The Freshwater Phil guide to Montreal shore fishing spots

Montreal's best shore fishing spots

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Ice fishing for walleye

After not having fished for about 4 weeks for a variety of reasons, I was more than ready to head out on the ice again. Decided to try a new spot with a couple friends (both named Mike), to chase walleye under ice, a species I have only target under ice once before, a number of years ago.

We met up and hit the ice by mid afternoon, as the walleye bite is typically just before dark.  Both Mikes brought along live minnows to fish with tip ups, I didn't bother, opting instead to use a jigging rod. We drilled about 15 holes, they set up a few lines for pike, and the majority for walleye in deeper water with smaller bait. I set up one of my extra rod with a mid sized minnow, and jigged a variety of lures with the help of my flasher, including Rapala Jigging raps, a Swedish Pimple, and a Williams ice jig. Mike1 had a flasher as well, and neither of us marked much activity for the first couple hours. While it was surprising to me, he mentioned that there were very few panfish in the area.

Just after 4:00 PM, one of the tip up line went off.  Mike2 grabbed the line, brought the walleye up to the hole, but it came off before he had a chance to land it. I immediately tipped my Williams ice jig with half a minnow, and sent it back down the hole. Within 5 minutes, I saw a telltale mark on my flasher rising off the bottom, and sure enough it hit. Brought the walleye in without much of a fight, was surprised to see it was larger than I thought.


While I'd normally enjoy a walleye that size pan fried in butter, I released this one, as the water I was fishing wasn't the cleanest, and I prefer not to keep any fish unless the water is relatively non polluted. Was happy enough with my catch, as it was my first fish of 2015, and my first walleye on ice in a good 4-5 years, as I've only targeted them once before.

Mike1 managed a small pike on one of his tip ups shortly after. I saw another walleye come up at my ice jig, just nipped at it, but I missed hooking it. Mike2 got another tip up run, but the walleye dropped it before he had a chance to set the hook. Mike1 got a false run on his windlass tip up, and I set my rod down to check it out with him. When I got back, I noticed another mark off the bottom on my flasher, when I pick up my rod, there was another decent walleye on the line. Very strange for a walleye to hit a motionless jigging spoon, but it was tipped with a minnow head as well. This walleye put up a better fight than the first one, size was about the same. Didn't bother with a picture, as it was almost dark, and both Mikes were busy resetting their lines.

Unfortunately, we didn't manage any other fish in the short flurry of activity, although I did mark 3 more coming up to my lure. As it's a relatively new lure and I've only used it once before, I'm still need to figure out what sort of jigging pattern works best to coax the walleye to hit it. For some reason, they weren't interested in any of my other lures, nor Mike1's spoon either.

Ended up leaving shortly after 5:30 PM, as the bite had died down and a cold front was blowing in with strong winds. Hope to get another shot or two at targeting walleye on ice with the help of my flasher, as the only other species that I've had success with using the flasher were panfish.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Ice fishing trout at Coin Lavigne

Kids are off school for the holiday / new year's break. In what's quickly becoming a yearly tradition, we headed up North to Pourvoirie Coin Lavigne Outfitter for some easy speckled trout and rainbow trout fishing on ice.

From our past experiences at Pourvoirie Coin Lavigne Outfitter, I knew the kids would be in for a treat. I packed them each a jigging rod, rigging three of them for live worms, and the fourth with a small spoon. Although I didn't need to at all, I brought along my Humminbird flasher and manual auger just in case fishing would be tougher than expected and we'd need to prospect further out than the area immediately in front of out cabin.

We arrived around 9:30 AM, signed in, got dressed in our snow gear, and one of their friendly staff picked us up in their oversized quad. The 4 of us packed in with our gear, and a couple minutes later, we were on Lac en Coeur, the main ice fishing lake on their territory.

Included with the trout quota you purchase are the transport to the lake, a log oven heat cabin near your holes, hole drilling, and tips ups. Bait is extra. Basically, a great spot for kids or people new to ice fishing, as their is little work to do besides baiting your lines and catching trout.

Their exclusive lakes are stocked with 80,000 trout every season. While winter stockings happened once a month in the past, this season, it's going to be bi-weekly throughout the winter. With the trout being stocked last week and relatively low fishing pressure since then, we knew we'd make short work of our 3 quotas using techniques I've tinkered with over the years for catching trout on ice.

