The Freshwater Phil guide to Montreal shore fishing spots

Montreal's best shore fishing spots

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Great bass opener at Mijocama outfitter

Just got back from a spectacular 5 days trip to Mijocama outfitter with 4 of my my kids. This is the 13th season in a row that we've done at least 1 trip to Mijocama, and early summer is typically the best time to go with kids, both fishing and weatherwise. My 6 year old daughter came along for the first time, and my oldest son couldn't make it due to final exams at Concordia, so 14 year old Avi got to be captain of his own boat for the first time as well.

Day 1:

We left a bit later than usual, due to the thunderstorm warnings for the area the previous night. As usual, they forecast was completely wrong, and it turned out to be a gorgeous day. Got started fishing shortly after noon. First target species were sunfish, which are easy to sight fish for in mid day sun. Both Eli and chaya wasted no time in finding and catching some.

We eventually made it to dock, got settled into the chalet, and decided to do some dock / shore fishing, which turned out to be quite productive. First cast landed a nice 2 lbs largemouth bass, followed by my biggest bass on that lake at exactly 5 lbs:

Can't think of a better way to start off a 5 day bass fishing trip than catching the lunker on the first couple casts!

We headed out for the evening bite, a couple hours later, Avi beat his personal best with a nice 4 lbs bass as well. I was hoping for a good topwater bite, but the fish were a bit deeper than usual with the cooler water, only managed to hook 1 bass on a Pop R, but Chaya lost it at boatside. Eli did a bit better, landing a gargantuan pumpkinseed sunfish that weight 1 lbs, as well as a chunky pike we kept for the table:

Day 2:

I was up and ready to fish before 5 AM, just in time for the sunrise on Giles lake:

About 1/2 hour later, my buddy Jimmy showed up to pick me up for "work":

Again, not much of a topwater bite besides for some big sunfish and another missed bass.

Later that day, I took Eli and Chaya sight fishing for some of the huge sunfish that are tons of fun to catch while sight fishing. Patrolling nests in shallow clear water makes them and easy target for my kids, our weapon of choice being micro jigs tipped with live worms. We caught about 8 or 9 in a row, the bigger ones weighing in over 1 lbs. True giants for pumpkinseed sunfish, the biggest I've seen in any lake to date:

Chaya also learned how to drive a boat, and took my trolling 101 course as well:

Avi (aka captain hook) did a good job for the second day in a row, hitting some of my hotspots on that lake:

The move paid off nicely for Levi, who landed his personal best to date on that lake at 3.75 lbs:

Day 3:

We all slept in due to heavy rain overnight an into the early hours of the morning. Weather eventually cleared up, and it was off to get my boat onto some good bass fishing. The bass didn't disappoint, Chaya landed her first 2 lbs bass:

Eli caught some nice ones too:

Jimmy came out for a short hour with me while the kids were playing. A bit of a downgrade from his 20 foot bass boat to fish out of my 15 foot wooden chaloupe with a small 5 HP motor, reminded us of our earlier years fishing together:

Unfortunately, he injured his knee shortly after and had to leave early, so that bass turned out to be his last of the trip.

Day 4:

A cold front moved in and bass went deep for the morning bite. Chaya managed to land one and lose another, while Eli landed his biggest of the trip at 3 lbs:

We ended up landing 8 more over 2 lbs that day, while Avi tied his personal best at Mijoama he had set a few days earlier at 4 lbs:

An evening thunderstorm forced us to head in early, but we got a nice rainbow for a sunset:

Day 5:

The morning bite brought us a couple surprise fish. 2 back to back pike, including Chaya's first:

Not much else that morning, but the afternoon brought some more nice bass, we landed a total of 6 more over 2 lbs, including Chaya's biggest at 3 lbs, she had a very tough fight bringing it in, but still managed to do a fine job:

That toothless smile tells it all...

Levi ended up with his beating his personal best as well with this 4 lbs bass:

The trip ended with another gorgeous Mijocama sunset:

All in all, another great trip to Mijocama outfitter. The weather and accomodations were great, bonfires, fireworks, BBQ's, swimming, and enjoying the great outdoors in a pristine mountain setting.

The bass fishing was quite good too, we ended up with a total of 34 bass over 2 lbs, including 4 over 3 lbs, 2 at 4 lbs and my 5 lbs lunker. My brother joined us with his son for a couple days, they landed a 2 and 5 lbs bass as well, setting his new record for that lake. With 5 out of 6 of us breaking our lake records after a combined 20+ trips to Mijocama, I can safely say it was one of the best trips we've had there to date.

