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!
Glenn Coin | email@example.com
on February 18, 2015 at 4:29 PM, updated February 19, 2015 at 10:13 AM
Update: The ice continues to cover more of Lake Ontario each day. The latest report shows that the lake was 82.6 percent covered as of Wednesday.
Syracuse, N.Y. -- The amount of ice covering Lake Ontario has reached near-record levels, and scientists say that's the result of two cold winters in a row.
One result of all the ice is that Central and Northern New York are getting less lake effect snow than they would otherwise. Extensive ice cover reduces evaporation, the raw ingredient for lake effect snow.
On Tuesday, ice covered 78.5 percent of the surface area of Lake Ontario. That comes close to the record of 85.7 percent, set on Feb. 19, 1979.
This much ice is highly unusual on Lake Ontario, which generally has the least ice cover of any of the five Great Lakes. The long-term average for Lake Ontario, in fact, is just 11 percent. Ontario is particularly deep compared to its surface, so it retains heat better than the other lakes and is less likely to freeze.
What's happening this year is that the lake never fully warmed up after last year's cold winter and relatively cool summer. Those cooler waters, combined with with a bitterly cold January and February this year, create lots of ice.
"The lake lost a lot of heat last year and it never regained it during the summer," explained George Leshkevich, a physical scientist at the Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory in Michigan. "We're starting out with cooler water temperatures, and with these cold temps we've been having the lake is just in a condition where it can form substantial ice cover."
Foul weather kept us off the rivers for a lot of November and December, so we had to chose our days wisely. The fishing sure was good when we did get out in December! In five outings in the month of fishing only Lake Huron flows, we only had one day where less than six fish were hooked. Most of those days we saw winds over 40km/hr and high water, even rain and ice. Not to mention the fog that rolled in on our last steelhead kayak trip Dec 29th when the temp went from +1C to -8C in 20mins!
Looking forward to Spring '14 steelhead!
We are now into the final month for the extended season of 2013, and the weather just hasn't cooperated. We aren't logging nearly enough time on the water because of wind, rain or high and dirty water. We are getting out though!
This past week offered the best conditions in a while but the Credit and Niagara rivers are just fishing slowly. Likely at lot to do with the windy and cold conditions from the week prior. Averaging a couple fish each per 5hrs of fishing. Not bad but way down for the time of year. Now the cold is coming and will likely stay below 0C for most days until Jan 1. So that will mean more weather stability, and fishing will improve.
We still have openings left to the end of the year, and are now booking into 2014.
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.