Carp fishing guide

Montreal carp fishing guide

Thursday, March 4, 2021

Ice fishing trip gone wrong

For the most part, my posts on this blog are mainly about my successful fishing adventures. Being that most of you would be quite bored reading about my occasional failed efforts, I mainly keep them to myself. That being said, in order to discover good spots, seasons, techniques and the like, it's inevitable that will need to also eliminate unproductive spots and tactics.

That being said, this tale isn't about an unsuccessful fishing outing. It's about a planned ice fishing trip that's been a while in the making, and about how we were fooled into booking at a lodge under false premises. The trip also took some very unexpected turns, as you'll soon read.

As my older son Ari had the first week off cegep for spring break, we were contemplating spending a few days on ice together. Being that he will likely be moving out of town for work by summer, it may be out last chance to do this sort of trip together for a while. 

With a giant surge of ice fishing across the province this season (due mainly to the pandemic), most of our regular hot spots are getting a ton of pressure, infinitely more than I've ever seen in a couple decades since I started ice fishing. As such, we wanted to get away from the spring break crowds, so we started looking into visiting some new regions for our ice fishing trip. After were weren't able to book our planned trip to Temiscamingue for various reasons, I came across Domaine Pine Grove in the Baskatong region while doing some last minute research. After calling them to confirm they had a chalet available for us, the owner went on to tell us about all the species people catch at his lodge. They included walleye, pike, perch, and lake whitefish, as species I have yet to catch on ice due to their very limited distribution in waterways open to ice fishing in Quebec.

Being only 3 hours drive from Montreal, and on a small back lake that is open to fishing in a closed zone (zone 11), the idea sounded very promising over the phone. We booked the trip, and headed up to Pine Grove lodge on Monday morning. Arriving before noon, we immediately set up 8 lines for pike, baited with frozen mackerels. We then jigged with the help of our flashers, hoping for perch, whitefish or walleye.

I was lucky enough to start off the trip with this nice perch.


Unfortunately, that was the only keeper size fish I caught during the entire 4 day trip! Ari and I both managed a whopping total of 3 more small perch the entire day, despite staying out jigging for walleye unter night time, at a spot over deeper water the owner mentioned was prime walleye area.

The following morning, I set up for pike early, despite a blistering -31 C wind chill. Again, no hits for about 3-4 hours, so after lunch, we trekked across the small lake to where the owner told us we should be able to catch lake whitefish. After another 3 hours or so, we headed to another section of the lake where there were supposed to be walleye, all we managed we a few more small perch.

2 other groups of people were at the lodge and fishing the lake at the same time as us. The one group caught absolutely nothing in 3 days, the other managed 1 small perch in 2 days of fishing.

At this point, Ari and I realized that the owner seemed to just invent stories into selling his spot. Visiting the pictures section on his web site, were noticed only 4 pictures. Once was of a child holding up a baby walleye caught in the summer, the other 3 were of the owner and his wife with a small musky caught after dark. As there are no muskies that lake and even in that region, I suspect he caught it elsewhere. The other was a walleye caught after dark, also in the summer. Not one ice fishing pic. In retrospect, I should have known better...

Not wanting to waste another day on that lake, Ari and I discussed trying a lake about half hour drive away from domaine Pine Grove lodge. After mapping it out on the government's web site, we determined that it was located in Quebec zone 12 fishing management zone. Zone 12 rules state that all lakes there are open to ice fishing, with the exception of la Verendrye wildlife reserve,and a few other lakes. The lake that we fished (Lac Coupal) was not on the exception list, and right off highway 117, so we got there bright and early on Wednesday morning. We were glad to see that the lake had been un-fished, and after having read reports of people catching walleye and pike there in the summer, we were hopeful.

