A cool Fall day in Dec '16. Fishing was a bit slow for the first half of the day but was able to round it out with three steelhead each from different year classes, which was great to see and very important for the fishery!
Time for a new camera angle though, so stay tuned for the next videos.
After a warm and very dry October, the fall started to turn around quickly with some heavy rainfalls and prolonged days of rain in early November. Steelhead were slow to arrive as temperatures were 5-10C above normal for several weeks. Niagara River has been reliable but but most rivers have just started to see their normal number of arrivals, even with three weeks of high water. Winds have been insane with 3-4 days of 40-80km/h each week. Things should normalize with November weather just arriving as I type. Looking forward seeing smaller crowds on the river as the temps drop, as there has been a lot of river traffic this fall!
Fishing has been excellent these past three weeks, and we have limited openings left. Be sure to book soon if you are hoping for a fall trip!
Yesterday I had the pleasure of fishing with Robbie D of Big City Fishing, chasing down spring catfish on a smaller Lake Erie tributary. The fish were not in thick just yet but we had our share of battles with old whisker face. Some regions like the lower Grand River see early runs of catfish right after ice-out, but many of the lesser known and lesser fished waters get significant runs that are just starting heat up. Any creek or river with clay/mud bottoms and a good amount of near shore timber will host decent numbers of these fish.
Catfish fishing in Southern Ontario is an excellent filler between spring trout fishing and early summer bass opener. They are not the most glamorous fish available in the Great Lakes region but they sure will give you all the fight you can handle, and then some! These are not the little brown bullhead or mudcats that you incidentally catch when live bait fishing. These are big angry and very explosive fish when first hooked, and they don't let off until you put the clamps on them.
The average fish is between 7-10lbs but often exceed 15-20lbs. Heavy gear is the order of the day when angling for these beasts. A 9' M/H rod, a 300/3000 series reel or better, spooled with 30lb braid is an adequate set up to tame these big kitties. We use an assortment of cut-bait, dead minnows, shrimp style baits, and anything else with a heavy oily fish smell. Pautzke Nectar is an excellent bait rejuvantor for baits that have been soaking for too long, or to give that added kick. Size 3/0-5/0 hooks work well for hooking these large meaty servings, and we suspend them under a float. Split shot may or may not be necessary depending on the depths fished.
Canoes and kayaks are an excellent stealth approach for getting right on top of these fish where you need to be. Allowing you run your presentation under float with no unnatural movement as you drift down the creek or river.
Watch for the videos and more pics of this adventure coming on Big City Fishing.
So if you are already bored with pike, and panfish aren't your thing, grab your paddling gear and head out for some spring cats to fill the void, or look up Nomad Adventures for your catfish fix!
And be sure to bring extra hooks because the submerged timber rarely gives back!
Had a great time out with Rob Dankowsky of Big City Fishing this past week. We absolutely hammered the fish in a short span of just 3 hours of kayak fishing! Three huge Chinook Salmon came to the boat in the first forty minutes, followed by a smaller one. Lake Ontario grand slams were easy to come by on this trip, when just after that initial burst we had a plethora of Brown Trout, Coho Salmon and Lake Trout.
Our timing was perfect having connected with 13 fish in total. Unfortunately the warm weather has arrived and now driven the fish out to deeper water in search of baitfish. Watch for this episode to air on Big City Fishing later in 2015 or early 2016.
We now shift our efforts to cooler waters of Lake Huron and the Niagara River in search of more salmon and trout. Be sure to book your next fishing adventure with Nomad Adventures!
Air Temp: +3C @ 7am start, +8C @ 10am finish
Wind: 20km/h NW dropping to 10km/h NW
Water Temp: 40.6F @ 7am, 42F @ 10am
Fish: 3 Chinook, 3 Coho, 1 Laker, plus many more caught by friends in just a 3 hour span.
The Salmon bite was ON for Lake Ontario but only lasted a week with the warm temps that arrived over this past week.
Book your Great Lakes salmon trip this fall or next spring with Nomad Adventures before they are gone!
Fishing has improved dramatically in Southern Ontario over the past 10 days. We had our first group of the season out on Lake Ontario for some spring trolling.
Air: 10C @ 7am start, 19C @ noon finish
Wind: 20km/hr W or less
Fish: Brown Trout, Lake Trout, Coho Salmon
Baits: body baits 3-4" long
Things will only get better now until June. Be sure to contact Nomad Adventures for your next fishing adventure!
If you are kayak fishing or just paddling in water that is less than 70F, this video provides some very important information you need to know. Everyone needs to completely understand how to deal with the elements when out on big open water but knowing cold water safety is the first to learn. Any kayak anglers who spring or fall fish, especially on the Great Lakes, this is a MUST SEE!
If swimming in cooler water makes you uncomfortable, then imagine how ice cold water feels right against your skin in the spring because you chose waders over a proper drysuit.
Jeff Wall | Nomad Adventures
This article is intended to provide basic information to anyone wishing to take advantage of the spring Great Lakes Steelhead fishery. Although we are targeting migratory rainbow trout, there are many incidental catches that fill our day with joy and help us learn tactics for catching other species we may encounter.
Rainbow Trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) is a species of salmonid which is native to the cold water tributaries of Pacific Asia and North America. Steelhead is an anadromous(sea-run), or in this case, lake-run form of Coastal Rainbow Trout(Oncorhynchus mykiss Irideus) that have been introduced to Great Lakes tributaries. These fish spend their first 1-2 years in the tributaries, then enter the Great Lakes, to later migrate back to their natal streams when they reach spawning maturity.