For more information on fishing at Mijocama or booking your dream bass fishing trip there, click:

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Pre spawn carp fishing in Canada

Some of the carp best fishing periods of the year in Canada are directly before and after the carp spawn, which typically occurs in mid to late June in most parts of Canada. Due to our long winters and typically cool spring seasons, the carp often all spawn over a 5-7 day period, with a few odd fish that may spawn a bit later. In general, carp won't feed during their spawning period, so fishing for carp at that time is very difficult, and typically not too productive. As the carp feed heavily right before and after the spawn, these periods are typically very productive, producing large numbers of carp, and often some very fat ones that are carrying a good 5-10 lbs of roe at times, depending on the size of the fish.

I was fortunate enough to have some bookings for the pre spawn period this season. Both groups had multiple anglers, so I was able to set up a number of rods to better our chances for very successful outings.

My first group was a family visiting from the USA. Up to that point, they had never caught any carp, as they fish for mainly bass and channel catfish back home. They were all hoping to catch fish bigger than they ever had in the past, and with carp being the size they are, I knew they'd have a decent chance at achieving their goals. As most of people new to carp fishing, I brought them to a very productive spot that produces good numbers of mid sized carp.

We got set up shortly before 9:00 AM. Having 5 people including myself, I wondered if I'd be able to get all 5 lines in the water if the bite was on. Surely enough, it took less than 10 minutes to get the first hit. I knew I'd be in for a busy day...

Over the next 3 hours, I wasn't able to get a 5th line in the water, basically catching fish every 20 minutes or so. When we finally got a short lull shortly after noon, I got 5 lines in the water, only to catch 4 carp within the next few minutes including a double header, putting us back to 1 line. I managed to get 5 lines ion again about 2 hours later, again, only for about 3 or 4 minutes, just enough time to barely chomp down on my sandwich, getting another fish on as I took my last bite.

Needless to say, they had a blast, all members of the family landed many carp, a total of 22 of 26 were landed over a 7 hour outing. Mainly medium sized carp in the mid teens, with the largest going 20 lbs:

Another happy family to say the least, and I landed a bonus 2 carp myself while packing up the gear after they left.

A few days later, I took out another group, again for their first time fishing for carp. For various reasons, this group chose to stay closer to home. Having a decent spot in their area that I knew had some bigger fish, they knowingly traded off big numbers of mid sized fish, for a chance at landing some trophy sized monster carp.

We got set up shortly after 8:00 AM. After missing a run in the first 1/2 hour or so, the action was quite slow as expected. It took nearly 3 hours for our next hit, this time Gaetan got a good hookset on his first carp. The fight didn't take too long, as we were fishing at short range, and the big carp made the mistake of running directly at us. I got in the river and landed it in my oversized net. When I finally got it on the mat, I was amazed at the carp's thick girth. Though relatively short, it weighed in at a whopping 34 lbs:

By far the largest ever landed by any of my clients, and smashing Gaetan's previous largest fish which weighed a mere 7 lbs. I can honestly say that his reaction was one of the happiest I've ever seen on the bank. I took a shot fish the fish as well before releasing it:

When the excitement died down and we got out lines back in the water, things were quiet. Aside from a redhorse sucker in the 4 lbs range, no other carp hit for another 3 hours or so. This time, it was Charles' turn, landing his personal biggest fish with a nice 18 lbs carp that put up a solid battle before I was able to net it:

Know it was time for Karolanne to get her carp, having landed only the redhorse sucker earlier on. Sure enough, we got a run within less than an hour, and she landed a nice 25 lbs carp, again her biggest fish ever:

Now that they all had their carp, we the mood was very relaxed and happy as expected. We got set up again, hoping for one more big carp before calling it a day. Just as I started packing up, Charles got another run, landing another carp. When I saw it surface the first time, I knew it would smash his previous record set less than a couple hours earlier. Sure enough, he came very close to the biggest of the day with the splendid 33.5 lbs carp:

Aside from my clients being beyond happy, it was the first time I've ever had 2 30+ lbs carp landed on the same outing. With our top 3 fish combining for over 90 lbs, I'd say they definitely made the right choice going for size above numbers.

Most of the carp where caught using a combination of my boilies, sweet dream, black magic and fireball all produced, and tinkering with the set ups produced some very big carp.

Their timing was very good, as the full spawn is currently happening in many spots around Montreal and probably across much of Southern Canada. As such, I won't be doing much carp fishing until the end of June.