After about 3 hours of fishing and not one fish caught, we were visited by 2 conservation officers on snowmobiles. After having checked out license, bait, and gear, they proceeded to inform us that fishing on that lake was closed in winter. Despite the fact that the lake is in zone 12, apparently, all lakes (with a handful of exceptions) in zone 12 are also part of La Verendrye wildlife reserve, which means that this lake was an exception to the exception, and therefore, not only did we have to leave, but were also in infraction of the law. They said they had to fill out a report, and that we may receive fines by mail. 

While I'm not one to fuss and fight tickets in general, in this case, it will be my pleasure to go to court to argue my case if it comes down to it, as nowhere on the government site does it mention that these lake are part of the reserve, most of which happens to be in nearby zone 13. The officers understood that it was an honest mistake. Hopefully, a judge will feel the same way...

Before leaving, I asked the officers which other lake we could fish that were nearby. Once of the options they suggested was lac des Sources in Mont Laurier. It had opened to ice fishing only 2 day earlier, and had an exception to where we would be allowed to keep brook trout there if we managed to catch any. We made our way over there, and sure enough Ari hooked a big one in the 16 inch range. Unfortunately, it slipped out of his hand when he tried to land it, snapped his line and fell down the ice hole. Bummer, as all we managed to catch the rest of the day were tons of tiny perch. I don't think I've ever seen that many under ice, literally had clouds of them showing up on the flashers.

Arriving back at the lodge for the night, we decided to head home early in the morning and stop for bass at a small lake I fished in February. Another blisteringly cold day, Ari and I spent a good 6 hours drilling roughly 80 holes into 20 inches or so of ice (my new Ion G2 auger did great). Out of all those holes, Ari managed to land a very wormy perch out of one hole, and a smallmouth bass (his first ever on ice) and largemouth bass out of another. 





We left early enough to get back to Montreal by late afternoon.

Ironically enough, I ended up fishing 4 lakes in 3 different zones, 3 of them for the first time. Though not by choice, I added to my goal of trying to ice fish many new lakes this winter, so at least the trip wasn't a complete waste. When you add the chronic liar of a lodge owner, and our accidental fishing infraction (my first ever in over 40 years of fishing), this ice fishing trip gone wrong adds to my growing list of fishing tales, which I hope you found interesting to read about.

Saturday, February 27, 2021

February ice fishing, more bass on ice

 With February in the books, here is a short report of my mid winter ice fishing outings:

Started off the month hoping to land some decent pike on my HT polar tip up flag lines. Set up early in the month, fished 8 hours with 10 lines at a spot where I had landed some mid winter pike soaking frozen mackerels. Nothing doing, except for 1 false flag run.

Three days later, Ari and I headed out to the Eastern Townships, in search of some pike and possibly some jumbo perch. Flag lines were silent all day, we managed about 20 or so perch while jigging, but no keepers, they were all kind of small.

Not having any success on the dead bait, I headed out to jig for some jumbo perch on a nearby lake in the Eastern Townships. First hour of the outing provided some very good action but not from perch. I ended up icing a few lake trout on my first few ice holes of the day, most between 3 and 4 lbs or so. Didn't bother with any pictures, as it's forbidden to target or keep them in winter in the zone I was fishing.

The following week, I headed out to target some stocked trout with a young family. For the outing, I finally picked up my first electric ice auger. I splurged on the Ion G2. Likely one of the most expensive and fastest ice augers I've ever had the pleasure of trying. See my video at: 



Although they only stayed for a few hours, they landed 4 of 7 trout they hooked, and seems like supper took a fishy turn for them that evening.


Later that week, I headed up to a lake where I had first fished earlier this season on my float tube. After catching many bass up there, as well as some perch, I had big hopes for this lake the first time I fished it on ice in December 2020. At that time, the ice was thin, and there was no snow cover. In retrospect, the fish in that lake must have been spooked, and Ari and I struggled to land a few small perch during a full day outing.

Now that the ice was a good 3-4 times as thick, and covered in over a foot of snow, I had better hopes. I struggled to find fish for the first few hours, until I finally landed a decent perch after noon.


