The Freshwater Phil guide to Montreal shore fishing spots

Montreal's best shore fishing spots

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Ice fishing for pike in Montreal

It's been quite a while since my last ice fishing outing, nearly 7 weeks. Was itching to get out and target something a bit bigger than the panfish and trout I was filling my freezer (and belly) with earlier this winter. Hooked up with my friend Mike to target some pike on ice near Montreal.

Most bait shops are all out of the large shiners and suckers we'd normally use to catch pike while ice fishing, so Mike picked up a bag of frozen smelt from a local grocery store.

Not too much snow on the ice surface, Mike drove out to our spot in his new 4x4 pickup truck. Quite comfortable not to have to trek out, and being able to sit in a warm truck if need be.

After drilling some holes through nearly 3 feet of ice, we set out half a dozen tip ups in about 5 feet of water, which was more like 2 feet once you deduct the thickness of the ice. Pike move shallower as we get closer to their spawning period, which is usually sometime in April.

I brought along a small rod to jig with while waiting for them to bite, not much going on jigging small lures or spoons in water that shallow. The first flag of the day went off right next to me, I grabbed the line and set into the pike. As I haven't fished this sort of setup in many years, it was tough to guess the size of the fish, especially as it was only a couple feet below me. I let it run a few times, and was surprised that it was a bit smaller than I originally thought once it was landed.

Still quite happy to have landed my first pike of the season:



Took quite a while for the next hit, unfortunately the fish dropped the bait before we had a chance to hook it. Mike and I both landed a couple more fish after noon.



Eventually, I decided to try catching one on my jigging rod. Remove the small Rapala lure I was jigging, and replaced it with an old quick strike rig I had tied 5-6 years ago, which I very rarely get to use. Setup a nice 6 inch smelt on the quick strike rig, which ended up presenting it in a horizontal position instead of vertical. I then jigged it very slowly about 6 to 12 inches off the bottom. Took about 20 minutes, I had a nice violent hit. I immediately set into the pike, as the quick strike rig is designed to hook it without any waiting, to avoid having the pike gut hooked.

I had my drag set to about 3.5 lbs of tension, as I was using a light braided ice line with a 3 lb test diameter. The Fenwick ice rod double over, and the pike sent my drag screaming 5 or 6 times before I finally managed to lead it's head up the ice hole. Fish had a decent belly on it too.


Mike caught another one shortly after, just as we were getting ready to leave by mid afternoon.

Hope to get in one more ice fishing outing before the season ends and I start chasing carp in open water again.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Midwinter fishing in North Texas

Just spent 5 days visiting Ari and my in laws in Dallas. Was keeping an eye on the cold conditions they had, and it didn't look very good 7-10 days before my trip. Below normal temps had most lake and ponds in the area covered in a thin sheet of ice, and the ground temp was minus 8 a few days before I was scheduled to land.

Thankfully, a sunny warm front moved in the day I was scheduled to arrive. Ground temperature was 15 degrees when I landed, and had warmed up to 20 by the time I got to my destination, and picked up my Texas fishing license and gear.

After having done some research on the Texas fishing forum which I'm a member of, I decided to spend Thursday and Friday targeting carp and bass, then Sunday and Monday targeting smallmouth buffalo, or "buffs" as the locals like to call them.

Only had to hours to spare on Thursday afternoon, tried out a small creek dammed off into a park lake, named exall lake. The lake is located in Highland park, less than 2 miles from where I was staying.


As Texas allows multiple rod use, I rigged 1 rod for carp, and cast a variety of spinnerbaits and crankbaits for bass. No bass or carp in sight, I eventually rigged my second rod for carp as well, using corn on one and my new licorice spice boilie on the other. No luck whatsoever, no fish in sight, but felt very nice to spend some time in the sun, despite the water temp being slightly over freezing. Headed out to meet Ari after 2 hours on the bank.

Got up bright and early on Friday, plan was to fish another area in Carrolton where we did quite well around the same time last year, both for carp and bass.Ari had warned me that the water level dropped a lot there, but being my stubborn self, I didn't pay much attention. Sure enough, the flood control pond was nearly empty, don't think there was any given spot with more than 2 feet of water.


