The Freshwater Phil guide to Montreal shore fishing spots

Montreal's best shore fishing spots

Thursday, February 1, 2018

January 2018 ice fishing report

Haven't done too much ice fishing this January, in comparison to previous seasons. Continuing with this winter's plan of experimenting with new tactics and fishing new areas, the few times I did fish on ice this January were interesting.

January 9 2018:

Picked a relatively warm day to fish, as I planned to target trout and / or landlocked salmon one  of the open lakes in the Eastern Townships of Quebec. With a high of -1 C, I knew I would need to worry much about my line or ice holes freezing up.

Drilled a bunch of holes between 20 to 45 feet of depth, and fished a variety of lures, jigging at various depths with the help of my Humminbird flasher. To boost effectiveness, I tipped the lures with a live mealworm. Additionally, after not catching any fish in a given hole for a while, I then chummed a bit handfull of canned corn into the ice holes. On five occasions, I was rewarded with a good chase, 3 of them ended up resulting in hookups. Unfortunately, they were all from Lake trout, a species which is closed in Quebec during the winter months. 3 came on a Swedish Pimple, the other a small Kastmaster spoon. Ranging from roughly 3 to 6 lbs, nice fight on light tackle. No pictures, as fish were caught out of season, and immediately released as per the Quebec regulations.


January 28 2018:

Was invited up North by a friend that has a place on one of the few lakes open to ice fishing in the Laurentians. Knowing that the lake in questions has some big Northern pike, I was hoping to hook into a trophy. Set up 10 lines under polar tip ups, baited half of them with frozen mackerels, the other half with smaller frozen smelt. Action was very slow as expected, as this lake is better known for size than numbers. Took 5 hours to get the first bite, no trophy this time, but at least we didn't leave empty handed.





January 31 2018:

Got another invite from a friend, this time it was one that has a place in New York state. Having never ice fished outside Canada, I was excited to head South of the border to try jigging for bass. While bass is open in most of New York state, catch and release is mandatory during winter and spring. Ari and I were able to pattern and land 7 of 9 largemouth bass in a short afternoon of fishing. Nothing too big, they were mainly in the 12 to 14 inch range, with a couple of them going a bit smaller.




Most were landed on either the Swedish Pimple or the Williams ice Jig.



Definitely was interesting to fish South of the border, and after doing some research online, I'm pretty sure I'll try going back in the future, with many lake and opportunities for trophy sized pike, as well as lake trout, landlocked salmon, and jumbo perch.

Looking forward to reporting about some upcoming exploratory outings in February...


Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Ice fishing marathon to end 2017

Throughout the spring, summer, and fall, anglers fishing out of high end boats with top notch gear and electronics have a huge advantage over us who shore fish. Same goes for people that live on lakes or rivers without, or with very limited access to outsiders.

Ice fishing is the great equalizer, as long as you find safe ice and and a good access point, anyone has a good shot at having a great outing.

This December, my work load was lighter than it had been in most previous years. Additionally, my wife took most of the kids skiing for their new year's break, leaving me home with only Ari, my oldest son.

With extra time on my hands and not much to do around the house, I decided to spend the latter half of the month scouting new ice fishing spots in different zones of the province. Provincial regulations vary by management zone, so it's crucial to check the rules before heading out to new areas.

While zone 8 around Montreal is open for fishing year round, many of the other zones are completely shut down during the winter. These zones have a few lakes and rivers that are exceptions to the rules, where winter / ice fishing is permitted. The MFFP web site has some good search tools for each zone, and is to first spot to check when looking for new areas to fish at. These water bodies were my target areas to kick off my ice fishing season.

December 7 2017 - Quebec fishing zone 11 (Upper Laurentians)

Hoping to find safe ice in the upper Laurentians after a cold front, I headed up North with Ari. Unfortunately, the lake in question only had 2 inches of ice. Instead of heading back home, we decided to head further North to another zone with some lakes where fishing is permitted throughout winter. We found a new target lake on the government's web site, Google mapped it, and headed up to the area. Had to trek for a good 1/2 hour though the woods to reach the lake, and got there to find roughly 3 to 3.5 inches of solid ice. As winter rules for multiple lines and dead bait were not in effect until December 20th, we only had a couple jigging rods and a handful of lures.

