Fishing at Blue Moon Retreat
Ontario is a fisherman's paradise: 250,000 lakes; annual catch of 107 million fish; and a fishing derby with a million dollar fish.
The province of Ontario has over 250,000 lakes, borders on 4 of the Great Lakes (which have about 1/5 of the world’s fresh water) and Hudsons Bay and contains the world famous Canadian Niagara Falls. It’s no wonder that the word “Ontario” is Iroquoian for beautiful or shining waters.
With so much water around the opportunities for sport and recreation on, in and by the water are almost endless. Naturally, many of the following fishing entries deal with opportunities local to Blue Moon Retreat as in the area we have our fair share of the freshwater lakes. In addition, for our out of province guests on a more extended visit, I include some possibilities to try on their way to or from Blue Moon Retreat.
Ontario offers many kinds of fishing experiences. Though probably best known for its muskellunge waters and walleye (pickerel) fishery, Ontario is home to an astounding 158 of Canada’s 228 species of freshwater fish.
According to the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans, in 2000 there were over 107,000,000 fish caught in Ontario of which over 25,000,000 were the very popular walleye. Of these 100 million plus fish caught, more than 75% were released, so there are still at least a few out there for you to catch.
Our lake, Purdy, is only about 1.4 sq km (.54 sq miles) and a lake this size does not yield record fish – interesting; but, not records. I would say that the Purdy Lake fishing is more for the recreational fisherman (more on this below); but, there are fishing opportunities in the area that are sure to appeal to the serious, dedicated fishermen. The write-up below gives some suggestions on a few large local lakes which you might want to try. There are also some suggestions for lakes which you will pass on your way to Blue Moon Retreat.
We encourage you to always follow good safety practices – see www.boatingontario.ca for safe boating guide. More on safety in the ice fishing section.
For even more detailed information on the different types of fish to be caught in Ontario, we recommend the MNR web site – www.ontario.ca/travel-and-recreation/fishing . An example – its entry for lake trout “..The lake trout, like other members of the char family, is typically northern in distribution. In Ontario they occur in Lake Ontario, Lake Huron, Lake Superior and across the deep, cold lakes of the Canadian Shield. Lake trout normally inhabit only lakes with a depth greater than 15 meters (50 feet). In spring, just after ice goes out, lake trout are found near the surface and can be taken on a fly rod, or with spinners, spoons and plugs. As the water warms up they go deep and must be sought with special deep-water tackle — wire line, lead-core line, downriggers, diving planers, etc. Large spoons, spinners and plugs are good summer trolling baits. Jigging, or still-fishing with large, dead minnows in deep water, is sometimes effective in summer. Ice fishing for lake trout is often done with minnows or lake herring, or, by jigging with spoons and jigs with bait attached.” Note: I selected lake trout for this example as they are present in Purdy Lake.
The Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters web site – www.ofah.org gives records and related details on the largest fish caught in Ontario. Selected examples: Walleye – 22.25 lbs (10.1 kg); Muskellunge – 65 lbs (29.5 kg) ; Lake Trout – 63.1 lbs (28.6 kg).; Brook Trout – 14.5 lbs (6.6 kg).; Chinook Salmon – 46.38 lbs. (21 kg); Lake Sturgeon – 168 lbs (76.2 kg).
To see pictures of the fish you may catch, we recommend the web site of the Great Lakes Fishery Commission – www.glfc.org/multimedia/photos.php. They offer downloaded images of the various species.
Gear & Supplies
At Blue Moon Retreat we do supply pedal boats, canoes, row boats and life jackets; but, do not supply fishing tackle or bait. You can bring your own or if you don’t have any with you, due to the popularity of fishing, gear and supplies are widely available. The nearest source to Blue Moon Retreat is the general store in Combermere 7 km (4.5 miles) away (they also carry bait); if you want more of a selection you may want to try the hardware store in Barrys Bay or the Canadian Tire store in Bancroft.
If you want to try your luck on the away or on one of the local lakes or streams, a rod, reel and bait is probably all you require. However, if you want to indulge further and don’t have your own boat or canoe, you may decide to source from one of the local outfitters (Barrys Bay or Bancroft) or Marinas.
Most Canadian residents need an Outdoors Card to fish in Ontario if they are at least 18 years old but have not reached their 65th birthday.
To fish in Ontario right away, buy a temporary paper license from one of more than 2,000 license issuers (e.g. Combermere, Barrys Bay)
Most non-residents of Canada need a fishing license to fish in Ontario.
Non-residents 18 years of age and over must purchase a fishing license.
Non-residents under 18 years of age may fish without a license if accompanied by an adult who has a recreational fishing license.
Another option – non-residents under 18 years may purchase their own license.
