The Freshwater Phil guide to Montreal shore fishing spots

Montreal's best shore fishing spots

Friday, August 29, 2014

Montreal Quebec fishing guides

The city of Montreal in the province of Quebec is surrounded by various waterways containing some of the biggest fish in the province, as well as good quantities of fish for most species. This allows various local fishing guides to offer some of the best fishing in the province of Quebec. While I only guide for carp (my specialty fish species), a few of my friends are fishing guides as well. Between them, they cover most of the guided fishing techniques and species anyone around Montreal or Southern Quebec can possibly want to try fishing for.

I'm lucky enough to fish the Montreal area with these guides quite often. There is nothing quite like targeting a given species of fish with fishing guides that are at the top of their game. Besides for having the best chances at landing trophy fish or simply huge numbers of fish, fishing with a guide is the best way to learn proper techniques and tactics related to targeting, catching and properly releasing big fish.

It isn't too often that I get the chance to challenge myself to a fishing marathon. This week, my schedule ended up lending itself to a gruelling challenge. On Monday evening, I headed out with my friend Patrick. He is by far the best sturgeon guide in the province of Quebec. I've caught some sturgeon over 50 lbs with him in the past, and no one I know consistently catches 50+ lbs fish on nearly every outing.

Avi came along for the outing, hoping to catch his first sturgeon. We got set up around 7:00 PM, a bit over an hour before sunset. Sturgeon typically tend to bite after dark in the summer, especially during the type of heat wave we've been having.

Though the outing was a bit on the slow side, we managed to land 5 sturgeon, up to 58 inches (about 55-60 lbs), between 9:30 PM and 2:30 AM. Avi landed his first sturgeon ever, a mid sized one at 42 inches.

After heading home and sleeping only 2 hours, I headed out bright and early for a guided carp fishing outing I was doing the next morning, with John, and his grandson Tameem. Both were new to carp fishing, as are most of my clients. As I always do, I started off by giving them a rough idea on how to hook and fight big carp, then explained and demonstrated my set up in detail.

Didn't take long to get our first hit, John landed this nice carp, another fatty:

A few minutes later, he caught another one, then his grandson Tameem finally got some as well:

Amazingly, the fishing stayed on all through the day. John and Tameem ended up landing 18 carp of 22 runs, with 2 of the lost ones due to line cuts. Probably one of the highest landing percentages I've ever guided. They broke another record, landing 3 double headers during the outing, just missing a 4th one do to a line cut, and missing a triple header by about 30-60 seconds. Truly amazing when you consider that we were only allowed to use 3 rods!

Needless to say, I was exhausted by days end, after running around in the sun all day on only 2 hours of sleep. That being said, I couldn't have been happier with the fishing results, and slept real well that night.

After catching up on some sleep and a backlog of work at the office, I headed out again, this time with my childhood friend Jimmy, who also happens to be one of the top bass / pike guides in the Montreal and Southern Quebec region. Plan was to fish the Lac St Louis portion of the St Lawrence River bordering Montreal. The high winds made it impossible to finesse for for smallmouth bass, so we changed plans and decided to drift fish for pike, casting spinnerbaits and burning them over the tops of weed clumps in shallow water. The fishing tactic worked like a charm, I hooked a nice pike on my third cast. The bite stayed on, although a bit sporadic, until we marked a couple waypoints into the GPs to get a better idea of where we needed to be drift fishing. It was then that we started hooking into pike on almost every drift. No huge ones, most being in the 3.5 to 5 lbs range.

The 30 km/h+ wind gusts eventually forced us to seek shelter in some shallow marshy area. Though the wind was still strong, the waves weren't. Fishing the marsh area was tough, fish weren't around. Again, Jimmy;s experience as a bass fisherman came through.He pulled out a push pole and maneuvered his big bass boat into some of the thickest slop, a mix of heavy weed, lily pads and grass. I tied on a weedless frog. Jimmy called a cast, and my first drop, I hooked a nice lunker sized largemouth bass. It was well hooked, so I managed to horse it through the thick cover, and landed it shortly after.

