The Freshwater Phil guide to Montreal shore fishing spots

Montreal's best shore fishing spots

Thursday, October 8, 2015

My biggest smallmouth bass

October is probably the best month for catching big smallmouth bass in the St Lawrence River. Like many other species, smallmouth bass tend to school up by size, so once you find a consistent fall pattern in a given area, finding big smallmouth bass will usually lead to catching more big smallmouth bass in the same area.

After a slew of Jewish holidays early this fall, I finally made it out for some fall time smallmouth bass fishing with my friend and expert bass guide Jimmy. Target area was the Lake St Francis portion of the St Lawrence River, renowned for it's amazing smallmouth bass fishery. Every fall, most of the local pros fish the area in hope of catching gargantuan bags of big smallmouth bass. 5 fish bags in the 20 to 25 lbs range are to be expected on any given day, provided you know some good spots and have the guidance of a pro like Jimmy.

Jimmy and I only had a few hours to fish, we hit the water around 10:30 AM. Jimmy drew first blood casting a spinnerbait, landing a 3.5 smallmouth bass, followed by a 4 lb bass within the first 1/2 hour of our outing. I didn't have any luck on my bigger spinnerbait, so I switched to casting a topwater lure on my brand new Fenwick rod I picked up for my birthday a few days earlier. Again, no luck on the topwater lure, so I rigged the rod with a "Big O" crankbait.

Success was almost immediate, I got a nice hit on the crankbait. It was tough for me to get an idea of how big the bass was on my new rod, as it was the first fish I've ever hooked with a fast action rod that was that light and sensitive. When the bass start peeling drag, I had a good idea that it was going to be at least in the 5 lbs range, as I usually fish bass with a good 3.5 to 4 lbs of resistance on my reel.

When I finally got my first glimpse of the big smallmouth bass next to the boat, I knew it was over 5 lbs. Jimmy netted the bass, and once on board, I had a good feeling it was the biggest bass I've ever landed. It measured a fat 21 inches, and sure enough, it weighed in at exactly 6 lbs, beating my previous bass record of 5.5 lbs!

Took a couple shots with the trophy smallmouth bass:

When your first catch of the day beats a personal record, it puts a new perspective on the rest of the outing. Gone are the lingering thoughts about how big of a fish you may catch, though you always tell yourself that you may even get a bigger one. Definitely very relaxing to fish after that sort of experience, and the fact that it was the first fish on my new rod, and also the first fish I've caught since I turned 42 years old a few days earlier,  made it even better.

We fished for another couple hours, landing a few more big smallmouth bass, with Jimmy's biggest of the day going over 5 lbs:

Our 5 biggest fish combined for a total weight of just under 23 lbs. All caught withing less than 4 hours of fishing. Had we been able to stay out until the evening, I'm quite sure we would have easily topped the 25 lb mark for our 5 biggest fish.

To put our amazing bass outing into perspective, the biggest bass fishing tournament in Canada
(Berkley B1) was held on the same water body a couple weeks ago. Out of a good 100 teams or so, only 10 teams topped the 20 lbs mark in 2 days / 16 hours of tournament fishing, and the highest bag was 23.5 lbs.

Just goes to show what being at the right place at the right time with the right guide can produce. Jimmy is still available for guided bass fishing trips, contact him by clicking:

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Late summer fishing for multi species

Decided to combine most of our late summer's fishing results into one blog post, as I hadn't posted to my fishing blog in a while.

Summer seems to have dragged on a lot longer than normal this year. Water temp is still a good 10 degrees fahrenheit warmer than what it normally is at the start of fall, so fish are still in their mid summer patterns for the most part.

While I was hoping to hit some decent September trout fishing, the warm water worked against us in both instances. For my first outing, I headed South to the Adirondack region to fish the normally cooler rivers for brown and rainbow trout. The high heat combined with extremely low water levels have pushed the water temp warm enough for me to be able to wade the rivers in shots instead of the neoprene waders I normally use there. Fishing was dismal to say the least, but I still managed to hook a couple small brown trout:

For our summer's last outing, I took my 3 younger children up North to fish for rainbow and brook trout. With night time temps reaching close to the freezing mark, I was hoping the water would have cooled off a bit. Unfortunately, this wasn't the case, with the water still at 68 degrees up there, when it should normally by closer to 55 this time of year. Surprisingly, the bite was better than I thought, took us only a few hours to fill  a 10 trout bag limit, but they were smaller than average for that lake. Still plenty of fun for the kids, my 3 year old Zev caught his first few trout with the help of his older brother.

