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FISHING ON THE RIDEAU

"Black and green bass are as plentiful here as pollywogs in a rain barrel."
quote from "The Picturesque Rideau," 1898.

Interested in fishing? Then you'll be interested in the fascinating history of fishing guides on the Rideau. Have a look at Pathfinders, The Guides of the Rideau and Fish Tales, The Lure and the Lore of the Rideau.
This section of the Friends of the Rideau website was written by the book's author, Ed Bebee

Spring Fishing

leaping fishWhen the weather's good, crappie fishing starts to get good. When's good, you ask? Well, old-timers claim that you don't get good crappie fishing until the leaves on the lilacs are the size of a squirrel's ear.

The first weekend of May marks the start of pike and walleye fishing on the Rideau and in the Corridor. There are some pretty big walleye in the Rideau, two dandies were recently caught in one day - a 10 1/2 pounder and a 14 1/2 pounder. They're now mounted and the pride of Gary Lowery, of Osprey Charters.

leaping fishSoft, sunny days help to warm up the shallow, sun-facing northern spots first, especially where there's little or no current. Along the Rideau, look for crappie around duck blinds, old, sparse reed clumps, stick-ups, etc., in 3 to 5 feet of water. Daily limits of 30 fish have been often caught in an hour at a spot with just a few small twigs all that's visible.

Reports of 30 fish limits are starting to come in. One enterprising angler caught his limit bank fishing . That's right, just walking along the bank, and dropping a tiny tube jig into likely spots, such as reed clumps.

You don't need live bait. Tiny jigs and twister tails or tube jigs - pink and white, white, chartreuse, blue/silver, etc., with an ultra-light spinning outfit will help you have a ball. Fly fishing works very well too. Take the kids. Take some crappie home - they're fine eating. And remember - if you can 't or won 't eat them all, then release the extra fish. We've got the future to think about, you know.

Daily limits are six fish for both pike and walleye. Minimum lengths? For pike, there isn't one, but most people release them anyway. Over 24 inches, they are big enough to take the time to fillet.For walleye, the general minimum length is 13 . 8 inches ( 35 cm ), but there are a number of lakes in the Corridor with slot limits. Better read the Ontario Sport Fishing Regulations carefully.

leaping fishWhat to use ? Well, be careful, because pike get aggressive as the water warms up during the day. A big pike on your crappie outfit is pretty exciting in shallow water. Try fly fishing with big streamers. Try spinner baits - white, yellow, chartreuse, red and white - are all good starting points. For walleye, they're not afraid to pound spinner baits too, especially in the upper Rideau between Smith Falls and Ottawa. Otherwise, traditional walleye rigs work well in the Corridor lakes. Try trolling or casting crankbaits - deadly, and not often used.

By the way, there 's some excellent carp fishing in the canal right in downtown Ottawa. Try around Hartwell's Locks or Hog's Back Lock - a little later in May. Walleye are still being caught at the base of the Hog's Back Falls. A good-sized musky was caught in the Canal in downtown Ottawa ( a little out of season ).

Finally, please stay away from bass spawning sites. They're vulnerable when they're on the beds and you're just hurting your own fishing later. Studies done in the Rideau Corridor show that bass that don't get to spawn undisturbed produce far fewer fry for the future. Be a sport.

This is a golden time in the Rideau Corridor, and especially on the Rideau itself. Anglers can rub off the winter's rust, and drink in the green shimmer of the new leaves. Chuckle at the ducks paddling along the shore, mooning anyone watching them. Is this a great time or what?


Summer Fishing

leaping fishWhen late June rolls around, eager bass anglers show up at every launch site between Ottawa and Kingston. The Rideau has been a famous bass fishery for more than 100 years. In fact, it's certain that the hard-working canal-builders enjoyed many a meal of freshly caught smallmouth or largemouth bass. And no wonder - the bass were plentiful then, and they're still plentiful now. 

