Breaking Down Kawarthas Northumberland Fishing

Due to its locations, the waters in this area are popular but that should not be equated with crowded or over-fished. The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, lodge owners and local fishermen have done a great job managing these waters and practicing solid catch and release techniques. In my opinion, for those considering a bass or muskie Canadian fishing trip, the lakes of the Kawarthas Northumberland should be among your top location choices. Walleye, northern pike, crappie and panfish are all also available and ready to be targeted.

Chris Huskilson of Exist to Fish calls these waters home. He was kind enough to provide us with a breakdown of the region and the fishing opportunities within it. He also provided us some great photos of fish caught and released in the Kawarthas Northumberland.

GFN: Why do you love fishing the Kawarthas Northumberland region so much?

I have lived here my entire life and have no plans to leave. The region offers a very wide variety of species to target all within an hour’s drive. 350 lakes to be exact. I am a born and raised Kawartha’s native. And the fishing is second to none!

GFN: You grew up fishing Rice Lake at an early age. How has the fishing on Rice Lake changed over the years?

My passion certainly began on the banks of Rice Lake Ontario. The fishing has certainly changed. And changed for the better! The slot limit on Walleye has dramatically improved the fishery from both a numbers and quality perspective. And the smallmouth Bass fishery has absolutely exploded with their new Goby forage. They have always been present in good numbers and size, but recent years have seemingly increased in both areas. The past few years have kicked out some of the biggest tournament bags in lake history pushing 25lbs. That sort of weight is not typical of an inland lake like this.

The Kawarthas Norhtumberland Region of Canada sits just above Lake Ontario and East of Toronto. This area is a destination easily accessible for those coming from the United States or Eastern Canada looking for a fishing vacation.

chris-h-002You are an avid and competitive bass fishermen. What are your top 3 bass lakes in this region and why do you love each of these?

Rice Lake- offers terrific opportunities for all species. Extremely fertile and often murky lake with a very high population of both largemouth and smallmouth bass in numbers and size. I grew up fishing this lake, and it feels like home.

Balsam Lake- is a lake located in the Kawartha Lakes region of south central Ontario, Canada. It is 16 km long and averages 3 km wide, though its actual width varies due to the many large bays that carve its shoreline. The Gull River empties into the lake. This lake is the highest point of the Trent-Severn Waterway; from here, the waterway descends to Georgian Bay in the northwest, and to Lake Ontario in the southeast. The village of Coboconk, Ontario is located on the north side of the Lake. Extremely clear water fishery which I enjoy. This lake has a great population of largemouth and smallmouth bass.

Stoney Lake (also spelled Stony Lake)- There are three interconnected lakes, Upper Stoney Lake to the northeast, Stony Lake in the center, and Clear Lake to the southwest, which together are known as Stony or Stoney Lake. Stoney Lake forms the eastern end of the Kawartha Lakes region. It is primarily a summer cottage area but there are many permanent residences on the lakes, which means a ton of docks and a ton of big largemouth and smallmouth bass.

GFN: I understand that you have a bit of a muskie obsession. What makes you love muskie fishing so much?

Oh Boy.. That’s a difficult question to answer. Unless you are a true muskie nut as well. Muskies are often referred to as the fish of 1000 casts. I am here to tell you that label is absolutely not true here in the Kawartha’s. Not only do we have a high Muskie population, but we have some very big fish. If you are looking to catch your first 50 Inch monster your chances are quite good! My days of Muskie fishing started quite young. My teenage years were spent walking the banks of the Otonabee River and Rice Lake with a small Muskie buck tail tied on.

To this day I can still tell you some of the greatest locations to catch these fish from shore in the area. The experience of Muskie fishing allows for the greatest of highs and lowest of lows. It is such an unexplainable happening really… But also very very addictive. The adrenaline rush that charges through my body when I come in contact with a big fish… Paired with the unexplainable sense of gratitude and accomplishment that follows when a fish is hooked and landed… Relationships are born during these events… A brotherhood amongst Muskie nuts. Lives are changed!! In most cases for the better! Each fish creates a new experience. And a new bond with the sport, and those that target these majestic Giants.

chris-h-003GFN: What are your favorite muskie lakes in the region? 

Rice Lake, Balsam Lake and Cameron Lake all hold good numbers of Muskies. And some very big fish as well.

GFN: Tell us the story behind your biggest muskie from the Kawarthas

My biggest Kawartha Muskie is 53”. I caught that fish on Rice Lake at the mouth of the Ousse River directly across from Sandy Bay cottages.

