Fish with me this winter!
Some really great things are going on with my guide service this winter!
The rumblings are true: for the 2018 Lake Simcoe lake trout, whitefish and perch season, I've partnered with Bear Point Fish Hut Rentals, right here in Barrie. For the whole rundown, check out my Services & Prices section, and hit 'Ice Fishing.' This an unbelievable outfitter and I'm very happy to be on their Guide Team. The basket of services we're offering is impressive. If you want to ice fish this winter, this is THE call to make! No matter your experience level, age or group size, we cannot wait to accommodate you.
Some of the highlights include...
*Pro-Guided, Full Day "Run & Gun" ice fishing charters from as low as $225/person.
*Unbelievably big, bright and clean overnight ice bungalows for up to 6 anglers, 24hr rates as low as $100/person
*Fully-Equipped Day Hut rentals from $60/day.
And let's not forget: some of the biggest, prettiest lake trout, whitefish and perch anywhere in the world. Fishing with a top-rated outfitter and guide service just plain makes sense! Let me handle it!
First-Ever Canadian Ice Fishing Expo a Homerun!
An overwhelming surge of people on Day 1 of the Expo. The show was slammed right from the get-go, what a terrific surprise.
What began as a rough sketch more than a year ago exploded on the Barrie Molson Center the weekend of Dec 16 like an atom bomb. To say that the first-ever, Canadian Ice Fishing Expo was a success would be a huge understatement. For vendors, speakers and visitors alike, the expo simply exceeded expectations.
I, along with several other top-end anglers, gave seminars both days and the response was overwhelming. The seats were full and my session spilled over back into the St. Croix Rods booth long after leaving the main stage. It was great to see so many people that pumped up about ice fishing, and I was only to happy to spend as much time with them as possible. I talked about several of my guide-proven, soft plastic tricks for Lake Simcoe's "Big 3:" lake trout, whitefish and perch. I built my career on the back of St. Croix Rods, they're all my guests and I fish with. We sold a pile of rods, accessories and apparel and had a great time.
I did a quick video on the spot, with my friends from Ontario OUT OF DOORS Magazine right from our booth. I get asked how I pick an ice rod- a very common question Check out the answer here:
Here's a cool shot inside the venue, courtesy of show MC, Wil Wegman. Like my buddy John Whyte from Lake Simcoe Message Board.com said, it doesn't get more Canadian than an ice fishing show held on an OHL hockey rink:
A Great November!
Eric with a big, mean, Georgian Bay pike. Bass Magnet's Shift' Shad is a top swimbait for me. We had them on 1/2 oz darter heads and were working a current area down about 24 feet. Chartreuse and white continues to be a consistent colour over a range of water clarities, for us. Giant buddy! I love those crisp releases in cold water!
One of my favorite guests, JC, with a typical November crappie. We worked our butts off that day in really cold, windy weather. It was all about being patient and staying tight to bottom with the RPM Minnow, tipped with a shiner head. The rocking of the boat was all the motion the jig needed. That was also a great set-up for walleye, that day.
The RPM Minnow comes from my friends at Custom Jigs 'N Spins, down in Iowa, USA. Built in the 'Jigging Rapala' tradition, it's got several nice improvements. It won't twist your line and it's a superior hooker. Especially on lighter-biting fish, when you're not jigging real hard. Wonderbread is a wicked, all around colour, I've found. So many of the lakes I guide on have that classic, shiner/herring/whitefish food base. Once the water gets cold, schemes that are heavy on the white always seem to be our go-to pattern.
New guest and friend Rick with a couple massive, Lake Simcoe perch! My fall crappie fishing was so hot this year I didn't spend as much time on jumbo perch as I usually do. But we had a couple crazy days out there. These ones both took dropshot rigs with no6 Ratso tails in plain old white or motor oil. We stayed deeper this fall, too. 28-31 feet was the range.
Don't forget about how hard we work for late fall muskies at www.busheyangleguidedfishing.com Here's a really nice Georgian Bay muskie I lucked into jigging a Bondy Bait. If you haven't tried Jon Bondy's revolutionary lures and methods for Canadian Shield muskie, you're really limiting yourself. Such a clean, thick fish. Perfect release, too.
