The Freshwater Phil guide to Montreal shore fishing spots

Montreal's best shore fishing spots

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Montreal ice fishing guides

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Fall 2018 ice fishing

With this fall being the coldest on record since 1974, we traded late fall open water fishing for an early ice fishing season. For the first time, I got out twice in November, and have some more outing planned before the official start of winter in the latter part of December.

I'll be updating this blog posts with fall ice fishing reports and pics as I fish on ice through the end of fall.

Note that Quebec ice fishing rules only come into effect on Dec 20th, which means that the use of frozen bait and multiple lines is still prohibited up until that date.

November 19th - Quebec fishing Zone 11:

After watching the weather forecast in various regions, I headed up North to zone 11, to a small lake with relatively easy access to early ice. It normally takes a good 5 nights of -10 C to form safe ice on a lake without current or hotspots. As the nighttime temp had dipped below -16 for a few nights in a row, I had a hunch that I might find safe ice to fish on at that point.

Got to the lake around 9:30 AM. As always, fishing first ice requires extreme caution. Equipped with a spud bar and dressed in a floating survival suit, I took my first few steps on to thin ice. Drilled to find barely 3 inches after a few steps, and then the rest was in the 2.5 to 3 inch range. Strong enough to hold me up, but thin enough to cause ripples on holes 20 feet apart every time I took a step. For safety, I fished less than 100 feet from shore, ice was too sketchy to risk venturing out further.

Being limited to only 1 line and no bait, I didn't manage any pike, which were my target species for the day. I did manage one mid sized perch on the Willams ice jig spoon I was jigging in shallow water.



Not much as far as fishing goes, but smashed my previous record for earliest ice fishing trip in a season by a good 2 weeks.

November 28th - Quebec fishing Zone 9:

With most of the province of Quebec's lakes closing for fishing on November 30th, this season opened the possibility of fishing hundreds of lake in the lower an upper Laurentians on ice. These lakes are typically open to residents only during the open water season, and safe ice would be the great equalizer. The issue is finding a lake with some decent fish, and then finding public property to launch from as well was parking.

The lake I decided to try for the first time, met all the above criteria. After checking the depth charts for the given lake online, I headed up to the Lower Laurentians to fish the lake for the first time. A convenient waterfront parking lot that had just been plowed, made for easy access. Ice was nice and thick too, found a good 5.5 to 7 inch of solid black ice, and about another inch or so of grey ice on it. Just about good enough to drive a snowmobile on it, though I was on foot.

Spent the morning targeting shallower water for perch. ended up with a dozen perch or so, most too small to keep but a couple decent ones.


Also landed a fallfish, first time I've ever caught one on ice.


After lunch, I proceeded to fish deeper water, hoping for some elusive trout or walleye I fished a gradual drop off, drilling about 6 or 7 holes over a distance of a few hundred feet, with the depth ranging from 30 feet all the way down to 70 feet. I should mention that it's absolutely necessary to have a flasher or sonar to successfully jig at those depths. No significant action, expect for 1 fish that followed my spoon 20 feet up from 45 to 25, and then turned away.

Around 2 PM, I decided to head back shallow and fish the productive spots I drilled earlier in the day until dark. A few minutes later, I hear a loud speaker (in French): "You with the red coat, get off the lake and head to shore immediately!". And then the sirens turn on.

I see a fire truck and service vehicle on the shore, so I motioned to give me a minute to pack up the sled. When I get to shore, I am told that access to the lake is forbidden until the fire dept tests the ice to make sure it's safe, and then reports back to city hall to announce lake access being open. apparently, they received a call about someone being out on "unsafe" ice.

Despite my trying to convince them and offering to show them that the ice was safe, I was not allowed to get back on the lake. Furthermore, all the lake under that municipalities jurisdiction are under the same rules.

They took my information down to close their "emergency call", and assured me that I wasn't going to be charged for the "rescue".

With less than 2 hours of daylight remaining, I opted not to bother trying to finder another lake and possibly run into similar safety issues. I headed home early to skip rush hour traffic instead.

Dec 11th update:

Finally have some safe ice closer to home, headed out for a short 5 hour outing hoping to find some panfish and possibly some largemouth bass.

After hitting after a good 3 hours or so of "run and gun" style fishing, I finally drilled over the motherload spot. Started icing crappies one after the other.


Also hit a good dozen or so bluegills, which I released.