We've already started targeting other species. My 12 year old son landed his biggest channel cat a couple night ago with this nice 17 lbs catfish:

And with bass season now open, we're off to chase some largemouth bass while the carp finish doing their thing. Stay tuned...

Friday, June 5, 2015

Scouting new fishing spots on Lac St Louis in Montreal

Lac St Louis is the enlarged portion of the St Lawrence river that flows SouthWest of the Island of Montreal. It is made up of various types of structure, depth, and currents. It also has the highest number of fish species in the province in good numbers, and many super sized fish as well.

Fishing Lac St Louis can be sort of overwhelming if you don't know the waterway at all. First place to start is having a proper boat and motor to be able to handle waves and current, as well as to have the ability to run long distances in short amounts of time when the need arises. Next, a sonar and GPS with Navionics map of the area is very important. It's crucial to be able to tell what depth you are fishing or trolling in, and to be conscious of the hundreds of shoals and trenches that exist in the river.

Best bet to successfully fish Lac St Louis around Montreal, is to have a guide that knows the river well take you for an outing or two. Besides for having all the necessary equipment, they know which sections are productive and conducive to successfully targeting the fish species you'll be fishing for. You'll also learn which of the spots are productive, not mention catching a lot more fish.

Despite having a very good knowledge of the river and many hotspots marked, fishing guides still need to scout their fishing spots before taking out clients to fish. Water levels and temperature fluctuate every season, which directly affects were a given species of fish may be holding.

I'm lucky enough to have some good friends that guide on the river around Montreal, so every know and then, I get invited to help them do some scouting. When scouting spots for the next day, whether a guided outing or a tournament, is is important not to sit on one or 2 spots and fish them out. Rather, once you catch a few good fish, mark the spot for the next day, and head out to find more productive fishing spots. This typically ensures excellent fishng condition when required, but a bit tougher on the ones doing the scouting. Either way, the challenge makes it more rewarding when it all comes together and you're putting fish on the deck.

This week, my friend Jimmy invited me out for an afternoon/evening outing, preceding a guided outing he had the following day. Northern pike were the target species. Our goal for the afternoon was to catch a couple dozen, but more importantly, to find some spots with good concentrations of pike.

We started strong, catching about 15 pike or so in our first couple spots, mainly on Spinnerbaits, and a few on jerkbaits as well.

Not wanting to overfish the hot spots, we headed off to some other areas. Unfortunately, we only managed another fish or two over the next 3 to 4 hours. The water was also littered with cotton like moss from the trees, which kept catching on our lines, making casting very difficult.

Finally, towards evening, my patience with casting started wearing thin, due to the conditions, and lack of any action from the fish. I suggested some trolling to change things up a bit. After seeing a big perch follow one of Jimmy's lures, I tied on a perch pattern Rapala Countdown, and we started trolling. Result wa almost immediate, I hooked and landed a nice walleye just under 4 lbs  within a couple minutes.

We trolled for another hour or so, landing another 7 or 8 pike before ti was time to call it a day. That evening troll definitely saved the day.

The following morning, I headed out with Mike to pre fish Lac St Louis for walleye, as Mike had an upcoming tournament in a couple days. I brought Avi along for the scouting, as an extra rod is always welcome when trolling, and I owed him a day off school to fish due some some very good marks on his report card.

We got set up shortly after 8 AM, and started catching fish almost immediately, mainly pike with a nice walleye as well.

After catching about a dozen pike, we headed off to scout another section of the river. this portion has very few pike, and typically more walleye. We didn't even have time to get all the rods out, Avi got a big hit on his line. Fish was pulling hard and straight down, telltale signs of a nice walleye. Sure enough, we saw it's big head and nice girth when it surfaced, Avi did a great job of keeping calm and steady pressure n the fish all the way to the landing net. I scooped up the big walleye, measured in over 26 inches, and probably over 6.5 lbs, Avi's biggest walleye by far.

A few minutes later, we hooked into a smaller one, probably in the 3 lbs or so range.

After catching another pike and a small bass, we left the spots for some more scouting. With a heat wave coming in, and the sun shining bright, the walleye seemed to shut down. No more hits in the next 2 spots, Mike called it a day around 1 PM.

On our way home, Our plan was to stop and scout 2 spots near Montreal for carp. Both spots are areas where I typically don't fish until late October and November, but I wanted to see how they fish and whether or not they'd be productive in spring. Both of my carp spots already have heavy weed growth, and the wing blew all sorts of debris in shallow where I was casting. First spot yielded a nice sized redhorse sucker, Avi's biggest ever at 3.5 lbs.