Mid to late November is prime for superb walleye fishing on Georgian Bay with light gear and aggressive jigging techniques. Kyle with a couple dandies. Ever notice how the cold goes away when you're hitting walleyes every few minutes? Me too!
One of the best, all around guys and walleye fishermen I've ever fished with, big Andrew. He laid it on us all good that day. This one was his 7th in a row. Don't ever let anyone tell you the back of the boat isn't the place to be! Nice shooting, buddy! RPM Minnows again.
Big October Crappie, Big October Pike!
We've had some unbelievable days down the stretch in October. We've caught and released some of the biggest Ontario crappie you'll run across anywhere. A couple pike trips have also turned out really well, too! Fall pike in Ontario get big and they use pretty predictable structures.
The photos above show a couple real beauties. Travis and his dad, Tom, did a split-guided fishing trip with me recently. We did crappie all morning, then switched to pike, after lunch. Travis stuck this 42 inch whale on a Drifter Tackle 10" Jake over a shoal that tops off around 16 feet deep. What a trolling rip, what a fight! And of course, a nice, clean release .
Right below, Dan, from Markham, ON shows off a crappie longer than fifteen inches. He caught two of them, that day. That's great fishing! The crappie bite was nuts that day. We caught 89 or 90 and did not see one less than 11 inches long.
Was Dan's fish really was over 15 inches long? Here's a shot of her on the bump board. The fish isn't even being measured fully and the numbers don't lie!
The crappie fishing has been hard to believe, most days, We're working huge schools anywhere from 24 to 29 feet deep and getting them at more than one level, in the water. Some days they're hugging bottom, some days they're only half way down. A variety of vertical presentations have been working, using both live and soft plastic baits.
Here's a few recent crappie pics:
Here's a solid pike Travis caught on a jig and swimbait combo. Nice one, buddy! Lots of our casting pike have been eating right at the boat, this one was no different. Big strike!
Speaking of pike, check out this dandy Adam and Cam caught ion their trip with me the other day! Lean and mean! I spotted this one suspended 27 feet to the left of the boat, using my Side Imaging. What a deadly technology for a fishing guide who's on big water a lot of the time. I scrolled my cursor over directly on top of her, dropped a waypoint and spun the boat around to troll right over her head. She bit immediately. I sound like a broken record here, but it was the 14" Jake in Real Image Walleye that got it done, once again. What a bait.
Here she is on the Side Imaging, and here's Adam with her just before a quick release. The winds on Georgian Bay were as bad as you'll ever see them, that day. Way to stick it our in tough weather, boys!
These huge winds and colder nights are going to get the fishing cranked right up, what a time to be on the water. Happy Guests = Happy Guide! Let me know if you want to go!
What a time to be alive and in the boat in central Ontario right now! The fishing has been exceptional this fall so far and it'll only ramp up from here.
There's no such thing as a guarantee in fishing. But, here's a few things that I can 100% guarantee you, when you book a guided fishing trip with me this fall:
1. You'll leave with a far greater understanding of several of fishing's key and critical skills. Sonar use, underwater cameras, boat control, fish-catching methods, fish location and tackle. I'm a student of the game and you'll pick up A LOT of new info that you can apply for the rest of your life.
2. New found confidence. Knowledge is power, it's just that simple. I'll put you in the best possible position for success and you'll learn to catch fish by catching them! There's zero substitute for time on the water and guidance from a highly experienced professional.
3. You're going to have fun! Fishing is an enjoyable thing to do, and you'll be in the hands of a guy who's highly personable, humble and who lives to see people succeed on the water. As I've said a thousand times: Happy Guests = Happy Guide! I'll do everything in my power to make your day(s) the absolute best they can be. Let's face it, lots of fishing guides can put you over top of some fish. Personality, attentiveness and passion is what makes a day with me different.
My guests have been on a tear in September and October! Let's take a look, species by species, at what's been going on. The fishing for walleye, muskie, smallmouth, pike and panfish has been really steady.
FALL MUSKIE & PIKE
That's a 53.5" fish from Georgian Bay, above. What can I say? We troll 'em, we cast 'em, we jig 'em. Muskie fishing in Ontario is as good as it gets. That big one ate a Drifter Tackle Stalker, right at Moon Rise, trolling. Poor photo of a monster fish but hey, I'll take it!
