Knowing that my spring presentation for carps are effective, I explained the feeding windows timeline to her, and the test to her patience was on. With the water high, stained, and still colder than normal, it took over 4 hours to get the first hit, during which time the extreme patience of a carp fisherman became very apparent to her. When the bite alarm finally went off by mid afternoon, she was ecstatic. Didn't take much to bring in the small carp in cold water, not much of a fight at all, but she had landed her first carp ever.


My older son landed his as well, a couple hours later:


Nothing big, but at least our mission was accomplished.

I returned to the area a couple weeks later, after a heat wave the previous week brought up the water temperature significantly. Optimal temperature for carp to fully start feed is around the 10 degree Celcius range, and water at my spot it just about at that temperature on the day of our outing. This time, I brought along my 11 year old son, 8 year old daughter, and 5 year old son.

We set up 3 rods for carp, and saved one of the rods to catch small gobies and panfish to keep my youngest one occupied while we waited for the carp to start feeding. Our session started off well,  my older son  landed his first carp of the day within a couple hours, after losing his first one.


As you can see, my daughter didn't look to happy in the picture, as she was somewhat jealous, but more worried that she'd never get a turn, basing on her first experience in colder water a couple week before.

I assured her she'd get her shot, and sure enough, she landed her first of the outing about 45 minutes later.


Now she was happy, smiling, and proud that hers was slightly bigger than her brother',s/ At 15.5 lbs, it was her biggest fish ever.

Now that the mood was relaxed the day got better. Eli beat her weight by 1/2 lb on his next fish. Not sure if sticking out his tongue was intentional, but it wouldn't surprise me, as he tends to get very competitive, and enjoys trash talking his siblings whenever he outfishes them.


Around lunch time, we ran out of worms, so we retired the panfish rod, and added a 4th carp rod. Just in time for a short 2 hour frenzy, during which time the kids landed another 6 carp in about 1.5 hours.







Eli landed the biggest of the day at 22 lbs.


They also managed a double header to end the frenzy.


Needless to say, they were in carp heaven by this time, and even though the fishing slowed down, we managed a couple more before heading home around 4:30 PM.




They all agreed that their day of carping had been the greatest ever, and to their credit they managed to land 11 of 12 carp, which is an excellent ratio by carp fishing standards. The majority of the carp hit my Fireball boilies, but as the day warmed up, we caught some of the carp on my sweet dream boilies, as well as my black magic boilies.

Having the right set up, equipment, and proper drag setting are extremely important, but technique is crucial. With some good coaching, even the youngest of kids are be able to land most of their carp.

Returned the following week guiding father and son outing. Robert and Daniel managed to land a perfect 10 of 10 carp, as well as a channel catfish, first one caught this season. Both had a blast, discovering what carp fishing during Canadian spring is like. Fireball and sweet dream boilies were the bait of the day. I managed to land an 11th carp after they left and I was packing away the gear.







Returned again the following week with a solo client, so we were down to using only 2 rods all day. Water level had come up considerably, and we were lucky to have brought along our waders just in case.

Bite remained steady all day, Nick landed 9 of 12 carp, with the biggest one just under 28 lbs. Shattered his previous biggest fish record by more than double.

Snapped a pic of the fat female as well as the release.



Nick also managed to land a decent size channel catfish just over 9 lbs, beating his previous record of 6 lbs for that species. Sort of cool to beat your PB on a by-catch.


Returned again the following Sunday, this time with 2 of my kids. Eli and Zev, aged 11 and 5. With high winds and an incoming heat wave, I was hoping that the pre-spawn frenzy would be on. Started off by setting up 3 rods.


Took a few minutes for Eli to hook and land his first carp of the outing, decent carp in the mid teens.


Problem with having 3 rods out and only 2 people big enough to handle them when carp fishing, is the risk of tangles. Next 2 fish hopelessly tandle one of the 2 other rods, so I switched to using only 2 rods for the rest of the outing, while keeping 2 other rods rigged and ready to fire back out as soon as a fish was landed.

This allows more time for line in water, especially when the frenzy turns on, which gives more chance of hooking up to multiple fish at the same time (double headers). Sure enough, the tactic paid off, Eli managed to land a whopping 21 of 26 carp, in addition to 1 channel catfish. Even more amazing, were the 3 double headers we had, considering we were fishing only 2 rods.

5 of the carp were between 20 to 25.5 lbs, and many in the upper teens.







The water was warm enough for us to get in and cool off when needed.


By far the most productive outing of our carp season so far, Eli's best carp outing ever as well.

The following morning, I took my wife out on a short 2 hour fishing date. As opposed to the previous day where I was fishing a high numbers spot far from home, we chose to fish a spot closer to home, known to have a tough but rewarding bite, with some bigger carp.

Only took half hour, and she hooked into her biggest carp to date at 31.5 lbs.

Try as I might, was not able to convince her that getting slimed was a positive thing, so I stepped in for the pic. Congratulations on the new PB!


I will be posting more of my spring time carp fishing updates to this blog post as the spring fishing season progresses.

I have many open dates left for guided carp outings this season, as well as boilies and hair rigs for sale. Contact me at phil@freshwaterphil.com  if interested.