The Freshwater Phil guide to Montreal shore fishing spots

Montreal's best shore fishing spots

Monday, January 21, 2008

Canadian fishing rivers and lakes in Quebec and Ontario

Rivers and Streams:
With hundreds of thousands of rivers, and streams including the world famous St Lawrence river and Ottawa Rivers, home of one of the greatest fisheries on the continent, Quebec and Ontario sport fishermen enjoy some of the best shore fishing and wading in North America. From little trout streams, to pristine rivers, to the St Lawrence, the combination of fishing opportunities are virtually endless.

Although I have fished many of these in the past, the St Lawrence and Outaouais / Ottawa rivers contain the most diverse species and the largest specimens. Where else one morning or afternoon of shore fishing yield dozens of bass in the 3-5 LB range, or hundreds of LBS of carp with good chances of catching a 20LB+ carp on any given day between May-October? In addition, we have the world's biggest Muskies, Huge Northern Pike, Jumbo Perch, hefty Walleyes, and decent channel cats all within less than 1 hour drive from Montreal, Ottawa or Toronto.

In addition, shore fishing is a great way to start kids on fishing, as the most patient ones tend to get bored even when the bite is on. I usually put a life jacket on them, and let the run up and down the shore, or if it's warm enough they'll stay in the water and catch crayfish under the rocks or logs, as long as the current is no too strong.

Fishing tips: I usually fish with live minnows on the St Lawrence and Outaouais / Ottawa rivers, most bait and tackle shops have year round supplies, in addition to other live bait such as worms, leeches and crayfish. Some also have boat rentals and launch ramps the rates are usually pretty decent, as there is a lot of competition. Once on the water, always make sure to keep the minnows in water that is fresh an well oxygenated, otherwise they will die rather quickly. The last thing you need when the bite is on is another trip to the bait shop. River fish typically congregate in holes, which usually come right after riffles. Cast your bait upstream and let it drift over the hole with the current, when fish are active, this tactic is one of the deadliest for predatory fish. Large game fish also like to patrol area where bait fish concentrate such as under bridges, as the water is usually a bit deeper there, and the bridge provides shade on hot sunny days. Fishing under bridges has the added benefits of providing anglers with cover from intense sun or from rain.

Canadians living in Quebec and Ontario are blessed with the most diverse abundance of lakes in North America. The provinces combine for over 1,000,000 lakes and reservoirs. Although many aren't accessible by road, and others have never been fished, there are a good 300,000+ that are accessible by car / boat. These lakes are inhabited by a wide variety of game fish including bass, northern pike, walleye, perch, landlocked salmon, and various members of the trout family including lakers, rainbow, brookies and others. Residents take advantage of extremely low rates for standard fishing licenses, boat rentals, and lodging, which give access to one of the most exciting natural fisheries in North America. Although some lakes and reservoirs have access points for shore fishing, most lakes and reservoirs are best fished by boat, which yield access to millions of miles of structure covered shorelines, swarming with game fish waiting to ambush their prey. In addition, these clear water lakes provide great swimming, snorkeling and diving opportunities during the hot summer months, and are great for cooling of during the day when the bite slows down. Quebec and Ontario offer great, unspoiled scenery, unharmed eco systems which will amaze nature lovers, and low fishing pressure due to the ratio of lakes to population, which help make fishing these provinces on of the most relaxing pastimes (until rods go down and the drag starts screaming!).

Lake and reservoir fishing tips: Fish locations and depths will vary depending on the season, but generally speaking most species can easily be caught in 2-20 feet of water on most days, with a few exceptions. Prime times are usually the first (dawn) and last (dusk) 3 hours of daylight, which is prime feeding time for "the big ones". Most often, large predators will hide under structure and ambush their prey as it passes by. Try using topwaters on calm/mirror like surfaces, casting them directly over sunken logs along the shoreline, or use a bobber rig with a live worm, crayfish or live or dead minnow (where allowed).

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