Late fall right through to ice up presents some of the greatest Muskie and Smallmouth bass fishing of the year in the Kawarthas Northumberland region of Ontario. Your opportunity to truly catch a legend awaits right here. Come see for yourself!
1. It’s beautiful & the fish are biting!
Fall fishing in the Kawarthas Northumberland region is one of my favorite times of the season. Not only is the fishing spectacular, but the sheer beauty and fall colors have made their appearance in full. The leaves have turned and begun to fall. The nights are cooler, the air is crisp and the fish are feeding up in preparation for winter.
2. My favourite fall focus is on trophy Muskies and Smallmouth Bass.
These two species are without question my favorite target from mid-September right through to ice up. Why you might ask? Well the answer is this. Not only are they aggressively feeding during this time, but they are much more likely to be susceptible to simple angling techniques in areas that are much more obvious and easier to access. I keep my techniques very simple during this time and the results are always very good.
3. How to target Smallmouth Bass during Fall Fishing.
When targeting Smallmouth Bass from late September through November my approach is simple. During this period the fish within the region tend to school up on shallow rocky points extending out from the shoreline. Points close to deep water. Fall equals BIG smallies. Fish at this time of year feed heavily on crayfish and minnows in preparation for the cold winter months. I always start my search right on the bank in as little as a foot of water. Early morning “walk the dog” style topwater baits are a great option. I will fish them very slowly and in a color pattern resembling the local forage. In most cases white will do the trick. When the water is really starting to get 60°F or lower, nothing beats the steady cadence of a suspending jerk bait. I will allow for very long pauses between jerks to allow enough time for the fish to commit to the bait. The pause is the key. This is a great time for the shore angler to take advantage of some great accessible shallow water fish! Check out the “Fish From Shore” fishing locations on the Kawartha’s Northumberland website and catch the fish of a lifetime! Below are a few lake recommendations and examples of baits I suggest you try.
4. Lake Recommendations for Smallmouth Bass Fall Fishing
Dalrymple, Rice Lake. Stony Lake
5. Tackle Recommendations for Smallmouth Bass Fall Fishing
A White Jerkbait is a great minnow imitator. Remember to allow for long pauses between jerks to trigger strikes. Don’t be afraid to experiment with your cadence though! The fish’s reaction will dictate the amount of time between twitches.
A walk the dog style topwater bait in shallow water first thing in the morning can be a great way to trigger big fish to strike. The same rule applies during this time of the year. Slow and steady wins the race.
6. How to Target Muskies in Fall Fishing
When targeting Muskies from late September right through until Ice-Up, my approach is even more simplified. They are packing on pounds before winter as well and quite literally can be found in the same areas as the Smallmouth–Rock and/or weed points with close proximity to deep water. While I will shy away from top water presentations during this period, I will lean heavily towards a suspending/neutral buoyancy type bait that will allow me to impart a jerkbait type presentation triggering bites in the exact same manner as I would with the Smallmouth. It is during this period that I lean heavily on large profile soft plastic baits. Large swimbaits and water dwelling rodent imitators are a favorite for me as well as large Tube style baits that have been rigged weightless so that I can fish it in the upper portion of the water column instead of the bottom. Long pauses are key! Fish slowly and the fish will come. The Muskies within the region this time of year are feeding heavily! They are opportunistic, meaning no bait is too big. This is the time to increase in size and hang on for the fish of a lifetime! Below are a few lake recommendations and examples of baits I suggest you try.
7. Lake Recommendations for Muskie Fall Fishing
Balsam Lake, Pigeon Lake, Cameron Lake
8. Tackle Recommendations for Muskie Fall Fishing
A heavy leader is an absolute must and will ensure you land your fish of a lifetime. I prefer Fluorocarbon leaders made from only the finest and strongest components.
Large swimbaits slow rolled are a great local forage imitator and trigger big bites!
Water dwelling rodent type baits are exceptional this time of the year as they present a big meal to big opportunistic fish!
Large profile casting tubes are an absolute staple for me during the cold water periods. Fished like a jerkbait with grewat hang time and long pauses trigger some of my biggest bites of the year!