As I got a rattle bait bite, I figured I can call in some more predators. Sure enough, as I moved shallower a few feet closer to shore, I started getting into some bass. 


The Yo Zuri rattle n vibe rattle bait bite was on, I ended up finding some small schools of both largemouth and smallmouth bass.




 




 


Unfortunately, I had to leave a hot bass bite early enough to make it back home before the mandatory curfew...

A few day later, I headed back to the same spot, only to find a new sign uo next to where I had been parking.



I decided to risk the ticket, and park at my regular spot, luckily I was not ticketed...

Fishing was slightly slower than I hoped for, but after having located the bass under ice a few days before, I knew where to start looking. It took me only minutes to find and land my first bass of the day.


The bass were concentrated very close to where I had hooked them a few days earlier, although they were suspended slightly higher in the water column. I manage a total of 18 bass landed, a new personal record for me. Mainly largemouth bass, with a few smallmouth bass mixed in. Lunkers were all a bit bigger than previous outing, with the biggest largemouth bass and smallmouth bass in the 16 to 17 inch range.














Not planning to risk a ticket, I'm switching regions and species to open the month of March. I have a fun trip planned this week, stay tuned for my next update...
 

 

 

 





Thursday, February 18, 2021

Two ice fishing bass records in one afternoon

 Continuing along with this winter's theme of ice fishing new lakes and rivers, I headed back to a lake that I fished for the first time a couple months ago. Being mid December, the lake had just froze over at the time, and Ari and I struggle to catch three tiny perch all day.

Something didn't add up, as some summer outings from my float tube on that lake were quite the success, both for mid sized largemouth and smallmouth bass in big numbers, as well as some decent perch. 

As we weren't even marking them on our electronics at the time, I was wondering if they happened to bury into mud bottom, or possibly have been spook as we walked over them on clear, thin ice, over clear water.

As it's been in the back of my mind since December, I decided to head back to that lake again today, to see if I would would have any better success. At worst, I would get to give my new Ion G2 electric auger another workout, and see how well the battery would hold up in colder weather, with the morning low of -18 C when I arrived., warming up to -6 C after noon.

Got to the lake around mid morning, to find about 13 inches a ice, over triple as think as it was when I first ice fished there in December. Also a good 12 to 14 inches of snow cover, so spooking fish was a lot less likely. Spent the first half of the day not catching much other than a few small perch and a small largemouth bass. I kept running and gunning, power fishing and drilling holes every few minutes. The Ion auger was perfect for the job, light, and super quick. I alternated between a Rapala W3 Jigging Rap, and Yo Zuri rattle bait, both tipped with a mealworm.

Around 1 PM, I finally landed a nice jumbo perch, caught jigging a rattlebait suspended over 29 feet of water. 




As I moved closer to the shoreline, I eventually found myself over 21 to 24 feet of water in most holes. That's when I hit the motherload.

I started off catching this nice 14 inch largemouth bass on a Rapala w3 jigging rap. Turned out to be the first of many, and also biggest largemouth bass of the day.



A few holes later, I hit a small school of smallmouth bass, I managed to land two out of three hookups, though I almost sure I caught it again as soon as I dropped my lure down the ice hole again on the next drop.




The second one at 15 inches, turned out to be biggest fish of the day.

As I get drilling more holes, I ended up hitting a few honeyholes. These are the ones that ice fishing dreams are made of. These few holes had schools of largemouth bass in the 12 to 13 inch range. What they lacked for in size, they made up in being more aggressive than I'm used to seeing.

The magic depth was 21 to 22 feet. Strangely enough, the bass would hit mainly the Yo Zuri Rattlebait aggressively only in 4 to 6 feet off bottom. Anything higher or lower than that range, just resulted in follows, but as soon as ice fishing lure entered the strike zone depth, it was an immediate hit. Over the next 2 hours or so, I managed to land 13 consecutive largemouth bass. 