I specialize in getting my guests on the first muskie of their lives, as well as targeting the biggest fish available. We play the winds, the weather and the Solunar phases. It's all about stacking that deck as much in your favour as I can. Want to get rocked this fall? Let's do it.
Think this kid's happy? Happy 14the Birthday, Dejan. This one spanked a 14" Jake fifteen minutes into a Full Moon troll.
Miles with his first muskie! Talk about doing it in dramatic fashion...he caught it casting a surface bait. Three big jumps and in the bag! The kid was vibrating for four hours after, he was so jacked up. This one dusted a Baby Pacemaker, from Drifter again, three feet into the retrieve. This little bait is a fish magnet for me. And by the way, its the newer, plastic version. They're just as effective as the original, wood baits. Of course, ten casts later, he caught a nice pike using a new, boatside loop trick he learned with me. Keep those surface baits wet, friends. Muskies and pike like to tag them right at the boat, too. Warm, wet fall day.
Big pike are a specialty of mine and in fall, just like in spring, we get some dandies casting shallow structure. Mostly rock, to be honest. Have a look at this one Mark stuck last week. She pummeled a no3 Mepps Aglia I custom tied in a little deer tail and chicken hackle. That's a nice casting fish right there!
Not to be outdone, Mark's buddy and father hit this nice double a little later, that day. Blue walleye over the port side and a solid pike over the starboard! Both ate Bass Magnet Shift'r Shads, fished on big jigs and rolled along about a rod length below the surface off a classic, prop-crusher shoal out in Lake Nipissing.
I spend as much time on the water as anyone. Scouting, prospecting, keeping tabs on the trends. Every so often, I get lucky, too. Here's a muskie and a pike that Georgian Bay kicked out for me recently. Caught 'em both on the mariboo bucktails I tie. Gold/white has been hot, as it usually is for me when the water starts to cool.
Big Mikey with a nice casting fish from a spot just off a weedbed that 99.9% of boats blow right by. Those little bumps, fingers or curls off the main body of weeds are key feeding stations for predators. Mepps inline spinner, once again. You only find good spots through time on the water!
We marked this muskie on the sonar, swung back around on her at 5mph and the rod dumped immediately. If you haven't tried any of the new, Live Image baits from Drifter, you ought to. They all produce. This time, it was Live Smallmouth, in a 10" Jake. Way to go, Jimmy. You made the boys in Akron, OH proud!
This is a prime window for walleyes! Not only good numbers, but some really solid ones, too. That's Tony above, he released this inland dandy from a big lake I guide on that's inside 2 hours from the Greater Toronto Area. This one clubbed a big jig and minnow on the shallowest crown of a small shoal, in good current. Midday, 16 feet of water on light spinning gear. Talk about fun!
Jonas from Germany tagged this beauty on a jig and plastic combo. There's something walleyes love about the way a heavy jig rockets down and smacks the bottom, some days. This one took a monster, 5/8oz Precision Jig from BFishN Tackle. We caught about 35 that day in an all-day downpour.
I'm 100% a workman walleye fisherman. Whatever technique the day calls for, I've got the gear, experience and instinct to get it done. That's the thing with walleyes---most days you've gotta feed it to them on their own terms. We've had great luck lately simply tossing waypoints and then marker buoys on the biggest schools and working them vertically, by casting or using accurate trolling passes with crankbaits. As always, I professionally clean and package your catch, should you want fish to take home and enjoy.
Stanley from Ohio with a clean fish he caught drop shotting in 31 feet of water on the French River, out of Chaudiere Lodge. 5 Star comfort and some of the best walleye fishing on earth. This one took a half crawler.
A really solid crankbait fish. Grinding the rocks was the key that day, at low speed. By far my best colour on dark, nasty days is blue-chrome. The old Reef Runner was hot that afternoon, talk about a consistent lure for walleye.
Don from Pennsylvania with a darkly-coloured weed walleye. Bigger than average walleyes use weeds regularly all season long. This one is from the Trent Severn System and ate a black/yellow hair jig I tied the night before we fished.