Moving up in size on the fish scale, I did manage to land some slightly larger bass while topwater fishing near downtown Montreal by bike. Nothing huge, but topwater action is always great, especially under tough conditions. Having to bike over Mount Royal and back to access the water makes it all the more rewarding.

Moving up to the top of the food chain, I didn't bother with pike or walleye, but did get a chance to fish for some muskies with my friend Mike. Numbers beat size on our outing, I landed 3 or 4 muskies, up to 42 inches (roughly 20+ lbs).

Again, not the monster I had hoped for, but definitely lot's of fun, they all put up really tough battles before being landed.

Last but not least, were the goold old reliable carp. Still in summer patterns, they were about as predictable as they get. Landed a couple dozen or so in the past couple weeks, most were average sized.

Notable fish were:

A nice muddler just shy of 20 lbs landed by my 9 year old son Eli:

And a nice 25+ lbs common carp that I landed on my last carp outing for the summer. It came on a new boilie flavour I was testing, and on a brand new rod as well. Gotta love it when that happens:

Now that summer has ended, the water should start cooling off with some colder night in the forecast. Fish will be moving into their fall time patterns soon, and in general, fall is a great time to catch the biggest ones of the year.

Though cold weather makes for less comfortable fishing, adjusting your clothing to match the conditions will allow you to keep on fishing until first ice, and hopefully land some of those fatties while they are in there pre winter feeding frenzy.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Giant lake sturgeon near Montreal

Finally made it out for our first sturgeon outing of the season with my friend Patrick Therrien. It was Ari's first time targeting sturgeons, as he'd never caught any to date.

We met up with Patrick shortly before nightfall, and made our way over to one of his prime spots though the strong wind and high waves. While Ari was to use a conventional setup to ensure that he'd get some bites, Patrick opted to switch to circle hooks to determine their efficiency versus his standard setup. I opted to try a modified hair rig to be used with worms, something I doubt anyone has ever tried before.

We finally got set up at nightfall, Ari was into his first sturgeon within 2 - 3 minutes, Patrick and I weren't even set up yet. Not a big fish, probably in the 7 lb range or so, but I was glad Ari caught on quickly, as sturgeon takes are usually extremely subtle.

Patrick didn't take much longer to hookup either. Again, a small sturgeon, but a good indication that his new setup was going to be efficient as well.

As for me, I got the deep end of the boat, and my hair rigs were completely useless. From getting my worms pecked off the hair, or simply tearing themselves trying to get off the hair, the idea wasn't too bright after all. As Ari and Patrick hooked and landed a few fish, I stubbornly stick with my hair rig.

Eventually Ari hooked into his first big sturgeon of the night. After a heated battle, we landed the fish that measured in at 55.5 inches.

Very close to my 57 inch personal best, but I still hadn't been dethroned up to that point, and joked about it with Ari. Shortly after, Ari hooked into another big one. As soon as it jumped, Patrick knew that it was going to be over 60 lbs, do to it's massive girth. Ari and this giant sturgeon tussled for a while, each pushing each other to the brink of exhaustion. Ari finally got the better of the sturgeon, and Patrick was ear to ear smiles when it finally made it to the huge landing net.

The huge sturgeon was too big and too dangerous for Ari to hold alone, so he and I hoisted it to the front of the boat in the big cradle. Carrying the sturgeon across the boat, I realized how big and heavy it actually was. We finally got in position for the money shot:

We then proceeded to measure the sturgeon, 61.5 inches in length, and a whopping 30.25 inch girth. Truly a giant when it comes to Lake Sturgeon (not to be confused with white sturgeon which can grow over 1000 lbs). Accurate weight estimate from most resources list a fish that size as weighing between 84 to 85 lbs, so we call 84.5 lbs to be fair.

Not only had the sturgeon smashed my personal best by a good 30 to 35 lbs, but it was Ari's largest fish by far, and smashed all freshwater records for our immediate and extended family!