Noticed a massive fish kill, dead shad all along the shorelines. To make matters worse, I later found out that bowfishermen had gone there during the fall when the water was falling and the fish were trapped. They massacred all the alligator and longnose gar, and probably most of the carp as well, leaving a massive rotting mess along the shores. Don't see what the pleasure is in destroying a bunch of vulnerable fish for no good reason, probably a lack of manhood that prompts them to take there frustration out on some helpless, stranded fish.

After fishing there uselessly for a couple hours, I headed back to Dallas to pick Ari up again. On our way back towards Highland park, we stopped at a small creek in Dallas, where we had had some success in the past. If the fish were on, it would be easy to land them, though there isn't much size to most of the carp in the creek. We only had 45 minutes to fish it, so we started off using corn. Impossible to get any distance casting due to overhanging/crisscrossing tree limbs, and very little bank space to fish, so one has to be lucky to draw them in, in am extremely short period of time.


Took 20 minutes to get our first run, Ari landed a small 5-6 lbs carp, his first of 2014.


I landed my first carp of the year about 10 minutes later, probably in the 4 lbs range. Likely one of my smallest ever, but I wasn't complaining, given the conditions.


Had to take off shortly after, so we called it a day.

Sunday was my next day to fish. Choice was to fish one of 2 reservoirs for buffs, or to try an easier venure, namely the Trinity River running through Fort Worth. Ari picked the Trinity, so off we headed. Despite the warm daytime outer temps, the water was still extremely cold, and very stained. Tried fishing 2 rods for buffs and one for bass, again, nothing doing. Forth Worth isn't exactly Dallas, and it isn't nicknamed "cowtown" for nothing. Cowboy and his woman joined to joggers and mountain bikers making their rounds.



I enjoyed some time on the bank in my T-shirt.


Ari was getting bored in a hurry, I thought he'd be more patient. He couldn't take it any more after 3 hours of nothing, and was anxious to get back to Dallas. I finally agreed to his endless whining, and we headed back to Exall lake, hoping that the slight rise in water temp would improve the fishing conditions.

Unfortunately, they didn't. Fished there for 2 more hours, nothing doing. So we called it an early day, and headed out for dinner.

Monday was my last day to fish. I was fishing alone, so I decided to hit a big reservoir South east of Dallas, Lake Ray Hubbard. Unfortunately for me, the weather site I checked didn't mention anything about wind speed (Bing sucks!), got to the lake with a good 50km/h + wind blowing directly at me. To make matters worse, the lake level is a good 8 feet down, which made for huge whitecaps on the sand flat in front of me. To give you and idea, I was next to a boat ramp in the town of Heath, water should normally be up close to the top of the wall I was on, ramp is currently unusable do to low water.


Despite the 1/2 hour drive, I made there, I knew that it would be useless to try to fish there. Precision chumming would by virtually impossible, and buffs have a very subtle take (unlike carp runs), so would be nearly impossible to detect potential takes.

I packed it up and headed North to the town of McKinney, off to a small town lake fed by Wilson creek. Last time I fished there was about 15 years ago, and I remember seeing carp there at the time. Was hoping that they grew a bit. Got to my destination, again the lake was extremely low, and very cold. To make matters worse, there were kids throwing things in the water everywhere, and people feeding huge flocks of ducks, geese and gulls. That's what I get for fishing on a national holiday, I believe it was president's day.

Couldn't take the crowded conditions for long, left after less than 2 hours, and headed back to Dallas. Had 3 hours to kill before meeting Ari again, so headed back to the creek where we caught some on Friday. To my surprise, the water level had gone up a couple feet, current was stronger, and the water extremely stained, full of floating debris.

Decided to set up one line with boilies and the other with corn. Boilie line to 45 minutes to get hit, landed my first carp on my new licorice spice boilies.


Again, nothing too big, probably in the 4-5 lbs range, but I was very glad the flavor and scent outdid the corn, especially as the area hasn't probably been introduced to boilies ever since I tried some there 3 years ago.