I was more than thrilled to see a largemouth bass that size come out of the Lac St Louis section of the St Lawrence river, as they are somewhat rare there, being largely outnumbered by pike and smallmouth bass. That being said, the slop we were fishing in was prime largemouth bass territory, so the fish was exatcly where it should have been, just as Jimmy predicted.

After fishing the slop for a couple hours, the wind started dying down. We headed back to our originalk area to drift fish in the wind and waves. The pike were on fire, we ended up landing over 35 pike, not counting the ones we lost. 

Surprise catches often happen when fishing, and this outing was the jackpot. One one of our pike drifts, I hooked into a mid size smallmouth bass. Jimmy was somewhat surprised, as he rarely sees any bass at all in the pike infested area we were fishing. A few casts later, I hooked into another smallmouth bass. Jimmy's eyes nearly popped out of their sockets when he saw the size of the bass on it's fist couple jumps. Being used to bigger fish like carp, I didn't think the bass was that big, but when I finally managed to land it, I realized that it was by far the biggest bass I ever landed on the LAc St Louis portion of the St Lawrence river. It measured 21 inches,and weighed in at a whopping 5 lbs.

In his days fishing the Montreal area, Jimmy has never seen a smallmouth bass that size come out of Lac St Louis. Even most local tournament lunkers usually don't exceed 4 lbs, and their are no shortage of bass tournaments fished their almost every week throughout the summer. As happy as I was with my catch, Jimmy seemed even more excited about it than I did.

Both the largemouth and smallmouth bass I landed were the first ones since early summer, as I rarely devote any time to bass fishing any more.  Needless to say, I was thrilled with the quality of the fishing Jimmy put me onto despite the high winds that kept most fishermen off the water on that day. 

Whether you live in Quebec, or possibly visiting the Montreal, your best bet for some good fishing is to go out with a guide that can show you how it;s properly done, and put you onto large numbers of big fish. For more information on local fishing guides and their daily rates, click: 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Fishing Quebec for trophy fish

Living in Montreal on the doorstep of the St Lawrence River, I am fortunate enough to be able to fish for some of the largest fish to be found in the province of Quebec, without having to travel too far. The St Lawrence River and it's tributaries, such as the Richelieu River, are filled with some giant fish, such as big carp and catfish, as well as monster musky and sturgeon. Drive a bit further, and you're into big walleye and monster pike territory. Every once in a while, I'll venture out to different area of the province of Quebec, in search of my next trophy.

Over the past couple couple months or so, the kids and I managed to land some new personal bests, including walleye, pike, and catfish, along with some respectable sized bass to boot. The species came from different management zones set by the Quebec department of wildlife, namely zones 8, 10, and 14. The zones all have varying rules, so always best to check the local laws before heading to a specific zone, rules are available online by clicking:

I started off my week by heading out to a new waterbody in Quebec, in search of some nice carp. Having never been there, I brought along a small variety of bait, including some home made boilies, corn, tiger nuts, etc. As Ari was with me, we were able to use 2 lines, testing different baits at different depths.

The outing was terribly slow, but patience paid off. 3 hours after setting up, I got a nice run on my fishing line baited with a home made hazelnut / cream boilie. I set the hook into a decent fish, managed to turn it within 10 seconds with my Beastmaster rod. Surprisingly, the big carp headed directly at us at full speed, Ari netted it shortly after. Was very happy to see it was a fat mirror carp.

It weight in at 22.5 lbs, shattering my previous record for mirror carp which was 14 lbs. That was it for the day as far as bites on this new waterbody. Though it was very slow by our standards, I was happy to have pulled out a new PB on my first outing there.

The following day, I headed out onto the St Lawrence River, to chase some big muskies with my friend Mike. Mike is the top musky guide around Montreal, and likely the best in the entire province of Quebec. The St Lawrence river in Quebec has one of the healthiest musky populations in North America, and many trophy muskies over 50 inches long.

