The Freshwater Phil guide to Montreal shore fishing spots

Montreal's best shore fishing spots

Monday, November 30, 2015

2015: Another great fishing season

Early December, and open water season is just about over for me, though it may be a few weeks before we get safe ice to kick off the winter ice fishing season. As I've done in the past, I like to recap out season highlights in one blog post. As usual, I'll break down our the season by species, mixing in our new family personal records instead of leaving them all for the end of the post, as I've donein the past.

Overall, a great season for most of the family,  met many new anglers, many big fish caught, and many new personal records set between us all. Best of all, many new things learned, never fails to amaze me just how much one can learn every season.

As with many seasons in the past, the season turned out quite surprising, simply based on the species I spent more time targeting than usual, while others, less time than I had originally envisioned.

One of the species I didn't put much time into in the past, was trout. I can safely say I spent more time trout fishing this season, than I have in any other season in the past. Not because of any sudden love for trout fishing, just happened to turn out that way.

Trout season started off very well, my first trout landed for the season turned out to be the biggest brown trout I've ever caught at 2.25 lbs:

Besides for catching large numbers of smaller brown and rainbow trout, 4 of the kids caught either their first or biggest trout as well.

Here's Ari with some keeper sizes brown trout:

Eli with his new 14.5 inch PB rainbow trout:

Chaya with her first trout:

Zev, my newest fisherman at 3 years old with his first trout:

Though not much of a fighting fish at that size, most of these trout were caught in clean water, and made their way to our table. Delicious, to say the least.

Moving onto some more interesting predatory species, walleye were another species that I ended up fishing for a lot more than originally anticipated. Season started off in January, my first time targeting walleye on ice was somewhat succesful:

Ahead to spring, first day of walleye season was successful, even though I was only on (in) the water for a couple hours.

Avi landed his biggest walleye a few weeks later, trolling near Montreal:

Later that summer, I took Avi on a well earned trip up North to chase some walleye in a clean deep Lake at Le Domaine Shannon for a few days. Lot's of tasty keepers, as well as some bigger walleye as well.

Shore lunch:

Avi's biggest of the trip:

And my biggest of the season at 27 inches, first pass field testing the new Bite Booster lure:

Shortly after that trip, I hooked up with walleye guide Mark Currie. First of our outing was on a blistering hot day, but Ari and I had a blast, landing a few dozen 'eyes:

In contrast to fishing walleye in the high heat, my next outing with Mark was late in November, with the outside temp below freezing. Polar opposite of our first outing, only a few walleye landed, but nice sized to say the least:

Though walleye aren't to best fighting fish out there, they taste great and the bigger ones always bring a welcome smile when caught.

Next on my predator list was the bass family. I largely neglected largemouth bass this season, but first one was a mid March surprise I caught while jigging on ice:

Exception was our yearly trip up North for the bass opener. The smashing success we had left me with little to ask for, for the rest of the season. 5 out of 6 of us broke our lake records for largemouth bass on that trip.

Mine was the first fish of the trip, second year in a row that that's happened. But this one was my first 5 lbs bass on that lake, and only second largemouth i've caught in the 5 lbs + range.

Avi and Levi both caught some in the 4 lbs class:

It was Chaya's first trip up with the boys, she caught some good one as well, and barely managed to boat her biggest at 3 lbs (with a bit of help from dad):

There's a good reason we keep going back to Mijocama every summer since 2002...

Smallmouth bass we another species that I pretty much neglected, but 2 outings with my friend and pro bass guide Jimmy, were all it took to make this another memorable season.

Midsummer in a heat wave, Lake Champlain produced a nice topwater smallie that weighed in at 4 lbs.

And a mid October outing turned out to be the best of the season, my first fish of the day turned out to be my biggest bass ever at 6 lbs:

Amazing fight on my new Fenwick rod, can't wait to try it for some topwater fishing next season.

Didn't do too much pike or musky fishing by my standards, but we still managed some decent ones:

Season started off on ice early in spring, before it closed for April:

Mid May had Levi and I up North at le Domaine Shannon, where he landed his biggest pike to date:

Avi followed up with some nice ones early in June:

Chaya caught her first pike later that month:

Eventually, Avi made it out for his first musky outing with my friend and pro musky guide, Mike.

I got in on the action as well a couple weeks later:

Lot's of decent sized esox, but no big monsters by season's end. Hope to change that next season.

Which brings us to the "big boy" segment of this post, namely, BIG bottom feeders.

Being that I guide for carp, the vast majority of fish caught are fought by either my clients or family members. I still fight the odd fish, but a lot less than I once did. Suits me just fine, I'm perfectly happy seeing their faces when they land their biggest fish ever while fishing with me. Instead of clogging up the post with tons of pics of big carp, I invite you to view the carp picture gallery on my web site at:

Here are a few notable carp we caught in 2015:

I did get a kick out of landing my first carp on ice on a handline to kick off my season earlier than usual:

Avi caught his biggest carp at 27 lbs:

Eli with his biggest at 24 lbs:

Ronit with her biggest at 27.5 lbs:

And the biggest ever caught by one of my clients (Gaetan) at 34 lbs:

Next  on the bottom feeder list is catfish. An early season trip to Dallas in mid February had Ari catching his biggest few cats, first time chasing blue catfish for him:

Much of our catfish outings here were spent chasing trophy sized channel cats, which somewhat eliminated the chances of catching anything under 10 lbs. Eli beat his PB with this fat 18 lbs cat, he needed a hand to help land this one:

Not to be outdone, Levi came close a few days later with his best at 17 lbs:

And last but not least, the biggest fish in the St Lawrence river, the mighty sturgeon. I'm lucky enough to fish with one of the best sturgeon guides in the province, my friend Patrick Therrien.
On his first sturgeon outing ever, Ari hit the jackpot and smashed all family records with this monster lake sturgeon, estimated to weigh 84 lbs based on it's length and girth:

A couple months later, Avi landed his biggest sturgeon at 55 inches, and I didn't do too bad myself either:

That, in a nutshell, was how our 2015 fishing season went. Aside from all the good times, great memories that should last a lifetime for the kids, lots of good laughs, and tough battles, there is one record that reflects it all. I managed to fish at least once on 117 days (so far) in 2015, by far the most for me in a season. Granted, some were a short 1 or 2 hour outing, but when you invest that amount of time into chasing fish, you can bet that you'll generally have some nice pics to share from time to time.

