Sunday, February 13, 2011

Lake Simcoe, Hard Water Mecca

 It's really amazing to me that my friends and I have yet to make the pilgrimage to Lake Simcoe this year with half the hard water season already over. In previous years, the lake was the primary destination every weekend with an occasional trip to "lesser, exotic" locations mixed in. To be honest, a day of catching a hundred jumbo perch sounds pretty good to me right now, not to mention I'm still waiting to ice my first whitefish and lake trout. The novelty of multiple pike, crappie and sunfish catches per outing hasn't yet worn off, but I'm starting to get "homesick" for the familiar ice of the grand old lady to the north.

  Many of you regular visitors here have heard me mention the name Simcoe, but I believe now is the time for a formal introduction.

        For more than 200 years Lake Simcoe was the most important waterway in the history of Ontario. Prior to 1793 they're were no roads, travel in Canada was either on the Great lakes, the St. Lawrence or the Ottawa and French rivers, but when John Graves Simcoe became Upper Canada's 1st Lieutenant Governor he wanted a shorter and safer route through to the interior.

  By 1797 he had Yonge St. built to connect York (now Toronto) to Holland Landing to connect to Lake Simcoe. The North West company and others set up several fur trading posts around the Lake. When the Americans invaded in 1812 this new route played a pivotal role in transporting troops and supplies to keep the country from falling into American hands.

  Because of it's close proximity to a large population in Southern Ontario and neighboring Great Lakes States, more people fish Lake Simcoe during the hard water season than at any other time of year - making it the most intensively fished inland lake in the province and possibly the country. On a busy weekend it's not unusual for 20% of the parked cars to be from New York and Michigan.

  Lake Simcoe is approximately 30 miles long by 10 miles wide. offering some of the best fishing in the province. The lake is fished year round, and is famous for it's winter jumbo perch, lake trout and whitefish bonanza. Cook's Bay, the south part of Lake Simcoe, is shallow and weedy, whereas the main lake is deeper (max. depth 136 ft. - Kempenfelt Bay). The lake has endless fishing opportunities; the shallows are rich in weed growth, where bullrushes, eel grass, and cabbage weeds flourish. The main lake has many humps, points, and shoals; home of the Simcoe Smallmouths. You will find some of the finest Smallmouth bass fishing in Ontario. 4 pound Smallmouth are common.

  There is also excellent Pike and Largemouth fishing in the southern portion of the lake. Other winter catches available in Simcoe are burbot (freshwater cod), herring (season is closed to replenish stocks), crappie, sunfish, smelt, and walleye (usually caught near river mouths).

  As you can see from the description and pics, Simcoe is the complete winter package, and once again I find myself wondering why we haven't visited there in several months. If I've convinced you to visit there's one thing to remember, not only is it one of the most intensely fished slabs of ice, it's also the most intensely monitored by the authorities so follow the rules!

Hope to see you there!


  1. Sounds like you need to get out and wet a line.


  2. I've wanted to go there for years. I have family in Michigan that have fished there with great stories and pictures of huge slab yellow perch.
    I figure it's about an eight hour drive for me from Vermont.

  3. A long way from home for me, John. However, I sure like the looks of those big Perch. The slabs await you. Happy hook ups!

  4. Haven't been to Simcoe in a few years....hmmm...