Mike and I have fished the many Quebec waterbodies for muskies in the past, so I new I was in for a treat. Took a few hours for the muskies to finally turn on, and when they did it was time for some rod bending, drag peeling action.

First musky was a nice 46 inch male, which is just about as big as they get (bigger ones are usually females). Mike had caught, tagged, and released the same fish 4 years before, when it was 6 inches shorter. Just another proof to show that proper handling techniques with catch and release of trophy fish actually works.

Took about 20 minutes, got another musky on the line. This one was a bit smaller, but some very noce markings on it:

Finally ended the outing with another nice musky a bit over 1 hour later. This one was bigger, a lot thicker, and again, very nicely marked, typical of this region of Quebec.

All in all, a great start to my week, hope to possibly be able to squeak out one more outing if I'm really lucky.

Mike and I both offer guided outings, contact either of us by clicking:

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Fishing for walleye and pike at Le Domaine Shannon

Just got back from a 4 day trip up North to Le Domaine Shannon, for the second time is as many months. This time, I took along Ari, as my others kids are all out of town visiting their grand parents. A friend of mine joined us for a couple days as well.

My first trip to Le Domaine Shannon was in August 2010, at which time we fished Lac LeNotre for walleye. We did quite well back then, so we decided to head back to the same lake. this time around, we fished another area of the lake, as we got a cabin on the extreme opposite side of Lac Lenotre. The area gets significantly more fishing pressure than the North side of the lake, given it's accessibility by portage from the main camp.

We were luck enough to have a boat on a small adjacent lake as well, in case the fishing or weather on Lac Lenotre was tough.

Day 1:

We arrived early in the morning, then made the treacherous trek out to our cabin. Road was by far the worst I've ever been on at le Domaine Shannon, but luckily, my CRV has AWD and a bit more clearance than the cars I've used to go up there in the past.

Unloaded the cabin, and made the short drive to our boat on Lac Lenotre. Spent a few hours locating schools of walleye at different depths. Being that we were in the heat of the day with not a cloud in sight, I didn't expect much. A couple missed hits in a few hours, we headed back to the cabin for lunch.

After lunch, we decided to map out the small lake we were on with my sonar. In contrast to Lac Lenotre, which is a big/deep oligotrophic lake, the one we were on is a very shallow eutrophic lake, mainly under 5 feet deep and choked with weeds. The lake gets very little fishing pressure, as it's mainly used for moose hunting. We managed to find a decent 10-15 foot trench, and trolled a bit. Caught our first keeper sized pike and walleye of the trip.

Now that we had something for our frying pan, we headed back to Lac Lenotre to try to catch some more walleye. We were having a tough time locating shallow schools, most were showing up deeper than 45 feet, so tough to target. Ari finally marked a couple on the sonar at 25 feet, cast out a big 1/2 ounce jig and worm, and got an instant hit. I knew it was a nice walleye from the bend in his rod, but was surprised to see how big it actually was when it came up.

Spectacular 6 lbs walleye, Ari's biggest walleye to date!

Not much else biting, but the sunset was nice after a long day of fishing.

Day 2:

Next morning, we headed out on Lac Lenotre again, in hopes of trying to target the deep water walleye. We set up a couple lines with some 3 ounce bottom bouncers, with live worms rigged on worm harnesses. We drifted over depths 30 to 70 feet, most of the walleye schools marking at 45-55 feet. After a couple hours, I got my first hookup. Fish put up a nice fight, I was shocked to see it when it surfaced and Ari netted my first ever ling cod.

I've seen them caught on ice before, but never actually caught one, nor knew that they existed in Lac Lenotre. Definitely wasn't expecting on in the heat of the day in bright sun, but it did come out of a 50 foot trench. Strange looking fish, but I was very happy with a new species to add to my list.

We were joined later on in the day, by my friend David Lazare, aka the rockin rabbi. David has limited fishing experience, mainly caught a few perch on worms in the past. He had never been this deep into the woods before, nor on lakes the size of Lac Lenotre. The We drift fished for an evening bite without much success.