Hoping you all had productive seasons as well. For those of you waiting to hit the ice, be sure it's safe when you finally do. Who knows, we may run into each other out there sometime.

Tight lines for 2016!

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Big walleye fishing in cold water

While most have stored their boats away for the winter by late November, a few die hard fishermen remain on the water right up until it freezes. And rightly so, as some good trophy fishing can be had by those dedicated enough to put up with the miserable weather, and often lethargic fish.

Mark Currie is one of those dedicated die hard anglers, and I had the luck to get out and chase some late season walleye with him. Though I knew it was going to be a cold day, the weather threw us a surprise, we got our first few centimeters of snow of the season that morning. This is what the boat ramp looked like when I arrived.

It was still snowing when we launched, and for the first hour or so of our outing. To make matters worse, there was an East wind blowing, which ended up cancelling any plans to drift fish for walleye, so we were forced to cast for them instead. Casting in subfreezing temps leads to heavy ice buildup on the rod guides, which impedes casting, and eventually then leads to line damage by fraying. Not to mention cold fingers having to break off the ice after every few casts.

The fish were there, but extremely non cooperative. An arriving cold front often puts them into a negative moods this time of year, and we had to slow our presentation down to a standstill in order to coax any of them into biting.

Knowing that the fish were there, we persevered, despite the combination of these negative conditions. It took a few hours, but we finally managed to hook some big walleyes:

For those of you crazy enough to give late season / cold water trophy walleye fishing a try, I highly recommend contacting Mark, as he fishes right up until first ice, and is one of the best out there when it comes to big walleye.

Mark can be contacted by clicking: 

Friday, October 23, 2015

Trophy sturgeon fishing guide

Been itching to go out for some big fall time sturgeons, but bad weather had our planned fishing outings cancelled 3 weeks in a row due to bad weather. When our rescheduled date for the guided outing finally arrived, we were happy that the weather came through for us. However, it was to be a daytime outing due to strong winds coming in towards evening.

Avi and I met up with Patrick at 11:00 AM, and headed out to our spot on the St Lawrence river near Montreal. Within 1 hour, Avi was on to his first sturgeon of the day. After having a bit of trouble fighting a big one last year, he had a better idea of how to effectively fight a big, powerful fish without tiring too much. A few minutes later, he was happily holding his first sturgeon of the season.

A nice 49 inch sturgeon to start the day for Avi, he was able to relax a bit having caught a nice sized sturgeon early on.

I hooked the next sturgeon not too long after. After initially running towards the boat, it decided to head off towards Quebec city. Had to muscle it a bit more than usual, and eventually got it running back our way. The big sturgeon put on one of the best sturgeon battles I've enjoyed, it simply wouldn't give up. Eventually, the strong fishing rod with a heavy backbone got the better of the fish, and the sturgeon surfaced. Patrick netted it after a couple more feeble attempts to dive back to the 35 foot mark where it was hooked.

A chunky 55 inch sturgeon, easily weighed over 40 lbs:

About half hour later, I hooked into another sturgeon, which ran straight at us again. Offering almost no resistance as I hauled it out of the depths, I initially thought it wa a smaller one. Pumping the rod, I got a glimpse of the sinker. Before I had a chance to see the fish, it shot straight out of the river like a missile, within a couple feet of the boat. That's when I knew I was on to another big sturgeon. Another decent battle, but less intense than the first fish. This one measured 55 inches as well, but noticeably thinner.

Fighting big fish and getting a good picture are always great, but often forgotten are the proper handling, and especially release techniques. The best way to safely release big fish like sturgeons is to have a big, solid cradle. The fish recovers in the water safely without being overwhelmed, and when it's ready to go, you simply let it out and watch it swim away. Very rewarding to watch it head back home to grow bigger and fight again another day.

After catching another couple small sturgeon under 40 inches, I hooked into another decent fish. I handed the rod to Avi, as he was having no hits after his first fish. Another good battle, and he landed this 48 incher:

It was getting late in the day, and the bite seemed to have slowed a bit, when Patrick's rod went off. He offered it to me, but I let Avi have another run at it. This fish just stayed on bottom, playing tug of war with Avi. I had a hunch that it may have been a very big catfish from the way it was fighting. I kept suggesting that Avi put some more muscle on it to bring it up, but he was starting to wear from his previous battles. About 10 minutes into the battle, I Avi's back started hurting, and with the fish about halfway up the water column under the boat, I took the rod from him, just to try and force it up to get a glimpse. Took less than 20 seconds, and I had another big sturgeon blowing air bubbles near the surface. Another big one in the net, turned out to be Avi's biggest aver, again at 55 inches, with a decent girth as well.

It isn't often that the 3 biggest fish of the all measure 55 inches, but I guess that's fishing. With 5 of our 7 fish for the day going over 4 feet long, we definitely hit what we had hoped. Patrick came through again as expected, you simply can't beat fishing for big fish with an expert fishing guide at the top of his game for the target species.

Sturgeon season in zone 8 around Montreal closes on October 31st, Patrick still has a few dates open for guided outings until then. Contact him by clicking: