Kawarthas: The Perfect Fall Fishing Base

Find out why fall is a great time to be out on the water in Ontario

You are sorely mistaken if you think that fall isn’t a great time to be on the water. Sure, water temperatures will make you tread more carefully on your boat, you’ll have to wear more layers and, for fly anglers, it becomes increasingly less pleasant to cast with bare feet.

But. 

The fish are more awake than ever and the lakes are practically abandoned. Save for a few duck hunters setting up decoys in back bays, the lakes are void of pleasure boaters so anglers can once again reclaim the tranquility they had at ice-out.

No line-ups at launches, no fuss, no tapping your fingers on your steering wheel waiting for someone to load two Sea-Doos onto a trailer backed too far into the water.

The Kawarthas and Northumberland region offers some of the most accessible locations and species variety in southern Ontario. With most launches on separate waterways less than 15 minutes from one another, you can hop bodies of water to your heart's content. Or you can try a new one every day.

On my last outing, I had the opportunity to join Chris Huskilson, a skilled multi-species angler who calls the Kawarthas his home waters. Chris and I have fished together, but we’ve only ever gone for muskie. This time, fall bucket mouths and scrappy smallmouth were on the docket.

foggy day

(Photo credit Alyssa Lloyd)

I spend the morning filming and photographing him with fellow Kawarthas angler, Brett Scullion—after all, it was a work day for me. With a foggy picturesque backdrop, they have no issues locating smallmouth to model for us only to be released back into the dark waters.

smallmouth bass

(Photo credit Alyssa Lloyd)
smallmouth bass

(Photo credit Alyssa Lloyd)

These fish were as keen as ever to put on their feed bag to get them through their long winter of sluggish behaviour. We could have stayed put and reeled them in one after another, but it was time for largemouth.

As the sun rose, it burnt off what was left of the fog and we were treated to an incredibly bright fall day. We headed back to the launch, loaded the boat, and began the short commute over to the next launch. The sun was high, water temperatures stayed seasonably warm and we were in for a treat at the next lake. Which, of course, has to remain a secret.

largemouth bass

(Photo credit Alyssa Lloyd)

Chris says to me, “You will probably want to put your camera down briefly and get your fly rod out for this lake.”

What am I going to do? Say no?

A new lake to me, its appearance throws me off when they called it a lake that largemouth thrive in. It has rocky shorelines, it’s not overly shallow, and has very little in the way of weed coverage. I was, however, about to become a believer.

Not ten minutes in, Chris got a massive strike in what would appear to be the only weed coverage the lake has. Fish on. A bucket mouth I will write home about. Not only a solid fish, but its close proximity to shore during the fall month also blew me away. From then on out I began casting my fly towards the smallest of grass patches I could find. Shortly after landing a lean mean eating machine of a smallmouth.

largemouth bass

(Photo credit Alyssa Lloyd)

If I’ve learned anything from my time on the water during the fall, it is that the fish are as unpredictable as the weather, and they don’t take quite as much convincing to eat once you’ve located them.

Most outdoors enthusiasts are switching gears towards hunting this time of year, which is perfectly fine with me. I’ll hunt the last two weeks of bow season, but until there’s ice on the water, I have a few more non-work related outings in the Kawarthas.

You’ll find me out there. Bundled up and smiling.

About Alyssa Lloyd

Alyssa Lloyd is a photojournalist based out of Kenora working with Ontario's Sunset Country. The outdoors has been the center of her work and personal life for as long as she can remember. As an angler, Alyssa spends most of her time time chasing multiple species on both conventional and fly gear. 

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