Urban Fishing

Tuesday evening urban fishing was on the Rideau River at Hog’s Back Falls.  Nice night for fishing – warm and humid.  I was overdressed and by the time I quit was pretty damp from sweat as well as leaky waders.  The water was pretty high and the fishing pretty slow – as in I caught nothing.  John didn’t do much better.  Todd caught a few.

Fishing on the Rideau River

Wednesday Night Fishing

I finally managed to join the OFS weeknight fishing group. Tonight we met at Hog’s Back Falls along the Rideau River – my first time fishing this spot. There are several pools and riffles below the falls.

It was warm and humid and I was sweating by the time I got down to the river. I guess my slip and subsequent filling of the waders was a way to cool off but it didn’t help much.

This was my first real test of the Korker rubber soles on rocks. The rocks were a bit slippery but not seriously so. However it was more than the rubber soles could handle. I will have to switch to the studded soles and see how that works.

As far as fishing was concerned, I caught a number of smaller bass and several fall fish. Todd did pretty well pulling in a couple good sized bass and four walleye.

Nice night out.

Rideau River Drift

You see all sorts of watercraft along the Rideau River so nothing should seem strange however drifting down the river in a fly fishing float tube is a bit unusual.  It is not a speedy process but it can be a great way to access less frequented fishing spots along the river.  Last Saturday some of us drifted a section – probably about 3 kilometres in length with the intent of locating small mouth bass.  This was a continuation of a trip started last year cut short due to darkness.  Drifting this section of the Rideau in a float tube is not a speedy process – three kilometres in three hours is leisurely by my definition.  But it can be a great way to fish.

Last Saturday’s float began at a put in near St. Paul University and ended at Strathcona Park – both accessible urban Ottawa locations.

Upstream Rideau River

We started out in mid afternoon with high hopes for some great fishing.  However in keeping with the casual float, the fish were pretty casual about biting too.  After one and a half hours – four fishermen (and who knows how many fly changes) – zero fish.  This was not turning out as planned.  But about the time it seemed like this was going to be a kick down the river and nothing else, we moved out of a slow moving, weedy section of the river to a set of riffles with good bottom structure and the fun began.  The bass were suddenly much more cooperative hitting first on deep drifting clousers and weighted streamers but eventual experimentation led to hook ups with near surface flies as well.

The fish varied in size, some probably close to two pounds but regardless of size, they were adept at using the current to great substantial resistance and when they were able to locate some of the long weeds things became even more interesting.

Rideau River Smallmouth Bass

Eventually the river dynamics changed as we moved out of the riffle section but the weeds were not as heavy as we first encountered and there was still lots of structure so the fishing continued to be interesting.

As we started to think about the possibility of sunset, our take out spot presented itself around a bend in the river.  Three hours passed quickly considering we didn’t go far.  Fish during the last half of the trip definitely helped.

This map shows the put in and take out spots for the drift.  There are other sections along the Rideau that are also quite suitable for float tube drifting.

MapSherpa Rideau River Float

Ontario Family Fishing Weekend

July 10-12 was the second Ontario Family Fishing Weekend of 2009.  During family fishing weekend, Canadian residents can fish in Ontario waters without a license.  Several Canadian provinces and US states have one or two of these free fishing weekends each year with the goal to encourage non-fishers to try and hopefully adopt the sport. 

From a family perspective the emphasis is usually on encouraging younger kids to get out fishing with the parents.  This weekend I had the opportunity to take my kid fishing but he has actually moved into adulthood.  I picked up fly fishing when he was just entering his teen years and at the time it wasn’t of much interest to him.  This has changed recently and so the free fishing weekend provided an opportunity for him to pick up the fly rod for a bit.

We picked a local spot where I knew it was possible for us to wet wade in relative comfort so as to keep the equipment requirements to a minimum.  The choice was a spot on the Rideau River pretty much in the centre of Ottawa where I had fished before and had success with some decent sized smallmouth bass.DSC_5943-1

While Matt has handled a fly rod a few times before, it had been a while since the last time.  However he picked it up quickly and after a bit of searching we managed to locate some cooperative bass.  They weren’t large but that really wasn’t the point.  It was a lot of fun to be out with my adult son sharing something I enjoy with him and seeing him have a good time doing it.  Perhaps it is time to graduate from the free weekends to a more regular partnership.

Urban Rivers and Development

I was surprised to read that a national developer – Mattamy Homes was charged and found guilty of violating the Ontario Conservation Authorities Act for arbitrarily deciding to build a berm on the Jock River flood plain without permission from the appropriate authorities.  The Jock River is a smaller Ottawa waterway but an important one that provides a natural compliment to the southern parts of suburban Ottawa.

All too often it seems like urban waterways place a distant second to the never ending demands for residential growth.  Here in the Ottawa area we get regular reports of sewage systems unable to handle the load after a major rainfall with the result that raw sewage is pumped directly into the Ottawa River.  Since no laws are being broken, the motivation to fix the problems seems to be low.  At smaller scales lesser streams are steadily encroached upon by residential development and the general consensus seems to be that the need for more housing takes priority over the need to maintain natural ecosystems within the urban environment.

The Jock River is a case in point.  Last summer several of us who like to fish for the river’s smallmouth bass commented on what seemed to be lower fish populations and higher sediment levels in the water downstream of a Mattamy development.  Probably the berm charge against Mattamy is not related but regardless it is encouraging to see that the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority is keeping tabs on the impact urban development is having on local water bodies.

It is interesting that Mattamy is or has been a sustaining member of Friends of the Jock River and in 2005 made a $15,000 donation to the RVCA so perhaps this incident is an oversight – let’s hope so.