We managed a few small perch.


The lake had some moose tracks, surprising being that the ice was barely thick enough for us to walk on.


After using Google's satellite map to find an ATV trail to the lake when I got back home that evening, we decided to head back there once again once winter rules were in effect, with the intention of targeting some pike with dead bait.

December 11 2017 - Quebec fishing zone 14 (Lanaudiere)

Kids off school for a day, headed up to Coin Lavigne for some stocked trout ice fishing. Heated cabin came in very handy, as the wind chill was -18 when we arrived. Younger ones stayed in the warm cabin while we got the lines set up, while Levi ice fished with me. Action was extremely slow, we only managed 4 trout all day, but kids had a very nice time, not to mention the tasty dinner.



December 21 2017 - Quebec fishing zone 11 (Upper Laurentians)

After dropping my family off at the airport, Ari and I headed back to the new lake we had tried a couple weeks earlier. This time, I brought along my tip ups, and some frozen mackerels and smelt to use as bait to target big Northern pike under ice. All the gear would be too much to haul through rough terrain in the woods, so we opted to walk an ATV trail to the lake, about 1 kilometer or so from where I was able to park.

The ATV trail had a good foot or so of fresh snow, which made the trek out to the lake towing a heavy sled, quite challenging. The trail was crisscrossed with deer, moose and bear tracks, and after a good 45 minutes or so, we finally reached the lake. It was covered in thick snow as well, took another 10-15 minutes to get to the area we planned to target.

After drilling our holes and setting up the pike lines, Ari and I jigged for panfish, catching a few perch and sunfish. 


Nothing like being out on an uninhabited lake, untouched since freeze up, surrounded by nothing to the calm nature in crisp -13 temps. Ari enjoyed some frozen pizza for lunch.


With close to 1 hours walk back to the car, we had to call it a day a few hours later, by mid afternoon. Unfortunately, no pike for us, and as there will likely be too much snow on the trail for the rest of the winter, I doubt we'll be heading back any time soon.

 Ari stopped for a short break while towing the sled back across the lake.


Though the fishing wasn't great, I was quite happy with the entire experience of finding, trekking to, and trying to ice fish the lake.

December 24 2017 - Quebec fishing zone 6 (Eastern Townships)

Being an observant Jew, I don't ice fish on Fridays or Saturdays. This was the mandatory break in my plan of fishing 4 management zones in 4 days, effectively making my next outing day 2.

Ari cancelled on me do to last minute change in weather which had him cleaning snow into the wee hours of Sunday morning. I headed out to a lake in the Eastern Townships I first ice fished last winter, hoping to find safe ice. Sure enough, I was lucky to find a solid 4.5 inches of ice, and less than 1 centimeter of snow cover. East trekking and hole drilling using my manual auger, I got the pike lines set up again.

My personal favorite for ice fishing with bait is the Big Game polar tip up made by HT Enterprises. Built to last, and to avoid ice hole freeze up, you can pretty much set and forget the lines until the flag pops ups when a fish take the bait.


Unfortunately, no hits from any pike. Only had 4 lines set for pike as I was alone, and saved the 5th line to jig for perch. The perch were slower than ever, took my until 3 PM to catch my first one, and then another one on my way out that swallowed my W3 jigging rap.


December 25 2017 - Quebec fishing zone 14 (Lanaudiere)

The following day, I took my brother David and nephew Yehuda up to Coin Lavigne for some more trout fishing. My nephew had never been out on ice before, so I enjoyed being able to give him the run down, without having to worry about catering to my own kids, as they were away skiing with my wife.

Didn't take long for us to catch a few rainbow and speckled trout. 


Fishing died down completely around noon, and nothing I tried was working. Finally, I decided to slow jig a Sabiki rig tipped with mealworms, and started catching rainbow trout one after the other.


We had our bag limit shortly after.


