Montreal fishing spots

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Monday, June 8, 2020

Fishing lac Fontarabie now prohibited

Been a while since I switched formats on the blog posts, opting to go mainly with monthly "report style" posts. Every once in a while, I'll dedicate a post to one particular trip or topic.

In this case, here is the tale of my fishing experience at Lac Fontarabie, and old abandoned quarry filled with tons of largemouth bass, as well as carp, pike, perch and sunfish. This magical place will always hold dear memories to me, as you will read below.

My first encounter with Lac Fontarabie, was through Google maps. Always scouting for new fishing spots online, I noticed a small lake in La Prairie, about 1/2 hour drive from where I live in Montreal. I contemplated driving down there a couple times, but sort of had it on the back burner, far from my list of priority spots to fish.

In the fall of 2018, I ran across a thread on one of the French fishing forums that I'm a member of. The person that posted it, mentioned catching a big carp on the South shore near Montreal, out of a small lake. Intrigued, I took the chance of messaging him about the spot, giving him my word that I would not take anyone there besides for family (this article is posted with his consent). He was nice enough to share the spot with me, and  advised me that the trekk to the lake is quite muddy. He also mentioned having caught some smaller bass and pike there.

A few days later, I headed down to La Prairie for my first try at fishing Lac Fontarabie. Not wanting to risk getting bogged down with heavy carp gear, I took along some light tackle, in attempt to hook a late season topwater bass. My chances were slim, as we were early in October, but a warm windless day gave me a good shot at hooking a late season topwater bass.

After parking and trekking through some very muddy terrain in my waders, I reached the lake within less than 10 minutes. Sure enough, I managed to hit my goal, landing this little largemouth bass on a Pop R.

Having accomplished my mission of scouting the lake and what was involved in accessing it, I was more than happy with the outing. The topwater bass was a bonus, and proved to be one of my top fishing discoveries over the past few years as you will soon read.

For the next outing, I planned to try fishing lac Fontarabie for carp, which was my initial reason for going there to begin with. Trekking through the deep mud with all my carp gear proved more difficult, but nothing I wasn't up to.

I picked a day with strong winds and chance of Thunderstorms, which is usually good carp fishing weather in fall around Montreal. Sure enough, I was rewarded with a short bite window that produced a few fiesty carp, most in the mid teens. Biggest one I landed was 24 lbs, which still stands as my biggest carp caught in that lake.

After few more late season outings for carp varied success, I called it a season until first ice.

My next goal was to get onto Lac Fontarabie once it was safely frozen. More than trying to catch fish, I planned to riddle it with holes so I could gauge the quarry's different depths. The trekk was much easier in winter, thanks mainly to a plowed snowmobile trail that allowed me to easily tow a gear sled to the lake, in about 5 minutes from where I parked. Over a couple outings in mid to late December, The kids and I managed enough reckon to figure out that most of the quarry has a uniform depth of around 15 feet (depending on water levels). A few shoals provided some potential pike spots on ice, and carp spots in warm water. The contour line at the drop offs provided us with some decent largemouth bass fishing on ice, far more exciting that panfish, especially on light ice fishing gear and tackle.

After landing a couple small bass in 2 more outings early in January 2019, I decided to give the quarry a break, focusing instead on chasing cleaner, tastier panfish in different regions of Quebec.

All that changed with the passing of my dear dad in February 2019. As a practicing Jewish mourner, It was my religious duty to pray with a quorum of 10+ men in a synagogue 3 times per day. Though I had typically done this every day up until that point, I often just did the prayers alone at some point during my fishing outings. As the prayer for departed souls can only be recited with 10 others praying along, I was no longer able to fish too far away from Montreal, and outings were going to be limited to a maximum of about 5 hours, in order for me to attend afternoon prayers before sunset.

After the 7 day Shiva period (where we don't leave the house for 7 days), I was itching to get out again. I ended the shiva on a bright sunny morning late in February 2019, and headed straight for Lac Fontarabie to do some much needed fishing, and hoping catching some more bass on ice.

Sure enough, the quarry did not disappoint. I managed to lane 6 of 9 largemouth bass up to 3 lbs, way better than I had ever done for bass up until that point.

Even better than the fishing, I was able to find my own personal, peaceful, and quiet place to mourn my father's passing in my own special way. I imagined him looking down on me hauling bass after bass through the ice, something which he had never wanted to try during his lifetime.

Over the next couple weeks, I managed a few more miraculous bass outings. Early in March, I landed my biggest largemouth ever. It measured 22 inches, but I couldn't weigh it do to my scale being frozen. Regardless, hauling a beast that size out of a tiny lake through a 6 inch hole will remain engraved in my memory for years to come.

