Lake Simcoe is located on the doorstep of Canada's largest urban area and offers thousands of anglers some of the finest and most diversified fishing opportunities in Canada.
A pair of twin five's! Few lakes in southern Ontario can provide anglers with a realistic chance of catching an honest five pounder almost every time out, but during the fall months this can happen to you routinely on Lake Simcoe. Fortunately most anglers know how important it is to carefully live release these big bass in order to sustain the quality trophy smallmouth fishery that exists in Simcoe.
There are advantages to both, but many regulars of the shop like the closer western portions of Cooks Bay near Gilford, Lefroy a bit further north - or even the top end of the lake near Barrie. Not only do Toronto and area residents enjoy Simcoe, it has also become a favourite destination for thousands of visiting anglers - particularly Americans who flock to the lake in droves every year. For local residents however, much of the 725 sq. km lake lies within a short drive from home so it becomes an ideal location for a day’s fishing trip. For those anglers who like diversity, it is hard to top Simcoe with its deep sections for cold water species like lake trout and whitefish, mid-depth areas for popular fish like smallmouth bass and yellow perch, and shallow, weedy places that harbour largemouth bass and other warmwater species.
Other fish available to Lake Simcoe anglers include: northern pike, black crappie, walleye, brown bullhead, burbot, bowfin, carp, pumpkinseed and bluegill sunfish, rock bass, white suckers and even a few remaining rainbow smelt.
Interestingly enough for a lake that has such a wide assortment of great fish to choose from, only two species are regularly stocked into the lake by staff from the Ministry of Natural Resources. Whitefish are stocked at the rate of 140,000-150,000 annually and lake trout are added to the tune of about 100,000 each year. Although lakers have shown a very limited amount of natural reproduction, without a major stocking program, there really wouldn’t be many lakers or whities in the lake. Not so though with its warm water fishery. Bass, pike, carp, perch, crappie, sunfish, catfish - all these and more reproduce very well on their own in Simcoe without any stocking what-so-ever by MNR. In fact, stocking any of these species in the lake could very well do more harm than good, so none takes place.
Today, in our first contribution to the Fish On Line Site, we will highlight Lake Simcoe in general … in a season by season format that should give readers not overly familiar with Simcoe, a good sense of the lake and its fishery. Of course there is a lot more to learn about this fascinating and complex lake so in the coming months we hope to cover details here that even seasoned veterans should find interesting and useful.
Fishing Lake Simcoe Season By Season
There are many great areas for spring perch - from Cook’s Bay in the south all the way up to Atherly Narrows in the north. Black crappie which move to near shore sections around piers, marinas, and up connecting rivers, offer anglers additional spring panfish angling. Both species like small jigs tipped with minnows, but remember to present this bait near bottom for perch and suspend it far off bottom with a float for the crappie. Keep in mind too, that perch are often found in areas void of visible structure whereas crappies are the exact opposite. They love hanging out near docks, bridge pylons and fallen timber. Pike season opens on the 2nd Saturday in May on Simcoe and most of the shallow water weedy areas in York Regions Cooks Bay will hold these popular toothy critters. Effective techniques include trolling with Rapala crankbaits such as the Original Floater or Husky Jerk, casting spinnerbaits, twitching jerkbaits, or tossing jigs near the aquatic plants that pike call home.
Also on the 2nd Saturday of May is when whitefish and lake trout season opens. Long lining flashy spoons or thin crankbaits next to shoals or deepwater points works great for spring lakers. Jigging spoons vertically below the boat in 60-75 feet of water for Simcoe’s world class size whitefish, has become an increasingly popular form of angling. The original Williams whitefish - so popular among winter anglers also works well for open water whities, so stop in the shop and pick up a supply before you head out. Carp anglers can fish from shore by casting and waiting for unseen carp or venture out in boats and search for huge carp as they cruise shallow clear-water flats. The Holland River, which flows through sections of York Region from Holland Landing north to the mouth of Cooks Bay, offers excellent carp fishing opportunities. Many shore-bound anglers who visit Fish On Line regularly for the latest and most innovative carp tackle there is, tell us the Holland River and some of it’s channels thru the Marsh - offer great fishing for big brute carp.