As the sturgeon had fought itself to exhaustion, it took Ari and I a while to revive it in the cradle. When it finally swam off, it stayed just under the surface, and circle our boat slowly, before eventually making it's way back to the depths of the St Lawrence river. 

I finally switched to a conventional set up after that fish, and was eventually rewarded with a few channel cats, and a bonus sturgeon I fought on Patrick's Circle hook set up as well.

Action died down after that, the sturgeon were jumping all over the place, but no more hits. We called it a night a couple hours later, as the cold front coming in had us chilled to the bone. 

Patrick is probably one of the best sturgeon guides in the province. I highly recommend him to anyone looking for the adrenaline rush of fighting the biggest freshwater fish in our region.
Contact Patrick by clicking here.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Trophy walleye fishing with Mark Currie

Was invited out to fish for some big walleyes by Mark Currie, who runs Advanced Bassin plus fishing charters. Despite the name, Mark specializes in various species, including big trophy sized walleye. Though Mark was only added to my recommended guide page recently, he is a veteran guide, and extremely accomplished angler, having fished many big bass and walleye tournament circuits. Always great to fish with guides that are on top of their game, and Mark is definitely ranks with some of most knowledgeable fishermen I've met so far.

Ari and I headed out to meet Mark around 7:30 AM. Though the weather forecast was what one would hope for on a nice summer day, it was the worst possible conditions for walleye fishing. Namely, bright sunshine, high heat, and no wind at all, causing the river's surface to be smooth and mirror like. Just was well, I figured it would be a great test of Mark's skills, as most fishermen would have abandoned the species and gone for bass or pike instead.

Mark didn't seemed fazed by the weather at all, he was confident that we'd have a good walleye outing, and possibly some other species mixed in as well. First tactic we used was drop shotting a small goby like swim bait. Mark used his sophisticated electronics to find large schools of walleye. Sure enough, when he found the first school, it didn't take long for us to get on the board with our first couple fish:

A few minutes later, I hooked into a nicer walleye:

That's when I started getting the idea that this guide is for real, and he wasn't kidding about the ability to put us onto some good walleye fishing despite adverse weather conditions for walleye fishing.

Another thing that struck me about Mark was his ability to discern fish species simply by looking at his sonar. While it may be easy enough for someone with experience to differentiate between bait fish and game fish, Mark called the arches on his sonar from perch to walleye with accuracy. If that weren't enough, when he called "bass" for the first time, I hooked up to my first smallmouth of the day within a few seconds after:

While I was hooking and landing fish after fish, Ari was having a tough time getting use to hooking up to walleye with their extremely subtle takes. I felt bad for him, but wasn't able to figure out what he was doing wrong, being that I'm not much of a walleye angler myself.

Mark however, cued into exactly what Ari was missing, one pieces of the puzzle at a time. From drifting deeper, to getting a proper hookset, Ari learned the proper adjustments to make. When he finally hooked up with his first walleye, so did I, and we had our first double header of the day:

Needless to say, Ari was all smiles,,,

After catching some more keeper sized walleyes, I hooked into my biggest walleye of the day at 4.5 lbs:

Eventually, the fishing slowed down a bit, with the high heat and blazing sun. Mark set up the Bimini top roof to provide us with much needed shade, and we decided to try trolling for a while. The troll was tougher, but Ari landed the first Northern Pike of the day, followed by another walleye that I landed:

Eventually, we went back to drop shot fishing, as it proved to be the more productive tactic of the day, with us landing more walleye as the afternoon rolled in, including some more double headers:

Mixed in every now and then were some energetic bass, and Ari landed another decent pike:

Unfortunately, it was tome to call it a day just as some cloud and winds moved in. I have no doubt that Mark would have put us onto to some real trophy sized walleye with those condition rolling in for the late afternoon. I guess those big trophy sized walleye will have to wait for our next outing.

I highly recommend Mark as a walleye guide, as well as for other multispecies swimming in our lakes and rivers. His 21 foot ranger is equipped with a 250 HP motor, as well as a smaller 9.9 kicker for trolling, along with electric trolling motor, latest model sonar/gps with side imaging, etc. Contact Mark by clicking here

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Avi's first muskies

This summer has definitely been a memorable one for my son 14 year old Avi. He's probably fished more than all his other siblings combined, mainly due to straight A report cards and good behaviour, which always ends up being rewarded in fishing trips. Works out well when dad is a fishing addict...