The three boys started off with a multi hook setup, basically a small number 8 baitholder hook about 10 inches off the bottom, follow by a 1/32 ounce jig at the bottom. Both hooks tipped with half a worm.


In no time, Eli, Avi and Ari, caught the first few trout. By the time we caught 7 or 8 trout, we noticed that the average size was quite small. As releasing fish is strictly forbidden, I switched all the kids lines to lures, in order to attempt catching some bigger, aggressive fish. We fished a small Williams spoon, W3 Rapala Jigging raps, and a Swedish Pimple. Most were tipped with either live mealworms, or small bits of earthworm. The added scent / protein seemed to entice them to bite quite aggressively, often chasing the lures right up the ice holes.

The technique yielded good results, both speckled trout and rainbow trout in the 12 to 13 inch range were most of what we started hooking.



We kept the fish in a large 5 gallon pail filled with water to avoid them freezing, and to keep them alive as long as possible, while remaining in good shape for pictures. After only hour of fishing, I knew we had to count them, as we were limited to a 30 trout bag limit due to having 3 fishing licenses between us. We had 28 trout at that point!


After taking care of the kids fishing needs during the outing, I allowed myself the last fish to complete the quota.


After a 2 hour drive home, I put Ari and Avi to work with me at the fillet table. While I did the sides, Ari did the ribs, and Avi did the wrapping. All went relatively quick and easy, the 20 or so speckled trout and 10 Rainbow trout are now resting in pieces in my freezer.

All in all, amazing results for a bit over 1 hour of fishing. I highly recommend Pourvoirie Coin Lavigne Outfitter, especially for beginners and kids to get initiated into ice fishing. Friendly helpful staff, good service, and amazing trout fishing, and located less than 2 hours drive from Montreal in the clean, pristines mountain settings of the Lanaudiere region adjacent to the Laurentians.

Call them directly at: (450) 883-1072. Please be sure to tell Sylvain (the owner) that I referred you. f you have any questions regarding fishing at Pourvoirie Coin Lavigne Outfitter before going, feel free to contact me, I'll be happy to give you some tips, and happier to see some nice trout pics.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

First ice, big bass

Conditions were ripe for me to take a day off to hit the ice for the first time this fall. I hadn't fished in a few weeks. My elder son Ari hadn't fished in a couple months, and had the day off between final exams at school. A cold front had frozen some early ice areas, and with a snow storm moving in the following day, so I decided to head to an early season spot that typically produces a decent amount of perch and crappies at first ice.

Ari and I got to our spot shortly before 8:30 AM, as I only had half a day to fish. The ice was very clear, no snow had fallen on it yet. I carefully stepped onto it, and drilled into 5 inches of solid ice. A few steps further, same thing. Over and over until reaching my target depth, the ice remained the same.

We set up our jigging rods with mini Rapala jigging raps, tipped with live mealworms. Using 1 rod each, we jigged a variety of depths ranging from 9 to 13 feet. Instead of the immediate non stop action I had hoped for, fishing turned out to be extremely slow. I finally switched my lure for a small Marmooska ice fly, and landed a small perch after lot's of effort.

The Humminbird ice flasher I was using didn't help too much, the fish seemed to be more finicky than I had ever seen them at that spot. I joked with Ari about there being some big bass in the area, and the panfish being to scared to attack our lines. Eventually, I switched to a Peewee Wabbler spoon tipped with a mealworm, and hooked a few smaller pumpkinseed sunfish, and a couple perch. Ari tied on a mini kastmaster spoon, and tipped it with a mealworm as well.

Sure enough, around 11:00 AM, Ari hooked into a nice fish. As he brought it up, he realized it was a decent size largemouth bass. With the ice being so thin and clear, we were able to see the bass darting around under our feet as he was fighting it. The ice and water also gave a magnifying effect, making it look bigger than it actually was. The light tackle and line we were using, along with the tiny lure, made the fight even more exciting. Ari finally eased it;s head up the ice hole, and I lipped the nice bass for him. Turned out to be a bit over 2 lbs, his first bass on ice.


