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Story 2007 Discovery Montreal

Page history last edited by Jerome Moisand 3 years, 10 months ago

In Search of a French Speaking Carp!


A Discovery Month Adventure


When October 4th to 8th, 2007
Where Montreal, Quebec
Who All by myself...


Where to go?


After the success last year fishing Lake Champlain, I just couldn’t wait for the 2007 discovery trip! I had originally in mind to go catch a carp in Maine, but Scott beat me to the punch, posting a great exploratory story and organizing a fish-in out there. I had to change my plans. While driving to the St Lawrence for the junior tournament, I started to think… Man, this is a looong drive… Isn’t there a way to fish this wonderful river but shorten the drive? And discover some new spots?


In 2006, I didn’t want to use any other tool than me driving and walking around. In 2007, I decided to use another tack and use Internet tools ahead of time. I still didn’t want to check any fishing forum, but studying satellite images and maps seemed a cool way to try to plan ahead. Google Earth told me that downstream of Massena, the St Lawrence seemed very bland, no river outflows or bays, straight shore, didn’t seem very promising. Finally, I reached an area on the map with plenty of features, islands, outflows, and it turned out to be near Montreal. I didn’t know that Montreal is actually a large island, where two big rivers, the St Lawrence and the Outaouais, merge in a series of gigantic bays. Trouble is satellite resolution is still not precise enough to have a good idea of what you are really looking at. When figuring out that I could click on small blue dots and display some pics, this helped getting a better feel. I also incidentally stumbled upon the blog of a local guy doing a lot of kayaking and snorkeling, swapped e-mails with him, and his references to very large carp made me itchy to go!


Here are a few views of the same spot, using Google Maps, Google Earth, Panoramio.com, and said blog. Quite different perspectives, isn’t it?


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I was hooked. Let’s go catch a carp in Montreal and see if they speak French! I shared the idea with my wife, and we planned to go there with the entire family during an extended Columbus Day week-end. I would fish (duh!) while Edith and the boys would visit this great city and also take a look at the local universities which might host one of our teenagers in a few years, who knows…




We made it to Montreal in 6 hours, having lunch in Vermont and enjoying the foliage scenery. Luckily enough, we passed the border without troubles (I wasn’t quite sure the smelly bait and the stinky pellets would pass customs, but to my relief, the guy didn’t ask many questions nor inspected the car!). We arrived via the Jacques Cartier (another great explorer!) bridge, and… What a mighty river it is… How am I supposed to find my way in this ocean of water?


Edith had found a great hotel right in the historical part of the city and quickly enough, we were taking a nice walk. I steered the troop towards the waterfront in a not so subtle way and I was taken aback by the strength of the current. No way I can fish without finding structure and a nice current break. As to still water, I had spotted wharfs as possible fishing spots on the satellite images, but I hadn’t perceived at all the height of the piers! No good.


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We moved on to get tickets for the coming Sunday at the IMAX theater (more on this later!). Then we went back to the hotel where the family took a rest, while I went to a sports store to buy a fishing license. Not a single carp related item in view. I asked the vendors if anybody fishes for carp around here. Answer was “nah, nobody does, carp fishing is dull”. I tried my luck, insisted and asked if they knew some good spots where carp could be found and a miracle happened… A young guy did have a clue, and provided some approximate directions to two local spots. Back to the hotel, then to a restaurant nearby, and yummy… This is so good… Even my “stomachs on legs” teenagers stopped gulfing down food and started to more slowly enjoy the savory entrees, while commenting that this was better than a Mac Donald. You bet!




The alarm clock was set at 5:15AM. But at 3:30, I was awake, I couldn’t stand it and I left the sleeping beauties to their dreams, took my car and drove to the first spot the young vendor referred to. I was a bit skeptical about his claim of 40 pounders, but heck, who knows, this is the St Lawrence! I parked where I could, and started to walk along the river. Now, I don’t know if you ever tried to find a new swim at 4AM, walking in the woods along the shore in complete darkness, but after quite some trekking, I started to really wonder what I was doing… Luckily, I finally found the spot and hey, it did look good, very nice current break and a small canal outflow. I walked along the canal, hoping to find easier access, found a parking lot close to a filtering station, but… it was surrounded by fences, with no way out to the road. After more walking around, I finally found a shortcut and drove the car closer to the swim. Was still a bit of a trek, but no longer half a mile! I carried my fishing stuff, threw some bait in the water and watched the sun rise. Ninety minutes later, I had somehow convinced myself that I would catch a carp in there, but only small ones. My conviction was reinforced when I finally saw a sign of fish, a pretty small carp rolling in front of me. Beeeep, finally a run, and here is my first carp from Canada ever! And it wasn’t too shabby, all 15 pounds of it! Interesting. It seemed worth trying to catch a couple more and see the average weight.