Now THAT'S a pile of smallies I like stopping the boat over! Talk about dropping your line into a dangerous place! Massive cloud of Georgian Bay bass. This school took more than two hours to work through, and it was usually 2-4 fish on at all times, with smallies to four pounds. Fall smallmouth bass patterns range from deep to shallow to in between and you've got to stay flexible. Once you're near fish, adjust how you're fishing to tap some unreal action.
Leo from Miami, FLA with a run of the mill French River smallmouth. This one hammered a big, 3/4oz Cicada jigging blade. Many days, it's just like icefishing from a boat: tease 'em up on your depthfinder, keep the lure moving and watch your line! You'll hook 50% of the fish on any given day long before you feel the strike, Line stops early on the way down or jumps off to the side? Hammer that hook in! Tubes, dropshots and a variety of other presentations work and the deep/mid-range schools can be super active, at times.
Tristan and John with a little double header action. This time of year double, triple, even quadruple headers are common. They were eating swimbaits, that day.
Sarah's first smallmouth was a beauty! And on a surface bait, too! This one sucked down a Chug Bug over real shallow rocks on the French River. Glass calm, warm weather will often get big smallmouth rummaging around in the shallows eating anything that moves. Perch, crayfish, bugs, even smaller bass are all on the hit list.
Adam from Toronto banged off 14 of these cookie-cutter smallmouths on 16 drops of the jig, in late September. Action doesn't get any hotter on light tackle. Some of the new, Mister Twister grub colours have been on fire for us this fall, when smallmouth are eating plastics.
Andy from Innisfil, On with a Georgian Bay jumper. Nice one, my friend!
FISHING WITH MY KIDS
There's nothing better for a young boy or girl than being outside. My sons love to fish and they're getting good! We relaxed for a couple days and knocked around lots of walleye, crappie, smallmouth and pike in the Muskoka-area. If you'd like to take your kids fishing, that's right up my alley. Safe, productive and fun. And as always, you're rewarded with a discount on your guided fishing trip for good parenting!
My oldest, Britt, with a couple gorgeous crappie he caught on 1/8oz Precision Jigs with plastics. They were holding way off bottom in deep water and the sonar was the key to it all. Locate 'em, mark 'em, catch 'em!
Finn (L) and Britt with a couple nice ones they caught 100% on their own. Proud father moments like this are the best thing in life. Teach your kids to appreciate and love the outdoors!
I'm booking into October and November for guided fishing trips. You can reach me here at www.busheyangleguidedfishing.com or using Voice/Text at 705-717-3159. Let's get you on the fish!
FEBRUARY ICE: Naughty and Nice.
What a huge range of conditions in the month of February, on both Lake Simcoe ice and on inland lakes dotted within central Ontario. Deep snow and later, really bad slush, worked our machines hard. Mobility suffered a bit some days, but the fish bit!
As I write this, ice conditions on Lake Simcoe have changed again. We've had a major warm-up the past ten days or so. The deep snow and drifts are gone. What's left, is a soft top layer of basically snow-free ice and patch slush that ranges from walkable and crusty to shin-deep slop. Two things have impacted local ice during the recent warm up:
1. Bright, sunny days beating down on large patches of black ice.
2. Warm nights, where we've stayed several degrees above the freezing mark.
If you haven't been out on the ice in the past 2-3 weeks, be prepared for different thicknesses, now. If I can assist you with localized ice input, both on Lake Simcoe or up through the Muskoka Region, you can call me: 705-717-3159. Now is not the time to be going out there blind.
Fishing on Georgian Bay and inland lakes within about 90 minutes of Barrie has presented the same kinds of conditions. I check daily, verify and make sure it's safe. Walleye, pike and crappie are all available, and in a setting that's vastly different from Lake Simcoe, in terms of quiet, nature and solitude. Clean, budget lodging and plenty of room to fish and roam. You'd love it.
She's not all doom and gloom though, friends! Colder weather rolls back in late this week. I'd sure love to see us finish strong on firm, dry ice surfaces. Here's a look back at a busy month at Bushey Angle Guided Fishing...
Patty with a real nice fish that ate right before Round II of a brutal, all-day blizzard. The sleds worked hard, that day.
