Montreal fishing spots

Montreal fishing spots

Montreal shore fishing spots click here.

Friday, June 2, 2023


Apparently, tench were illegally brought into Quebec, with the intent of eventually farming them commercially. After lack of interest in the species, the ponds were drained and tench got into the Richelieu river system in the mid 1990's or so.

Close to 15 years ago, I remember seeing the first pictures of tench caught in the Montreal region. Back then, it was quite rare, with very few catches, mainly caught using live worms on the Eastern part of the island of Montreal, as well as the Richelieu river.

Since then, the tench population has exploded in southern Quebec. I've increasingly been running into them, either sighting them swimming/spawning in the waterways around Montreal, or seeing other people catch them.

Up until this point, I had never hooked into any tench. That all changed this morning. After having pre-baited one of my carp spots, I decided to fish it for a few hours this morning, along with my son Zev. I was hoping to put him on to a nice carp, using a mix of home made boilies and popups.

A couple hours into the outing, one of my lines barely moved a bit closer to us. I didn't think much of it, but over the next few minutes, it happened twice. Figuring it was probably a redhorse sucker, I set the hook and passed the rod over to Zev. Not much of a fight on gear suited to handle monster carp, but a very nice surprise, with a new species in the net.

About 10 minutes later, the other line started doing the same thing. Slight movement, stop, start, etc. Rinse, repeat, I set and passed the rod to Zev, who reeled in another tench, this one slightly bigger at 4 lbs.

Not exactly what I had planned for our short morning outing, but having caught the vast majority of available freshwater species in the area over the years, I'm always thrilled to add another species to my list.

Thursday, May 11, 2023

Filleting, deboning and cooking carp

Having fished carp for nearly two decades now, I can't tell you how many times I've been asked by onlookers whether or not I eat them, how they taste, etc. For the most part, I don't keep carp, let alone eat them. With the exception of some neighbors that occasionally ask for a carp, they are all released in good condition, especially the bigger ones.

I had tried baked carp, smoked carp, and carp soup many years ago, none of which were even close to being edible, at least by my palate's standards. Add the fact that they contain two sets of double y bones, they quickly turn into a nightmare for anyone that hates bones in fish as much as I do.

This season, I made it one of my goals to debone a carp, and find at least one way to cook it that would warrant at least a second bite, if not finish the entire portion (dare I say like it?).

During my first outing of the season to a waterway cleaner than where I fish around Montreal, I harvested a small carp in the 9 lbs range. After keeping it alive in cool water in my keepnet, I bled it out at the end of the day, and remove both fillets from the backbone.

Not too appealing so far, I then proceeded to remove the thick rib bones, after which I separated the fillet vertically along the lateral line. From the I skinned them, followed by trimming the reminder of boneless belly meat from behind the ribs. I then remove thin strips of flesh from around both side of the four sets of remaining y bones, yielding about 1 lb of boneless carp flesh.

After freezing it for a couple weeks, I decided to cook the carp on my outdoor log fire bbq. I thawed out the carp meat, trimmed off some of the remaining darker portions of fishier / unappealing flesh, and tried 2 recipes:

First came the thicker, fattier pieces of carp. Seasoned them in blackened seasoning, and barbecued them over a log fire. 

Cooked version wasn't as bad as I thought. The BBQ version with spice ended up similar color to steak, texture slightly softer/fattier. Fish aftertaste still there, but not as bad as I thought, being that I cooked it over log fire, with lot's of blackened spice. 

Next came the thinner parts. After dipping them into a beaten egg, I coated them in Italian style seasoned bread crumbs. I then fried them in oil over the fire until golden/brown. Basically an improvised schnitzel style with seasoned bread crumbs. Flesh was similar in color to veal schnitzel, maybe a touch darker. Texture was noticeably less fatty than the bbq version. Taste was also better than bbq version, and agreed upon by my son and his fiancee as well

Overall, both versions were edible, especially if one was really hungry. I may have actually finished a full serving of the fried carp / schnitzel version, but we were having burgers and assorted grilled sausages, which I much prefer, and the carp was just a test / entree. 

All in all, I'm glad to have finally turned a carp into something palatable. However, not a fish I'd harvest again for myself, simply too much waste, for flesh like likely has more pollutants than I'm used to ingesting from fish I typically harvest.

Thursday, March 23, 2023

2023 ice fishing season review

My 2023 ice fishing season was the slowest in years, due to the extremely mild and snowy winter we had this season. Not just here, but pretty much most across he Eastern portion of North America, anglers living in the ice belt were faced with similar challenges.