For those of you that have never heard of a Sabiki rig, it is used to catch bait in Saltwater, and widely available around ocean fishing piers. Having picked one up in Florida last April, I brought it back with my intending to try it on ice for perch. It's made up for 6 small hooks, tipped with a piece of plastic that looks like fish skin, with a small colored bead above each hook. As Quebec rules only allow for 3 hooks per line, I cut it in half, and re-tied it to my ice fishing rod. Love it when innovation works out to save the day.

December 26 2017 - Quebec fishing zone 9 (Laurentians)

With an incoming cold front and a busy schedule for the last few days in December, this was to be the last of my ice fishing marathon to end 2017. Finally, Ari and I got onto the lake I had wanted to try a few week earlier. Having never been on this lake before, we set up 8 lines for Northern pike, and drilled a bunch of extra holes a bit deeper to jig for perch while we waited for the pike to hit our bait.

Ari setup with a small w2 jigging rap, while I decided to try my Sabiki rig for perch. The bare rig didn't manage any strikes as it would in saltwater, despite my marking a big school of fish on my flasher. Sure enough, as soon as I tipped the hooks with mealworms, I landed this Jumbo perch.


Ari an I landed a bunch more over the next couple hours, but with a -28 windchill, it got too cold on my wet fingers to keep taking off the gloves to free the fish, so I switched to jigging frozen smelt for pike.

Took a couple hours for the first flag to go off, Ari landed his first pike of the winter. Too small to keep, we released it after a quick pic.


Unfortunately, that was the first and last pike of the day. However, Ari managed to jig up a few dozen perch, with some nice ones in the 9 to 11 inch range.




We ended up keeping some of the bigger perch, as well as a few smaller ones that didn't make it. Planned on having some tasty fresh perch for dinner, as the lake we fished was relatively clean compared to most waterways around Montreal.


Unfortunately, their flesh was riddled with white worms (parasites), so they all ended up in the garbage.

Overall, it has been an epic experience getting to scout and try out some new spots, which is all part of the game. Ice fishing from sunrise to sunset in everyday, not to mention driving a good 1200 km to get back and forth, was quite the experience. 

Time invested into trying new fishing spots, rigs, lures and tactics, often doesn't result into much. However, when it all works out and you end up hooking and possibly landing a trophy fish on ice, makes it all worth it.




Monday, November 20, 2017

Our 2017 fishing season highlights

Another open water fishing season is in the books. Thank God, it was another productive season, with some new species and personal records beaten for most of the family. Equally if not more important, I spent time honing various fishing related skills and techniques.

Some if the season's highlights:

Southwest Florida shark fishing trip



Mijocama bass fishing trip





Domaine Shannon walleye trip






And some pics by species:

Largemouth bass:







Smallmouth bass





Walleye / pike






Trophy Musky





Carp pics accessible in the carp fishing pictures gallery page at:
http://www.freshwaterphil.com/carp-fishing-pictures.cfm


I thank God for giving me the opportunity and ability to be able to fish as much as I do, as well as my wife for putting up with my fishing habit. Thank you again to everyone I've fished with over the past year, we should do it again sometime.








Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Coldwater trophy fishing in fall

November has arrived, and recent cold spells have dropped the water temperature around Montreal down to where they should be for this time of the year.

Though the biting cold often makes for miserable conditions on a boat, but picking the right day and dressing extremely warmly for a fishing outing can make for some trophy fishing this time of the year. I typically wear a layer of thermal underwear and socks made of quality fleece under my clothes, and then cover up with a survival suit and heavy boots. Basically the same gear I use for ice fishing, as being stationary on a boat for hours at a time combined with the windchill can make for sub zero outer temps.

Many species of game fish such as bass, walleye and musky will go on a final feeding frenzy before first ice. Bass and walleye tend to school up by size at certain areas during the fall, and finding a productive area with larger fish in very cold water can pay off nicely, year after year. Scaled down presentations fished slower than normal are a killer fishing tactic when it comes to fishing for and catching predatory fish species in colder water.

