The Freshwater Phil guide to Montreal shore fishing spots

Montreal's best shore fishing spots

Friday, October 3, 2014

Catching big fish in October

October is finally here. Fishing wise, I always have mixed feelings about October. On the one hand, the quickly cooling water temperature signals the last few weeks of good open water fishing. On the other hand, it's probably the best time of the year to catch really big fish. More specifically, warmer water fish species that don't feed much over the winter like musky, carp, bass. Sturgeon fishing also closes at the end of the month, and October is always the best time to legally target and land good numbers of very large sturgeons.

Fishing in October is not for the faint of heart. Yes, you can always pick the odd warm sunny day without much wind, but overall, October fishing is a far cry from the cliche of sitting around in shorts the sun, sipping a cold drink while waiting for the fish to bite.

Proper clothing is required to fish comfortably in October. To begin with, always check the weather before going out. Being unprepared for bad weather can end a good fishing outing in a hurry. For shore fishing, I typically wear layers. Long johns do wonders for cold wind, as do sweaters and waterproof rain suits. As November gets closer, winter coats come in very handy, especially early morning and after dark. When I go out on a boat, I prefer to use my survival suit. It's a one piece, insulated and waterproof snow suit, that also helps you float if ever you go overboard, and goes a long way in preventing deadly hypothermia in near freezing water. Insulated boots that keep you feet warm are crucial, as well as a good pair of gloves, and a tuque to help keep your body heat from escaping.

Fishing wise, the tactics vary by the species, Carp are usually moving towards their wintering spots, more often in deeper water with less current than normal. It's essential not to over bait a spot in cold water. A small handful of boilies or a couple of handful of corn will usually do the trick.

Just a couple days ago, I was fishing at a significant distance from shore, which prevented me from accurately chumming the area with boilies. Instead, I opted to tie small PVA stringers, using 6 boilies as chum, and the seventh as hookbait. Payoff was rewarding to say the least:


Exactly one week later, same setup produced another fatty, expect that this one came on a popup boilie. Hooked the fish, gave the rod to my wife. Fish ran downstream, ended up tangling another carper's line downstream, and running into a rock pile. I took the rod, freed the carp from the rocks. Gave it back to my wife. Landing net's rod came out, and fell in the river, mesh fell of handle. Meanwhile, carp tangle into a dead tree near shore. Ended up partially in the water, landed the carp by hand with mesh only. Wish I have the whole thing on film, minus the swearing... 


The following week (October 14th), an unseasonably warm front came in for the day. Luckily for my kids, they were off school, so we hit the river for some more carping. They managed to land 5 of 7 carp, with a double header too, quite good for this time of the year. Leci beat his personal biggest carp with a nice 24.5 lbs fatty.



Other bottom feeders like sturgeon feed even more heavily, and typically congregate in huge schools for fall and winter. As their main forage species become scarce and tougher to find, they will readily take worms more aggressively than in summer. Here is a large sturgeon I caught last October (2013), hope to have some new big sturgeon pics here in the next couple weeks:


Warmer water predatory species are on the feed as well, fall is almost always the prime time for giant smallmouth bass and record sized muskies. Serious bass and musky hunters often fish extremely uncomfortable fishing conditions for a good reason; the payoffs are often worth it. Important factors to keep in mind when fishing for predators in October is to remember to slow down the presentation, and that the target species may be feeding in deeper water than they were a few weeks earlier.

Only had a few hours to fish for musky this week, weather was horrible. The strong East wind turned the St Lawrence river into a mini ocean, but that didn't deter us from heading out. Unfortunately, no giants came to play in the short few hours we fished, but still managed a mid sized toothy critter:


Hope to get in at least one more big musky outing before the season ends.

Finally, bass fishing is typically very good, especially for smallmouth bass. It's not for no reason the the Berkley B1 is held in October for the past few seasons. Veritable football sized bass are caught every year during the tournament, and the few weeks preceding it, during practice. 6 lbs fish are not uncommon, with the occasional 7 pounder being caught as well. Personally, I haven't fished for bass  yet this fall, mainly due to chasing other species, but also due to the tremendous fishing pressure from B1 tournament competitors fishing the areas I normally opt for. Thankfully, the 2014 B1 bass tournament is just ended, bass fishing pressure will be slightly reduced until the Fish'n Canada bass tournament in a couple weeks from now.

Hit the Lake St Francis portion of the St Lawrence river for the day with my friend and number one bass guide, Jimmy. Though the fish weren't as aggressive as I hoped for, I managed to land some nice ones on spinnerbaits, Mepps Spinners, and shallow and deep running crankbaits. Some real footballs in that portion of the river, here are a couple 4 & 5 lb October lunkers:




Unfortunately, I don't think I'll have any more time for bass this season, will probably focus on carp, sturgeon and possibly musky if I can find the time...

