After not having fished for about 2 weeks, I was itching to get out on the water again. My friend Tony invited me out to fish the Richelieu River with him, and I looked forward to targeting pike and largemouth bass, 2 species I love, but haven't fished for since the end of June. The stretch of the Richelieu river we fished is a real pike factory. Though most aren't too big, the numbers usually provide non stop action, both casting and trolling work very well. Evening fishing on the Richelieu River provide some wild topwater action, but we weren't able to stay out late.
Got started shortly after 9:00 AM. Headed to the first area, which is generally quite productive. Water was moderately stained, visibility about 3 feet or so. The fish were just about shut down, we spent a good 3 hours casting various lures at them, only manage about 5 or 6 fish between the 2 of us, and quite small ones too. Most of the action came on white or chartreuse spinnerbaits and a Gold W60 Williams Wabbler, including this tiny bass.
Tired of casting unsuccessfully, we decided to troll a bit. Thick grass and floating weeds made it tough to troll the productive zone, and the fish weren't interested either, so we quit after about 1/2 of trolling, and headed further upstream to look for clearer water.
We eventually came up to a calm bay with very clear water, I could clearly see the bottom in about 12 feet of water. A nice variety of sandy flats, big clumps of grass, and broken rock. Given the conditions, I opted to try casting topwater lures. Though I knew that my best bet to catch fish would probably be a Pop R, but the large numbers of pike were a deterrent, as they tend to inhale that lure. Being that Pop R's are unfishable with a steel leader, I opted for something bigger, choosing a Zara Spook. Sure enough, I managed a few nice topwater explosion and some follows for smaller bass in the 1 - 1.5 lbs range. Unfortunately, no hookups. Tony fished his spinnerbait and managed a few small pike. After fishing the area for about 1/2 hour, we moved into a weedy bay a but further downstream.
I hoped to be able to fish the thick grass with a weedless frog, but the wind had picked up too much, and made my topwater lure virtually useless, as it has very little action of it's own, and requires calm conditions. So, following the general rule of mixed bass and pike fishing, I went back my chartreuse spinnerbait. Made very long distance casts downwind, and burned them back to the boat at high speed, in order to keep them just above the weeds, which topped out at about 10 - 12 inches under the surface. Didn't take long before we landed the first decent sized fish of the day:
Tony and I kept at it with the spinnerbaits, and the action heated up, just as he predicted it would. We managed to land another dozen or so pike, most were a bit bigger than average for the area, about 4-5 lbs.
As I was retrieving at high speed, my spinnerbait often bulged out on the surface. This actually triggered a couple nice surface strikes from the aggressive pike, giving the hookups a bit of a topwater feeling, though I wasn't using a topwater lure.
Unfortunately, we had to call it an early day, and headed off the water around 4:00 PM, just as the fishing was heating up. I'm quite sure it would have got better as the evening rolled in, as I've experienced the quality of topwater fishing for pike and bass the Richelieu River can offer this time of the year. Hope to find the time to head back again at least once before the winter.
Tony fishes from a comfortable 17.5 foot Crestliner, equipped with a 70 HP motor, and bow mounted electric trolling motor as well. His boat is quite wide, and well put together with plenty of casting room for 2 to 3 people. He fishes the river quite often, and operates Black Knight guide service, offering both 1/2 day and full day guided outings at very reasonable rates.
Contact Tony by clicking: http://freshwaterphil.com/contacttony.cfm