Primary spawning runs occur in the Great Lakes tributaries from late March to late May depending on the winter.
Season and Habitat
Timing as they say is everything. Especially on a sunny, warm spring day where the lake hasn't been stirred up much. If the water is clear and sun is high, then I'm already off the water looking at my pictures of the day's catch. A light wind is not a bad thing either provided it is in your favour. I prefer to fish a small chop when fishing steelhead and other minnow eaters. It displaces the baitfish more and allows for a wider, deeper zone to troll through. Fishing can be equally as good in the last two hours of daylight too. Finding a lightly wind blown warm shoreline near a creek or river can give whole new perspective on Great Lakes kayak fishing if you time it right! A spot where the sun has warmed all day long with a decent outflow nearby will start to get a trickle of minnows just before dusk that can provide fast and furious action as the sun disappears.
Most of the time you are fishing less than 20' of water. Fish are shallow as 5' when the sun comes up and usually stay in less than 20' until then light starts to really penetrate then water. Try to find temperature gradients close to a mud line as they are your best indicator of where to start fishing. The transitioning water colour from brown to green is the area you want to focus on the most. This is where the bait are hanging out to avoid being in plain sight. Zig-zag trolling in and out of the mud line will surely get you bit.
This is the season where kayaks have a real advantage over motorboats because of the relatively silent trolling capability. There is no need to run inline planer boards unless you do it to clear other rods when trolling multiple. If you have a leg propelled kayak like a Hobie Mirage series then things are even that much more simplified with hands free fishing.
We primarily target spring Steelhead before they enter the tributaries to go about their reproductive business. Anytime that conditions allow and you feel you are capable of dealing with them is the right time to go. This article is not about safety so if you feel there may be a risk and are not comfortable with it, then do not go. Steelhead begin entering Great Lakes rivers in October and can still be around in early June. Spring runs are more consistent from April to mid May. Once they are safely higher up in the system, it is our practice to give them free passage. Although we are not afraid to go and pound on a fresh run of fish near the lower stretches of rivers, we prefer letting those who passed the gauntlet, to carry on and make lots of future angling opportunities. Especially on rivers that yield wild fish!
Locating and Timing
The old spawned out warrior in this picture is a catch we try to avoid but can't always when targeting migrating fish around rivers. For this reason we tend to concentrate our efforts in the lake near the river, rather than in it. He took about 5 mins to revive even in icy cold water.
A chrome bright fish in the spring does not mean it is a fresh arrival! Many steelhead finish their spawning ritual before the river season opens, and they are almost fully healed from their wounds, leaving them with their beautiful silver sheen. These kelts are the most sensitive of the lot. They are extremely hungry and feed ravenously on anything they can find. They are also very susceptible to death if hooked and and fought to exhaustion with less oxygen in the warming rivers. They cannot recover since they have no reserve body mass to fall back on. Please do not target these fish!
This spring hen was caught in Lake Huron near a major tributary. She was fully recovered from spawning and caught June 1 gorging herself on shiners when she hit a Live Target Rainbow Smelt.
Anything resembling a shiner or smelt style minnow and fished near a river outlet on the Great Lakes will get bit... by something. It will most likely be a steelhead, coho salmon, or brown trout but could be any number of other species following the bait. Move around in the lake until you mark bait or spot it.
Toronto Island Pike: May 2 - Old Town Predator 13*
South River Bass/Pike: July 25-26 - Hobie Mirage Drive Outback/Revolution
Lake Ontario Salmon: Sept 5 - Ocean Kayak Trident Ultra 4.3*
Haliburton Bass/Musky: Sept 12/13 - TBA likely a Wilderness product
Grand River Smallmouth: Oct 10 - Old Town Predator MX*
(* min 20 pre-registered anglers to have kayak prize)
This year OKFS is taking on a very different format that enables more winners. It will be a heavy multi-species rather than bass focus. There are only two 2-day events South River and Haliburton. Five events with a kayak for first place at each single day event plus a cash prize to the Champ. There will be a kayak raffled off at each of the two day events.
A Female Angler division will be held at South River if we are able to get 10+ female anglers to attend. This will allow for a kayak prize to this new division.
Series Champ is determined by the individual with the highest points total of any three multi-species combination. Single day totals only, allowing single day results from two-day events also. Upgrading allowed throughout duration of series.
Full details and updates at http://www.ontariokayakfishingseries.com/info--registration.html
Last spring we had the pleasure of guiding Sportsman360 TV host Owen Nolan and his guest co-host former NHLer Chris Simon for steelhead in Southern Ontario. It was the worst weather we had ever fished in let alone guide anyone! Things turned out very good, and the show will be airing for the first time tomorrow, and running all week long.
Sportsman360TV: Ontario Steelhead -
WildTV(Ch 393) Tues 7:30pm, Thurs 4:30pm, Fri 3:30pm
World Fishing Network(Ch 426) Tues 10pm, Wed 1pm, Sat 1pm
Will post the video in its entirety when it is released.
Have a look if you get either of those channels. Here is the trailer
Hope you enjoy!
FISHING NEWS ONTARIO
Ontario and Great Lakes region salmon, steelhead, and migratory trout fishing articles, information, news, and reports. Stay up to date on our most recent trips, events, tournaments, and general news on adventure fishing and kayak fishing in Ontario and Canada.