Sat. Feb 24th, 2024

Today’s post comes from multi-species angler and writer Ashley Rae of SheLovesToFish.com.

Since moving to Ottawa almost four years ago, the Rideau River has become one of my favorite fishing spots, offering a wide variety of species to hunt. Over the years I have enjoyed targeting largemouth bass, walleye, musky, northern pike, common carp, and black crappie…just to name a few!

A freshly caught northern pike

Beginning at Upper Rideau Lake and flowing to the Ottawa River, where it empties, the Rideau River is almost 150 km long.

Rideau River Provincial Park is located on the banks of the Rideau, directly across from the community of Kemptville. The park operates from May to September and offers nearly 200 campsites along with a boat launch for easy access to the river.

In early spring, I enjoy hiding in sheltered bays with dark bottoms, searching for warmer waters in my search for black crappie. They build up quite a bit before spawning and I’ve had some of the best days of my life targeting these scrappy fish on the Rideau.

Pumpkinseed and bluegill are usually not far from crappie and often move to spawning areas first. I’ve had better luck using smaller rigs for these species, such as white tubes or small jigs under an adjustable float.

After the crappie start spawning, I leave them alone and continue targeting the big common carp. Carp spawn later than crappie, but can also feed quite aggressively before spawning. Carp are mainly caught from the shore with aromatic presentations that settle on the bottom, such as corn and Boilies (a type of flavored dumpling).

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You’ll definitely want to make sure your gear is rated for these large, powerful fish, as they grow quite large. Fight hard and fight a lot of lines. They are a real waste to bring in and can easily become one of the biggest fish you’ll ever catch!

*NOTE* Although the common carp was introduced to Ontario waters more than 100 years ago, it is actually a invasive species (much like their more infamous cousins, the Asian carp). Common carp can have an extremely negative impact on ecosystems, destroying spawning sites for other fish, decreasing water quality, and competing with native species.

For these reasons, it is extremely important that anglers do not allow common carp to spread to new waters. Help protect the quality of our water, our fisheries and aquatic ecosystems by throwing your bait bucket at least 30m from the water, cleaning your livewell and never transporting live fish.

This is a largemouth bass largemouth bass

As spring progresses, other species come into season and it’s time to focus on predators. Fish with teeth are definitely my favorite as they increase the adrenaline and add even more excitement.

Walleye, Northern Pike and Muskie are found in this body of water. These predatory species, along with their less-toothed neighbor, the largemouth bass, can often be found near vegetation and cover, ready to ambush their next meal. Healthy green weeds are key when attacking these species, as they provide oxygen and cover for prey. Find locations that include structure (such as vegetation, stumps, and docks) and access to deeper water nearby.

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For pike, I typically move to the edges of the weeds and cast moving baits (e.g. spinnerbaits and swimbaits). My favorite way to target Walleye in the river is to snap bucktail jigs along the weed lines. For largemouth bass, I enjoy using heavy jigs fishing the thickest cover in shallow water as well as casting topwater frogs.

There’s nothing like the explosion of a bass on the surface! It’s amazing how they can cut through even the thickest brush and make water to eat.

This is a northern pikenorthern pike

When targeting Muskie, it is essential to use heavier gear suitable for these powerful fish. Getting Muskie with the right equipment means a shorter battle and better recovery when they are released. It will also give you peace of mind knowing that your gear will hold up after getting tangled up with a monster.

Your fishing memories await you on the Rideau River. All the best this season!