The Ottawa River isn’t the first place I think of when I think about places for kayak fishing. But this interview with OTownYaker or real name Eric Ruest from O-Town Fishing Adventures proves this to be a misconception. Eric shares with us why the Ottawa River in Ontario should be considered a fantastic multi-species kayak fishing destination.
How long have you been kayaking on the Ottawa River?
I have been fishing from the kayak for 6 years now. After trying it a few times, I sold my boat and bought a kayak and have never looked back.
How long have you been offering kayak guide service on the River?
We started O-Town Fishing Adventures 2 years ago in 2015. We saw a need for both kayak and ice fishing guide service in our area. O-Town Fishing Adventures is a joint venture between myself Eric Ruest A.K.A OTownYaker and Ryan Ward A.K.A Choke. Between us we have well over 50 years experience fishing the Ottawa River. The Ottawa River has been good to us landing us most of our personal best fish, 40”+ pike, 30”+ catfish 20”+bass just to name a few.
What makes the Ottawa River such a great place to fish?
The Ottawa is chalk packed with a ton of fish species. Almost anything you would want to catch in our area can be caught in the Ottawa River. There are also lots of fish and lots of large fish. It is pretty much impossible to go out for a day of fishing on the Ottawa and get skunked. That is what makes it such a great place to bring clients. I can almost guarantee them to catch fish and also a good chance at some monsters.
The Ottawa also has lots of clam water bays with low boat traffic. These areas are great places to bring novice kayakers so that they can get used to the kayaks and landing fish from them.
What are the advantages to using a kayak on the Ottawa River over traditional boats?
There are 2 main advantages to kayak fishing the Ottawa river. First is access. Although there are numerous boat launches on the Ottawa, there are huge sections with none. With the kayak if I can see the water I can get on it. All I need is Crownland to touch the water and there are lots of locations to launch a kayak from. This allows me to get into lots of locations that the big boats can’t or just won’t go.
Second is the same in every body of water, being able to get where the boats can’t. There are lots of back bays, rapids, bridges etc. that a traditional boat can’t get into. The water into some bays is only 2” deep and not many boats can get past that. Some bridges are too low for a boat to pass under and some locations have rapids at both ends with no boat ramp in between. In these locations, there is little to no fishing pressure allowing me to catch more and bigger fish.
What are some of the disadvantages?
The Ottawa river is huge, And not all species like the same things. That means that at times the fish are spread out over a good distance. So if I get to a spot and the fish just are not there, I have to load up the kayak, pack up and drive down to another spot, as opposed to just firing up the motor on the boat and taking a quick run up or down river. Therefore I’m spending less time with a rod in my hand. If I don’t have a rod in my hand I cannot catch fish.
In some locations, there is a lot of boat traffic. When fishing from the yak, this can be a problem. You have to deal with wakes from the boat that could flip you from your kayak. You also must always watch out for boats that move much much faster than you can and are much bigger. In the kayak, you are not as visible to them. So you always have to keep an eye out for where the boats are and where they might be going.
Rivers can get rough and dangerous. What are some things that kayak anglers need to pay specific attention to when fishing the Ottawa from a safety perspective?
Know where you are fishing. There is a lot of safe clam water but there is also a lot of unsafe fast water with rapids. Kayaks can go through pretty much anything. But not all kayakers can. Stay within your skill set. If you do not want to go down a set of rapids, stay far far away from them.
You must always pay attention to boats. A boat up on plane might not see you as you are such a small vessel.
Wear Your PFD!
You are currently fishing out of a FeelFree Lure. What makes this boat well suited for the Ottawa?
I fish a lot of different species and the Feelfree Lure 11.5 helps me do it. The Lure is super stable allowing me to stand even in current and choppy water. Standing in the yak is key when sight fishing carp, gar and bass. The wheel in the keel helps me get the kayak in the water when launching from locations without a boat launch or if I have to lug it a distance from the truck to the water. And the seat, my god the seat. It can’t be beat. Super comfy and adjust to something like 20 different heights.
Since the Ottawa River is such a multi-species destination, how many rods are you rigging on a multi-species summer trip?
I normally carry 4 rods. Each one rigged for a different species. The baits most tied to my line would be, a spinner bait, deep crank bait, 4” grub jig, floating jig head with a little worm and a jerk bait. But if I am going out targeting a specific species, all would be rigged with a different presentation for that species.
Since kayak fishing requires narrowing down big bodies of water, what are your favorite sections that you like to fish on the Ottawa?
I fish pretty much every section of the Ottawa river within a 2hr drive of the city of Ottawa. I like each location for different reasons. Some are just loaded with fish. Some are nice and calm. Some just have easy access. There is really no bad place on the Ottawa to fish.
If someone wants to spend a day on the water with you as their guide, how can they do that?
Our typical kayak guided trip is 6hrs from launch to launch. We cater to our clients as much as we can. And will get them on the specific species they wish to catch or a ton of multi species.
We have lots of different packages to choose from and all are listed on our Facebook page. We also offer custom packages, backwoods packages, and weekend camping packages.
Great information Eric! As he said, you can reach them at their website or on Facebook. You can also check out Eric’s Twitter page for more information on Ottawa River kayak fishing.