To start off, many of the waterways in the Southern part of Quebec didn't freeze safe until late January or early February, when they are typically frozen solid by the opening date of winter regulations on December 20th. Though some smaller lakes further North and at elevation froze earlier, they were hit with a record snowfall in December, and then again with more snow than normal throughout January, making access to my spots impossible.

Luckily, I got away to Florida for the last week in February, and enjoyed some good fishing there. By the time I got back, another storm hit most of the spots I planned to fish, which made access that much harder.

That being said, I'm not the type to whine or complain about things that are out of my control. Before the start of winter, I set some goals of where and when  I planned to ice fish, and for the most part, I was able to get out and check each one of the spots off my list, despite challenging conditions.

As usual, I hoped to start my season well before winter fishing rules kick in on December 20th. This means that I'm limited to the use of only one rod per person, and baitfish live or dead are prohibited. My first target is a small waterbody that freezes up long before most others in the region I fish. Unfortunately, that lake closes for fishing on December 1st every year, so I'm limited to fishing it in mid to late November. 

The lake in question was only safe by November 29th 2022, and even then I only found about 3 to 3.5 inches of safe ice. This meant that ice fishing would be tough,  as the fish spooked when I walked and drilled over them, in shallow, clear water.

Sure enough, my prediction was right, and all I caught was one decent perch.

Next, I had planned to hit a better lake further late in December, but a record snowstorm made access impossible, as it's a good kilometer or so of trekking with my sled/gear to get to the spot. While this is doable if the snow cover is minimal, it's brutal once you have to deal with 20 cm of snow, let alone the 60+ cm that fell a couple days before I planned to go.

Instead, I switched destinations, and hit a couple small water bodies in another region, with easier access. The tradeoff was the reduced chances of catching any decent fish. Sure enough, all I landed over those outings were some panfish and very small bass.

Late in December, I was able to fish a new spot for the first time. This time, the target species was musky, using frozen mackerels as bait. The hotspot is quite popular early in the season, due to it freezing earlier than most other areas, and due to the big muskies that tend to winter there under ice.

With a good 30 to 40 people taking advantage of the 10 lines per person rules, there were a good 300-400 lines out when I arrived. Only 2 muskies caught that day, none by myself. I did catch a bunch of perch jigging a small lure while waiting, but didn't bother with any pics.

For my first outing in 2023, I was debating which of two lakes I was going to ice fish. One was the spot difficult access I had planned to fish earlier in December. I knew I would likely be able to get into good number of smaller bass there. The second was a much bigger and deeper lake, which has some huge smallmouth bass. Access is easier, but getting to the spots I planned to fish is nearly impossible once snow cover is heavy. I opted for the second lake, as recent rain followed by a cold front had turn to surface solid, with only a couple centimeters of fresh snow.

Though I've caught many trophy smallmouth on that lake in the summer, finding them one ice was just about impossible, despite me fishing 40 of the 80 holes I drilled that day, at various depths. I did catch a few perch, but they were quite small. On the bright side, I was able to map all the areas I typically fish from my float tube, so I now have a much better idea of the depths I'm casting to in the summer.

A few days later, I hit another spot closer to home, this time hoping to catch my first pike of the winter on my tip ups. this spot is tough, and chances of catching anything are slim, but without much safe ice around, I didn't have much of a choice. Sure enough, no flags during the outing, just some more small perch while jigging while waiting for flags to pop.

The following week, I was finally able to make it to a better spot. Though I normally fish that spot for bass one ice, I know there are some smaller pike there as well, so I brought along my tip ups. sure enough, I caught one pretty quickly. nothing big, but it felt nice to have my first flag of the winter.

Seems like my camera setting was off that day, pics all ended up blurrier than normal.

Also managed to jig up and land 8 of 9 largemouth bass, though no big ones.

The big surprise of the outing was some giant pumpkinseed sunfish that hit my crankbait, with a couple in the 9 inch range.

My next ice outing wasn't until a couple weeks later, early in February. I returned to the same spot, but left the tip ups at home, focusing my efforts on bass, in hopes of landing one of the giants that I know live there. I did manage a few decent ones, but again, no lunkers.

A few days later, I took my youngest son out for his first ice fishing outing of the winter. With mild weather, and knowing that there was no snow cover on the lake we planned to fish, I figured he'd last a few hours out there.

First spot we hit produced a nice surprise. I marked a school of small fish on my flasher, suspended more than halfway up. within a couple drops, I hooked up and handed my son the rod. He landed the first ciscoe I've ever run into. 

We managed to land another ciscoe just before the school simply vanished. We kept both of them for the table, they tasted better than I imagined they might.

Eventually, we switched spots and found some good perch. 