Day 3: 

Strong winds were blowing by early morning, and increasing cloud cover signalled the end of the heat wave we had the previous couple days. Again, we tried drift fishing, as trolling or vertical jigging we just about impossible due to the winds gusting close to 40 KM/H.

David managed the only fish of the short outing, a small walleye below slot size:

Rain start falling shortly after, so we headed back to the cabin for lunch and to get into our rain gear.

Due to the ever increasing winds, we decided to head back to the safety and ease of fishing the small lake we were on. Success didn't take long, we landed some nice keeper sized walleye quite easily in the rain.

David caught his first few pike, and biggest fish ever:

Headed back to the cabin before dark, ready for the tedious job of making shore lunch (dinner):

Day 4: After a long night of over eating and lots of tequila shots until the wee hours of the morning, we slept in. David was a bit under the weather, so Ari and I headed out in the rain, agains sticking to the small lake due to high winds and rain. Fishing was slower, but during a short sunny break, we managed to land some more walleye one after the other.

Later that evening, the walleye bite died down, but pike were still on. 

As David had left, Ari and I called it an early night. 

Day 5:

Woke up to near freezing temps of about 5 degrees Celcius, and heavy rain. We cancelled our original plan of trying to gun to the other end of Lac Lenotre by boat, due to the miserable weather, and decided to call it an early trip. Headed back home with a nice mess of walleye and pike for my freezer. 

After 4 day of chasing fish for my belly and freezer, I think I'm ready for something a bit bigger.

I highly recommend Le Domaine Shannon for anyone interested in fishing for walleye in a clean, pristine setting of the deep woods of Quebec. Contact me if you have any questions regarding Le Domaine Shannon.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Still fishing the St Lawrence river for big bottom feeders

Different styles of fishing are suited to different species. Most fish that fall under the category of "game fish", are typically predators, that are usually targeted by anglers casting, trolling or jigging lures, soft plastics, spoons, spinners, and artificial flies.  The vast majority of serious fishermen (and fisherwomen) in North America spend their time chasing those species, where fishing is more of an active pastime than one may imagine.

On the other side of the fishing realm, you have the smaller minority that prefers to target big bottom feeding species while relaxing and enjoying the outdoors. This type of fishing is a lot less active, and is also known as still fishing or dead lining.

Bottom feeders in Canada and the USA don't receive much recognition, likely due to the fact that minimal investment in gear is required. While one may spend many thousands of dollars on fancy boats, electronics and high end gear required to fish bass, muskies and walleyes, still fishing for bottom feeders requires a fraction of the cost. Often denigrated as poor man's fishing or other derogatory terms, the North American sport fishing industry all but snubs this simple style of fishing. Just look at some of the big money bass and walleye tournaments, millions being spent on prizes and sponsorships, all for catching some fish that are slightly bigger that baitfish, and in all honesty, probably better off in a frying pan than on the cover of a fishing magazine.

I fish many styles during an average fishing season, but over the years, the vast majority of my biggest fish were caught while still fishing, with a few exceptions. Reason is simple, the biggest fish in the St Lawrence River around Montreal are species that rarely hit an artificial lure, especially if it's being cast or trolled.

Three of the "big 4" species in the St Lawrence River are bottom feeders, namely carp, sturgeon and channel catfish, with musky being the only exception. Each of these species can be targeted using specific still fishing methods, gear, and setups, which I'll run through briefly:

Carp are best fished from shore, using boilies, corn, and some other varieties of particles used as bait. They have soft mouths are fished with relatively small hooks, which calls for using a looser drag setting to avoid pulling the hook from their mouths.

Sturgeon are best fished with worms or dead minnows, either from shore or from a boat. Fishing for sturgeon requires more attention than carp or catfish, as you need to feel the take and set the hook, as opposed to letting them run like you may with a carp or catfish.