Eventually switched my second line to boilies as well, and caught a decent 8.5 lbs carp, which proved to be my biggest and last of the trip. Caught it on a small bass rod and 20 series reel spooled with light line, made the fight all the more exciting. Autoshoot on my camera is horrible, will need to get something more functional soon.


All in all, a very nice few days in the sun, outer daytime temps between 20 and 25 degrees. Can't think of a better way to break up winter than heading South to fish in a T shirt.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

First ice fishing outing of 2014

Finally got out on the ice for the first time in 2014, though the weather was still relatively brutal, -25 windchill out on the open ice. Headed to ice fish the Eastern townships for the first time, went to Lac Memphremagog to jig up some jumbo perch.

Though I typically wear my survival suit for safety when trying new waterways, it was simply too cold, and I had to opt for layers under my snowsuit / down coat. After ground temperatures of -25 to -30 for nearly 2 weeks, I was quite sure the ice was safe. Got to the lake shortly before 11:00 AM.  Was glad to see an SUV and a pick up truck driving on the lake, confirming the ice was more than safe. It was solid ice without any snow cover, making it extra dense.


Started drilling my first hole, the extra dense ice made me realize that my blades need some serious sharpening. Drop my line and pulled out my first fish of 2014, a nice 9 inch perch.


Subsequent holes were a lot harder to drill, due to my blades getting covered in ice. Despite my trying to chip of the excess ice buildup, drilling was the toughest I ever experienced. Wasn't able to drill nearly as many holes as I would have liked to. 

However, I still managed to catch a bunch of perch, ranging from 7 to 12 inches. Noticed that tipping my lures with live mealworms was very effective, as the perch were quite finicky. Kept a few nice ones for the table, as winter perch are very clean, and one of the better tasting fish in the region.

Noticed that I was the only one out there without any type of shelter. Some people fished from their truck, others were towing cabins out with ATV's, and some had the cheaper, portable shelters. 


The region is a bit of a drive, but well worth exploring in the future. Hope to head back there some time soon.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Ice fishing brook trout frenzy

With the weather warming up to a balmy -15 and the kids off school for New Year's break, I took Ari and Eli up North to ice fish for trout. Though the outfitter we normally go to typically stocks his lakes with rainbow trout, they put in 2000+ brook trout a couple week ago.

In contrast to rainbow trout that move around a lot under ice, brook trout tend to school up a lot more, so once start catching them out of a given hole, the chances are that you are in for non stop action. Although fishing is usually quite easy there, I brought along my manual auger, as well as my humminbird flasher, to try to make the outing a bit more exciting if the bite was slow.

Got to our on the lake shortly after 10:00 AM, started up a fire in the cabin. The guy drilling our holes had a problem with his auger, so I offered to use mine. Though we are allowed 5 lines per person, I started off drilling 3 holes, one for each of us to jig in. Set up the 3 rods with a 2 hook setup, and tipped them with live worms.

The action was immediate. Within 10 minutes, we already had 12-15 trout. Eli was thrilled to pull some out.


We caught a few doubles:


As the lake doesn't allow releasing fish, I decided to try to make it more exciting by switching to lures. Action remained just as fast, but the average size increased by an inch or 2.


Took less than 1 hour to catch our 20 trout quota, and didn't even get a chance to put out the flasher. Headed back home around 11:30 AM. will give us plenty time to fillet the day's catch.

For those of you interested in guided ice fishing outings, I've decided to offer various plans, checkout my guides page at: http://freshwaterphil.com/fishing-guides.cfm

Friday, December 20, 2013

Late fall ice fishing

Though first ice came very early this year, I haven't had a chance to get out, due to my work schedule. Was suffering from a bad case of cabin fever, so finally had to make the time to get back on the water. Weather was nice hovering between -1 and -4, with very little wind. Brought along some new toys, namely new Fenwick ice rod, and some tungsten "Marmooska" fly ice jigs. Also brought some live mealworms and standard nightcrawlers. Also brought along my Humminbird flasher. Plan was to test a variety of presentations against each other, than try with and  without the flasher, and hopefully catch some fish too.