It was the summer of 2009, early July. Water temps were in the mid 70’s, bluebird skies, very little wind. I was throwing a large tandem spinnerbait, black and White in color. I will never forget the strike… a large thump approximately half way back to the boat! To which I followed up with a heavy hookset, only to momentarily convince myself that I had snagged a log. Until the headshakes began! She jumped clear out of the water three times, took several large drag peeling runs. When I finally did land her she was barely pinned to which I quickly removed the hook, placed her on the bumpboard, snapped a couple pics with my phone and released immediately. A beautiful clear patterned beast. A fish I will never forget.

GFN: You are an excellent promoter of the fishing this region has to offer. Why should folks choose one of the lakes of the Kawarthas Northumberland region as their next fishing vacation?

With a name derived from the Ojibwa word for “land of shiny waters,” it’s no surprise that the Kawarthas Northumberland region of Ontario is home to world class freshwater fishing. Whether you’re a pro looking for a new hot spot to check out or a novice wanting to pick up a rod for the first time, great experiences await you across the region.

Flyfish for trout or the migratory salmon as they forge upstream. Plan a day of family fishing or enter a Pro Bass tournament. Troll the depths for giant lake trout or cast to unsuspecting small and large mouth bass, muskie, and prehistoric-looking gar pike.

During the winter months, rent an ice hut and fish for Crappies. The region is regarded as one of the best freshwater fisheries in the world, your next big catch–a Kawarthas Northumberland legend–is waiting, patiently, for you to cast your line.

The region is located just 90 minutes east of the Greater Toronto Area. Stretching across the region, the Trent-Severn Waterway connects through many of the lakes, rivers and towns, with breathtaking views to be had and lifelong memories are waiting to be made. Discover the timeless quality of Northumberland County and the fishing opportunities along the way. Escape to a world of 19th-century architecture, intriguing museums, country churches and early settlements. Experience the City of Kawartha Lakes and its many charming communities are nestled amongst beautiful lakes, winding rivers, scenic farmland and pristine wilderness. Peterborough and the Kawarthas offers an amazing volume and variety of experiences, with a rich mix of heritage city, cottage country, and flourishing farmlands. And did I mention incredible fishing??

Do you have favorite recommendations of Kawartha fishing camps and lodges that people should check out for their fishing vacation?

I would recommend the following based on the angling opportunities within the Lakes they reside and the quality and experiences these establishments offer.

Beachwood Resort (Lower Buckhorn Lake)
3043 Beachwood Drive, RR#1
Lakefield, K0L 2H0
705-657-3481

Viamede Conference Resort & Spa (Stony Lake)
595 Mount Julian-Viamede Rd.
Woodview, K0L 3E0
705-654-3344

Elmhirst’s Resort (Rice Lake)
1045 Settlers Line
Keene, K0L 2G0
705-295-4591

Balsam Lake Villa Cottages (Balsam Lake)
56 Olivers Lane
Fenelon Falls, K0M 1N0
705-887-5461

chris-h-005A resource to learn more about Chris and this region’s fishing is Exist To Fish. This website owned and operated by Chris is fantastic. There are tons of how to articles and reviews written by their extensive and accomplished field staff. It is clear that the Exist To Fish fishermen and fisherwomen know what they are talking about.

So, a big thank you to Chris for sharing his in-depth lifelong knowledge of the Kawarthas Northumberland fishing with us. Personally, I was very interested to hear of his assessment of the recovery of the walleye fishing in this part of Ontario. I have traveled many miles to find good walleye fishing, and it is exciting to consider having quality walleye fishing so close to my home in Pennsylvania.

But the muskie and bass fishing of this region capture my attention the most. Imagine catching a big bag of smallmouth (or largemouth) one day and then casting for trophy muskie the next.

I want to note Chris’ dedication to and promotion of principles that sustain and improve these fisheries. He asked that I make sure that I note that all of his photos are of fish that were caught and released in this region. As noted earlier, it is because of fishermen, like Chris, being focused on proper fishery management that this region is producing such amazing fishing.

chris-h-006Another great resource is the Kawarthas Northumberland website. Their Trip Planner is an outstanding tool to discover your next vacation to the area.

The trip planner isn’t just for fishing vacations but can be used to plan your entire itinerary from the outdoors to dining to places to get a local brew to arts to whatever you are looking for. The planner has everything you and your family need for an amazing stay in the Kawarthas Northumberland.

Thanks again Chris. The fall muskie season is fast approaching. Catch and release some trophies! To the rest of us, what are we waiting for? Its time to plan a trip to Kawarthas Northumberland!