Channel catfish are best fished with dead shiners, or bigger suckers cut into 4 inch chunks, otherwise known as cutbait. A common myth is that the bait needs to be left out to rot to give it scent, but I found that fresh or fresh frozen cutbait works best.

While all three species are fished day or night, sturgeon and channel catfish are much better to fish for at night, especially in the heat of the summer. Still fishing, especially at night, isn't for everyone. You need the patience to sit and enjoy the outdoors, all while waiting for the fish to bite, possibly fighting off hoards of gnats, mosquitoes, and other insects. When the bite is slow, many tend to lose interest rather quickly. This is where the true still fisherman knows that patience always pays off.

As I've spent the past few weeks targeting carp, I decided to switch it up last night, taking Ari out to still fish for channel catfish. We got to out spot shortly before sunset, set up the lines, and waited. The catfish weren't active at all. Not one hit in almost two hours, the thought of having chosen catfish instead of carp for my outing crossed my mind a couple times. However, patience paid off as usual. Bigtime.

Two hours into our outing, one of the lines took off screaming. Ari jumped up and grabbed the rod, I made sure he held off long enough before trying to hook the fish, as I was using a rather large chunk of cutbait, and wide as well, as it was the top half with the head. I have hundreds of feet of line on that spool, so after letting the fish peel drag for a good 20-30 seconds, ari clicked off the baitrunner and reeled down on the fish, as we were using circle hooks, which you can't hookset as you would with traditional hooks.

Judging from the bend in his rod, the fish seemed heavy, but put up less of a fight than you may imagine. It was only once I netted it that I realized that it was one of the biggest channel cats I have ever seen. It ended up weighing in just over 19 lbs, shattering Ari's (and my) previous records by far.

For those that think still fishing is boring, I'd love to see a St Lawrence River bass, walleye or pike top that.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Carp fishing for beginners

Every fishing season, I encounter various beginners to carp fishing. Whether through my carp guiding services, or family and friends, many people that have never fished for or caught any carp learn how it's properly done while carp fishing with me.

There are various levels of beginners to carp fishing. Some have never held a fishing rod in their lives, others have fished here and there on rare occasions, and yet others are seasoned anglers that have fished many species, but never targeted or managed to catch any carp.

Over the past 4 days, I fished with these three types, and managed to put all of them onto some carp. The first of the three outings was my friend Zalman. He is a distant relative that moved here from Europe a few years ago, he and I have become friends. His first day of vacation all year happened to coincide with an outing I was planning, so I invited him along, as he had mentioned wanting to try fishing to me in the past.

We hit the bank on a nice sunny day. As I do with all beginners to carp fishing,  I showed him the rod / reel combo, mechanism, a bit of technique, and detailed explanation of what I was doing during each step. The fish were on schedule, took about 1 hour for the first hit. I hooked and fought the fish, just to give him an idea on how to properly fight and land carp. When his turn came along, he did a perfect job, following my instructions to a tee.

Landed his first fish ever, a nice 20 lb carp.

Followed by two more, 21 and 23.5 lbs.

He caught another smaller carp later on, and we lost one in the rocks do to a line cut as well.

Needless to say, he fell in love with fishing, his first three fish being over 20 lbs, it is likely going to give him something to chase for a while. 

Headed out again a couple days later, this time with Karl and Jennifer. Both had very limited fishing experience. Jennifer was hoping to try various styles of fishing, and having seen some of my pics, she decided to give carp fishing a try.

Contrary to what some may believe, carp are one of the tougher species to target. It all boils down to sticking with techniques, presentation, and bait that has proven itself time and time again at a given area. Jennifer and Karl learned this valuable lesson the hard way. 6 hours into our outing, all we had was one carp that jammed into the rocks on the hookset and cut my hair rig. As you can imagine, I wasn't enjoying my day too much, except for the fact that the thunderstorms that were predicted never arrived, and we were in sunny warm conditions all day long. I knew the carp would eventually turn on again and start feeding, but it is very rare to have a 6 hour period without hits during the summer, especially when using 3 rods with baits that have all proven themselves many times. 