After having spent the week up North walleye fishing with me last week, we were back at it again. This time, it was a short outing in with my friend and #1 musky guide, Mike. As Avi had never been musky fishing in the past, it was a first for him. Prior to the trip I explained some of the techniques used to fish for musky to him, but it was quite different seeing it all put into action. From seeing how big the lures actually are, to the type of gear required to pull the lures and fight big muskies, to the oversized landing net, and big bumper board to measure these oversized fish, Avi knew he was in for a treat.

Muskies are best fished either by casting or trolling giant lures. As I knew there was no way Avi would (or could) have the patience and stamina required for casting, trolling was going to our fishing technique for the day. Suits me fine, as I'd rather not have giant lures flying around in inexperienced hands, and trolling is just so much easier, especially during the heat wave we are having. Besides, nothing better than having a 3000 lb boat pull the lures a set the hook for you due to accelerated trolling speed. As Avi gets older, his patience is setting in as well, especially after spending much time still fishing and scouting new venues with me for various species.

Luckily for Avi, the muskies didn't take long to turn on, he landed his first musky ever, less than 45 minutes into the outing.

Not a giant by any means, roughly 38 inches or so. Still longer than most of the fish he used to catching. It also jumped a few times on the way in, despite Avi trying to control it as best he could. Either way, Avi was all smiles with his first musky.

Within 1/2 hour, another reel went screaming, and Avi was onto his second musky of the day. About the same size as his first, possibly and inch or 2 smaller. Avi's was still smiling.

The bite died down after that for a bit. We tried a few spots without any success, until a bit over 1 hour later. Avi couldn't budge the rod out of the quick release holder due to the pressure, so I released it for him. I instantly knew the fish was going to be bigger than the others, and handed Avi the rod. Avi did a good job of keeping steady pressure on the fish without getting over excited, and I had the fish in the huge landing net shortly after. Just in time too, as the musky spit the lure as soon as I netted it. Avi's biggest musky so far, measured in at 43 inches, probably weighed in the 20-23 lbs range.

Again, the smile says it all!

This musky wore itself out, took me a few minutes to properly revive it before releasing it. I showed Avi the proper release technique, holding the musky by it's tail in the current until I was certain it had regained it's strength and bearings. Avi had a few extra minutes to admire his trophy in the water, before it finally swam off into the depths of the gin clear waters of the St Lawrence River.

We got 1 more missed strike about 10 minutes later, and then the fishing died down. With the humidex factor nearing 40 degrees Celsius (close to 100 Fahrenheit!) , we called it a day about an hour later, as we were cooking in the sun out on Mike's boat, despite the slight breeze.

As usual, I highly recommend Mike as a fishing guide, especially if you're looking to catch the trophy musky of a lifetime. Mike is likely one of the best musky guides in the country, and he exclusively fishes world class musky fisheries where the next musky record is very likely to come from. 

Mike can be contacted about guided fishing excursiones for big muskies by clicking here.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Walleye fishing at Domaine Shannon using new Bite Booster lure

As summer nears it's end, I took advantage of an open spot at Le Domaine Shannon on my favorite walleye lake, Lac LeNotre. Avi and I headed up to the Northern section of the lake, which is the first area I ever fished at Le Domaine Shannon in 2010.  Avi was a bit young intense fishing in an extremely remote setting at the time, so his older brother Ari who was 14 years old at the time, went instead of him. Now that Avi is 14, he was only too happy to finally give walleye fishing in a remote forest setting a shot.

On our previous trip to Lac Lenotre 5 years ago, we did well trolling, jigging and drift fishing with bottom bouncers. Wind and rain seemed to be the key to good walleye fishing at the time, and we expected much of the same this time around.

Day 1:

We arrived at the main lodge at 7:00 aM on Sunday morning, after driving through most of the night. By the time we got to our remote cabin, broke camp and set up the boat and fishing gear, and finished breakfast, it was close to 10:00 AM.

The sun was shining bright and strong, temperature shot up from 6 degrees that morning, to 28 degrees shortly after lunch time. No wind at all either, fishing was dismal. We weren't able to locate any schools of feeding walleye to try vertical jigging, and trolling deep or shallow wasn't productive either.