The hot sun beating down on us was getting intense, felt like 30 degrees with the heat factor. Avi started complaining about the heat, so we head off to my second spot to scout for carp, where I knew we could get under some trees for shade. The move paid off quickly, Avi landed his first carp of the season within 1/2 hour of getting our lines set up.

We headed home about an hour later.

All in all, 2 solid days of scouting fishing posts, Avi learned some valuable scouting lessons, and got onto some great fishing in addition to beating 2 of his personal records.

For guided fishing trips around Montreal with the best fishing guides in the Montreal area, refer to my recommended fishing guides page on my web site by clicking:

Friday, May 29, 2015

Still fishing for big bottom feeders

For the few us us in the angling community that truly enjoy still fishing, there is nothing better than when it all comes together as planned. Still fishing for big fish such as bottom feeders requires proper gear, a good knowledge of the target species, and most of all, lots of patience. As with many other things in life, good things come to those that wait, and fishing is no exception.

A group of clients from the USA hired me to take them out for carp a couple days ago. After their fishing trip up North ended in disaster, with them getting hopelessly lost in the maze of uncharted dirt roads up to Parent. Not being able to find their way to the outfitter they planned to fish for pike and walleye, they headed back to Montreal, and were desperate to land some fish. Being a group of 4, no one was able to accommodate them by boat, which is another advantage to being able to target fish from shore, as long as the bank space is unlimited.

After all that driving and their ordeal, they were weary of joining me anywhere outside Montreal, where I take all my clients for good carp fishing. Though I fish Montreal for carp once in a while for short 2-3 hour outings on my own, the fishing here is more sporadic, typically a toss up between chasing trophies in small numbers, or targeting smaller carp. As we were a total of 5 people, I also needed a spot with enough bank space to get a good spread on our lines, all while trying to ensure success.

We headed to own of my fall spots for carp, which I previously never tried this early in the year. In fall, the spot doesn't yield big numbers. The tradeoff is size, most carp we've caught there go over 25 lbs. But we are in mid spring now, so I knew I'd have to adapt my tactics to this time of the year.

We got set up shortly after 9 AM for a short half day outing. Took nearly 2 hours to get the first carp, and I was surprised that the carp we landed was only mid size, about 11-12 lbs or so. The fish hit in less than 3 feet of water, so I moved a couple of the other lines shallower as well.

The move took about an hour or so to produce results. After a brutal fight, one of the boys landed his biggest fish ever with a nice 28+ lbs carp.

Needless to say, they were all thrilled with the catch, and I'm hoping it made up for some of the frustration they had to deal with during the preceding days. One things for sure, the chances of them catching a 28 lbs pike on a trip up north was very close to zero. Sometimes, simplicity, patience,  and a bit of knowledge can make all the difference...

The following evening, I took my 9 year old son Eli out for a short 2 hour evening outing after he had done his homework. Plan was to chase so trophy sized channel cats with him.

Fishing for big channel cats may sound simple enough, but in reality, there are a number of factors to consider. While smaller ones bite earlier on in spring, it isn't before mid to late May that the bigger ones get very active. It is imperative to stay away from spots that have large number of smaller cats. Focusing on prime spots that contain big fish is the key. Look for deeper holes in moderate current, and fish them starting about 1 hour before dark. For the most part, bigger catfish lay low and virtually inactive in those holes during the day, coming out to start hunting their prey near sunset and through the night. Lastly, don't bother targeting trophies with small bait. I use 6-8 inch dead suckers or chubs. The smaller fish may peck at them every now and then, but when a bigger one takes the line, you generally have a good idea that it's going to weigh in the double digits.

Back to Eli's outing, we got set up about 7:45 PM. Didn't take 5 minutes, and we had a catfish messing with our line. Within 5 more minutes, it took a nice telltale run. I set into the big cat, and handed the rod to Eli.

The fish but up a brutal fight in the current, probably the best I've ever seen from a channel cat. Being only 9 years old, Eli started tiring pumping the heavy rod and big reel trying to gain on the big cat that kept peeling the tightly set drag, keeping it's huge head and shoulders towards the bottom in the river's current.