Finally, after 6 hours, we got another run. Karl did a good job, we landed the first carp of the day. 

Took less than half an hour, Jennifer caught her first carp.

As the bite was on, I extended our outing to give them a chance to hook and land some more. They managed another carp each, and lost a few more during the process. 

All in all, a tough start that turned out to be a very valuable learning experience for them, and luckily, a picture perfect happy ending.

The following day, I headed out with Mikhail and Alex. They were here on a business trip, visiting from Dallas, Texas. Both fish quite often in the home state, and both have fished many species all around the globe when they go on business trips or family vacations. Their experience was immediately apparent, even before we hit the bank. In contrast to the previous day, the weather had dropped by 10 degrees, and non stop rain combined with high North East winds were the forecast. Both anglers showed up wearing proper rain gear, which many may not have thought of packing when visiting Montreal in mid July.

As I set up the first rod, I mentioned the slow start we had the previous day, hoping the bite wouldn't take nearly as long. Sure enough, 5 minutes into our outing, Mikhail landed his first carp. Alex followed with his first about 15-20 minutes later. The bite was pretty much non stop all day long, keeping me on my toes, and very active. They ended up landing 15 carp out of 19 runs. Both caught carp over 20 lbs, and Alex caught a 15 lb mirror carp, very rare fish in that area, and first one I've seen all season.

Needless to say, they were more than thrilled with the outing, the horrible weather didn't make any difference to our good moods. As I've been to Dallas quite often, we discussed local fishing throughout the day in between fighting and landing carp. I'm quite sure that both of them will put the knowledge they acquired to good use when they get back home. Although they are new to carp fishing, they are veteran anglers, I'm confident they'll adapt in no time and have some nice carp pics to send me in the near future.

Headed out a couple days later, this time on a fishing date with my wife. She's been carping with me in the past, just about the only type of fishing she enjoys, as not much to do on her end besides relaxing in the sun and fighting the fish when we hook up. She's getting better at bringing them and manages to land most of her fish now.

Next outing was an a nice 3 generation outing, father son and grandfather all got to try carping for their first time. All have fished before to various degrees, but all were new to carp. Again, they learned the ropes, and got the techniques down, as well as landing some nice carp. Nice smiles all around.

Gotta love 3 generation fishing pics, pure family fun:

With another couple months left before carp fishing slows down, I'm hoping to show the ropes to some more beginners over the next few weeks. I have many available dates in September, which can be some of the next fishing of the season, as the carp start feeding heavily before they shut down for winter. 

My daily rate is $300, up to 3 adults, $50 for each additional person.
Contact me about an outing by clicking: 

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Mid summer carping with the kids

After having targeted predators for most of the past 4-5 weeks, I was ready for some more relaxing still fishing for carp, one of my favorites species to fish for, that I've kind of neglected a bit so far this season. Avi and Eli came along, Levi opted to stay at home, seems like he isn't too thrilled by still fishing any more. Oh well, his loss.

As the outer temp is above 30 degrees Celsius these days, the water temp is about 80 degrees Fahrenheit or so by now. Funny how I calculate outer temperature in Celsius and water temperature in Fahrenheit, I guess it's all that exposure to American fishing products and media. Either way, water is basically warm enough to increase increase the size of my hookbaits. Being able to use 3 lines gave me the chance to test 16 mm boilies against my 20 mm boilies, new for this season. Having a variety of flavours/colors/scents only enhanced the testing, and as expected, the kids were willing participants, as I let them fight all the carp we catch.

Got the 3 rods set up around 10:00 AM. Took 1/2 hour for our first hit, the carp took a 20 MM Garlic Pepper boilie. Eli fought it most of the way before tiring. To his credit, fighting a wild carp at their most active period on a 12 foot rod isn't too easy for a small 8 year old. As it neared the shore, I took the rod and let him land the carp, first one of the outing. He insisted on weighing the fish, weighed in at 15 lbs, Avi held it for the picture.