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One hour later, another run and this felt like a real nice fish. Took me a while to bring it close to shore and I was shocked to see a big submarine coming to my net. The scale stated “30lb even”. Really? Well, my conscience started to bug me and pointed out that I didn’t zero my sling again after wetting it with the first fish. All right, all right, so I double-checked and I had to restate the weight around 29lb. It was still a fantastic fish and I scared a few birds by yelling how happy I was!


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After this great catch, things calmed down and after a while, I decided to go explore some other spots, notably this windmill location. Hm, I hadn’t paid attention that this was way out of my Montreal map. 30 miles later and a few U-turns, I finally made it! To a gate giving access to the park. When it’s open. Which wasn’t the case. I didn’t drive this far for nothing, so I parked the car, and walked into the park trying to make myself invisible! I found the windmill, this was an interesting looking spot facing a gigantic bay with crystal clear water. Sounds great. Except for the sign “no fishing”. Grrr.


I then decided to drive to another spot, the St Timothee dam where my friend the blogger snorkeler had spotted “gigantic” carp. No map, a sense of direction quickly confused by the various bridges and islands, and I ended up very much lost. I saw a sign towards la “Pointe des Cascades”, thought it was a cute name, and drove to see it. Cool, I found a great looking lock and outflow in the bay, this had to hold carp.


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I set up my gear and took a nap. Which sadly wasn’t interrupted by my buzzers… Too bad, let’s wrap up, and try to locate this elusive dam then. I finally found it by sheer luck and decided to fish there an hour. No run either, but a big heron was very intrigued by my stinking net and landed just a few feet from me. We had a nice chat (maybe I was bit tired by then, but I think this is what happened!), and the heron advised to go back to my very first spot, suggesting that more surprises would come my way. I was a bit skeptical, what does a heron know about carp fishing, but take a look at this pic, it seemed like a trustworthy enough fellow, don’t you think?


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I drove back to the hotel, took the family to another great restaurant, then crashed on my bed…




Woke up around 4:30, dozed a bit, suddenly remembered the 29lber and jumped out of bed very eager to fish! One hour later, I was following the wise advice of the heron, watching the sunrise again. Finally, a rod came to life, and what a screaming run this was! This one was acting as one of those really big fish, powerfully shaking its head from side to side. Wait, oh no, the dreadful noise of a line grinding against a snag, a rocky snag… I stopped giving any meaningful resistance to the fish, and after a few heart stopping minutes, the line was free again and submarine#2 came to my net. When lifting the net, I knew it was a thirty all right. This was confirmed by the (properly zeroed!) scale, I had landed my third biggest fish of the year, a splendid 32 pounder. What crosses your mind when something like that happens to you? Er… nothing very profound, I kept repeating “32 pounds, 32 pounds, 32 pounds” in a slightly hysterical manner…


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When I recovered some sense, I had the idea of making a short video with my digital camera. Here is the release of the biggie on YouTube. And another video release of a smaller one.


I also took a few close shots of a scale this big fish lost during the fight. How old do you think it was?


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I caught a couple of smaller fish afterwards, then rain started to pour. I spent a couple of hours exploring another island, which was looking good on the satellite image, but totally unpractical in reality! Back to my lucky spot end of the afternoon, I landed three more, nothing special this time. I baited quite heavily for the night and headed back to the hotel, good restaurant, crash in bed, the usual…


Ah yes, forget to mention this totally strange carp. The inside of its mouth was almost sealed shut. Can’t understand how the hair rig worked on this one!


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Who invented alarm clocks? Why do those things make such distasteful noise in the middle of the night? I wanted to sleep more, I was so tired. My wife kicked me hard out of bed, grumbling after obnoxious alarms and stupid carp anglers, I love you too, sweetie! I painfully dragged myself out of the hotel room, looking very much like a zombie angler if there is such a thing. I drove to my magic spot, carried my gear to the swim and… sat there breathing hard for a while. I couldn’t bring myself to start fishing, I was just happy watching the river flow. When the angler inside me started to push through deep layers of unconsciousness, I finally set up my rods. Somehow, I was fearing that this last morning of fishing at this spot wouldn’t bring the same amazing results as the days before, and that I would end up disappointed by having been too spoiled too soon. Sure enough, nothing moved in the next 2 hours and I was starting to feel a little low. Finally, a run and that’s a small carp. A bit later, another run, the fish makes it to the landing mat, that’s a really stocky fish but only 15 pounds. I’m doomed. Oh wait, another run, and here I am with a brace of fairly decent fish, yet I was a little moody, I was convinced I wouldn’t catch any other 20 pounder or more before my time limit would elapse (I had planned to meet my wife & kids at the IMAX theater at the end of the morning and spend the rest of the day with them).