A few tips - these may seem obvious, but they'll save some frustration. First, after the end of June, boating traffic picks up. No problem - just find a quiet spot out of the main channel. For example, Kemptville Creek doesn't get much traffic, it's reasonably deep, and there are some great lilypad beds on both sides of the creek. If you're patient and would like to try "flipping" a plastic worm or a weedless jig among the pads, you can get some heart-stopping action. This is especially true if you happen to hook a musky or a large pike. Just hang on and hope for the best.

In addition, the central Rideau lakes are renown for their fantastic Large Mouth Bass fishing. These lakes offer excellent fishing in the many bays and areas off the navigation channels. The peace and quiet of the lakes offers the angler a wonderful opportunity to get away from it all and simply enjoy the experience of fishing.

Second, try fishing in the evening. After about five or six in the evening on weekends or during the week, you may have much of the river to yourself. If it's been breezy during the day, the wind usually drops in the evening. This is a very pleasant time to be on the water, watching the sky turn red in the west, and feeling the old blood pressure dropping. Besides, the fishing is often better at dusk, as the walleye, pike, and musky start prowling the big weed flats. I like to start with a double-bladed spinnerbait run just under the surface, "yo-yoing" it up and down into the holes in the weeds. A crankbait run along the channel edge is always good. finally, when in doubt, try a Texas-rigged plastic worm - blue-black, watermelon, motor oil, or Tennessee Shad are good colours for me. 

Third, wait for a rainy day if you can. This keeps down the boating traffic and also really turns on the fish.

Fourth, try trolling along the channel edge. You'd be amazed at the number of fish that you can pick up running a crawfish-coloured Fat Rap - everything from bass to musky. In fact, I think that I do much better on musky by staying away from the heavy lumber ( small firewood ) lures that I see a lot of people using. These fish aren't stupid - catch and release them a few times, and they're VERY cautious about chasing down the standard musky fare. On the other hand, you get a lot of exercise flinging the big lures around, if you're a die-hard casting person. Like I said - try trolling.

Fifth, take along some minnows, worms, or an ultra-light spinning outfit and your children. They can catch a ton of perch, crappie, bluegills, and usually some walleye. Make yourself a hero to your own family - when you're old, you'll never be kicking yourself for all the time you wasted with your kids.

Daily limits are six fish for both pike and walleye. Minimum lengths ? For pike, there isn 't one, but most people release them anyway. Over 24 inches, they are big enough to take the time to fillet.For walleye, the general minimum length is 13 . 8 inches ( 35 cm ), but there are a number of lakes in the Corridor with slot limits. Better read the Ontario Sport Fishing Regulations carefully.

By the way, there 's some excellent fishing in Dow's Lake right in downtown Ottawa. Try around Brewer's Park- a little down from the Bronson Street bridge.


Fall Fishing

leaping fishBy late September, the boat traffic starts to decline on the Rideau. It's hard to understand why, since the weather is usually beautiful at this time of year. However, our American friends start back south and Canadian visitors go back to work. In any event, anyone who's been around the Rideau for a while starts to rub their hands with glee - the best fishing of the year lies ahead. . 

 The changes are generally slow and subtle. The weed growth is not quite as thick - you can see fish shouldering their way through weed clumps. As the "young of the year" baitfish get a little bigger, the schools of baitfish are maybe not as "cloud-like", but are easier to spot - either dimpling the surface or swirling along weed edges, along bridge abutments, and so on. Still, find the baitfish and you've got a good chance of finding feeding gamefish .

The largemouth bass seem to move to the edges of the pad beds and weed clumps more often now, whether because they find this an easier place to ambush their prey, or whether they're getting ready to move toward deeper water as the shallows start to cool. The smallmouth still can be found holding in weed clumps, looking at the openings for unwary baitfish. Spinnerbaits or soft plastics like "Sluggos" allowed to drop into these openings can be very productive.