Ai was up next. We reset the lines, again took about 1/2 hour for the line to go, this time the bait being a 16mm sweet vanilla boilie. Avi took the rod, his first chance at fighting a fish on my Beastmaster rod paired up with a big 90 series baitrunner reel. Fish stayed hugging bottom all the way in, Avi handled it very well on the sturdier rod. When he finally got it closer in, I realized it was a big channel catfish. Eli had a bit of trouble landing it as it thrashed and rolled around, so I gave him a hand. A hefty 13.5 lbs, Avi's second biggest ever.

Eli got to fight the next carp, which hit a 16mm chocolate cinnamon boilie. The carp headed stright for a big weed bed, no way Eli was able to horse it out with the 2.75 TC rod he was using. I had to get the fish out for him, and he preferred to be the net man again. Landed the small 8 lb carp with about 5 lbs of grass tangled on my line. When I unhooked it, I noticed the carp had a crooked jaw, kind of reminded me of Moby Dick and our ex prime minister Jean Chretien at the same time.

Avi got the next run, again on a 20mm Garlic pepper boilie. This one started peeling drag at high speed, so I knew it was a bigger one. As it was heading straight away from us without turning, I was sure it was tailed hooked. I adjusted Avi's grad accordingly, and he eventually turned the big carp. I got in the water and climbed onto a shoal where I was sure it would run, and surprised the carp by netting it just as it tried to crash the shoal. Lucky for us, as it was barely hooked. Avi was quite sure the carp was his biggest to date, and he turned out being right, as it weighed in at 24 lbs, edging out his previous record of 23 lbs set about 3 years ago. He had trouble holding it up for the picture, so I gave him a hand.

Eli got the nest carp, this one was back onto the smaller 16 mm Chocolate cinnamon boilie, and smaller in size as well. It ran straight for the same weedbed, and again, I had to drag it out for him, another small one in the 10 lbs range.

Avi got the next carp, this one coming on a 20mm licorice spice boilie I cast to the spot where the previous big one had hit, as I was out of garlic pepper boilies. Again, another heavier fish on the bigger boilie, and the drag system on my old Penn Liveliner reel started slipping during the fight. I thought I had fixed it, as I haven't had that issue in a couple seasons, looks like it's back again. Either way, Avi managed to land the fish. Although it was only 33-34 inches long, it had a huge belly for it's lenght, which I measured at a 24 inch girth. Carp weight in at 23 lbs. Avi was all smiles, check the "beer belly" on this beast:

Eli got the next fish, again on a 16 mm boilie, another smaller one at about 10-12 lbs.

After losing a couple to bad hookups, I lost a third to a line cut way above the 35 foot shock leader I was using. Sent that line back out with a 24mm boilie, hoping for a take, but nothing doing. Avi landed another carp in the 15 lbs range shortly before we were set to leave, so we called it a day.

Ended up with a total of 8 carp landed on 11 runs, and Avi's bonus catfish. All of the bigger fish hit the bigger 20mm boilies versus the smaller fish hitting on 16 mm boilies during our 6.5 hour outing.

Avi's been on a roll lately, breaking 3 of his personal best records over the past month or so, for channel catfish, Northern Pike, and now carp. He's now looking forward to try fishing for musky and sturgeon when he returns. Eli was happy with his 15 lbs big fish of the day, though he had hoped to break his current record of 16.5 lbs. That's it for their fishing for a while, as they are heading South to visit their grandparents who don't fish at all, for the next few weeks.

I must say, I'm jealous of my kids childhood fishing experiences, I don't think I caught anything over 5 lbs until I was in my mid twenties. Having a fishing freak as their dad sure does have it's benefits.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Fishing the Lachine Canal in Montreal

The Lachine Canal runs through much of Montreal's core. Originally built as a shipping route, it has long since been replaced by the St Lawrence seaway, and turned into a recreational park by the city of Montreal.