Craig from IL has toured FIVE separate engagements in Iraq and Afganistan. If you're a former or current member of the military, law enforcement, fire or a first responder, you get an automatic discount when you book with Bushey Angle Guided Fishing. It's the least I can do, in appreciation of your service. Craig filled a pail that day, we fished out of Casey's Port Bolster Inn. Deep freeze and big winds that day. Caught most of our bigger perch deadsticking Shrimpos and live shiners.
Carson keeps the highways safe in SW Ontario, as a member of the police department. Last day of sweet ice for travel before the deep snow and slush set in. He bagged these two in shallow water, on Meegs Jigs.
A day-trip north of Barrie kicked out a bunch of these for Sammy. Williams Ice Jig with a minnow head is about as close as I can get to the perfect walleye spoon. Discounted rates for groups that include kids, too.
Never, ever rule out baits that look and act like gobies, for fishing Lake Simcoe----in any season or for any species.
Jesse from Creemore, ON with a dandy taken during The Slush Bowl. Any time you're getting whitefish hanging around baits that are up high, five to ten feet off bottom, there's a good chance they'll eat.
Speaking of fish that eat way up off bottom, here's a whale Davey took on a Bass Magnet tube way up high. Little Recon and Recuit Frabill shelters are feather light and absolutely ideal for use in sloppy conditions. Leave the big, heavy shelters at home when the ice is wet and soft!
Hey, I like setting the hook, too!
There's time and ice left, are you coming?
A typical Kempenfelt Bay lake trout. Only slightly interested in the Meegs Jig, eh? This one hammered it.
With some crispier weather lately, we've confirmed walkable ice on some lake trout and whitefish spots inside Kempenfelt Bay. I've found about five inches of hard, black ice and have been doing walk-to guides. Travelling light, with minimal fishing gear and our throw ropes, ice picks and floater devices, I've started taking guests out. Low skies and cool days have helped preserve the cover on the Bay, and we'll only add inches going forward. Trips have been safe and productive, for both lake trout and whitefish.
Walkable ice in Kempenfelt Bay, measuring about 5" thick. It's quality ice, but we'd obviously like to see a lot more of it. It'll come.
One of Lake Simcoe's most consistent whitefish and lake trout jiggers, Jesse Long. Mostly known as a whitefish lure, Meegs Jigs are also dynamite on lake trout. Don't be afraid the work them well off the bottom. They've got a perfectly balanced, horizontal profile in the water and that nasty hook digs in and holds wild, strong fish.
While we wait for for thicker ice conditions on Kempenfelt Bay, many good, early-ice areas are easy to access on foot. The boys from Michigan came west this time and we had a fun shift. Lots of soft, half-hearted strikes that day, but the boys stuck with it and did well. The whitefish were glued to bottom and would only come about a foot to eat. Vibrados were hot that day. No secret, there. Definitely one of the hottest jigging lures the past three years, on Lake Simcoe.
Fishing machine Big Mike, from Michigan. Mike's a full-time guide on Lake Erie and a great guy to fish with. Put him within a mile of one and he'll usually make it bite.
Two of the best tips I'd offer anyone fishing within Kempenfelt Bay is to take the extra time and effort to make a clean presentation and to pay very close attention to what your AquaVu and/or sonar is telling you, in terms of how fish are responding to what you're showing them. I had a group from Richmond Hill out recently and the fish were all over the place after we made a few moves, down along a wide, shallow dishpan in the bottom, well inside the main Bay's deep tract.
Right away, it became clear that larger lures were not getting whitefish to strike. They'd nose up or circle them, but not many takers. We dropped down to smaller baits, went to what basically amounted to heavy perch tackle (6lb. fluorocarbon leaders, little, light rods) and man, what a difference. Real cold and blustery that day, so getting clean photos wasn't easy. Tucked inside of my big, thermal Frabill hub shelters, the boys kept it pretty quiet after they got on track. Nothing wrong with that!
Lake Simcoe is a "details" fishery. Why?
-Insane fishing pressure, overall.
-Very clear water.
-Huge varieties and quantities of natural feed.
-Many stocked (non-wild) fish. They act differently than native fish, in many ways.
It was just awesome to see the guys get dialed in and take home a few fish for the smoker. As I like to say: Happy Guests = Happy Fishing Guide!