Author: Chris Huskilson Reach Chris on Facebook: Chris Huskilson Or Twitter: @CHuskilson
Put your canoe or aluminum boat in Eels Creek off Northeys Bay Road and head north to the High Falls. The scenery is breathtaking and the fishing is top notch as well! Bring your Muskie tackle because this stretch is chalk full of fish! Inline bucktail spinners and 6-8” crank baits imitating the cyprinid forage throughout the river will provide great success for anglers of all levels.
This little hideaway is tucked between Lower Buckhorn Lake and Stoney Lake. The beautiful rocky forested shorelines to please the victors eye. An often overlooked stretch of the Trent-Severn Waterway that is absolutely loaded with Bass, Muskie, Walleye, Crappie and several other panfish species. Bring your arsenal because this little beauty has trophy fish in all of the above mentioned species. Put your boat in at the launch directly across from the Burleigh Falls Inn and joy the beautiful scenery this lake has to offer while catching your next Kawartha Legend.
Launch your boat in Kinmount and make your way up the river. If you have a small boat or canoe, walk it down below the dam in Kinmount and make your way down stream. Be prepared to portage a few narrow sections of the river along the way, but all the effort is well worth it. Not only is the scenery absolutely majestic but several fish species reside within the river and are seemingly always whiling to bite! Walleye, Large and Smallmouth Bass as well as Muskies abound, in high numbers and really great sizes! Your arms will be sore from reeling in fish!
Launch your boat at the public launch directly adjacent to Viamede Resort at the end of Mount Julian Viamede Road and let the adventure begin. Known as one of the most prestigious lakes in the region, Stoney offers some of the most picturesque landscape in the world! Not only is it an absolute pleasure to view but the lake also boasts a very healthy fishery! The Bass, Walleye and Muskie populations are VERY good! Chris just recently fished a tournament event on the lake and over the course of the three days, Chris and his tournament partner landed over 300 Smallmouth Bass!
Launch your boat at the end of Mile of Memories Lane. Be sure to keep an eye open for wildlife on the way in as there are often deer grazing in the fields or wild turkey running about. This hidden gem of a lake is absolutely loaded with good sized Pike and the occasional monster Muskie. The bass fishing, both largemouth and smallmouth, is phenomenal. And did I mention the Walleye population is just ridiculous? Located near Havelock, Ontario with travel times into town being 15-25 minutes on average. Travel time to the Greater Toronto Area is within 2 hours making this lake a very popular spot for those escaping the city for vacation rentals even during the off season! The size of Belmont Lake is 1872 acres with a maximum depth of 51 feet and mean depth of 20 feet. Belmont Lake is part of the Crowe River system, the Crowe (Deer River) enters the lake at the north from Cordova Lake, the North River enters from Round Lake and then exits as the Crowe River to the east heading into Crowe Lake. Just a beautiful little lake that offers some of the best fishing in the region! Shhhh… don’t tell anyone! For a great stop after a day of fishing, take a trip up to the north end of the lake and visit Belmont Lake Brewery. They’re a small craft brewery open on weekends. And always boat and drive responsibly!
Twitch this along the edge of the green weeds you locate. The fish will dart out and strike!
Drag this over the matted vegetation! The shallow fish will be under it and cannot resist!
A steady retrieve over top of healthy weeds will generate strikes. A spinnerbait is a terrific option this time of year!
Dunk this right in the middle of the healthy green weeds and feel for weight! Set the hook hard and winch the fish out of the heavy cover.
The regions Smallmouth Bass population is on the move this time of year as well. They will begin their transition from deeper offshore structure to more accessible closer to shore haunts. Rocky points are very popular this time of year. They tend to really tighten up into schools. Instead of two or three fish together we often see ten or more together. The same rule is true. Once you find them they will be present in numbers. Every fish I catch this time of year seems to have at least a half a dozen friends following it in as I land it. Some if my biggest Smallmouth of the season will be taken after Labor day in as little as three to four feet of water! Rock and sand points being my main target, but not to forget hard bottom healthy yet relatively shallow weed lines as well. The same rule applies however! If the vegetation is still green and baitfish or panfish are still present so will the Smallmouth be.
Twitch this along the outside green weedlines and rocky points. Hang on because they will smash this!