Fished for smallmouth bass with my friend and guide Mark Currie a few days ago. The bite was on, but the bass were very finicky, short striking our lures, resulting in more fish lost than landed.

Still, we managed to land a good dozen smallmouth bass, decent sizes too, up to 4.5 lbs.


Followed up with a musky fishing outing with my friend and guide Patrick Therrien a few days later, water temp had dropped 7 degrees F in a few days.

Trolling paid off big time during our musky trip, I landed my biggest trophy musky of the season, and just about tied my all time biggest musky. Also the latest in a season that I have landed musky to date.


As you see, cold water fishing in fall around Montreal is not for the faint of heart, only die hard fishermen / anglers out this time of the year. However, the rewards are well worth it when you stand the chance of landing your biggest trophies of the season.

Mike, Patrick and Mark are available for cold water guided fishing outings through the end of November, for more information on their guided fishing rates, click:   http://freshwaterphil.com/fishing-guides.cfm

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Topwater bass fishing from shore in fall

This fall has been the warmest and driest that I can remember. Late October water temp is still where it normally is in September, hovering around the 60 Fahrenheit mark. Fishing for warm water species like carp has been pretty good, so I figured I'd take one more shot at trying to land some largemouth bass on topwater lures before the season ends.

I have neglected both largemouth and smallmouth bass this season. My last attempt at catching largemouth bass, was back in late June, just after the season opener up North. Luckily, my fishing log has plenty of old entries of where largemouth bass can be found this time of year, and with the water warmer than normal, I chose a day where the outer temp would hit the twenties by noon, making for a nice warm days of calm water and quickly warming shallows.

I got started near mid morning, first spot didn't produce any bass, though I was still wearing a sweater until close to noon. By the time I got to my second fishing spot, the weather had warmed considerably, and water was slightly warmer as well. As I was shore fishing alone, I got started by rigging 2 rods up, one with a Pop R (my go to topwater lure), the other with a spinnerbait. Plan was to work a given area with the topwater, and follow up with the spinnerbait.

Topwater action was good, especially near rocks surrounded by weeds. Over the course of the next few hours, I managed to land 11 of 13 largemouth bass, and 8 bluegill sunfish, mainly on the Pop R. Most of the largemouth bass weren't too big, but I did manage one very nice largemouth bass which weighed in over 4 lbs.

I took a couple selfies with the bass, you'll have to excuse the mediocre photography...



Very nice fight, and a thrill to have landed my biggest largemouth bass of the season on what may likely be my last attempt at topwater largemouth bass fishing this season.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Fall 2017 carp fishing

Though fall 2017 officially arrived over a week ago, the recent heat wave kept water temps at mid summer levels. Quite understandable when the record breaking ground temps over the past week have been hotter than any days this summer summer.

Accordingly, carp are still in their summer feeding pattern, a good month or so after they should be transitioning to their fall feeding mode. Suits me fine, as the summer bite tends to be a lot steadier, yielding good numbers of carp.

Managed 2 carp fishing outings with my kids this first week of fall 2017. The first outing was timed well, with outer temperature over 30 degrees C, the bite was steady as expected. Though we only fished for about 4 hours, kids landed 5 of the 8 carp we hooked, with Eli landing biggest carp of the day.


Was hoping to make it back the next day for the last and hottest day of the heat wave, but was not able to. Strong North winds blew in a cold front for the day after, and bite was off all morning. As the temperature warmed up around noon, bite turned on again, but the carp were very finicky, almost like they were "short striking". We only managed to land 3 of the 7 carp we hooked, probably the worst landing ratio we've experience all season. However, Avi managed to land his biggest carp of the season.


Zev had some fun catching a slew of perch, sunfish, gobies, and a couple very small bass. When he wasn't fishing, chasing and catching grasshoppers by hand this time of year is relatively easy.


One of the carp we caught had a lamprey on it, Zev's first encounter with these odd looking parasites.



Though September is ending with a short cold front, predictions for early October are warmer than usual, and water temp is still way above normal for this time of year. Good chance carp fishing season will be extended by a couple weeks this fall.

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.



.

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