SUMMERAfter the last Saturday in June, most of Simcoe's summertime anglers target bass - especially the mighty smallmouth. "Bronzebacks", as they are often called, frequent rocky shorelines, points, drop-offs and mid-lake shoals. Crayfish-colored crankbaits, topwaters, spinnerbaits and jigs are all proven lures for catching Simcoe's big smallies. This lake has become a true world-class trophy smallmouth destination thanks in no small part to the fact that most anglers are voluntarily releasing those extraordinary 4-7 pound bass. These large fish then continue to reproduce and also offer other anglers the incredible thrill of catching the smallmouth of a lifetime.
Simcoe's sometimes forgotten largemouth bass also offer exceptional angling. These bass can be found in weedier areas, pencil reeds, near docks, stumps and other structures in the lake. Plastic worms, spinnerbaits, crankbaits, topwaters and jigs produce well. Panfish such as perch, crappie, sunfish, rock bass and bullhead offer lots of fun for the young anglers. Simple live bait rigs with small minnows or earthworms are usually best. Pike continue to cruise weedlines throughout the warmwater months and can be taken with flashy spinnerbaits, crankbaits and jigs. The great thing about summertime fishing on Lake Simcoe is that you never know for sure what you’re going to catch which is just fine for the many families that visit and fish the lake occasionally or for those fortunate enough to have cottages along its banks.
AUTUMNInterestingly enough, the season that may offer the best bass and pike fishing of the year, is also the time when you will find the least amount of anglers on the lake. This is the time of year when serious anglers fish Lake Simcoe, however, inclement weather and dealing with rough water dictates caution for all those venturing out onto the big lake. In the fall of 2003 Lake Simcoe made the headlines, when it broke its own Canadian Bass Tournament record winning weight with a 29.59 pound bag of five smallmouth bass. In 2004, the record remained, but still over 27 pounds of bass were brought to the scales by the winning team News reports declared that there is probably no other place in North America where 5 fish averaging almost 6 pounds each, could win a tournament. These types of weights exemplify the quality of smallmouth available to Lake Simcoe anglers and with the catch and release ethic strong on Simcoe, the fabulous bass fishery should be around for many years to come. For Fish On Line Bass-A-Holics who are interested in fishing a catch and release tournament that might just put them in the history books… mark down Saturday, Oct 29th 2005 down, when the annual Crackle Cup takes place in Lefroy. Please email me directly for more details.
Bass are not the only fish in the fall that gather notoriety more and more every year on Simcoe … as the fabulous perch fishing is also tempting for multi-species anglers. As I write this the hot spot is straight out from the Pefferlaw River a mile or two and you can’t miss the flotilla of boats that are all there for one reason - to catch tasty jumbo perch! Other spots that are beginning to turn on include the shoreline out from Gilford and around the south shore of Georgina Island.
More people fish Lake Simcoe during the hard water season than at any other time of year - making it the most intensively fished inland lake in the province. Ice fishing is a great winter sport that more and more families are enjoying on Lake Simcoe than ever before. Dozens of ice hut operators around the lake provide winter anglers an opportunity to catch lake trout, whitefish, perch, pike, and walleye. Many include everything you need to enjoy a great day out on the ice for one nominal rental fee. Others offer a complete package plan that includes accommodation, meals, bait and transportation to your hut. For the more serious ice anglers who prefer to fish without a hut such as many of the hard-core regulars who visit Fish On Line, Simcoe offers them great winter fishing at a reasonable price. Close to home they can stop in at Fish On Line for bait or check out the latest specialty ice fishing equipment available. An incredibly popular ice fishing destination for yellow perch, whitefish and lake trout, Lake Simcoe is the ideal location for Fish- In-Line’s shoppers to try their skills and equipment.
In the coming months as the open water season draws to a close, stay tuned right here to the Fish-On-Line site as we prepare for another upcoming hard water season. This winter those Simcoe perch won’t know what hit them when they get a look at all the great tackle available at Fish On Line. Stay tuned for more exciting details as we draw closer to safe ice!