Earlier this month I visited Mille Roches Campground on the St. Lawrence River for an amazing 4 days of carp fishing and camping! This campground is situated on a string of islands connected by the Long Sault Parkway just west of Cornwall in Southern Ontario, Canada. This area has a unique history as Mille Roches is an underwater ghost town and one of Ontario’s Lost Villages. The Long Sault Parkway area is a popular carp fishing destination that draws in anglers from around the world. This was my third visit to this beautiful campground and it came with much anticipation after such great past experiences! My partner, Eric, and I decided to share the fun and invited a few friends to join us for their first carping/camping experience. It turned out to be such a memorable weekend!
Fishing on the St. Lawrence River
The St. Lawrence River is a very popular fishing destination and is home to a wide range of fish species, including: largemouth and smallmouth bass, walleye, northern pike, yellow perch, common carp, catfish, muskellunge, and much more. In addition to my shore fishing carp adventures here, I have also explored the St. Lawrence River by boat. I’ve been fortunate to catch some quality smallmouth and largemouth bass, as well as walleye on this river. It’s always a treat to explore these amazing waters!
If you’re looking to visit the area, Cornwall Tourism works with local partners to offer discounts through their Fish and Stay Packages. Aside from the campground, additional access points to the river include Lamoureux Park and Guindon Park. Both feature a boat launch and shore fishing access. Details on these parks and more can be found at: https://cornwalltourism.com/explore/fishing/
Camping & Carping
As mentioned, I have enjoyed visiting Mille Roches Campground in the past and my previous trips here were also carp-focused. Carp fishing is primarily done from shore using set lines. There have been some recent changes to the carp fishing regulations in some parts of Ontario allowing anglers to now use up to 3 lines each for carp. That being said, there are strict regulations when it comes to fishing 3 lines for carp (including types of baits allowed, and maximum distance between lines), so be sure to read the new rules thoroughly before hitting the water.
The picturesque waterfront campsites at Mille Roches make for a perfect location to cast a line out, and relax while waiting for the next bite. It doesn’t get much better than that, especially when you add in some wonderful company! We were lucky to be joined by two of the top musky guides in Canada (and beyond), John Anderson and Lisa Goodier. Musky season opened in some areas near Ottawa where they operate out of, but they both decided to join us for this carp adventure instead. I was surprised and pleased to have these two make time in their busy schedules for this trip. I was especially excited for Lisa to land her first ever carp!
Over the past few months, Eric and I have spent lots of time on the ice (and a little open water time) with our new Ottawa-area friends, Pam Stewart and Adam Meraw. Both are year-round multi-species anglers who are also very active on the local bass tournament scene. It was a treat to have these two also joining us. Pam and Adam are both new to carp angling, having each recently caught their first carp with us just a few weeks prior. Everyone was very excited leading up to this trip so I knew we were in for a great time!
Eric and I brought along our carp fishing equipment including European-style products that make it much easier to land and handle these big, strong fish. Carp fishing is incredibly popular in Europe and more of the specialized gear they use is becoming available in Canada. Some of the equipment we brought along included: carp specific rod and reel set-ups, rigs, baits, as well as rod pods, and electronic bite alarms. We’ve also adopted the incredible fish care and handling practices that many European carp anglers use. We use large carp nets with long handles and soft netting to safely and easily net our fish, a padded landing/unhooking mat to keep fish wet and off the ground, and a weigh sling to keep the fish horizontal and safe while weighing them. The sling is also very helpful when transporting fish to and from the water to be released. While these products are not necessary, it certainly helps when handling these large fish and also allows us to send each fish back into the river safely to hopefully be enjoyed by other anglers. As for rigs, we caught all of our fish on Ronnie rigs (also known as a Spinner rig) baited with brightly coloured 13-14mm pop-ups (highly buoyant balls of scented/flavoured dough) and fished on a bolt rig with 3 to 4oz leads.
Eric, myself, and Lisa all arrived on Thursday evening and had our lines in the water for a few hours before calling it a night. There were no bites the first night but we saw and heard plenty of fish jumping nearby so we knew it would only be a matter of time. We chummed the area with whole and cracked corn that had been soaking in water for over a week to try to lure the fish in closer to where we were fishing. (Be sure to check out the regulations on chumming as they too have been amended recently.) We woke up bright and early the next morning to meet up with another friend, Louis-Phillip Lortie, who also happened to be visiting the area to fish for carp. It wasn’t long until Eric was into the first fish of the trip, which Louis-Phillip was able to help him land. I was walking back from the restroom at the time and saw the commotion from a distance so I ran over and was able to snap a quick photo of this beautiful fish before it went back. We were off to a great start!
The action continued throughout the morning. Lisa landed her first carp ever and then proceeded to beat her personal best twice after that in short order! She was thrilled and so were we! Later that day in the early afternoon, Lisa and I landed the first double header of the trip.
John arrived next with the cutest guest of the weekend in tow, Nikko the dog. Nikko had the chance to meet some carp for the first time. He stole the show in every photo!
Pam and Adam were the final guests to arrive and it wasn’t long before they also got to reel in some nice carp of their own! I enjoyed seeing everyone get to catch some beautiful fish!
There was plenty of carp action throughout the trip and we ended up landing a total of 22 carp, and had 4 that came unhooked before we could land them. The largest fish graced us with her presence on the final morning of our trip. This stunning pre-spawn female carp, landed by Eric, weighed in at 30-pounds, 14-ounces! What an absolutely gorgeous fish! It also happened to be the biggest carp we’ve landed yet at Mille Roches while camping. My heart was racing netting this one after catching the first glimpse of just how big she was! To put things into perspective, she was about twice as big as the average fish we’d landed during the previous few days of fishing.
While playing the waiting game between bites, we enjoyed taking in the scenic waterfront view, engaging in great conversations and laughs, and ate delicious food around a campfire. It was absolutely perfect!
Leading up to this trip, John had playfully referred to this adventure as ‘Carp Camp’ during one of our chats. It’s safe to say that I think we will all be back for Carp Camp 2023 next year, and there’s talk of it becoming an annual event for us!
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