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Fall Carp fishing in quebec

Now that summer has officially ended, I decided to fish one of my Quebec fall time spots for carp. As the water cools down, more and more carp move into these sort of areas, namely calmer bays out of current with enough depth and oxygen for the carp to school up under ice over the long and cold winter months.

Fishing Quebec for carp in fall at their wintering spots can be tricky at times. Too early, and the fish won't be there in expected numbers, too cold, and they may be shut down for the day. It's really a matter of timing them right in order to get a good bite during cooling water temps.

Another aspect of successful fall time carp fishing in quebec is proper chumming. In contrast to Spring or summer, less is usually better as the water cools down. Though carp typically feed well through most of the fall (September and October), they are significantly less aggressive than spring and summer. Over chumming is a mistake I've seen many carp fishermen do before, and fall time is probably the most often. When a cold water bite is slow, resisting the urge to keep switching baits and feeding an area is crucial to a successful outing. 

Headed out for a short 5 hour outing yesterday, plan was to test some different cold water presentations against each other. Was hoping the strong winds and intermittent drizzle would keep other fishermen away, as I don't particularly enjoy the crowded fishing conditions I often get at that spot, and the constant over chumming doesn't help either.  Got to my spot shortly after 8:30 AM, place was completely empty just as I hoped for. Set up my first cast with some thawed out frozen corn niblets. Had a false run within less than 10 minutes. As the carp managed to steal the corn off my hair rig, I baited with a larger piece of giant corn. Turned out to be a mistake, the carp weren't interested in the least bit. After a good 45 minutes or so, I switched back to standard corn, adding one piece of Trader Joe's "toasted" corn, chilli/lime flavour. The new set up did the trick, took about 20 minutes or so to land my first carp of the fall, a nice 20 lbs fish:


Normally, I'd have gone right back to my set up, but as I was testing different baits, I switched to a home made popup boilie, due to my recent success with them last week. No such luck, nothing hit the boilie line for a good hour. I switched to a cold water formulated boilie made by a friend of mine, his didn't produce any hits for a good hour or so either. Eventually switched back to my original corn set up, but no more takers, ended up leaving around 2:00 PM in order to beat rush hour on the way home.

Didn't notice much carp activity throughout the day at all, maybe 3-4 jumps all day. Will have to wait a good month before hitting that area again, as they a clearly not in the cold water pattern yet. That being said, I have some late summer / early fall transition spots to fish for carp over the next few weeks, hope to have some time to target musky, sturgeon, Largemouth and smallmouth bass as well. Stay tuned...

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Montreal carp fishing with popup boilies

Looks like summer finally ended with a mid September cold front blowing in over the weekend. Had a few hours to fish during the day, so I brought my wife along and stayed local, fishing less than 20 minutes drive from my house.

Though the Montreal spot isn't always as productive as my usual areas a bit further out of Montreal, I figured we'd make the best of it, and at the least, I'd get to practice my distance casting, which is required to present the bait far offshore where the carp usually are this time of the year.

Major problem was that I'm nearly out of boilies, and haven't had the time to produce any more. As such, I dipped into some backup stock of giant boilies I produced and rarely use. Plan was to use them to chum with, using my Nash Cybershot throwing stick. Unfortunately, they are too big, so don't work with the Cybershot. Catapulting them didn't get them out to the required distance at this particular spot, so I got a bit innovative, chopped them in halves, and made oversized PVA stringers with them. The cut boilies release more scent and flavour into the water, as well as some particles, occasionally getting fussy carp into aggressive feeding patterns.

Got to our spot on the Montreal shoreline shortly before 11:30 AM. Set up one rod with a garlic/pepper boilie, and another with a licorice spice boilie, both home made.


Nothing in a bit over an hour, I decided to check my lines. Both hooks had picked up dead leaves, rendering my setup up just about useless. Luckily, I had brought along some popup boilies I produced early in the season, but haven't had a chance to use at all, as I rarely fish carp with popup boilies. I proceeded to bait both lines with popup boilies, so they were being presented to the carp about 1 foot or so off the bottom, a good 400+ feet offshore. Hitting the required distance is crucial when carp fishing, it often means the difference between total failure or smashing success. Having the proper 12 foot rod and big capacity reel combination when targeting big water carp, sure goes a long way to say the least.