The tally of 15 landed largemouth bass, beat my previous ice record of 12 bass. As they were mostly landed in about 2 hours before dark, the action was intense to say the least

The 2 smallmouth bass I landed also beat my previous record (and only other one I'eve ever caught on ice) that I caught last month.

Needless to say, weather and time permitting, I'll be back!



Wednesday, February 3, 2021

January 2021 ice fishing in Quebec


January finally ushered more safe ice all around Southern Quebec, which opened up many more ice fishing opportunities, after a warmer than normal start to the ice season had many of us confined to a few early season spots, for longer than normal.

Many of my fishing peers often set goals for themselves at the start of a given fishing season. These goals typically relate to a particular species, size, or method they intend to attempt catching. Although I can see how setting such goals may drive someone to try until they succeed, I don't like limiting myself and obsessing over such goals. Rather, I prefer to set my goals based on where and how I plan to fish over a given time period, devoting a fair bit of time to exploring new lakes, rivers or techniques.

My goals for this winter are to try a variety of new fishing spots, whether they are new lakes, or simply new areas and depths on lakes or rivers that I've previously fished. Aside from investing my fishing time in pursuit of these goals, I also have wish lists, which are typically related to catching new species on ice, or similar.

After having iced fished only three new spots late in 2020 due to lack of safe ice, I fished a few more lakes I'd never been  to during January. As well, I returned to a couple other lakes I first fished last winter, to resume exploring them on ice.

As I spend much of my time on ice running spots with a jigging rod and flasher, most of what I'll catch are panfish, especially perch. Managed well over 100 perch in January, and initiated a couple people at the same time. Some of those perch were really nice sized.








Many of the lakes and river I fish have good bass populations. Sure enough, a brand new lake I fished paid off quickly with my first bass of 2021.



The following week, another spot I had first fished last March paid off, another largemouth bass came to play after five hours of trekking and drilling.




Although I've caught well over 100 largemouth bass on ice, smallmouth bass have eluded me under ice up to this point. Ari and I decided to try fishing another new lake I'd never been to for brook trout. Unfortunately, we weren't doing well with the trout, all we found were some tiny perch, until I drilled a hole over 28 feet of depth and dropped my mini kastmaster spoon down to the bottom. I was immediately rewarded with a nice tug, and when I finally brought the big fish up through the hole, I was elated to see my first smallmouth bass on ice. The stunning 4 lbs bass made not only my day, it made my month, and possibly my entire winter season, as it's my first in 20+ years of ice fishing.



Last but not least, we get to the our region's ultimate ice predator, the Northern pike. Along with the odd musky, Northern pike are the only species I target on ice using multiple lines, specifically, tip ups baited with frozen mackerels. Unfortunately, both times I set my lines for pike in January did not prove productive. However, I had another nice surprise while jigging for perch down in 22 feet. Hooked into what I assumed may have been a decent sized lake trout, handed to jigging rod to the customer I was with, and he managed to land a fat pike, very welcome surprise.


 

Often overlooked are some of the other benefits and rewards associated with ice fishing. For starters, trekking and hand drilling through deep snow is quite the workout, more so than most other forms of exercise. 



Sometimes, it's the wildlife that would never run into living in Montreal.


Lastly, one of my goals ever winter is to harvest some tasty fish from clean lakes, and fulfill my primordial desire to literally put food on my table.


With lots of snow covering many of my spots now, trekking to new spots will be significantly tougher for the start of February. Hopefully weather and fish with both co-operate with my plans.



Tuesday, January 19, 2021

My first smallmouth bass on ice

 Ari and I finally made it out for another ice fishing outing today, likely our last chance to ice fish together for a while, with him starting Cegep classes again next week.

For this outing, we decided to venture out to a new region, and fish a smaller lake that we'd never been to before. The lake in question has an exception rule that allows for trout to be fished for in winter, and we were hoping to be able to catch some decent trout there.