Get to my spot shortly before 9:00 AM, started off fishing a Marmooska ice jig tipped with a mealworm. Took less than 1 minute, had my first perch of the day: 



I kept seeing lots of fish on the flasher, but they were slower than I anticipated, and quite small too. Rigged up my 2nd rod with a small Rapala jigging rap, probably my favorite ice fishing lure. The fish seemed to respond a bit better to the jigging rap, and I started catching them a lot quicker, with a few keeper sized ones here and there. Eventually caught my first crappie of the day:


When fishing slowed down, I tried tipping the jigging rap with a piece of live worm, seemed to work wonders, as far as getting them back in a feeding frenzy. The bite varied between extremely agressive, to mildly aggressive for most of the morning. 

At one point, a facebook friend of mine showed up, and sure enough, he was just in time. I landed my first bass of the day, and he was there to take a pic:


Nice to have something with a bit more weight at the end of the line... Eventually caught 2 more species, pumpkinseed and bluegill sunfish:



Had to call it an early day by mid afternoon, would have loved to stay for the evening bite, but had too much to do. Overall, a very successful outing, final tally for the day was over 100 perch (8 keepers over 9 inches), 2 largemouth bass, 2 black crappies, 3 pumpkinseed sunfish and one bluegill. 

As for the testing, the jigging rap did a lot better than the marmooska jigs, even when fished bare. The marmooska jig did better tipped with bits of nightcrawlers, than when I used mealworms. I also did a lot better when fishing with the flasher on, as opposed to trying to turn it off.

Basically, cabin fever has been cured. With the upcoming school vacation, I hope to get out on the ice with the kids a few times before 2014.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

My 2013 fishing season

Early December, that time of the year again when I'm too occupied to get out on the water, and cabin fever starts to set in as I wait to get out on the ice. Summer gear is put away, ice gear is ready to go, few more weeks until I'll take the time to hit the ice.

As I do at the end of every season, time to recap my 2013 fishing season, so here it is.

2013 was another spectacular season for the kids, and myself as well. We all got some good fishing done, and most of us broke some previous personal best, as well as succeeding at some new challenges.

The season started off a lot slower than normal. Carp were very finicky in April. Still, Eli managed to catch his few first carp.




 Levi set a new personal record of 20 lbs.


Ari set a new personal record of 26.5 lbs.



My average size was down a bit from the previous season, but still managed some nice ones:





The big breakthough for me was that I managed to solve one of my biggest issues, namely, line cuts due to sharp rocks covered in zebra mussels. Using a heavy mono shock leader has become my standard when carp fishing waters with those conditions. Also got to test new boilies flavours and sizes, more testing panned for the upcoming season.

An early pike fishing trip up North with Avi ended up with water temps a lot colder than normal, which made them very lethargic. Despite very tough fishing conditions, Avi managed to land his biggest pike, which made his trip a smashing success for him.



Ari landed some of his biggest bass, unfortunately, the 5+ lbs largemouth he caught on out annual bass fishing trip never made it on camera due to technical glitch. That being said, he had some great outings, including some wild topwater action South of the border.


I didn't spend much time targeting smallmouth bass, or walleye. For me, the big surprise was the number of trout I ended up catching, as I'm not much of a trout fisherman. I managed to catch 4 trout species (lake trout, rainbow trout, brown trout, and brook trout). Also managed to catch trout in 3 states and 2 provinces.

Vermont:


New York:

Colorado:

Ontario:

Quebec:




Eli and Chaya caught some too:



In addition to catching trout in 3 US states, I also beat my record for number of states fished in one season , catching fish in a total of 5 states, Texas, Vermont, New York, Colorado and Virginia.

Another tough record to beat, was total number of days fished in one season, which now stands at 81, beating my last season's record of 78.

More personal records, were the number of days fished with the same lure on weeklong trips. I spent 5 days throwing just about 1 lure for bass during our annual trip up North. Pop R ended up being lure of the trip for Eli, Levi and myself.





