Over the past two months I’ve been traveling and (naturally) fishing throughout Ontario’s Highlands. This area is made up of 5 regions: the Land O’ Lakes, Lanark, Hastings, Haliburton, and the Ottawa Valley. While some of these regions hold memories from my childhood, I’ve also been exploring brand new waters over these past few weeks creating new memories. Time on the water is always magical and it’s fun to get out there, experiment, and try to figure out what the fish want.
I’m often asked about some of my favourite bodies of water to fish so I decided to make a list of 5 of my top lakes in this region. Of course I have so much more exploring ahead of me and some spots will always be kept top secret 😉 .. but below is a list of just some of the lakes I’ve had a blast fishing on over the summer in this region and why I love them. I primarily focused on largemouth and smallmouth bass but some other species made appearances as well. This area has so much to offer!
1. Bob’s Lake
Location: Bob’s Lake is located in Land O’ Lakes region.
This is a large lake at over 32 square kilometers with plenty of vegetation with both shallow and deep waters. A variety of species live in Bob’s Lake including: largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, lake trout, walleye, northern pike, and plenty of panfish too. Right off the hop upon pulling away from the boat launch, working a Chatterbait through sparse weeds and along edges was very effective presentation here. During our visit we encountered some rain and high winds, but thankfully it didn’t stop us from getting into some fish. Eric and I caught some nice largemouth, smallmouth, and even picked up some northern pike as well. During a past outing here I hooked into what I thought was a small bass at first but as it got closer to the boat I realized I had a huge black crappie on that unfortunately came unbuttoned. I’m always thinking of that fish when I visit the lake and I sure hope for another crack at one that size.
My favourite part about Bob’s Lake is that it’s a great place to explore and catch numbers but you can also find quality fish in there too.
2. Big Rideau Lake
Location: Big Rideau Lake is located in the Lanark region.
I’ve spent quite a bit of time on Big Rideau over the past few years. Another pretty large lake at 32 kilometers in length, there is plenty to explore with many species within to chase. There’s a lot of gems on this lake and the maps don’t even show all the deep weedline humps and structure that are typically great spots to find fish during the summer. Each visit seems to bring a new hot spot. I’ve found success on this lake with presentations such as: drop shots, Ned Rigs, flipping jigs, and Chatterbaits. When the lake trout season is open, I love to jig them up vertically with a blade bait using my sonar to locate fish and then watch as I entice them to bite. It’s so much fun watching them race up from the depths to clobber my blade bait.
At this time of year, the largemouth and smallmouth seem to be in between the deeper and shallower water especially where there are deep weeds or rocky points that are mixed in with weeds. The deeper bass will often be found with schools of panfish like this gorgeous bluegill below that I picked up on a dropshot rig.
Big Rideau Lake is one of my preferred spots for taking friends fishing, especially when bringing along children. There’s lots of panfish to keep them busy throughout the year.
3. Kashagawigamog Lake
Location: Kashagawigamog Lake is located in the Haliburton region.
I fished Kashagawigamog for the first time this summer and enjoyed exploring this unique water system. Kashagawigamog is connected with Head Lake, Grass Lake, Soyers, Lake, and Canning Lake forming a chain. We began our adventure in Haliburton launching at Head Lake making our way to Kashagawigamog. It wasn’t until reaching there that we got into a good number of smallmouth and largemouth on weedlines and working along rocky shorelines with Ned Rigs and drop shots. Eric and I stumbled upon one spot that was holding a good number of nice-sized smallmouth that were feeding on lake herring. In fact, Eric landed a bass that coughed one up and we began noticing the flicker of baitfish on the surface. It didn’t take long for us to key in on this area and hunker down here for awhile.
While Eric was fighting with this blue smallmouth in the photo above, he had it nearly to the boat when we both looked down to see this fish had buddies with him. This is always a great time to drop a lure down as when fish are in this type of mood, they’ll eat almost anything. And that is just what happened. I dropped the net, casted my drop shot and picked up one of my nicest smallmouth of the summer. We laughed and giggled as we netted both fish at once. Eric was holding another smallmouth in the livewell for a photo, so he put his two fish together above for a colour comparison. I’ve heard of blue walleye but it was our first time seeing what looks to be a blue smallmouth. Neat!
My favourite part about Kashagawigamog Lake was certainly the large lake herring-eating smallmouth!
4. Limerick Lake
Location: Limerick Lake is located in the Hastings region.
While in Hastings, we stayed at Limerick Lake Lodge located right on Limerick Lake. George, the owner of the lodge is a great host and has nice spot to stay with housekeeping rooms or cottages along with a marina. The weather during our stay was not favourable (high winds and rain) but the fishing was on fire regardless! Shortly after getting out on the water, we located a nice deep weedline that was stacked up with largemouth. Fishing a dropshot through the weeds, we quickly established a solid pattern that helped us to catch some good fish throughout the duration of our stay. We explored the lake and were able to replicate this pattern from one end of the lake to the other. This lake sure has some nice fish! We also found a few smallmouth mixed in and I lost a big one as it spat my hook while mid-jump. We had an absolute riot here!
I loved seeing a healthy population of nice largemouth (and smallmouth too) on Limerick Lake. Be sure to ‘let them go, let them grow’ so they can continue to be enjoyed in the future.
5. Muskrat Lake
Location: Muskrat Lake is located in the Ottawa Valley region.
I invited some friends along for a recent adventure on Muskrat Lake. Shane and Kayla primarily focus on walleye when they’re out on the water. They’ve had a busy summer and hadn’t gotten much fishing time in so they were anxious to get out and target bass this time around. Between the 4 of us (Eric included), we were each throwing something different at first. The Ned Rig proved to be working best so we all eventually switched over. Kayla picked up her personal best smallmouth shortly into the day followed quickly by her best largemouth on our second pass of the same spot. Wow! It’s always an exciting moment when a nice fish makes it to the boat but it’s even better when it’s a personal best (or two)!
I switched back and forth between throwing a Chatterbait and Ned rig throughout the day. I managed to pick up a few nice pike while fishing with the Chatterbait over weedbeds.
What I enjoy most about Muskrat Lake is that although it’s not a huge lake, it never ceases to amaze me with the quality of fish that are found here.
It’s been a fantastic couple of months exploring the region but I’m not quite done yet. I’ll be posting a few more videos like the one below on my on my YouTube Channel soon!
To learn more about the Ontario’s Highlands region, visit: www.ComeWander.ca.
Thank you for stopping by!
<3 Ashley Rae
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