Hopped and dragged along the bottom will entice a strike from a hungry smallmouth. Also a great follow up bait to drop to the fish that may be following the fish you are reeling in!
The Muskie bite during the fall transition can be absolutely lights out as well. The drop in water temperature is the queue for these apex predators to put the feed on. This is not only the time to catch a lot of Muskies, but can also be the time to catch an absolute monster. They can be extremely aggressive in late August and early September. The forage they have been feeding on has grown throughout the season and as such the tackle I like to use will increase in size as well. Large soft plastic baits are a go-to for many as the water temperature starts to drop. I like a bait that will allow me to impart a “stop and go” retrieve and has a fair bit of buoyancy so that it will hang suspended in the water column between jerks. That extra hang time is just what the doctor ordered for big Muskies this time of year. I have good success fishing fairly shallow weed line edges this time of year and edges with relative proximity to deep water. Green weeds seem to be less of a factor ironically enough and my belief is that they simply need something for cover to ambush their forage whether the weeds are healthy or not. So don’t shy away from decaying vegetation just yet for these fish during the fall season.
A slow steady retrieve will often win the race with this big plastic. Don’t hesitate to impart a pull pause retrieve as well! Fish will often strike on the pause.
Swim this bait in current or over the tops of the weedlines. A very slow presentation that the fish really like this time of year.
On the flip side the regions Great Lake tributaries are on the cusp of exploding with the annual fall Chinook Salmon run. A drop in temperature and a good rain will trigger the “run” in full force, and what a blast these fish are to target and fight in shallow flowing water. There are a plethora of accessible locations to park and fish along some extremely product and renowned tributaries like the Ganaraska River flowing through Port Hope or the Wilmot in Newcastle. There are many bait and tackle shops along the way that are licensed to sell tied salmon roe that can be used under a float as bait. This is a very popular and productive method for catching these massive fish. They will stage in enormous schools at the mouths of these tributaries in waiting for the river conditions to suit their spawning requirements. They can be caught as early as mid-August at the mouths and right in to the tributaries as early as late August, early September. Light line and small hooks are imperative as these fish have very keen senses. A medium action ten- to thirteen-foot rod and large spooled spinning reel are also very helpful when fighting these long running, head shaking, high flying fish and will dramatically increase your odds of landing them.
Drift these under a float or on a bottom bounce rig at the mouth of the tributaries and the upstream pools and wait for the float to drop!
Drift these under a float in clear pressured waters.
Fall fishing in the Kawarthas Northumberland Region of Ontario is an opportunity for any angler to catch the fish of a lifetime from shore or boat all within an hour’s drive. The region is regarded as one of the greatest freshwater fisheries in the world. Your next trophy fish, A Kawarthas Northumberland Legend, is waiting! Come see for yourself!
Author: Chris Huskilson Reach Chris on Facebook: Chris Huskilson Or Twitter: @CHuskilson
No fireworks here, but this is NOT to be missed. Honour Canada’s birthday with an 1860’s celebration with official ceremonies accompanied by the Peterborough Concert Band. Witness a raid re-enactment as the Canadian Militia ward off the advances of the Fenians. Learn about the First Nations perspective on Confederation and their contributions to the development of the nation. Finish the day with a complimentary piece of cake!
Isabel Morris Park – There will be lots to do for the whole family, petting zoo, face painting, children’s games & activities, drumming circle, live music, BBQ & vendors. At dusk there will be a fireworks show!
Looking for more outdoorsy options? Click here to go to our dedicated fishing & angling webpage. Or explore unique geological landscapes of caves, kettles, rockmills and a disappearing river while hiking to a scenic lookout at the Warsaw Caves Conservation Area and Campground.
For the Antiques-Loving Dad
It’s not every day that you spy authentic vintage farm trucks, tractors, steam engines, and wagons parading through the streets of Lang Pioneer Village, but this Father’s Day, expect to see just that. The largest show of its kind in the Kawarthas, from 10 am to 4 pm, spectators will also be privy to impressive power equipment displays, fun tractor games, and much more as the Smoke & Steam Show celebrates its 22nd successful year. Click here for event info.