As well, a surprise lake trout we caught while jigging for perch in 12 feet of water. Zev got to enjoy the battle on a medium light rod, and as the season is closed for lake trout in winter here in quebec, we released it after a quick pic.

We ended up keeping some of the fish we caught for a tasty lunch the following day.

A few days later, I took Zev out for an outing closer to home, setting out some tip ups for pike. Fishing was slower than I hoped for, but we avoided the skunk and acquired the target species.

The following week, I headed South to Florida for an 8 day trip. Enjoyed some great weather and amazing fishing, both fresh and saltwater. You can read more about that trip at:

After returning from Florida, I had two spots left on my list to complete my goal. First spot was the lake I had originally planned to hit in December, and then again in January. Both were snowed out. This time, I was determined to get out, hoping the snow would be too bad. Sure enough, there were a good 20-25 cm of heavy snow to trek though to get to my target area. Luckily, I try to stay in good physical shape, and was able to haul my sled there by pacing myself during this intense cardio workout. 

To my big surprise, the bass and perch that are abundant on that lake were nowhere near my usual hot spots. I took my 3-4 hours of drilling and trekking to finally find some bass, but instead of being schooled up under ice as they normally are on that lake, they were scattered at various depths. Managed to land a mix of both smallmouth and largemouth bass, a few bigger than average for that lake.

Surprisingly, almost no perch, only manage a few, with a couple decent ones.

For my second outing in March, I hit the final spot on my season's bucket list. I was hoping to possibly get into some big largemouth bass, or some jumbo yellow or white perch at that spot. They key to fishing this spot, is to keep moving and drilling every few minutes until you find a fish or two, as it's more of a trophy spot than numbers. 

When I got to the lake, I found very heavy snow cover, which put a big dent in my plans. Trekking was murderous, so I wasn't able to cover the spots I wanted to hit, nor fish nearly as many ice holes. I did manage to land some keeper size perch, and the big surprise of the day was this crazy bullhead catfish that chased a big lipless crankbait halfway up the water column before crushing my lure. Needless to say, I was very surprised when it came up the icehole.

Finally, to kick off spring with my last outing for the season, I only had a couple options available. Being that I had fished all my bucket list spots, and that much of the ice around Montreal wasn't safe anymore, I opted to try another lake at higher elevation for trophy pike.The lake in questions doesn't really have much pike as far as numbers og, but there are some absolute giants in there, few pushing 4 feet in length. 

I got to the lake to find perfect conditions, solid ice with no snow cover, warm, sunny and no wind., to the point where I was down to my undershirt by noon.

Unfortunately, ice fishing for pike in that lake is easier said than done, and I wasn't able to get any to take the bait and trip my tip ups. I did manage a small lake trout jigging while waiting for flags, didn't bother with any pics.

With a tight schedule, warm weather with rain in forecast, and the season closing on April 1st, I'm done with ice fishing until next fall/winter.

Looking back on my ice fishing season, the weather threw all of us ice anglers a major curveball this year, to say the least. I normally put in a good 20 to 25 outings during ice fishing season, but I was only able to do half of that this year, due to poor weather. Still, I was able to hit every target lake I had planned, and managed to catch some decent numbers bass and perch, which were my primary targets.

Looking forward to some open water fishing over the next few weeks.

Monday, February 27, 2023

Midwinter fishing in Miami, Florida

Took my younger daughter for her first trip to Florida during her week off school for spring break. Between visiting my older daughter and her family in Miami, and driving up to Orlando to visit Universal studios with my younger one, I made sure to schedule a day of saltwater fishing, as well as a bit of freshwater fishing around the corner from my older daughter's apartment.

Being late February, I knew I had a decent shot at hopefully landing my first tarpon. Having done a variety of big game species in both saltwater and freshwater in the past, big tarpons were the last Florida big game species on my bucket list. As well, my younger daughter who's never fished saltwater or been to the ocean, was interested in trying her hand at shark fishing.

After having fished with Captain Carl Ball from Awol fishing last winter, I booked him as our guide for the outing. We met up just before sunrise South of Miami, and headed straight for his first tarpon spot. As we were on our way, we ran into a few schools of some big tarpon rolling near the surface.

We pulled up, both Carl and I cast, and he immediately hooked up to out first fish on his first cast. Talk about a pro... He handed me the rod, and as expected, the big tarpon went ballistic.

Though I eventually brought the big tarpon boatside, it made a good bunch of blistering runs back out again. 

I managed to get the tarpon back to the leader a number of times throughout the battle, deeming it a caught fish. Still, I was praying to get my hands on it for a full / proper release.

Time and time again, I almost had it under control, only to have it start running every time I got it to the leader.