The popup boilie presentation did the trick, exactly what I needed to get my first run within less than half an hour after casting the line without any chumming except for an oversized PVA stringer. I picked up the rod, and handed it to my wife to fight my first carp off that spot this year, as I haven't fished for carp there in nearly 2 years. She did a great job keeping constant pressure on the big carp in the current, steering the fish away from big weed clumps on the way in. She's turning into quite the carper lately... I netted the big carp, weighed in at 24 lbs, her new personal best.



Had to leave shortly after to beat rush hour traffic, but we were extremely satisfied with the outing. Ronit landed her biggest carp to date on her first ever outing to that spot, and I was somewhat proud of my new popup boilies combined with distance casting doing the trick when all else failed. Hope to land some more big carp this fall, fishing the various waterways around Montreal.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Lake Champlain bass fishing

My childhood friend and top bass fishing guide Jimmy Shizgal invited me out to fish for bass on Lake Champlain, just on the other side of the US border. Though I've fished lake Champlain for lake trout, landlocked salmon, and even on ice a number of times., I had never tried fishing the gigantic lake for bass before.

Nothing like having someone that knows his target species like Jimmy does when hitting a lake over 120 miles long for the first time. Though Jimmy has fished there with some friends in the past, it was the first time on Lake Champlain on his boat. No GPS marked spots to hit, and not too much to go on except for his expertise due to his tremendous experience with bass and pike.

We hit Lake Champlain around noon, as we were planning on trying to get the last topwater bite of the summer towards the evening. The lake didn't look very encouraging, due to a moderate SouthEast wind gusting across the lake and bringing us 2 foot white capped waves.

As usual when searching for bass or pike, we tied on spinnerbaits, and began drifting while casting at different depths. Jimmy didn't take long to hook up, stated off with a mid size pike, followed by a nice smallmouth bass. My success was a lot slower to come, took me nearly 1 hour to hook my first bass ever on Lake Champlain. Turned out to be a nice 4 lbs lunker.



The bass weren't to active, many of them were short striking or just bumping our lures, with the occasional following bass or pike. Eventually, the pattern started to show, the bass were hitting sporadically in open water around 10-12 feet deep, typically close to weed patches. The weed patches weren't visible to us due to the strong wind and waves turning over the water, which made the fishing significantly more difficult. Jimmy was doing a lot better than I was throughout the day, landing about 75% of all the fish we caught. Though the numbers were kind of low at about 20 bass for the day between both of us, the sizes were quite good, most of the fish we landed were above 2.5 lbs, with a couple 4 lbs over and over. A couple Northern Pike were the bonus fish.

The spinnerbait was deadly, landing all of Jimmy's catches, and over half of mine. I also landed a smallmouth bass on a crankbait, as well as this nice 3.5 lbs bass while drifting a small, weightless, rubber minnow about 30 feet behind the boat.


All in all, another interesting day of bass fishing, thanks to my friend Jimmy. Bass are a species I rarely target, especially smallmouth bass fishing, which I've been neglecting for a number of years. Nice to change it up every once in a while, and Lake Champlain has quite the bass fishery to offer. In addition, you can profit from tons of free boat ramps which are very well maintained, not to mention some great deals on crossborder shopping.

Jimmy is available for guided outings until November, contact him by clicking: http://freshwaterphil.com/contactjim.cfm 

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. 

Headed out again early the following week, this time to chase trophy muskies with my friend and number one musky guide, "Musky" Mike. When it comes to fishing for big muskies in SouthWest Quebec, Mike is the man for the job. Mike has caught many trophy sized muskies on the St Lawrence and Ottawa River, namely LAc St Louis, St Francois, Lake of Two Mountains and more. Having all that experience is invaluable, not to mention a top quality new Lund every season packed with all the latest electronics, including a priceless chip containing all his good musky waypoints to hit each time we fish together.

Fishing musky with a top notch musky guide like Mike, I always have a sense of confidence that's it's only a matter of time until we hook up to a nice big fish, even though many others have a terribly hard time catching muskies. Again, you can't beat fishing with the best fishing guides at the top of their game.

Though this particular outing was quite short, we managed to hook 3 musky, I landed 2 of them, the third spitting the lure as soon as I started reeling in the line. As usual, I'm quite sure it was the biggest one of the day. The ones that get away before you see them always are, but this one was peeling a tightly set drag at seriously high speed.

Either way, I was still happy with my outing, getting another nice pic for my collection as usual, always love the markings on South West Quebec muskies, especially when they come out of clear water:




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 done properly, 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: http://www.mddelcc.gouv.qc.ca/faune/reglementation-en/peche/

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:
http://freshwaterphil.com/fishing-guides.cfm

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: http://freshwaterphil.com/contactcarp.cfm