Musky fishing really starts to come into its own in the fall. They can be found almost anywhere in the stretch of water called "The Long Reach". Weed flats seem to hold most of them. You haven't lived until you feel a strike as if your lure's stuck in a stump! On the other hand, I've had them pick up a crappie jig and gently swim along, as if they were bemused by it all. I've watched some big muskies inhale a plastic worm, then exhale - several times in a row. It's an odd sensation in the rod - unlike the pickup that you get from a bass. Needless to say, I've had no success with plastic worms in landing muskies, but I have landed two on an ultralight spinning rod and crappie jigs. Slow and steady does it, if you're lucky enough to get them in deep water. 

A rainy day in the fall - it just doesn't get any better than that. The bass are cruising - the walleye are often up on the flats, near the channel edges, and will often take crankbaits worked slowly and erratically. As a general rule, bigger baits work better this time of year. It may be due to the fact that the baitfish are bigger, and to a need on the part of the fish to start putting on the fat. In any case, you can get some remarkably big smallmouth and largemouth on absurdly large minnowbaits.

Trolling along the channel edge still works well. Minnow-coloured crankbaits seem to work better now than they did during the summer - especially large lures. There are some REALLY big walleye in the Rideau and this is a prime time to get a wallhanger.

Daily limits are six fish for both pike and walleye. Minimum lengths ? For pike, there isn 't one, but most people release them anyway. Over 24 inches, they are big enough to take the time to fillet.For walleye, the general minimum length is 13 . 8 inches ( 35 cm ), but there are a number of lakes in the Corridor with slot limits. Better read the Ontario Sport Fishing Regulations carefully.

By the way, there 's some excellent fishing in Dow's Lake right in downtown Ottawa. Try around Brewer's Park- a little down from the Bronson Street bridge.


Winter Fishing

leaping fishHard water fishing is for some the best way to go fishing. Sitting out on the ice on a clear crisp winter day, waiting for that telltale nibble, it just doesn't get any better.

 A good spot just south of Ottawa is at Long Island Locks. Just below the locks is a nice sheltered bay, about 3 - 5 feet deep. Generally you can walk down from the lock station, and sometimes you can even drive down ( but not onto the ice ). This is a good spot for perch and crappie, as well as the odd pike and walleye. If you have children, or dogs, or just some good ole buddies, take 'em out for some fresh air and a chance to adjust your SAD state.

If you're serious about getting a shot at some better fish, then maybe you should try down around Reeve Craig ( at the Highway 16 bridge ). You'll probably need live bait. Tiny jigs and twister tails or tube jigs - pink and white, white, chartreuse, blue/silver, etc., tipped with a minnow and dangled from an ultra-light spinning outfit will help you have a ball. Take some walleye home - they're fine eating. And remember - if you can't or won't eat them all, then release the extra fish. We've got the future to think about, you know. 

Daily limits are six fish for both pike and walleye. Minimum lengths? For pike, there isn't one, but most people release them anyway. Over 24 inches, they are big enough to take the time to fillet.For walleye, the general minimum length is 13.8 inches ( 35 cm ), but there are a number of lakes in the Corridor with slot limits. Better read the Ontario Sport Fishing Regulations carefully.

By the way, there 's some excellent fishing in Dow's Lake right in downtown Ottawa. Try around Brewer's Park- a little down from the Bronson Street bridge.

Winter is a great time in the Rideau Corridor, and especially on the Rideau itself. Anglers can rub off the Christmas Flab and listen to the silence, or to the soft crunch and rustle of footsteps on fresh snow. Shake off the cobwebs - forget the hot news items that really don't matter a hill of beans. Is this a great time or what ? 



INFORMATION

Boating and general information packages are available by emailing the Rideau Canal Office of Parks Canada at: RideauCanal-info@pc.gc.ca (specify what you are interested in). For more information on the current Sport Fishing Regulations, call the Ministry of Natural Resources in Toronto at (416)-314-2000

You can also visit the Rideau fishing page and have a look at the Rideau Fish Species Information page.


 
Friends of the Rideau
P.O. Box 1232, Stn. Main
Smiths Falls, Ontario, Canada, K7A 5C7

email: info@rideaufriends.com



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