Originally published: October 30th, 2019
This was the first Fish’n Canada episode of the 2019 fishing season and it truly was a highly anticipated one! It took place at the gorgeous Pleasant Cove Resort in Point au Baril Ontario, on Georgian Bay. I’ve been to Pleasant Cove before and this place always gets me excited.
Another first on this trip was the chance to shoot with former Chaudière Lodge (on the French River) owner and great friend of Fish’n Canada, Steve Niedzwiecki! Nobody loves fishing more than Steve…. (imagine right now, a massive “breaks squealing” sound just occurred). Let me restate that… aside from ME, nobody loves fishing more than Steve. Ok, now I can move on.
On this trip, we were setting our sights on Georgian Bay pike. To be honest, this part of Ontario boasts some unbelievable easy-to-access Northern Pike fishing. I’m talking Northern Ontario quality and only a few hours from the south of the province.
On my previous trips to Pleasant Cove, I ended up with some of my best southern Ontario Pike action and my biggest Pike to date, and that includes the entire province and beyond! This was a time back when I was introduced to Captain Mike Richardson, one of the most unique fishing guides I’ve ever shared a boat with. This little nugget will give you an idea as to what Mike is really like!
YOU SHOULD HAVE BEEN HERE A WEEK AGO!
Unfortunately, you know what they say about the best-laid plans, AND might I add, the unpredictability of fishing.
We hit a snag, let me explain.
Springtime fishing is an odds-on feast or famine period in the world of fishing. Time it right, and things are going gangbusters. Time it wrong, and the arms get tired of constant casting and reeling. On this trip, I didn’t realize that the local Pike season opened well before the rest of the adjacent region. As luck would have it, we were literally there 2 weeks late (or we could have gone the other way, in at least 2 weeks early). This varies from year to year and is highly unpredictable when setting up a fishing trip. Essentially, we as anglers must make the best of the situation… a tough one to swallow because I know for a fact, there are giant Northern Pike here.
Knowing the above, we still made the trip, so we had to give the Pike in the area a shot.
By the end of a day and a bit of fishing, we saw plenty of sizeable pike, but hooking up had proved to be the unexpected challenge. We still caught a load of smaller Pike, full of the usual spunk, but those big ones were extra finicky.
With only one day remaining of our first trip of the year, Steve and I decided it might be better to go back to the drawing board.
FISH OF A DIFFERENT COLOUR
We had been talking with local fishing guide Blair about the fishing in the area and he was telling us about the amazing Rainbow Trout fishing the locals have been blessed with lately.
“Please tell us more”, which incidentally is our usual response.
Blair explained that in recent years, a Trout rearing facility had been established in Parry Sound.
We had to check it out. After all, it was only a short 20-minute drive south of Pleasant Cove. The boat was on the trailer and moving down Hwy 69 in no-time!
We found out in our conversation with Blair that there are both stocked rainbows, along with “escapees” from the fish hatchery. It’s an amazing sight, seeing all the pens and the whole operation.
Some time ago—or so the story goes—one of the fish rearing pens broke open, releasing 40,000 Rainbow Trout into the Sound (what is a Sound you may be asking, as in Parry Sound?) These fish are often referred to as escapees. It happens all the time, especially in British Columbia. I’m not sure the exact reasons why, but it happens. Fortunately, it creates a put-and-take fishery, much like MNR stocking programs. Is it a bad thing? I’m not sure. In any case, many anglers take advantage of it. Including Steve and me on this trip.
The water in Parry Sound covers a vast area. It’s much similar to a big open lake that can turn nasty in no time. We were fortunate on this day, as it was dead calm.
We fished around both Depot Island and Sawdust Bay. Both areas are gorgeous big-water fisheries. The landscape here is beautiful with high, tree-filled banks and dark, deep water.
HOW WE CAUGHT THEM
Trolling with our electric motor was our initial way of finding the biting and active trout. However, once we started seeing Trout dimple the surface of the water (as well as jumping), we knew we were in the right areas. In fact, once we were in an active zone, we stopped trolling and started casting small minnow baits and spoons. The problem we had was we were mostly equipped with pike and walleye gear; not the best setups for trout. With that said, we made do with the lightest spinning gear we had. Luckily, we had some light line with us. So, we simply tied on 6-pound fluorocarbon leaders to our existing lines and it made the presentation less visible to the fish.
As fate would have it, we ended up having an excellent day with these acrobatic little rippers. I actually lost my first three Rainbows by having my drag set too tight (good lesson to be learned, as these fish have soft mouths). With barely satisfactory rod action, we proceeded to lay the smack-down on a bunch of rainbows. I would have never guessed that on our last day of the trip, the show would have been salvaged.
If you are heading to Georgian Bay for early northern pike, get there as early as you can. Trust me, there are some giants in that water.
If you can’t make it in early May, then wait until about the second week of June when everything settles down.
Lastly, make sure that if you bring your own boat, motor, and trailer, that you take the time to load up at Pleasant Cove and scoot south for a day, or even an afternoon, to Parry Sound, looking for some jail-break escapees. It’s one of those classic Ontario day-trips that proves this province is damned hard to beat when it comes to diversity in its fishery!
- Ontario Canada – In partnership with Destination Ontario
- Pleasant Cove Resort
- Blair – Guide at Pleasant Cove Resort