If dad prefers to take in some more modern motors, check out the first classic and exotic car show between 10am – 4pm on Father’s Day in downtown Peterborough. Specimens from Ferrari, Porsche, McLaren, Lamborghini and Mercedes-Benze will be present. Full details here.
For the Foodie Father
Even if dad knows his way around a grill, we bet he
wouldn’t thumb his nose at a celebratory brunch in his honour. Hosted in beautiful Bethany Hills by the incomparable South Pond Farms, this Father’s Day Burgers & Beer Brunch runs from 12 noon to 3 pm, features delicious seasonal, farm-to-table produce and meats, and takes place in a restored century barn with live jazz music as a backdrop. Click here for event details and to get your tickets now.
If dad would enjoy learning some culinary tips from a pro, then sign up for a BBQ class with Chef Brian Henry! Click here for details.
For the Water Sports Aficionado
Whether he’s an experienced boater or a novice behind the wheel, there’s a rental for that. Buckeye Marine in Bobcaygeon offers all manner of boats, including fishing, ski/wake, tube/ski, cruise/wake, cruise/ski , and deck options. Click here to learn more. Looking for a more relaxed approach to being on the water?
It may be too late this year, but maybe plan ahead for next year & book a houseboat for the weekend. Let Dad captain the vessel through the scenic Kawartha Lakes (the Houseboat Capital of Ontario) along the Trent-Severn Waterway. That’s how memories are made!
Chances are he’s aware of the Peterborough-based gem that is Providence, but as a one-stop-shop for all things cool – it features an edgy bar, café, barbershop, and menswear boutique – stylish dads will appreciate a reason to stop in. Also worth visiting: Kirkpatrick’s Leather in Port Hope, where there’s an abundance of perfect-for-dad goods to spoil him with, and the Peterborough Axe Club, where he can throw on his best hipster ensemble and toss sharp, metal objects at wooden bulls eyes just for the fun of it!
For the Fixer-Upper Father
If he loves spending time with his wee ones while flexing some DIY muscle, consider this Birdhouse Build a must. Starting at 10 am, families are invited to Headwaters Community Farm and Education Centre in Cobourg where they’ll build and paint a customized, build-it-yourself birdhouse. All supplies are provided, and the cost of the build includes two create-your-own pizzas for participants. Click here for info.
If you can’t make a trip out this weekend, then perhaps gift dad a future Artisan Workshop at the Canadian Canoe Museum: paddle carving, leather-working, hand cane canoe seats, and more! These workshops are amazing experiences in heritage crafting skills. Click here for details.
For the Active Dad
While hitting the gym together may or may not be an option, getting active outdoors is always a treat in Kawarthas Northumberland. This area is home to some of the most popular and most accessible cycling routes in the province. And don’t forget that the Trans-Canada Trail connects this beautiful region and is a pleasure to explore by bike or on foot. Learn more about amazing cycling routes from one of our partners:
It’s fair to say that most dads enjoy kicking back with a cold brew, but how many have treated themselves to a dedicated craft beer or winery or spirits experience? Make this Father’s Day extra memorable by visiting one of the uber-popular brewmasters throughout Peterborough, Cobourg, Buckhorn, Bobcaygeon, Havelock, Trent Hills, Colborne and Codrington. Click here for details.
For the Dad Who’s All About Sightseeing
You need not fund a trip to the other side of the world to satisfy your father’s wanderlust. Take him to the stunning Ranney Gorge Suspension Bridge. Reserve tickets on Peterborough’s Liftlock Cruises (click here), which offers a two-hour sightseeing ride across Little Lake, past the Peterborough Centennial Fountain, and into the Trent-Severn Waterway, National Historic Site of Canada, where you’ll be an impressive 65 feet by the world’s tallest hydraulic lift lock, built over 110 years ago! Luncheon and dinner rides are also available, and each cruise features is complemented by fun commentary and facts that delve into the area’s rich history.
Take a cruise over the world’s highest lift lock. Photo by Lydia Dotto.
Countless hours are spent rigging rods for several species inland, on the Great Lake tributaries. The boat is out of storage and loading begins. The smell of spring is in the air. I feel alive again!