I then threw a Rapala J-7 for 6 days in Colorado, catching all the trout of the trip on that lure:


Finally, the best part, new personal bets. 2013 was by far the best, and most spectacular in that respect.

Caught my biggest brown trout at 14.5 inches:


Caught my few first longnose suckers:


Then, after most of the summer had gone by, the real action started. During a short business trip to Virginia, I caught my first blue catfish, and followed up with my heaviest fish ever landed, a monster blue cat weighing 59 lbs.


Less than 1 week later, my friend Mike invited me out to troll for muskies. Only got 1 bite that day, but it was a 1 bite wonder, a trophy musky weighing over 40 lbs:


Finally, I hooked up with my Patrick, a new fishing friend I met online. We only went out once, as sturgeon season was nearly over, but I caught my biggest one at 55 inches / 50+ lbs:


Reflecting on the success and accomplishments of my 2013 fishing season, I think it's going to be a major challenge to beat what was achieved. Rest assured, that won't stop me from trying in 2014.


Friday, November 1, 2013

Fall time carp fishing

Fall is known to be the best time to target fish species that feed heavily before the freeze up. Carp are no exception. Carp fishing in the fall can be tough, but also very rewarding.

The key to successful fall time carp fishing in Canada, is to avoid overfeeding them, or using too much bait. While you may get away with it early on, once late fall rolls in and the water temp drops below 10 C (about 50 F), over chumming is a sure way to ruin a potentially good outing. Warm fronts seem to be a lot better late in the fall, as opposed to early on, when cold front can trigger active feeding.

I typically use corn in the fall, as it's easier for the carp to ingest / digest. Many nuisance fish have moved off to deeper water by then, so they are much less of a factor. Spicy flavors like cayenne / chilli seems to add the the effectiveness of sweet corn in cold water, so be sure to include it as part of your arsenal.

Avi had a half day off school last week, and being that it was his birthday, I allowed him to skip school completely that day, taking him carp fishing instead. A major cold front had dropped the overnight low well below freezing, and also brought our first snow flurries of the season while we were out on the water. Snowsuits, wool hats, winter boots and insulated gloves were required to keep us warm, weather was basically the equivalent of a mild day ice fishing.

The fishing was extremely slow, largely due to the cold front, the carp were just about inactive. When we finally did get a run, I was surprised at the speed of which the carp took of at, very atypical for this time of the year. The carp also put up a nice fight, but Avi hung on. We landed the carp a few minutes later, Not too bad for a day off school.



That was it for this week, with a major wind storm cancelling any more fishing plans I had this week. Hope to head out again next week for some more clod weather / fall time carp fishing.


Thursday, October 24, 2013

Fall fishing bass & walleye in Montreal

As I've been targeting mainly bottom feeding species for the past few months, I decided to switch things up this week to target predatory species using lighter tackle before first ice. The main target species were going to be largemouth and smallmouth bass, which can both offer outings of large numbers of smaller to mid sized fish around Montreal, with an occasional lunker.

First outing was a short 3.5 hour shore outing, just about all the time I could afford to put in that morning, due to my work load and errands. Hit my spot around 11 AM. Despite sunny skies in the forecast, it was drizzling on and off most of the day. The given spot is still overgrown with thick reeds, inter twined with vines and thornbushes.



Though I normally make the detour to access my hotspot through the water, it was far too cold, with the outer temp around 8 degrees, and the water not much warmer. Decided to bring along my "little friend" to help me get to where I needed to be:


A bit primitive, but very efficient. The ultra sharp machete made short work of the reeds and vines in no time, without too much effort.

Now that I could concentrate on catching fish, I tied on a spinnerbait, and started casting. Nothing doing for a good 10 minutes, I tied a brand new Big O crankbait on to my second rod, after sharpening the hooks out of the box. Many lures comes with less than  sharp hooks, and I'm kind of finicky about having them sticky sharp.

Landed back to back largemouth bass on my first couple casts.