'The Versace Kid,' Giancarlo, with two he harvested for the table after releasing several more. Check out the boiler on that one on your right. No fewer than 13 gobies jammed in her. Real cold out that day, but it was like a tanning bed inside the hub. Giancarlo's tan is 100% natural, though! Way to go buddy.
I did a guided fishing trip for the Canadian Sportswoman Society on the east side of Lake Simcoe the other weekend, out of Casey's Port Bolster Inn. The girls came to learn the ropes and enjoy a fun weekend of fishing. They came out guns blazing and everyone sharpened their perch and herring game. Lots of laughs, a great fish fry and just a perfect set-up, at Casey's.
Big, tungsten Chekai jigs, XL Shrimpos and Meegs HangNails have been getting a lot of bites lately. Gobbing on a few spikes (just like a big maggot) is never a bad idea. We fish spoons like the Williams, Slender Spoon and Slab Grabbers naked---no meat, ever.
I've been fishing off my ATV out of Port Bolster for more than 2 weeks now. The ice there is well over 24 inches thick in places. All of the major outfitters have their big shacks out and the fishing is always great. If you're in the area, you've gotta try Casey's Fisherman's Breakfast. The lodge dining room opens EARLY and it's priced really well.
Here are a few images from the Sportswoman Society outing!
No black and white gym selfies or duck faces for these girls. There's talking about and looking the part, then there's actually doing it. All of the girls really are into the outdoors. It means more than owning camo and having a decal on your car, folks.
Lori Anne Burke-Horst's patented Curly Chips! Fresh perch, herring and spuds: a hit in anyone's league. Lori-Anne runs the Sportswoman Society and put the whole ice fishing trip together.
Ready for your Best Total Fishing Experience? Let me know and we'll go!
2017 Simcoe Ice Perch Kickoff!
Mikey and Tommy from Michigan with a flurry that included a couple real Lake Simcoe whales. What a kickoff to the 2017 Lake Simcoe icefishing season!
Well, the first ice trip of 2017 is in the books! The boys from Michigan came up and spent 2 solid days catching some of the biggest, prettiest perch available anywhere on earth. Many local operators on lake Simcoe from Beaverton to Virginia are busy hauling shacks out. Ice is still variable in areas, but we also have plenty of ice pushing 10 inches thick. Lots of ATVs and snowmachines out. This report is from January 6th through 8th, 2017. Ice conditions were actually perfect for machine travel.
Travel conditions on Lake Simcoe ice near Virginia Beach were as good as it gets. That will likley change, as it always does. This photo was taken over six inches of hard, black ice with close to four inches of tight, solid white ice on top.
Popping around spoons and swimming jigs is a go-to at first ice. Jumbo perch like big shiners, big gobies and baits that throw around lots of flash. Slab Grabbers and Williams are two great spoon options. We seldom use live bait of any kind. Fish fast and keep those hands dry! Depths of 10 to 14 feet with scattered grass and sand patches are what to look for. No perch or the wrong kind of bottom on the AquaVu means MOVE. Perch is a mobility game. Getting clean fish pics in that bitter windchill with the boys spread out was tough, but we did our best.
Roman with a frozen fish stick. This one clubbed a magnum Slab Grabber. She was frozen pretty good by the time I got over with the camera.
A Slab Grabber (L) and Williams (R). High-flash, metallic spoons seem to be a standard in silvers, golds, copper, etc. Play around with the accent colours and the colours of your beads. The Slab Grabbers have a fixed, hard plastic bead. I change out different soft plastic trout eggs on my Williams. Those small, sticky sharp single hooks nip them every time. Stay aggressive with your pops and jigging stroke. Early perch are mean and will hammer fast baits, fished with a purpose.
Not a great pic, but you get the idea! Mikey, Tommy and Bobby with three Simcoe perch anyone would be happy with. The boys went big that afternoon, jigging the biggest spoons in their boxes. The 'big lure = big fish' theory can be gospel for first ice perch. It works for me more often than not.
Bushey Angle Guided Fishing offers Full-Service, accomodations for MID-WEEK anglers near Port Bolster, right on Lake Simcoe. The cabin is fully winterized, full kitchen, electric heat, classic woodstove, full bathroom facilities, cable TV, wifi service and sleeps up to 8 anglers. You can prepare your own meals in the kitchen or, order-in from a couple local spots close by. It really is the ultimate spot for you to set up shop.