At 4:30 PM, we still had not had a bite all day. At this point, I tied on a new prototype of a lure that I was given to test out, namely, the Bite Booster lure. I set it up onto my line to troll in 20-25 feet of water, and within 30 seconds of casting it out, we had out first hit. Avi fought the fish, and it turned out to be a small pike. Very welcome catch, despite not being the target species.

As evening rolled in, we eventually caught a few small walleye drifting bottom bouncers with live worms, but one one keeper in the slot limit:

Day 2:

The day started off as we hoped it would, a mix of sun and cloud with a nice South wind blowing strong enough to give us a perfect drift over our most productive areas. Avi and I landed 7 more walleye drift fishing. One was over the slot limit at about 3.5 lbs:

The others were mainly smaller ones, with a few keepers:

We headed back to the cabin for early lunch, hoping the bite would get better as the day went on...

After lunch, the wind direction changed, and was blowing from the West. This put us drifting over steeper inclines for a much shorter distances, which made the fishing rather tough. After a few drifts, I decided to try using the versatile Bite Booster lure as my bottom bouncer / flasher spoon. I tied a 3.5 foot fluorocarbon leader to it, replacing it's treble hook, followed by a #4 bait holder hook tipped with a big nightcrawler. The wind was string enough to give the lure some action while drifting, and on the the second pass, I thought I had snagged bottom, until I felt the telltale head shakes of a bigger fish.

The big walleye put up a very nice fight, peeling drag from the reel on a couple occasions, quite rare for that to happen when walleye fishing. When I finally landed it, I knew it was closed to beating my personal best. I measured it at 27 inches, only 1/2 inch off my biggest ever. However, it was a bit thin, only weighed in slightly above 5 1/2 lbs. Still a great catch, and very nice blue back like most of the walleyes we catch on Lac LeNotre. Having caught it on the modified Bite Booster lure made it even sweeter.

Unfortunately, the wind died down completely, and we weren't able to drift any more. After a couple hours, we decided to try trolling shallower for pike, but all we managed was a tiny walleye almost the size of the lure.

We headed back to the cabin to cook up some of our catches, which included a big perch that was throat hooked on one of our earlier drifts.

And the delicious result:

Day 3:

Another sunny, windless day, fishing extremely slow. We finally managed a few walleye drift fishing. As we explored new areas of the lake, we crossed paths with a black bear swimming in the lake, first time Avi has ever seen a bear in the wild. I shot some footage:

And a shot of trolling back to the cabin at sunset:

Day 4: Another windy day, west wind worked wonders. After I caught out first few walleyes on the modified Bite Booster rig, Avi decided to use the the second Bite Booster I had, as he hates being out fished by his dad.

Weather was cold and rainy, but we didn't care as the fish were biting:

After lunch, it only got colder, we were in our winter clothes, remembering the shorts and t-shirts we fished in a couple days earlier. But fishing only got better, we caught 5 more keeper sized walleye:

Most had a nice, blue colored backs and dorsal fins:

To say the least, the Bite Booster lure rigged for drift fishing had saved the day:

Day 5:

We only had a few hours to fish, and we disappointed to get out onto the lake that was calm and flat. When the wind picked up for a short 15 minutes, we managed another small walleye. We called it a day shortly before noon, and headed back to town.

Le Domaine Shannon now has a luxury cabin on Lac Lenotre. In contrast to the smaller sized, propane powered cabins, this one has 6 double beds, and is solar powered, and brand new. I hope to make it back with more of my kids next summer, now that I know that this sort of luxury is available there, they won't need to "rough it" any more. Contact them to book your trip by clicking:

The patented Bite Booster lures should be available at select tackle shops in the near future. I'm lucky enough to have a couple to test. Although the models I have are suited for deeper water, they are coming out with some shallower water models as well, which I'll be very happy to test for some big fall time bass. Details to follow...

Monday, August 3, 2015

Fishing rainbow trout near Montreal

After spending most of July fishing for carp, I decided to change things up a bit and took the kids up to Coin Lavigne outfitter, one of my favorite places to fish for stocked trout with the kids.