Finally, when he was at the point of exhaustion and couldn't take it any more, I took over for him to give him a break and let him land the fish with the net. The fish still had a ton of fight left, and wouldn't surface even in shallow. When it finally did, I knew Eli had likely broken his previous catfish record. We landed the big catfish, which weighed in at 18 lbs even. Turned out to be Eli's biggest fish ever, topping a mid size carp he landed a couple years ago.

We got back to fishing again, nothing doing for the next hour or so. Then, shortly after 9 PM, the bite turned on. Eli landed a nice 12 lbs cat, followed by 2 more that we lost. one due to a pulled hook, the other cut the line on a rocky shoal right near shore.

As Eli had school the next day, I had to leave at 10:00 PM, so the rest of those cats will have to wait for next outing if ever they feel like making an appearance on my blog.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Week of father and son fishing

Jewish tradition has considers a boy's thirteenth birthday as his passage into manhood. This event is also known as the bar mitzva. With Levi turning 13 in a few weeks, I decided to take him on a father son week of fishing, as I did with my older boys.

Our original plan was to go up to Le Domaine Shannon for a 5 day trip to chase pike. A couple days before I was scheduled to go, I got a call from the lodge, asking me if I can give up our first day there to another group who's cabin had burned down. As I go to the lodge a couple times per year, I agreed, much the the chagrin of Levi.

Being that our trip up North was cut short, I offered him a day of carp fishing instead, and a possibly 1/2 day extension of our trip up North, weather permitting.

Levi and I hit the St Lawrence River on Friday morning. The carp were around, but in a very negative feeding mode. Despite pulling out all the stops, we couldn't manage a bite for most of the outing. Neither could a couple other groups of carpers set up not to far from us. Finally, with less than 1 hour left to the outing, I baited a line with a new hookbait I was considering testing. The bait worked like a charm, producing a false run within less than 5 minutes, and then a take about 10 minutes later. Levi made no mistake, and landed his first carp of the season shortly after.

After heading home for the weekend, we left for Le Domaine Shannon at the crack of dawn on Monday morning. Ride up was quick, the dirt roads up to the main lodge are in very good condition. After checking in and setting up at our cabin, we headed out to fish a small chain of lake I had never fished yet. Lac Boss is located near the Western edge of their territory, and contains small to mid sized pike, as well as some walleye. 

Water temps were still cold for walleye, so we focused on trolling for pike. Didn't take too long for levi to land his first fish of the trip.

As the section of Lac Boss near the cabin is quite small, we headed up a small creek that feeds into the lake. We eventually found our way to the next segment of the lake, which was a bit bigger. After some more small pike, Levi landed a nicer one:

We eventually made our way back, and setup some line with dead minnows on larger rods with baitrunner reels and bite alarms, similar to what we use for channel cats and carp fishing, in hope of hitting some bigger fish while we cooked up the some fresh caught pike for supper.

The dead bait only managed some more small pike that evening. The next morning, we set out to explore the outflow creek on the other side of our lake, which eventually leads to 2 other lakes Lac Hebert, and Lac Pearl. Lac Hebert was far more productive, producing another few pike, mainly under 3 lbs or so. 

Lac Peral didn't produce any pike, but Levi hooked some sort of salamander or possibly an amphibian on a Rapala husky jerk. 

Should have brought along more snacks on the boat:

Unfortunately, the weather that afternoon took a turn for the worse. Strong 40+ kmh North winds blew in a cold front, and we woke up to some snow and -12 wind chill temps the next morning:

Being too cold to head out on the lake in high winds, we fished dead bait from shore for a while, managed 4 or 5 small pike in front of the cabin. 

Levi hates cold more than my other kids, so when I offered him the option of heading home and chasing carp locally the following day, it didn't take him long to agree forgoing the option of sticking with small pike, to swap for the chance at some rod banding, drag peeling carp action in the warm sun. We made it back to Montreal by mid afternoon on Wednesday, and headed out for the makeup outing on Thursday. 

We set up the carp lines shortly before noon, as the moring was still quite cold. Despite the high winds, the sun warmed up nicely, and shortly after lunch time, Levi had his first run. The fish fought well, and we were both surprised to see a 10 lb channel cat on the end of the line. Levi was happy, as it's been a while since he's caught a big cat.

It's body was slim in comparison to the huge head:

We got the lines set up again, and the non stop action started. Over the next 5 hours, Levi hooked 11 carp, landing 9 of them before it was time to head home by late afternoon. Most of the carp were in the mid to upper teens:

2 of them were over 20 lbs:

All in all, an action packed week of fishing for Levi, and hopefully a lifetime of  memories he'll cherish.