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9:15AM, I only had 15 minutes to go, I wanted to go prebait another spot before going to the IMAX. Beeeeeep, screamed a buzzer. Ok, let’s play this last fish. I was about to net it when a buzzer screamed again! I quickly netted the first fish, grabbed the rod, and hey, this is a heavier fish. I took my time playing it, wearing it down more than I normally would, I wanted to make sure to net it at the first attempt without freeing the first carp. And yes, it worked well. Now I was getting quite excited. I clearly had more than 40 pounds of fish in there. A few quick snaps with the camera and here was an opportunity to feel what it would look like to lift a net with a 40 pounder… URGH! This is *heavy* and my (wimpy) back muscles started to protest big time. So I lowered the net with the two fish right on the shore to get a breather.


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Don’t know, call me weird, stupid, prescient, whatever, but I decided that I should recast (bait was still on the hair) as a way to put the rod aside and get some space on the bank. Quick recast, back to the net and… Que sera sera… My rod took off right away! Now that wasn’t the plan! At least not consciously. I started to curse myself for this non-sensical move, grabbed the rod, stepped on the net to make sure those two fish wouldn’t bolt and escape and turned my reel handle. WHOAH… My rod bent like crazy, this fish ran to the horizon and just wouldn’t stop. After ten seconds or so, I finally realized that my drag was too loose, I tightened it a bit, yet the fish kept going and going. Visions of a true 40 pounder started to cross my mind, but I calmed down, I knew that a fish in the main current of a big river feels like a ton even if it’s not necessarily that big. While I played the fish, I was pondering how to land it. Putting back the net in the water wasn’t an option. Leaving the rod alone while I’d quickly move the two carp away from the net and away from the shore didn’t seem a good move either. So all right, in the water we go and I grabbed the fish (quite worn out by then) by hand! Didn’t seem like a 30+, but definitely a nice mid twenty. I quickly unhooked it, carried it to the landing mat, and then took care of the two other ones, watering them to not let them get too dry. Then I stopped, panting like a steam engine and marveled at those very thick fish. Now I had to take a decent pic with the self-timer, oh joy… I quickly became dirty as a coal miner, but I finally made it.


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The hard work wasn’t finished. Let’s weigh the fish. Smallest one turned to be 20 pounds right on the mark! Next one was 25 pounds and a half. And the biggest one was a hefty 27 pounder. I caught a thrice of 20 pounders! 72 pounds of fish on my landing mat! My melancholic mood was totally gone by then, I tell you! What an amazing grand finale. And to put a final touch to my adventure, one of the biggies stayed a tad stuck in weeds when I released it, allowing me to take those cool shots!


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By then my swim was looking like a war scene. I had to rush to make my appointment at the theater, wrapped up all my stuff, skipped the pre-baiting I had planned to do, drove to the theater, parked nearby and walked towards it. A couple of pretty ladies saw me, rolled their eyes and took the long way to avoid me while suspiciously eyeing me! All right, I’m no Brad Pitt, but this usually doesn’t happen to me. When I made it to the bathroom, I understood… Dirt all over my arms, face and including my bald dome! Plus I was a tad smelly… My family arrived a few minutes later and my kids insisted on NOT sitting close to me in the theater. The theme of the movie was… prehistoric sea monsters! Gave them plenty of names to refer to their dad during our sightseeing afternoon. Ah, family love.




This time, no alarm clock. I nevertheless woke up at 6AM and leisurely drove to another fishing spot I wanted to try. A gigantic bay with more than a mile of water in front of me, I could barely see the shore on the other side. Upstream, a bar of rocks and an island were completely breaking the current, creating a very large still area and a fishing paradise for many species as some locals explained.


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I put my rods in the water, fished two hours, saw a few carp roaming on top of weeds, waved at passing-by herons, didn’t catch, no big deal. I was just enjoying the scenery while replaying the events of the previous days. This was a completely different discovery trip from last year. I used Internet resources to figure out a destination, asked a few easy questions when coming in, caught really big fish, discovered a new area with fantastic potential (look at a map, you can spend a lifetime just exploring Montreal and surroundings!) and also gave an opportunity to my family to discover a beautiful city, plus… did I already mention they have great food out there?


This definitely shows that discovering new spots isn’t reserved to a few very experienced guys with loads of time on their hands. If I can do it that easily, everybody can do it (well, with a bit of luck on your side!). And even your family can enjoy the trip! So what are you waiting for? Do a bit of homework, don’t hesitate to drive a good deal and give it a try, get out! It might not work every time, but one day, you’ll strike gold as I did.



Post Scriptum


The carp I landed (16 of them) didn’t say a word, clearly miffed at being caught by an angler for the first time in their life. I still don’t know if they speak French. But I swear the heron didn’t use English when talking to me… Must be the ghost of Jacques Cartier. who had to be a carp angler.


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