The greatest fishing holes are closely guarded secrets held by the fishermen and women who are passionate about the sport. These are the best places to find elusive species, where the waters are cold and deep or warm and shallow, but the fish are always biting. As a fishing guide and expert, I’m always on the hunt for the next fantastic fishing spot.
For me, fishing is about the experience, it’s about bringing people together, meeting people, the whole atmosphere. When I guide someone, it’s about what happens on the water, but it’s also about coming back after a day on the boat and telling some fish stories, sitting down together at dinner – it’s the whole atmosphere that I love.
Ontario’s Highlands is the perfect region to find the secret fishing holes that really speak to you. This area is part of the Canadian shield, with farmlands and pure forest. You have a chance here to find a lake, or a bay on a big lake, that no one has been to that day. No matter where you are in this area, you’re close to 5,000 lakes all with different species of fish, like walleye, bass, lake trout, whitefish, panfish, muskie, crappie, pike.
There are so many gems here, and different colours of water: muddy water, clear water, and lots of streams and river systems. That’s what makes it so awesome; it’s diverse: not only the fish species, but the ecology.
I put together this list of my favourite fishing spots to share my knowledge with the novice or experienced fisherperson. If you’re not sure about any of these lures I mention below, check out a bait and lure shop and ask them to point them out for you.
Lake Trout on the Big Rideau (Lanark County)
This is hands down one of my favourite lakes. I love spending time on the Big Rideau, there’s so much diversity here, and so many opportunities for deep lake fishing (the lake is roughly 350 deep in some spots). For really amazing fishing there’s a conservation area on Big Rideau Lake that’s on an island and you can only get there by boat. You can stock up on bait and tackle at Bait Casters, located on Hwy 15 between Carleton Place and Smiths Falls.
Favourite fish: Lake trout, pike and bass. The deep waters here make this the perfect place to find deep water species.
Best time to fish: June
Lure: I use a one-ounce jig head with white three-inch plastic grub that’s the best bait to use for jigging.
Stock up at Stoco Lake (Hastings County)
This is a pretty shallow lake, but big enough that you’ll find plenty of opportunities for excellent fishing. The lake is about five-kilometres long and a little more than 10 feet deep. This is a great place to scout out shallow water species, and you’ll find walleye, black crappie, and largemouth or smallmouth bass. The lake is close to the town of Tweed and also not far from Madoc. Stock up on bait or lures at Tweed Bait and Tackle, or stop at 7/62 Brewery in Madoc and pick up a few brews to keep you going all day long.
Favourite fish: Long nose gar. This is a challenging species to catch, make sure you wait until your fish stops swimming to set your bait or you could lose it.
Best time to fish: May and June
Lure: I use a dead minnow on a treble hook, and a ¾ inch plastic minnow bait (not weighted) for on top of the water.
Hidden Fishing Spot on Paudash Lake (Haliburton Highlands)
I love finding those hidden fishing spots that no one else knows about, and I have a good one to share on Paudash Lake. Paudash is made up of two lakes, Paudash and Lower Paudash, and is located on the Crowe River. You’ll find good depth here, of up to 150 feet, and it’s a well-known spot to catch both largemouth and smallmouth bass.
Favourite fish: Lake trout. While this lake is known for bass, its lake trout populations are the real gold here.
Best time to fish: June
Lure: I like to use William’s spoon and a one-ounce white tube jig.
Going Small on Lake Clear (Ottawa Valley)
Lake Clear has the perfect environment for the smallmouth; deep water and rocky shorelines. The wily smallmouth bass will give you a run for your money, but the challenge will be worth it. If you’re looking for a good-size catch, you’ll find it here – the smallmouth on Lake Clear are sizable, and you’ll have a good chance of catching a fish that’s between two and three pounds.
Favourite fish: Smallmouth bass.
Season: July and August
Lure: I use a top water popper bait.
Going Large on Bob’s Lake (Frontenac County)
Hook the coveted largemouth bass on beautiful Bob’s Lake, a large lake with more than 120 islands and 700-kilometres of shoreline with fantastic marshy areas. Because Bob’s Lake is so big, the fish move around a lot, so you should look for drop-offs and sandbars to increase your odds of success. This lake has plenty of weeds and weed beds for fish to hide, and depths between five and 10 feet are best. Sunset Country Campground has a boat launch on the southern shore. I love the early or early evenings and the way the sun plays on the water.
Favourite fish: Largemouth bass.
Lure: I use a white spinner bait when I’m hunting for largemouth bass.