Oh and by the way, the cottage is 1 block from the ice access, right on the perch grounds! You cannot beat that! Price per person, per night is VERY attractive. For groups, this is unbeatable!
Check it out:
Watching the NFC Wild card Weekend games after a day on Lake Simcoe, whacking perch. Life is good! Big area for charging sonars, phones and anything else, to the left of the TV.
Heavy duty clothesline, right in front of the wood stove, in the lounge area. Rustic and ideal for the angler. Check out the old school skin mounts! Every bit of your gear can be hung and dried out like a bone, here. Get up the next morning and hop into head-to-toe comfort. Try doing that at a motel.
Electric heat in the cottage is great, but you have to love the old woodstove and glowing, oak coals. Not a bad spot to take a load off, after a day of perch fishing, if you ask me!
Trout, whitefish and walleye ice is coming along, too. If you want a shot at some great fishing and all the fun that goes with it, I can help you with that! I guide for all of the major winter species.Things are shaping up beautifully on the ice so far. What a time to be alive!
Eddie from Toronto, Ontario with a double-header we landed. What a pair!
Not many would argue that Lake Simcoe is on a really short list of the world's best perch fisheries. My guests and I have taken some enormous fish in the past week. Clear as tap water, we've been hunting perch down in a variety of environments on this big lake, from shallow weeds to deep, shell-plastered basins. Ever hooked a perch that pulls drag, bulldogs and dominates the average spinning outfit? These fish are big enough to lip like a bass and they're a fascinating species to hunt. I'm lucky enough to have Lake Simcoe in my backyard. Right now is one of the best times all season to get into those 13, 14, 15 and even 16 inch slobs.
In addition to billions of gobies swarming the lake's floor, Lake Simcoe also sees biblical-level fall runs of emerald shiners. Rafts of these little guys push into a variety of structures and the entire food chain follows it in lockstep, perch included. We've also seen evidence lately of magnum fish eating on small, 3 to 5 inch herring. Of course, all this feed sets up a natural collision course. Being on good spots with flexible and thoughtful presentations, you can run into swarms of fish that will blow your doors off.
Working offshore structure in deep water and suddenly having a school of shiners filter past you the size of a football stadium is a wild experience. These comprise a staggering amount of biomass in Lake Simcoe. Good feed grows big fish. I got lucky with my camera on this one, using my polarized lens, on the lake's eastern shore.
Dan with proof positive about how good food grows big perch. He booked a largemouth trip with me back in July, on Georgian Bay and we planned out a fall perch trip for him. We picked a date and made it happen!
The gobie connection is a big one. Large perch gorge feed on them. The smaller ones they prefer are generally tan, smoky or olive green in colour. Being a bottom-dweller, gobies are sitting ducks over sandy basins or gaps in weeds. Check this bait out from my friends at Custom Jigs 'n Spins and B-Fish-N Tackle. It's called the RPM (Rotating Power Minnow). It has some major technical improvements over other lures in this style, but to me, the paint finishes are the clincher. Think this thing looks like a gobie? I sure do! Last winter, I jigged up two of my biggest Lake Simcoe lake trout on this little baby, too. Trout love gobies as much as the perch do.
They don't get much bigger than this in Canada. I caught the biggest perch of my life on October 24, 2016 on a Rotating Power Minnow in 33 feet of water. On bright days--even in that super clear water--I've always done well on hot colours for perch. Perch that can make a guy's knees shake? There's nothing like it.
I use my AquaVu Micro5 SD to gauge the fish I'm over instantly. It's a valuable tool on big water. There isn't a sonar on earth that can tell the difference between a ten inch perch and a thirteen inch perch. But that's a big difference to a guiding guest, trust me. Guest Greg and I locked down a school of big perch the other day and also used the AquaVu to completely re-tool how we were fishing. Catching big perch is no different than any other fish. You gotta stay light on your feet and be able to adapt non-stop. We fish a range of vertical jigging lures, soft plastics and bait rigs all day, everyday out there. If you stop seeing fish or getting bites, you can't wait for big perch to fall out of the sky. I fish with a purpose, I stay aggressive and I work at it until something clicks.