Worked my way along a nice stretch of 700-800 feet of shoreline, alternating between casting the spinnerbait, big O, and a Rapala J-9 my son found earlier on this month, which I refurbished by polishing and putting on new hooks. The largemouth bass weren't interested in my variety of spinnerbaits, but I did manage one on the Rapala J-9, and a couple more on my big O.


Here are some action shots I took with rod in one hand, camera in the other hand, as I was alone:



After the bite died down, I trekked my way back, and headed off to another spot, where the bass fishing can be good this time of the year. Fished it for another hour or so, but no fish interested in my variety of spinnerbaits or crankbaits, so I headed home.

Couple days later, I headed out with my friend Tony, to fish the St Lawrence River near downtown Montreal. Plan was to fish for smallmouth bass and walleye, casting crankbaits, drag tubes, or vertically jig in deeper water. As the weather had dropped to near freezing, I was in full ice fishing gear, survival suit, winter hat, insulated gloves, and boots. Glad I suited up, as the ride out to our spot against the wind made for a -10 to -15 wind chill.

Got to our first spot around 11:00 AM. We tied on jigging spoons, much like the ones I use for ice fishing. Jigged a 15-20 foot flat for a while, without success. Moved off to deeper water, and almost immediately, I had a nice fish on. My medium light Ugly Stick bass rod bent over in two, and my light 20 series Abu Garcia reel started peeling drag. Figured it was something bigger than the smallmouth bass we were targeting, and Tony put the boat in gear to follow the fish, in order to avoid me getting spooled with my light line.

After a short fight, I landed this sturgeon, first fish of the day.


Jigged some more without much happening. I tied another ice fishing lure onto my second rod, a large Rapala jigging rap. May sound a bit crazy to do so in open water, but after watching Al Lindner do so, and catching some "big 'eyes" as he calls them on one of his episodes, I figured I didn't have much to lose by trying it.

Sure enough, I hooked into a nice walleye on my second drop, brought it to boat side. Instead of grabbing it, I attempted to hoist it out, despite being barely hooked, when I really should have netted it. Was a good 18-20 inches, and jumped off my hook into the water instead of the boat. Oh well, no pic, but a good quick release after a surprisingly good fight from a walleye.

We ended up catching another dozen walleye and sauger, some eating size, some smaller.



Still no smallmouth bass, we switched spot in order to find some. First spot we hit was a shallow flat. We casted crankbaits into 10-12 feet without much success. We then tried dragging tubes in deep water. Again, no hookups, except for a few boulders. Finally headed out to deeper water, and went back to jigging our ice fishing lures. Took a while, Tony caught some more walleye, I finally landed the first bass of the day:


Nothing huge, but still a feisty fighter, and came from over 40 feet down. We landed about another 10 or so bass up to about 2 lbs. Eventually called it a day, and headed back to the boat ramp. As Tony went to get his truck, I picked up one of his old rods on the  boat, he's got about a dozen of them. I selected one with a decent sized crankbait, and without really having a look, I casted if of the dock. I immediately hooked up with a nicer bass, about 3 to 3.5 lbs. I brought it in, it jumped a few times, and peeled some drag as well. Managed to jump off my line just as I was about to grab it. It was at that point I realized that the lure was missing most of it's hooks, and the ones that were there were rusted dull and bent out of shape. Oh well, that what I get for not checking the lure before casting, but good enough for me, as got a great fight out of that bass while it lasted.

Was scheduled to head out to Lake Champlain for bass and pike today, by the outing was cancelled, so it looks like the end of "bass week" for me. Hope to get back to chasing bottom feeders next week.

I enjoyed my outing with Tony, it was the first time I've taken the time to vertically jig for that long, outside my regular ice fishing.  It was interesting to fish open water with ice fishing lures, and the method proved to be just about all that worked.

Tony still has availability for the next few weeks. Due to the cold weather, there is virtually no fishing pressure, and the fish are just starting to school up, which can lead to outings of 50+ fish per day. Last chance to book an outing for those brave enough to endure the cold.

Contact Tony by clicking: http://freshwaterphil.com/contacttony.cfm