I continued fishing the same lures, moving from hole to hole every 10-15 minutes, as the panfish weren't hitting much. About 20 minutes later, I hooked into a big fish, Ari rushed over to give me a hand. Again, another big bass, significantly bigger than Ari's, and barely hooked. I took lot's of finesse to land it, and somehow, I managed not to lose the lunker. Weight in just a hair under 4 lbs, my biggest bass on ice ever!


15 minutes a 2 holes later, I hooked into another one, not too long, but extremely fat, with deeper/darker color pattern, just over 3 lbs.


Ari and I both landed some more, including the smallest bass I've caught on ice.




The bass Frenzy ended at about 12:30 PM, we landed a total of 7 largemouth bass, by far, the best success we've ever had with bass on ice.

As for the panfish we were targeting, most were small, and not too many. Ari caught the only 2 decent perch of the day, biggest about 10 inches.


He also caught his first ice crappie:


My perch and sunfish were all quite small, only decent panfish I landed all day a a big bluegill:
Despite it's hefty girth, looks like something tried to make a snack of it, and it got away by the skin of it's tail:



We called it quits shortly after 1:30 PM. All fish caught were released, and very cool to see them swimming away under ice, as the visibility was quite good.

All in all, it felt amazing to get out on the ice again. Couldn't have asked for better weather, ice conditions were just about perfect, and the fishing was spectacular, far beyond what we had imagined. Though the flasher we had came in handy, for the most part, we caught almost all our bass without it, again confirming my theory that one can easily get stuck on stubborn panfish with a flasher, when you ought to be out drilling for more productive spots.

Hope to get out for trout with the kids in a couple weeks.

Monday, November 3, 2014

My 2014 fishing season

Well folks, it's that time of the year again, when my open water gear is just about stored, maybe a couple more outings before safe ice forms. Perfect time to reflect on what has been another spectacular fishing season for myself, as well as for my family. Always tough to decide how to properly structure so much information into a blog post, but I think that a mix of chronological events along with their species should be a good way to start, ending it off my the usual personal records we managed to break in 2014. As pictures as worth a thousand words, I'll include a nice quantity of them as well, after all, I did invest a considerable amount of time and effort to get these shots.

Only hit the ice 5 times in 2014, mainly for some nice Jumbo perch from the Eastern Townships, which I kept for the table, as I rarely eat anything from waterways surrounding Montreal.


Was lucky enough to have a few days on open water in February, and took advantage by landing some smaller carp with my son while visiting Dallas.



I tested my brand new Licorice spice flavored boilies, with success on my first batch:


Got back to reality the following month, hitting the ice again for some late March pre-spawn pike to end the winter:





Once the ice finally melted, I hit the open water at ice out for carp, one the few open species available in April, and one of the only species worth chasing around that time of the year:




As May rolled in, fishing activity increased, and action heated up as expected. Early in May, Eli landed his first lake trout fishing on Lake Champlain:




Levi landed his first carp of the season as well:



The big female carp started putting on some weight as well as the month wore on, both my garlic pepper and hazelnut cream boilies did the trick on a regular basis:



Carp were not the only species that came to play. By mid to late May, the predatory species woke up to feed as well:

Northern Pike:

Walleye:

Longnose gar:

Black Crappie:

Eli's first channel catfish:

And even a surprise redhorse sucker that hit a jig and grub that I was casting for walleye:



Was lucky enough to visit Dallas again in June, took advantage of an extra day to chase some Alligator gar for the first time with Ari. Landed some nice ones, and a bonus double header:


As well as a rare hybrid gar (cross between alligator gar and longnose gar):


Avi got in on some good catfish action as well:


As the water warmed up a bit, I headed out for some late spring trout up in the Adirondack Mountains of Northern New York:



As summer rolled in to end the month of June, the kids and I all had a blast on our yearly family trip to Mijocama for largemouth bass. Some pike showed up to play as well:




We were lucky enough to manage a couple more trips up North to le Domaine Shannon, fishing 5 days on the first in mid July and 4 days on the second trip in August. We enjoyed some well spent family time together in the great outdoors, in the pristine forest setting of the Outaouais region of Quebec. Simply nothing like having an entire lake to yourselves, undisturbed by anyone else, and nothing to focus on except for catching fish. Pike and walleye showed up to play, though they made us work hard to get them. Ended up with some keepers for my freezer, as well as some bigger ones.