The canal presents some difficult challenges in regards to fishing. For starters, it's basically a big 12+ KM rectangle filled with water, without much structure in comparison to your average lake or river. Then, you have the fact that the Lachine canal is fully drained every fall, and refilled only in spring. So much for any chance of establishing a canal population. The fish simply come in and out through the locks and dams as they are opened. The canal is also open to boat traffic throughout the summer, as well as late spring and early fall. From powerboats and yachts, to kayaks and dragon boats for rent on the canal, the boat traffic on the Lachine Canal can become a nightmare when trying to still fish for species like carp. The water quality in the canal is one of the worse in the city. Signs advising contact with water due to contamination are posted every spring. Furthermore, access to many segments of the Lachine canal can be very tricky by car, as much of it runs through industrial areas bordering hwy 20, which leaves little options for parking. Lastly, the canal is located in some of Montreal's most deteriorated areas. Slums, abandoned buildings and factories, and graffiti are all part of the urban landscape, a far cry from the pristine mountain and forest lakes or rivers out in the countryside or forest.

So why would I bother fishing the canal at all? For starters, it is quite close to my house, only 6 KM away. As I love cycling, the canal and it's bike trail offers a unique fishing experience for me. I simply throw some gear and a rod into my back pack, hop on my bike, climb over Mount Royal, and within minutes, I'm on the Lachine canal's paved waterfront bike trail, 12+ KM long with relatively low fishing pressure compared to other spots around the city. Not having to worry about downtown traffic or parking, I am mobile enough to cover the a variety of good spots, straight ride of entire canal  trail from end to end is do-able in 1/2 an hour.

In this article, I'll cover the 3 styles I use to fish the canal:

1) Still fishing:

This is the method I least use in the canal. Due to it's structureless shape and it being drained every fall,  bottom feeders like carp are very tough to target in the Lachine canal. They may be schooled up in a spot at a given time, completely gone a few hours later. Casting to one spot over an other is just about guesswork when fishing a structureless body of water. Current flow increases and decreases with the opening and closing of the locks for boat traffic,  and the narrow canal pretty much ensures that boats of all shapes an sizes will be hovering right over your line, likely spooking the fish. Night time is a better option for still fishing, though, at times, the canal can be productive during the day as well.

2) Casting for predatory species:

Casting in the canal is more interesting to me than still fishing. As I mainly fish the canal by bike, I have the option of running and gunning my spots, mainly where fishing attracting structure and shore access is possible. The Lachine canal doesn't have a big population of game fish, but the specimens found in their can be surprisingly big for a small body of water. After all, they are coming in from the biggest river in the country. I typically power fish a given spot for 15 to 20 minutes at a time, then move to the next area. More often than not, I end up catching nothing. Suits me fine, at least I get a good workout biking over the mountain both on my way there and back, and along the canal from spot to spot.  That being said, I've caught some big bass, pike, walleye and even musky in the Lachine canal over the years, mainly on spinnerbaits, crankbaits and topwater lures. Here is a decent walleye I caught there yesterday, on a short 2 hour outing, not long after losing a big bass.

3: Micro fishing for panfish with the kids:

This is where the canal really shines. While most people don't bother messing with fish averaging 4-8 inches long, they are excellent for teaching younger kids how to fish. Strong populations of perch, sunfish and rock bass exist all through the canal, and are just about everywhere. A small #10 or #8 hook fished on bottom with 1/2 a worm is my weapon of choice, and can provide non stop fishing action. For young kids getting started fishing, it's all about numbers, not size. Also very important to avoid overstaying the outing once they start getting bored, so being a few minutes away from home with non stop fishing is ideal for people in this situation. Miles of safe, child friendly waterfront are about as good as you can get for shore fishing in Montreal.

Took my 5 year old daughter Chaya to one of my spots on the canal last night, plan was to have her practice her hook setting. She did a smashing job, landing over 70 fish in about 2 hours, mainly perch and sunfish, along with a couple small bass and a log perch.

Nothing too glamorous, but in her young mind, she's a already fishing legend, and can't wait to go back again. Exactly as planned.