Big Greg with a shallow water whale. That's a big fish, friends. Greg's hand is the size of my landing net. They'd stopped biting on vertically fished hard baits right at noon, two days in a row. Greg went to a real simple, soft plastic rig and dinged a pile of big perch in a hurry.
Details, details, details. Dropping down to lighter braid and a heavier weight one morning got a huge school fired up in a tough wind. So many times in fall, if you're not rubbing bottom, you're not catching fish. We made that tiny adjustment to our rigs and what a difference.
One of hundreds of big, Lake Simcoe perch we've released in the last week. There's my go-to rod/reel outfit: the Quantum Smoke 15 and a 7'0 Panfish Series spinning rod from my friends at St. Croix Rods.
This time of year means big wind most days, and boat control is rarely easy. Being able to fish slow, stay on bottom and feel strikes will make or break your perch fishing. I work my butt off out there running the boat for my guests and use a variety of tricks and devices. From spot to spot I might use the bow mount electric, stern mounted electric, drift socks or the old, reliable anchor. Part of the reason all those shiners group up and move in fall is to escape wind and rough water. Don't drive past sheltered bays, coves or other places perch can herd their food easily. These spots can be easy to fish, being out of the wind and waves. On the windy spots, don't be afraid to fish heavy weights and lures---all the way up to 3/8oz or more. Simcoe giants are used to eating big, and this stuff fishes like a dream when it's windy. Dainty lures still catch plenty of fish, but they drive me nuts.
Fall fishing always means fishing in wind. My formula never changes: dress warm, dig in your heels and work with whatever Mother Nature gives you Here's a nice double taken on live bait after I was forced to anchor near a school we spotted o the AquaVu. Take your time, feel the bottom and fish as slow as you can. The perch still bite in windy weather.
My fleet of perch rods are all the same: little, size 15 Quantum Smoke spinning reels, ten pound Maxima Braid8 and the 7' Panfish Series rods from St. Croix. From 1/16oz jigs to 5/8oz drop shot weights and any lure in the box, this combo handles it all. Fun to fish, super sensitive and plenty of power for big perch. I use four and six pound Maxima fluorocarbon leader material.
And on it goes. The water is still warm, right around 59F. The perch fishing gets even better as we cool down. That's hard to believe, but it's true. Come take your shot, I'll put you on 'em!
My Big Question
Is there anywhere on this earth--anywhere--where we've got more fishing opportunities, than right here, in central Ontario? And not just the volume of water. I'm talking about the number of species. Some days I look around inside my boat and the amount of rods and tackle is a little nuts! Ultralights with tiny braided and monofilament lines. Ten foot trolling rods. Downriger rods and downriggers. Spinning rods, baitcast rods, muskie outfits. Giant trolling baits. Finesse plastics. Hair jigs, flutterspoons and inline spinners with marabou skirts as long as my forearm.
I carry it all for one reason: on any given day, I'll be able to use every single bit of it.
I've never made the mistake of bypassing any and all possible species. That may well be because I'm such a sonar junky. I love watching my electronics and underwater cameras. You won't believe what's down there. We ran into huge numbers of sunfish on Lake Simcoe the other day down on bottom, in 29 feet of water. Down went the baby plastics on drop shot rigs. Up through light, braided line and long, whippy rods, those little sucker pulled! Bullheads, gobies, smallmouth and some really nice perch also came up, off that spot.
Now, think about this for a second. Half an hour after playing down there with those panfish, we were out on a good lake trout hump, scratching along the bottom with spoons. Trout are typically eating well this time of year, on a bunch of different baitfish species. Every ten minutes a downrigger would pop and we'd have one on. That kind of variety really is what makes our area so much fun to fish. Catching sunfish and lake trout within 500 yards of each other? I think stuff like that is pretty incredible.
And why not cap things off with a walleye? With the boat tied up at the dock, I had the needlenose pliers out, tuning up a badly beaten stickbait for the evening's walleye trolling. After getting the bait running, I made a little cast with it and wouldn't you know it, a nice walleye spanks it about half way back.
So I'm sticking to my original fishing question: where else? I can't think of anywhere on earth I'd rather guide fishermen.