The first stop on many anglers’ list of opportunities this time of year is often a tributary flowing into Lake Ontario. The sudden increase in air temperature triggers an increase in runoff from melting snow and rain to raise the water levels and trigger the Steelhead spawn. This is really a species accessible to anyone!
Some great areas include the city of Port Hope where the great Ganaraska River flows straight through, or the Wilmot creek in Newcastle, Ontario. Each offers many accessible public shore locations to fish from. Be sure to check the regulations to see where fishing boundaries start and end this time of year, as a great deal of these tributaries will have sections within them that are closed to ensure a successful spawn. These fish are extremely strong and acrobatic, yet are beautiful in coloration and very intelligent. Using light line and very small hooks are a must to fool these fish into biting.
Some basic tackle tips include, but are not limited to the following:
One of the most appealing features of the marabou jig is that they almost appear to “breathe” in the water. When using a jig, be sure to sharpen the hooks. A razor sharp jig will make a huge difference. I also look for jigs that have a light wire hook. These will give you better hooking ability than a heavy gauge hook.
A commonly used method involves a float and series of split shot weights with a fly, roe bag, trout beads or a jig as mentioned above. The illustration in particular outlines the use of a bead instead of a roe bag. The same setup can be used for the other commonly used offerings mentioned.
Fresh Tied Roe from a previously caught female trout or salmon are a great option under a float! This is one of my absolute favourite ways to catch Trout.
Something that has really taken hold as of late are artificial egg imitators, or trout beads (rigged as seen below). This is a great alternative to tied roe when targeting extremely pressured fish. Often times a fly presented under a float is just what the doctor ordered and is often a go-to for me when targeting pressured fish as well.
While chasing Rainbow Trout in a river or stream is very enjoyable, I tend to favour the comfort of my boat and casting open water once available. The first stop on my list is always chasing Pike. There’s just something about them that gets me fired right up every year! Fortunately, a great deal of the Kawarthas Northumberland region lies within zone 17. In this zone, Pike are open all year long! I spend most of my time in the Havelock area at ice out looking for pre- and post-spawn Pike. A very simple assortment of baits will dramatically increase your success rate this time of year. The water is very cold, the fish are sluggish, but very hungry as they prepare for and recover from the spawn.
In most instances, they have spawned just before we are able to get the boats in the water. By the time we are finally able to get to them they are in a transition phase; recovering from the spawn. I will look for mud flat spawning bays on the north shore of the lake, adjacent to deep water. This will be the first area to thaw and will have the warmest water. The fish will be on the first depth variation with cover. In most cases, this time of year, this will be last year’s dead weeds in about six to eight feet of water.
You can quite literally get away with one type of bait the first few weeks after ice out, and that bait is a suspending jerkbait. This bait allows for erratic side to side action, a rattle to call fish in, and the ability to impart long pauses between jerks. These long pauses are when the fish will strike. Given their sluggish demeanor this time of year, the jerkbait offers the complete package while giving the fish long enough to find and attack the bait. The region is known to have high numbers of Pike, but also contains some big females! Fish in excess of 40-inches are not uncommon.
Some basic tackle tips include but are not limited to the following:
As far as jerkbaits go, both hard and soft are effective. The Jackall Squad Minnow 115SP Jerkbait is a great choice, and for soft plastic jerkbaits, the 5″ ‘Magic Shad by Lake Fork Trophy Lures rigged weightless can be very effective for finicky Pike. Another option is the ‘Live Magic Shad’ swimbait (Lake Fork Trophy Lures) or a 5″ Jackall ‘Ammonite’ Shad rigged onto a chatterbait for more strait/steady retrieves.
A suspending bait can be key this time of year. The water is cold and the fish need that extra hang time to convince them to commit to a bait. The minnow style bait portrayed below is definitely a staple for me. I like to fish swimbaits very slowly on light wire, and wide gap hooks with a 1/8 oz. bullet weight pegged to the nose. Slow and steady wins this race at times in cold water.
As we make our way through April and into early May, my next target will be the Black Crappie. The Kawarthas Northumberland region plays host to some of the greatest Crappie fishing in the world. Not only are the numbers of fish high, but the size of the fish are exceptional as well! Fish of 15+ inches are not uncommon!
