It’s no fish tale: the fishing is excellent on the Ottawa River so far this summer.
After intense flooding on the river held up fishing activity in the spring, summer is turning into a banner season for local anglers and guides who are reeling in the big ones.
The water’s still high, and that has some fish species bunching up in cooler, weedier spots in the river to eat, according to Gatineau angler Dale Kerr.
“Right now these guys are up into those areas that they normally aren’t just because the water table is higher, and the water temperature is not so hot,” said Kerr.
“They’ve got lots of good cover and shade because of the extended height of the weeds in the area, and they can move a lot more freer this time of year, which is not typical.”
Kerr couldn’t get his boat into the river until late June because of high water levels, which made him “really, really frustrated,” but the recent activity has made up for that.
“Right now, if it holds, it’s going to make for a fantastic season for all the local anglers,” said Kerr, who’s noticed much bigger pike and largemouth bass at the end of his line.
Fishing guide Jamie Pistilli of Ottawa’s Rising Sun Charters has also taken note of the heftier fish this season.
“It seems that they’re putting on the feedbag a little early this year,” he said. “We’re seeing a lot of ‘girthier’ fish for this time of year. Normally fish this fat — you catch them in October, late September.”
Although spring was “really difficult” because of the flooding on the Ottawa River, he says his company has reeled in steady catches of bass, pike, walleye, muskellunge, and more.
“It’s been a banner year for our guiding operation, and as well for local area anglers,” said Pistilli.
While missing out on spring fishing was tough for guide John Anderson of the Ottawa River Musky Factory, he’s pleased with the bigger muskies he’s seeing in the river now.
“We’re in late July, and the river’s come back very nicely. Slow season to start, but I would say it’s strong to very strong for the last two to three weeks,” said Anderson.
‘I hope the fish keep biting’
He calls the Ottawa River a “top 5 musky destination in the world,” and he serves clients from across North America seeking the thrill of musky fishing.
“One benefit is because of all the high, dirty water, our fish are bigger than they would normally be. They’re all a little chunkier, a little fatter. And so that bodes well going through the season,” added Anderson.
“What happens when the water’s high and brown is fish end up in eddies and off-current areas. There’s low visibility and you end up with a huge collection of fish in those pools. So your muskies are sitting in and around all kinds of edibles that just keep appearing in front of them. It works very well.”
With months to go, anglers and guides are eager to fish on.
“I guess I hope the fish keep biting,” said Anderson.