On my last outing of that winter, I managed to land a perfect 12 of 12 bass through the ice, another personal ice record to end the winter.

After ice out, my next goal was to hit the quarry for carp. After a few outings of not catching any carp, despite prebaiting and scouting, I finally ended up landing some in mid teens over the next month or so.

I eventually figured that lac Fontarabie would be better as a bass fishing spot. As bass season was still closed for a couple weeks, I waited to finally hit the quarry with my float tube during opening week. Though other locals often fished from shore, being in a float tube gave me prime access to all the good spots one was not able to hit from shore. With the ground and mud significantly drier than early or late in the season, the trekk to the lake with my light float tube was relatively easy.

During opening week, I landed close to 20 bass from the float tube over a couple short outings, mainly in the 2-3 lbs range, with this one being the biggest. Kind of thin for a fish over 20 inches, it only weighed 4 lbs. Must have just recently spawned.

The quarry's small size and surrounding forest, made it a breeze to fish from my float tube even on moderately windy days. With no one in sight during most of the outings, I enjoyed some very relaxing fishing, having the lake to myself. The dull hum of highway 30 in the background, being broken by topwater explosions of aggressive bass. Mini version of paradise under the circumstances.

During the following months, the quarry got busier. Lots of locals started arriving after a few well meaning teenagers built some ladders and swings in the trees overhanging the lake, as well setting up some camping friendly areas. The quarry itself tends to get overgrown with weeds, so fishing deteriorated over the summer. As the evening prayers get later with longer days, I was able to travel further away to fish, still giving myself enough time to get back.

I stopped fishing lac Fontarabie until the fall, when the days got shorter again. One final shot at carp fishing on the quarry mid October, I managed a couple more carp.

As winter cam along and I neared the final month of my daily kaddish (mourner's prayer) obligation, I new I'd be able to rely on the good old quarry for some productive fishing.

Still not having caught any pike there, I decided to bring along the flag lines with some frozen mackerels once their use was permitted after December 20th.

Sure enough, my first attempt worked out, I ended up icing my first lac Fontarabie pike on Xmas eve 2019.

A few days later, I closed my 2019 season, landing 9 more bass on ice at the quarry.

2020 started off with a bang. January 1st had me landing my first fish of the decade on my first drop.

3 more bass followed in the next 20 minutes. Truly insane.

About a week later, I towed my youngest son in on my new and larger gear sled, thank to the well groomed trail.

He ended up icing his first pike.

Finally, on January 29th 2019, I made it to the quarry for my next outing. Bass fishing was tough, but I managed a nice 3 lbs bass to end the day. my biggest of the month.

I trekked back to the car, and was very surprised to find a ticket on my windshield. Having parked at the same spot exactly 25 times over the previous 14 months without any issues, and often seeing other cars parked there as well, I was shocked to open it and see $108 fine.

Chemin Fontarabie dead ends near the path I used to take to the quarry. The dead end itself and the other side of the road have no parking signs everywhere, but the side I parked on doesn't have any. Turns out that the fine was for having stopped on the side of a road with a 70km/h speed limit. Never mind that it's literally feet away from a dead end, and that one may hit 20 km/h at most, if you gunned it from the start of the road there.

I contested the fine, but have had no reply since then, especially with govt office and courthouses shutting down during the covid 19 crisis. At worst, even if I have to pay it, in the long run, I fished there 25 times before getting fined, so that breaks down to about $4 per day. Small fee for all the great fishing I enjoyed there.

In retrospect, it turns out that the quarry presented itself to me exactly when I needed it the most. As I had just ended the mandatory 11 month kaddish period for my late father, I had already planned to hit many lakes in further driving range from Montreal to keep exploring the province's frozen lakes and their hidden treasures.

Out of curiosity, I did pass by the quarry in spring 2020, and found a lot of illegally parked vehicles.

Keeping in correspondence with the person who first put me on to the quarry, I learned that many others including himself all eventually got fined for parking there. The final blow came when he sent me this pic a few day ago. The signs warns that trespassing and swimming is forbidden, and violators face prosecution.  He also mentioned that people parking there now, are just about guaranteed a fine.

Lac Fonatarabie was truly a special place to fish while it lasted.

1 comment:


......More and more, great little fishing spots are becoming harder and harder to it the ''fine'' for simply parking on a deserted dead end street or ''closed'' from sunset to sunrise.... one of the ''gentler'' past time sports, you think it would be encouraged by all levels of authority....
cheers glenn