As the water temp approaches 55°F (or 13°C), these fish move shallow in large schools to start their spawn. During this time, I fish most often on the “Tri Lakes” of Pigeon, Buckhorn and Chemong Lakes. These three lakes offer some of the best Crappie fishing in the region, not to mention that all of them are accessible by boat without needing to make use of the locks on the Trent-Severn Waterway. I typically have great success casting small soft plastic artificial baits under a slip float through the schools of fish, while suspending the bait directly above them. This typically generates some very aggressive strikes and is a very common technique. But when the weather turns quickly and the fish are feeling pressured, I have a few other tricks that I like to implement to increase my odds of success.
My first efforts will involve removing the float from my setup and casting my small soft plastic bait on a very light 1/32oz. jig head and swimming it through the school. Gentle twitches directly above or in front of these fish are difficult to refuse and often generate success when the float will not.
Another option is a drop shot rig. This is not something typically used for Crappies, but has proven very successful for me when times are tough. The ability to cast the bait to the fish and hold the bait stationary creates a very realistic appearance in my offering and flat out catches them when nothing else will. These fish are excellent table fare, so don’t hesitate to keep a few for a shore lunch. Just be mindful and release any over 12-inch as they are the “breeders” and their conservation is key to the continued success of the species. My humble yet personal opinion.
Some basic tackle tips include but are not limited to the following:
Small tubes are a staple in any crappie anglers’ arsenal. I like to keep my presentations as small and natural as possible to increase my odds of success. With so many options out there for small soft plastics, I keep things simple. The bait in the image below has been a staple for me in the past year or two.
I would highly recommend swimming baits through schools of Crappie. This little morsel seems irresistible at times. A slender profile imitating forage fry will often be the ticket to get the job done for me when times are extremely tough.
A great place to start is with a slip float setup. You will be able to detect the mood of the fish rather quickly to determine if changes are necessary. This is often a starting point for me.
Just as the Crappie fishing peaks and begins to taper down we enter the season most anglers are waiting for. The opening of Walleye season, in Zone 17, is the Second Saturday in May and do we ever have some great fishing in the region this time of year! The zone does have a slot limit of 4 fish. They must fall within the slot size to keep (13.8 – 19.7 inches). By this time the Walleye have finished their spawn and have fallen back from the current they have done their business in. They can be found in numbers in weed clumps or pockets out at the mouth of the tributaries they have spawned in. I spend a great deal of time on Rice Lake during this period utilizing a few key techniques to catch a boat load of fish. Catches of 30 to 50 fish in a day are not uncommon, with plenty of over and slot limit sized fish.
Some basic tackle tips include but are not limited to the following:
Hand tied Hair Jigs are a mainstay during this time of year when targeting Walleyes. Short pitches into pockets in weeds followed by very erratic “rips” of the rod tip will catch you a tone of post spawn walleye. This technique is typically referred to as “rippin hair” and is a lot of fun. Strikes often occur while the bait is falling, making the hooksets very heavy!
There will be times that an aggressive technique like ”rippin hair” will not be appropriate. Sudden cold front conditions this time of year are very common and will make the Walleye hold tighter to the weeds. A more subtle presentation is required when this takes place as the fish are not as likely to chase down the hair jig. This is when I like to utilize scent as well! I will choose a light button style jig head, with a light wire hook, and pair it up with a very simple yet effective soft plastic bait, imitating the forage the Walleye are feeding on in the area. I will continue to make short pitches into pockets in the weeds but I will leave the bait in place much longer. The slower fall rate and more natural presentation, the more bites you will get during this time.
Liquid Mayhem Garlic Minnow scent is a must!
Scent can be the single most important difference maker when it comes to finicky Walleye. Not only dos it mask any odor that I may impart on the bait, but it provides a natural scent trail. This will allow the fish to track down my offering and will typically cause the fish to hold the bait longer, allowing for a good hookset.
To say I am an avid Angler is an understatement. Fishing and the outdoors are my passion and always have been. I am on the water every chance I get whether it be with my young family or competing in a tournament event targeting every species of fish under the sun that our great region has to offer… and let me tell you that there are many! The spring time angling opportunities in the Kawarthas Northumberland region that I call home are an anglers’ paradise! Come see for yourself!