The deep heavy snow and slush covering the lake made it tough to trekk any longer distances at a time. With about 1.5 feet of snow cover, were were up to our knees with every step, and the gear sleds were a bit bogged down as well. Nevertheless, we managed to fish out target depths of 10 to 30 feet.

After catching a smaller perch from my first few holes, I finally drilled and ice hole over 28 feet of water. No sooner that the tiny kastmaster spoon I dropped hit bottom, I got a decent tug, and set into something significantly bigger that what I expected to. I was very curious to see what it was, and kept my cool as well as steady pressure fighting the fish all the way up from that depth on my ice rod.

Luckily enough, I managed to gets its head up the 6 inch ice hole on the first shot, and was very surprised to see a big smallmouth bass. While I've caught dozens of good sized largemouth bass on ice in the past, this smallmouth bass was actually the first ever of its species that I've managed to catch while ice fishing, and I've been ice fishing for over 20 years now.



Needless to say, this stunning 4 lbs lunker of a bass not only made my day, but also fulfilled another of my ice fishing goals of getting smallmouth bass on ice off my bucket list of species.

Not much action for me throughout the rest of the day, I managed some more small perch mainly fishing the 20 to 25 foot depth, while Ari managed a couple dozen small perch. Though I probably won't go back there to ice fish, I thinking to go back there in the summer to try for some more smallmouth bass from my float tube.

Spotted this bonus herd of deer on our way out in the evening.





Thursday, December 31, 2020

December ice fishing 2020

 Unseasonably warm weather limited ice fishing options around during December 2020. Being that only a few early season spots froze, they all got a crazy amount of fishing pressure compared to normal. To make matters worse, the covid shutdowns have more people than ever doing their outdoor activities all week long instead of just weekends. 

I managed to get out on ice 6 times in December. First safe ice I found was on a small lake in the upper Laurentians. After enjoying some amazing bass fishing there from my float tube this summer, and catching decent numbers of perch, Ari and I had our hopes up for the outing.

We found a solid 3 to 4.5 inches of ice on most of the lake, but fishing was insanely tough. All we managed to land all day long with 3 small perch, despite drilling a good 50 or so holes, and shooting through the ice with the flasher in many other spots as well. I can safely say it was the most disproportionate ration from amazing in summer to horrible in winter that I've encountered in 20+ year of ice fishing.

The following day, I headed out for a half day outing a bit closer to home, hoping to find some crappies, perch, and possibly a shot at some decent bass. Again, I was first one out on the spot, and found a good 4-5 inches of solid ice. Unfortunately, I later found out that some guys had been there by boat just before freeze up and cleaned out a large volume of big crappies. I still maged some bass, perch, and bluegills. Nothing too big, but enough to keep me busy all morning.




Later the following week, I again planned 2 days on ice. Ari joined me for the first outing, we hit 2 spots with good ice. The first was horrible, as the water level there dropped too low to sustain any population of fish under ice. The second spot had been fished by others, we found hundreds of used ice holes. Again, only a few small perch.

Next day, I headed out solo a bit further from Montreal. Being that winter rules had kicked in a few days before, I was able to use multiple lines, as well as frozen baitfish for pike. I set out my pike lines, and kept one rod to jig for perch. Morning was very slow, so I moved the pike lines to deeper water, and jigged even deeper for perch. The moved paid off nicely, I landed a couple dozen perch after noon, as well as two nice back to back pike, half hour before I was ready to head home.




For the final week in December, I had two more outings planned. First outing fishing for pike was closer to home, no success despite having 9 pike lines out for 6 hours or so. I did manage about 15 perch jigging, but mostly small ones.

The following day, I took a client fishing for stocked trout. Outing was slow, but we managed to catch some trout by persevering and drilling holes all over the lake. Definitely got my workout to say the least.