Coin Lavigne is conveniently located in a pristine mountain setting less than 150 KM North East of Montreal, about as close to Montreal as you'll get for rainbow trout fishing in a natural setting.

As I've never fished for trout in the mid summer heat, I wasn't quite sure what to expect. Trout are a coldwater / coolwater species, so they tend to get quite lethargic in warmer water. On the other hand, Coin Lavigne stocks a couple thousand trout into their lakes every week during the summer, so the fish are plentiful, and the food supply somewhat scarce.

Upon arriving, the owner did mention that many were having a tough time catching fish, despite seeing clouds of them on the sonar, and even surfacing throughout the day. We hoped for the best, and after a short ride in the all terrain vehicle, we set up our boat and started fishing shortly after 9:00 AM.

There were 2 other boats on the small lake, and they seemed to be trolling a very limited section of the lake, so we had the rest of the lake to ourselves. We tried trolling worms harnesses, lures and spinners, to no avail. Casting was no better, and nor was vertical jigging. We were marking tons of trout suspended all over the small lake, but they were completely shut down, due to the extremely elevated water temperature, which was probably in the 80 F range.

After about an hour or so, I hooked up an old line someone had lost, which had a sort of home made gang troll. A couple spoons tied together with some hooks further down, including a Lucky Strike "Silver lake" flasher spoon.

When we eventually got closer to the other boats that seemed to be having a bit of success, we noticed that they were all trolling live worms a few feet behind the exact spoon I had fished out of the lake. As they headed off the lake and back to the main camp for lunch, we took their spot and started using the same technique.

Sure enough, the move paid off quickly, and Chaya had her first trout ever:

Eli followed up with a very respectable rainbow trout, his biggest to date:

We landed another couple average sized rainbow trout, and lost another nice big one when it jumped a few feet out of the water and spit the hook. Turned out that the Lucky Strike spon I fished out of the lake was the only line that produced any fish all day.

The bite died down for a while, young kids tend to get bored rather quickly when that happens. The electric motor's battery was starting to run low as well, as we had been trolling for over 6 hours. We headed home shortly after, and enjoyed a delicious trout dinner.

I hope to head to Pourvoirie Coin Lavigne again with the kids sometime in the fall, when the water cools and the trout are more active again. If the bite is even close to what it normally is under ice, they should be in for a treat.

If you are interested in easy fishing for trout in the clean waters of a pristine mountain setting, pourvoirie Coin Lavigne is the place to go. 

Contact them by clicking: 

Friday, July 17, 2015

Summer time carp fishing around Montreal

Though summer officially started in the 3rd week of June, the real heat only hit a few weeks later. With a couple of my multispecies fishing buddies away of the start of the summer, I've been sticking to carp fishing more than any other species, since returning from a 5 day bass fishing trip up North at the end of June.

Carp have settled into their post spawn summer patterns. My better spots are quite predictable on most days, holding large numbers of mid sized fish. More often than not, people that come carp fishing with me will opt to fish those areas, as they are looking to catch as many carp as possible. For those new to carp fishing, numbers are everything. Size doesn't matter too much for people used to targeting trout, bass or walleye, as even a small carp will dwarf the largest of those multi species.

Aside from immediate family, here are some more happy faces new to carp fishing:

As for my family and myself, we've been spending some time prospecting some other spots. Some are sporadic, others overgrown with weed cover, and others a bit more productive after dark.

Every now and then, I'll go back to an old spot that I know isn't too productive, and once in a while, we do get lucky:

My wife enjoyed our wedding anniversary outing, she got more gold than she could ask for:

The little ones got in on the action as well. Eli landed a couple mid sized carp, and his younger siblings were very thrilled to see fish that size, especially my 3 year old Zev:

Eli eventually ended up landing his biggest carp to date towards the end of August, I nice 24 lb fatty that wore him out:

Ronit beat her PB carp at the same spot the following morning, merely 14 hours after Eli broke his. This 27.5 lb carp put up a nice fight for her:

For those of us that enjoy still fishing, Montreal is located close to some of the best carp fishing in the country. Whether you prefer spending long days out in the sun, or getting out of the heat after dark, carp are ready to come and play at any hour.

I will be updating and adding pictures to this blog post through out the summer, and if you are interested in trying carp fishing, contact me by clicking here