Finally, the magic moment I have been waiting for since a couple decades or so.

What a feeling of relief! Knowing that a good tarpon landing percentage is in the 20% to 25% range, I was very happy to have landed my first one, which was estimated at 125 lbs by captain Carl, slightly over the 80 lbs to 100 lbs range for most tarpons in the area.

Unbelievably, within a few more casts, we hooked into another tarpon, even bigger than the first one. Luckily, this fished was a bit more subdued after the first few initial jumps, but in deep water, it kept dogging down to the bottom.

I was able to get the giant tarpon to the leader boatside about 3 or 4 times. 

By this point, both the tarpon and I were pretty exhausted. Just as I thought the battle was over, it started on another run and broke the leader by chaffing through it.

Again, another fish deemed landed, but unfortunately, no victory shot on this one. Captain estimated it in the 175 lbs to 180 lbs range, close to double the average for the region we were fishing.

Just to give you an idea of what their teeth can do to fluorocarbon leaders...

I compiled a bit of video footage of the tarpon fishing:

By this point, I was both sore and exhausted from nearly 2 hours of intense battle with big tarpons in the Florida sun. I was more than happy to head to our next spot to start fishing for fresh shark bait.

Chaya enjoyed the refreshing run:

We pulled up to our first spot to try catching some ladyfish to be used for bait. Seems like the sharks had other plans. I got "sharked" on my first hookup, and again on my next cast with another jig. More sharks around than bait, and with a light bass style rod with thin braid, I figured we wouldn't have much chance at landing even a small sized blacktip shark.

Eventually I managed to get a ladyfish on board, and lose another one boat side. On my next cast, I hooked another blacktip, but this one didn't cut the line like the others did. I handed the light action rod to my daughter, I she experienced her first shark runs.

When we finally got our first closeup glimpse at the blacktip shark, I noticed that it had hooked itself in the pectoral fin, which would explain why the line hadn't been cut off.

I eventually took the rod, got the shark boatside, and tired to muscle it up for the captain to remove the hook, by thumbing down on the spool. The line snapped, and shark swam off with the jig.

Now that we had bait, we set up the proper shark rod, which made fighting and landing the sharks a lot easier. Chaya and I did battle with a few of these feisty blacktip sharks, also referred to as spinner sharks, due to their tendency to jump and spin once they realize they are hooked.

Here are a few shots we took of the shark fishing action:

All in all, we more than accomplished our mission with the sharks as well, and here are a couple short video clips of the shark action:

Bonus of the day was a surprise barracuda. Captain Carl had spotted a couple lemon sharks, and while they came to inspect the bait a couple times, they turned away. Then, the bobber just took off unexpectedly, and next thing I know, a big cuda is tail dancing on the surface at the end of my line.

At least we were able to get this one on board for a nice pic.


All in all, an amazing 6 hour outing, that resulted in both of our goals being more than accomplished. 

Again, my sincere thanks to Captain Carl Ball / Awol fishing. I highly recommend fishing with him if ever you find yourself looking to fish the Miami area, and the calmer water around Biscayne bay. Srom spin casting, to sight and fly fishing, Carl does it all, and then some...

After returning from a two day trip to Orlando, I returned the car I had rented, due to the exorbitant prices being charged these days. Only fishing option left was to fish the South Glades canal in North Miami beach, a short walk from where I was staying with my older daughter's in laws.

Having fished there last winter, I had an idea of what to expect. Namely, tough sight fishing conditions, with a shot at small bass, and possibly peacock bass or Mayan cichilds.

I headed out for a short 2-3 hour Friday morning outing from shore. Armed with two rods, I was able to alternate between a variety of lures. Eventually, I spotted a big cichild, and teased it into eating a mini tube jig. My first ever of that species.

A bit later on, I was throwing a heavy spinnerbait, and noticed some follows from nice sized peacock bass. As they wouldn't commit, I switched it up to a #4 Mepps spinner, and landed this nice peacock bass, about the upper size of what I've seen in that canal.

Not bad for a short couple hours of morning fishing, and as a bonus, I spotted a decent size grass carp in the 15 lbs range along the shore. Now that I know they are in there, I've set a goal to give them a shot next time I'm there for long enough to do some pre-baiting, and maybe night fishing as well.

As we were leaving sunday night, I got up early enough to hit the canal at sunrise one last time before heading back to Montreal. 

Again, sight fishing was the ticket, I managed to land a largemouth bass on a topwater lure I presented, after spotting it from a raised bank.

All in all, it was a beautiful and memorable father / daughter trip, great weather, amazing fishing, and all around good times spent with family. Couldn't have asked for a better outcome to our trip.