Besides for the decent quality of fishing, the kids got to sample some of the other local wildlife species you typically won't find in your average Montreal back yard:






Locally, we pretty much stuck with targeting carp for most of the summer, along with the occasional Channel catfish. Both species are among the biggest in our rivers accessible by shore, and make for great outings, not to mention some real nice pics. You can view some of our catches on by 2014 carp picture gallery page by clicking: http://www.freshwaterphil.com/carp-fishing-pictures.cfm 

I was also lucky enough to get invited to fish with some of my friends that are professional fishing guides, landed a variety of species that each specializes in catching:

Caught some nice midsummer muskies with Mike:



As well as some late summer bass with Jimmy:



Not to forget Avi's first ever sturgeon outing with Patrick:



All in all, an amazing summer for the kids, myself, and some lucky customers that made the time and effort to come out with me and have the times of their lives catching good numbers of big carp.

As fall arrived, the fishing slowed slightly as expected, but the average sizes of our catches increased exponentially. Though most of my outings were for bigger species, I did have a couple good outings for bass, including my first bass fishing trip to Lake Champlain in September:



As well as an October bass outing chasing smallmouth lunkers near Cornwall, Ontario:



Besides for bass, the carp started putting on some weight:




Bigger muskies and sturgeons came to play as well: 



As you can see, the effort put in to fish in cooling and sometimes miserable conditions, paid off in big results.

Which leads me my favorite part of my yearly season review, namely, personal records that were broken. As most of the family all broke some personal records, we'll go through them starting from youngest to oldest:

Chaya caught her first smallmouth bass, as well as her first ever largemouth bass:



Eli landed his first few channel catfish, the biggest about 12-13 lbs:


As well as his biggest bass at 4 lbs:


And his biggest lake trout at 6 lbs:



Levi had a tougher season than his siblings, but was finally rewarded in mid October with his biggest carp at 24.5 lbs:


Avi broke the most personal records between my kids this season, landed his biggest channel catfish at 16 lbs:


His biggest pike at 13.5 lbs:


His biggest carp at 24 lbs:


And his biggest sturgeon at 52 inches:


Ari fished less than his siblings this season, but still managed his biggest channel catfish at 19 lbs:


As well as his biggest walleye, just over 6 lbs:


My wife came out on a few outings, ended up beating her biggest carp 3 times.

First in July at 23 lbs:


Then in September at 24 lbs:


And again in October, at 27 lbs. I held it for the pic as it was a team effort and she didn't want to get slimed:


Finally, I beat a number of personal records again this season. I fished on more days than ever before, total count is at 96 days and counting. Also fished 6 separate management zones in the province of Quebec, namely zones 6, 8, 10, 11, 14 and 15. Made it to the Montreal Gazette for the first time, they dedicated the entire page A4 to me and my web site, as well as some live footage and and online video: See: http://www.montrealgazette.com/life/Montreal+from+fishing/9932752/story.html 

As for record catches, caught my biggest redhorse sucker:


My first ever ling cod, caught while deep drifting for walleye:


My biggest mirror carp on one of my hazelnut cream boilies at 22.5 lbs:


My biggest lake sturgeon at 57 inches:


My first hybrid gar:


As last but not least, my first alligator gar. At 61 inches and estimated to weigh 65 lbs due to it's extremely thick girth, likely the biggest fish I've landed to date:


So there you have it folks, another great season in the books, possibly one of our best ever. I'd like to take this opportunity to thank God for giving me the opportunity to dedicate this much time to pursuing my passion. my lovely wife for putting up with my fishing addiction, my kids for coming along and keeping me company on the bank, especially when I'm in testing mode, my fishing buddies for making the time to fish together with me, my customers for choosing me as their guide, and last but not least, you, my blog readers.

Please remember to stay safe on the water, especially during this time of the year when the water is near freezing temperature. Always check conditions on the water before heading out, wear proper gear such as survival suits when needed. Lastly, use your common sense. Before taking any foolish chances, ask yourself if catching a fish is really worth the risk it may put you in.

Wishing everyone the best of success for the upcoming 2015 fishing season.