Towards the end of the day, I drilled another hole adjacent to the one where I had found all those fish. First drop showed a big mark coming after my jigging rap, but missed it. A short while later, I hooked into a big fish. Though it may be a big bass, but when I got it up to the ice hole, I saw the biggest walleye I have ever seen. It darted around the hole a few times, one of my friends came over to land it. Just as I was about to ease it's head up the 8 inch hole, it spit the hook.

Judging from the massive head and thick girth, it may very well have been a 10 lb walleye. Though I was upset that I didn't get to ice it, I was still quite happy to have hook a a giant walleye of that size by surprise. Will be dreaming about that one for a while,






Friday, November 9, 2018

2018 fishing season highlights

Looks like it's about that time of the year again. Just about ready to stow away my fishing gear and get ready for the ice fishing season, which will likely arrive earlier than usual this year. As usual, I'll run through some of our season highlights in pics with narrative.

2018 was another fun and informative fishing season, although I was thrown more "curveballs" that I imagined. From losing spots due to construction and closures, to extreme weather conditions, this season put me to the test a bit more than what I'm usually used to.

As always in fishing, perseverance paid off, and the entire family as well as customers and friends landed some big fish.

Starting off with predatory species, as they embody sport fishing a bit more than bottom feeders, although I do enjoy them all equally...

Bass:

Largemouth bass were my target for this species, the vast majority of time chasing bass was in areas where they are the dominant species. The kids and I all landed some nice largies to kick off the bass fishing season, fishing the Quebec bass opener at Mijocama for the 16th season in a row.




I landed some nice largemouth both from shore, and from my new float tube as well.



While I didn't target smallmouth bass too much, I did manage to land a few quality smallies as well.




Northern Pike:

Spent a lot less time targeting Northern Pike this season, but on the few days that we did, the action was good.






 Some more trophies were landed during trips to to Mijocama, and then at Le Domaine Shannon in July:







Walleye:

Another neglected sport fish species this season, the 2 landed by Avi and I were incidental, while targeting pike.



When I finally did get around to targeting walleye late in the season with my friend Mark, I did just fine under his guidance.



Musky:

I normally don't target muskies much on my own. My friend Mike took most of the musky season off, and by the time I was set to get out with Patrick, he had sold his boat for the season. However, I did manage a couple smaller muskies while targeting other species.

My first musky came shortly after the season opener, I was targeting bass during one of my first ever float tube outings. Casting a buzzbait on a light rod, the musky put up a great fight, numerous jumps, and towed me around until I subdued it and landed it by hand.




Probably my most enjoyable catch of the season.

Carp:

This had to be one of my toughest overall season fishing for carp. The late start to spring, had them sort of lethargic until mid May. The extreme heat and lack of wind we experienced most of the summer was bad enough, but almost every group that I took out all season ended up booking on the worst possible days weather wise, extreme heat, with no wind and mirror like surface.

Still, we managed to save face and land some decent fish, but nowhere near the quality and numbers of seasons past. My 2018 carp picture gallery can be viewed by clicking:
http://www.freshwaterphil.com/carp-fishing-pictures.cfm

My 2 notable catches of the season, cam 2 days apart. My biggest carp landed in 2018 was 31 lbs.


Less than 48 hours later, I took my childhood friend and his kids out for some carp fishing, while they were visiting from NY. First fish of the day, was a stunning mirror carp, just a touch under 20 lbs.


I finally stumbled onto a new spot late in the season, plan to try it again during peak season next year.


Sturgeon:

Our windiest and coldest October destroyed most of my sturgeon fishing plans, with both Mark and Patrick trying to play catchup for the crazy amount of bookings they had to cancel due to weather. Luckily, I did manage a few hours fishing sturgeon with Mark in September, and landed a couple nice sturgeons.



Other freshwater species:

Managed some incidental channel catfish while chasing carp, nothing over 10 lbs though. Some decent perch, sunfish, and small trout as well.



Ice fishing:

I particularly enjoyed my 2018 ice fishing season, exploring more lakes than ever before, landing some nice pike..




Found some good jumbo perch spots, as well as some largemouth bass:









I spent a week in Hawaii, fishing the Pacific ocean for the first time ever. As guides for big game species were too expensive for my liking, I decided to do it all from the shore on my own. Extremely rewarding, and not a trip I'll forget any time soon, read more at: 




And last but not least, my first season fishing out of my new float tube. Great way of combining a good workout on hot days with good fishing. Read about my outings at: 



All in all, another memorable fishing season in the books. Thank you all for following my adventures online. Thank you to my customers for putting your confidence in me as your fishing guide. Thank you to my family (especially my lovely wife) for putting up with my fishing addiction. And most of all, thank you dear God, for giving me the ability to pursue my dreams.