Thus ends my 2020 fishing season. The pandemic shutdowns/restriction as well as very low water and high weeds hampered much of my fishing, but also ended up ultimately working in our favor for others.

Wishing all my blog readers and followers a safe and happy 2020.



Thursday, November 26, 2020

First ice - ice Fishing November 2020

Over the past couple seasons, we have been lucky enough to get safe ice by mid to late November around Montreal. This year, there is no ice to be seen in the region. Luckily, a family friend has property on a small lake up in zone 9 in the Laurentians. Being the sole proprietor of the lakefront has it's benefits to say the least, and I was glad that he gave us full access any time.

Though I've fished there in open water in the past, I've never been there on ice. As the zone closes on November 30th, this season, I decided that one of my goals was to fish his small lake before the season closes for the winter there on December 1st.

Watching the forecast over the past few weeks, we headed up there twice in November, only to find unsafe ice. As frustrating as it was to have to return home without being able to ice fish, we'd rather not take any unnecessary risks.

Here is a short clip of some goofing around we did up there last week, before the ice was safe: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IJ6rBj4z3Xk

Ari and I finally found safe ice this morning. We got out on the lake, which had a solid 3.5 inches of ice. We immediately got into some good panfish action, though most of the perch and sunfish were very small. About an hour into the outing, Ari manage to hit some bigger perch, along landing a few jumbos.


The bite died down significantly after a couple hours or so. Shortly after noon, we got a visit from the surete du Quebec. The officer was concerned about us trespassing on private property, to which I replied that we had permission, and proceeded to call out friend on speaker phone. I also manage to alleviate his concerns about our safety on ice, and invited him to come and have a look for himself. Luckily, the officer happens to enjoy fishing, so he came out, saw that it was safe. He wished us luck, told us to be safe, and headed off.

The bite picked up again by mid afternoon. Ari and I managed to land a good a whopping 100 or so fish, mainly perch and sunfish, with a few small rock bass. Eventually, he hooked into a surprise largemouth bass,


We kept fishing hard, without much more success fro another hour or so. I finally hooked into what seemed to be another decent bass, until I got the fish up to the surface, and landed a giant perch. At 13 inches, it tied my previous best.



That was pretty much it for the day, aside for a few more smaller perch that hit late afternoon, just before we left.

Overall, another great outing on first ice, which over the years, has proven to offer some of the best fishing of the ice season no matter where we find it.


On our way home, I invite our friend that owns the property over for a perch dinner. Not only was he amazed at the size of the giant perch, but when I opened it in front of him, we all were very surprised to find an intact frog in it's belly in the dead of winter.


With more warm weather on the way, I'm afraid that his lake won't be safe again until the season closes for winter on it early next week. Will likely have to fish open water again until the next time I manage to find safe ice.









Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Fall fishing - cold water carp

 After a decent end to the summer due to some big carp landed, I was hoping the hot bite would hold through as fall progressed.

Though I ended September with back to back outings without a bite, I was rewarded with my 3 biggest carp of the season during the month of October, as well as a few smaller ones.

Went out for a couple hours for my birthday in the first week of October. Was rewarded with my first carp over 30 lbs in a couple seasons.


2 days later, another good carp landed, though nowhere near as big, just a bit over 23 lbs.


The following week, I managed to beat my biggest carp of the season again, this time with a long carp weighing in at 33 lbs.


After giving carp a break, I returned 2 weeks later, for my first night outing for carp of the season. Never too late, I landed another fat carp just a tough under 30 lbs.


November proved to be tougher. I spent the first 3 outings of the month without a bite. During my fourth outing which coincided with the tail end of a warm front, I did manage to hook a nice carp that ripped many yards of drag before diving down a rock ledge and cutting me off.

For the most part, my outings were to pre-baited spots, that I fished to 2-3 hours at a time. The few outing to non baited spots, were far from productive.

Hope to possibly land my first November carp of the season before it all freezes up...