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

A New Fishing Hole

Discovering a new good spot to fish is something special because it seems like all the good spots have been found out and are fished regularly.

This summer through a tip from another fly fisherman, we checked out a new spot pretty much in the middle of other spots we fish regularly.  Its a spot on a well fished river, on the edge of a new subdivision that seems to be overlooked by most people interested in fishing.Checking Flies On the far bank there are several houses that seem to be in a world of their own.Evening Fly Fishing

Our first time there was earlier this month and in the three times I have been back, we haven’t encountered any other people fishing.  I think Bob and Doug have been back on other occasions with the same results.  Which is great for us.Bob and Doug Comparing Flies

Its a section of the river that has a steady but not overpowering current, is easy to wade and most of all – has lots of smallmouth bass.  The fish aren’t huge but they are willing and on a light rod put up a respectable fight, taking full advantage of the current.  We catch them subsurface but as the sun sets, the bass eagerly respond to dry flies which is a ton of fun.Bob with a Smallmouth Bass

The fish have been so willing that one quickly loses count of the fish caught and released.  The first night out Doug had worked his way along the far bank close to one of the homes along the water.  Apparently he had been watched and struck up a conversation with the gentlemen observing the fishing.  He offered a couple suggestions of pools further downstream but only after he commented that he was pleased to see us releasing all the fish.  It seems he recognizes the uniqueness of the spot and values it staying that way. Hopefully his wishes will prove to be reality.   Bob and Doug Comparing Flies

The dilemma for us fisherman is always the same – how to balance enthusiasm for great fishing with respect for an environment whose balance can easily be upset.

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Wednesday Evening Fishing

Headed out to Appleton for a couple hours fishing on the Mississippi River (the other one) with DC.  It was a great evening for float tube fishing – sunny and calm but the days are getting shorter so we had to pack it in by 8.  We caught lots of smaller fish but both landed a few good sized smallmouth bass.  Here is a series of shots of DC with a with a nice smallmouth.

The requisite sunset shot.