""Excuse me, I said. I thought you were a trout stream."
"I'm not, she said."
— Richard Brautigan (Trout Fishing in America)
The Zen-like experience of fly-fishing can be experienced by other fishermen and non-anglers, too, of course. Here's my guide to fishing in Ontario.
With this year's trout fishing season set to open in about two weeks, it's time to get out the tackle, find your waders and head for the stream. Maybe you are thinking of getting into the kayak craze.
A kayak let's you get into remote hot spots no other angler can reach.
Springtime in Canada can be a wild time in the outdoors, with winter slowly giving way to longer days and warmer weather. For trout fishing enthusiasts, that often means dealing with hazards, from lingering ice to cranky bears emerging from their dens.
Many trout waters are most productive right at ice-out, but you need to be extra cautious about lingering ice and be ready for a challenge.
When a large portion of the waterbody is still covered in ice, or chunks are still floating around, vertical fishing with a jig may be your only option, since casting and trolling will be too difficult.
Use a stable boat and avoid heavily iced areas. When wading this time of year, keeping an eye out for fast, high water, as well as chunks of ice.
There are many types of trout to fish for in Ontario. Our lakes are teeming with both Lake Trout and Brook (Speckled) Trout.
Lake trout like the cold, dark depths of deep lakes. The bigger lakers in the region can exceed 30 pounds.
Community activists are giving the Ontario government low marks for its response to a series of attacks on Asian anglers since 2007. A number of Asians had been harassed by people demanding to see their fishing permits and inspect their catch, resulting in some anglers being pushed into the water or attacked in other ways.
The Ontario Human Rights Commission released its final report on the Inquiry into Assaults on Asian Canadian Anglers. Entitled Fishing without Fear: Follow-up report on the Inquiry into Assaults on Asian Canadian Anglers.
Those warnings and that controversy aside, here's my top 10 list.
1. The lakes and rivers around Tweed, north of Belleville, beside The Zen Forest, are famous for muskies, but the trout fishing is also good.
In 1996 the town made news when it applied for a CFL team, in an attempt to become the Green Bay of Canada. Had the attempt been successful, the team would have been known as the Tweed Muskies.
Tweed is also known for some good swimming and awesome fishing spots. Lake Stoco, which borders the town, is home to the popular sport-fish, the muskellunge or Muskie
Perry's Tackle Wholesale Distributor - Perry's Tackle is a Canadian distributor of wholesale tackle located in Tweed, Ontario.
I don't know if the Zen Forest Retreat is open. It appears to have disappeared. I can't find it on-line and a machine takes phone messages.
2. Lake Scugog, pronounced skew-gawg, beside Port Perry, is a man-made lake. The old river bed is marked by buoys.
The lake is shallow and the waters are murky and very weedy. The dark waters are a perfect home for the elusive walleye.
3. My favorite fishing hole is the Muskoka River, around Bracebridge. It has the most waterfalls of any municipality in the world.
Fishing here is focused on smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, northern pike and walleye, on Lake Muskoka, Rosseacuh, Lake of Bays, and Lake Joseph, as well as the Muskoka River.
4. Owen Sound is Salmon Fishing City but it's good for trout fishing, too. This part of Georgian Bay is very deep, cold and clean, making our tasty fish 100 percent edible.
The Sound is sheltered from prevailing winds and the waters over Owen Sound are remarkable for several reasons.
Lake Effect Snow with 80 inches of snow and long, long weeks of dull gray weather doesn’t deter salmon anglers on Owen Sound.
To combat the Great Gray Funk (or the Seasonal Affective Disorder) lots of locals go salmon fishing. There are heavy runs of salmon and trout.
5. Lake Huron: The top 25 fish in last year’s CFPS Chantry Chinook Classic on the east end of Lake Huron weighed in at more than 22 pounds each, with the largest tipping the scales at 26.08 pounds.
There's over 90 miles of shoreline on the east side of Lake Huron. Off Sauble Beach, a runs of five to six miles is required.
6. The Almaguin Highlands, north of Muskoka, in the Near North of Ontario has been ranked by many as one of the top 10 places to fish in Canada.
There is a series of lakes that stretch for miles giving you a hundred miles of shoreline with great fishing spots. Six-pound small mouth bass are not uncommon here.
Almaguin Highlands has hundreds of lakes, rivers and streams is probably one of the most overlooked in Ontario for its quality sport fishing
7. Lake Nipissing, north of the Almaguin Highlands, is the fifth-largest lake in Ontario. It is relatively shallow for a large lake, with an average depth of only 4.5 m (14.8 ft).
The little city of North Bay sits along the lake's northeastern shoreline. The lake has over 40 different species of fish.
Most anglers target walleye, smallmouth bass, muskie, and northern pike.
8. Lake Ontario: Held each summer on Lake Ontario, the Great Ontario Salmon Hunt is Canada’s largest tournament.
Last year approximately 14,000 anglers vied to be the first to reel in a specially tagged salmon worth $1 million.
The biggest fish caught during last year’s 50-day event, meanwhile, was a tournament record: a 46.38-pound chinook.
The most popular harbours are Bronte, Port Credit, Bluffers Park (Scarborough), Oshawa, Port Hope, and Wellington.
9. Fishing in the nation's largest urban centre may sound strange but there are lots of places to go fishing in Toronto.
Tournament-worthy smallmouth bass surround the Toronto Islands. There are pike in Toronto harbour.
Big carp haunting the Humber River marsh in the west end and in G. Ross Lord Park.
The Rouge River is known for perch. So is Tommy Thompson Park (Leslie Spit) in the inner lagoon just after ice-out.
10. Lake Simcoe, off Jackson's Point and out from Willow Rocks, in water between 65-75 feet deep, is very popular. You'll see a flotilla of boats.
P.S. I haven't been fishing for decades but I've been to all of the above places, over the years, for the Zen experience of fishing. I've kayaked and canoed in these places and eaten trout or salmon from the northern spots.