For full details see the Ministry of Natural Resources web site – www.ontario.ca/travel-and-recreation/fishing
Some fishermen (and all the companies that produce lake maps) claim that lake maps can help both first time and regular anglers. One source of such maps is Adventure Fishing Maps, P.O. Box 255, Bridgenorth, Ontario K0L 1H0 1-705-292-6175. From their web site www.adventurefishingmaps.on.ca “..Lake Maps Provide You With • locations for the main fish species; • approx. water depth contour lines; • information on fish habits, movements and fishing tips; directions to the lake, boat launches, shore fishing spots, etc. • and more!”
Naturally, there are different open seasons and catch and possession limits for the various species of fish. We are in division 15 (as defined by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources). See www.ontario.ca/document/2015-ontario-fishing-regulations-summary for full details on seasons.
Fishing at Blue Moon Retreat
Blue Moon Retreat has about 1,500 ft (300 m) of frontage on Purdy Lake which is 1.38 km in size – not a large lake; but, definitely big enough when you paddle around it. There are 4 docks at which are moored the complimentary canoes, pedal boats and row boats (which you use at your own risk). We urge you not to go onto the water without the provided life jacket – all requirements and special needs in this area please contact us. Of course, all standard rules of water safety should be followed (e.g. always having a bailing pail). We are sorry to say that we do not provide fishing gear; if you do not have your own, you can always pick up an inexpensive rod and reel at one of the local stores (e.g. general store in Combermere (also have bait) or Canadian Tire in Bancroft or the hardware store in Barrys Bay).
Our smaller guests have a lot of fun catching fish right from the docks. What a joy to watch their reactions.
The guests interested in more serious fishing normally take one of the water craft out. One of the favorite spots in just at the drop off to the west end of the island. Another is across the lake where the creek comes in. But as always with fishing, you never know, often a fisherman returning from further out will catch some right along in front of the resort.
Purdy Lake is designated a lake trout lake and to protect them a building freeze has been imposed. We are told that lake trout will only live in very clean water and thus their presence attests to the quality of the lake water. In the lake there are also bass and pickerel. Some of our guests have quite some luck in catching fish.
Fishing in the Area
Our local municipality, Township of Hastings Highlands (size: 500 sq m (1,295 sq km); population: 4,000; population density 3.1 / sq km) is in the northern part of the County of Hastings. We do have some larger lakes in the area – 5 of which are listed below. There are many more lakes in the area.
Baptiste Lake – From the Cottagers Association web site – www.baptistelake.org – “Baptiste Lake is the largest lake in Hastings County,… a surface area of 5,254 acres (2,126 hectares), a maximum depth of 103ft (31m), an average depth of 17.4ft (5.3m) and the perimeter of the lake is 38.3 miles (61.6 km)”. While Baptiste Lake by itself is quite large, it also forms a much larger lake system with links to Elephant and Benoir Lake. The species of fish present in order of abundance: Largemouth Bass, Smallmouth Bass, Maskinonge ( Musky), Northern Pike and Yellow Pickerel ( Walleye ). As well the lake contains populations of: Rock Bass, Yellow Perch, Trout, Pumpkinseed, White Sucker, Brown Bullhead, Burbot and Lake Herring. . Baptiste has a very healthy population of freshwater’s most elusive prize, the musky. Favorite Fishing Spots: 1. Drift fishing in the narrows between Hay and West Bay; 2. Drift fishing between the island and the mainland between Grassy and Hay Bay. Across from Forest View; 3. Trolling and casting south shore of Hay Bay for bass and pike.
Bark Lake –Surface Area 9,386 acres (3,798 ha); Perimeter 55.9 miles (90 km); Maximum Depth 287 ft (87 m); Mean Depth 79.6 ft (24m). Fish Species Present: Lake trout, smallmouth bass, lake whitefish, round whitefish, white sucker, longnose sucker, rainbow smelt, brown bullhead, burbot, yellow perch, pumpkinseed, creek chub and northern redbelly dace. The Lake trout is the more popular species and 25 lb lakers are regularly found in the angler’s creel. Winter anglers favor the off-point shoals and 15 to 25 ft depths. Summer anglers catch the lunkers in the 80 to 100 ft depths.” Bark lake is just north west of Blue Moon Retreat. Note: Bark Lake has a year-round open season for lake trout.
Elephant Lake – Ontario Fisherman has stated “Elephant Lake is unquestionably one of Southern Ontario’s best cottage-country fishing lakes. Trophy bass – both largemouth and smallmouth – are not uncommon and limits of 2 to 4 lb. bass are the norm. Add to the mix the lake’s numerous muskies and occasional big walleye, and you have the makings for a Southern Ontario fishing grand slam. Surprisingly, though widely acclaimed, Elephant Lake is lightly fished and remains a favorite drive-to bass lake for the Ontario Fisherman staffers.” From the web site – Elephant Lake In Haliburton County Harcourt Township; Physical Data – Surface Area – 2,186 acres (885 hectares) Perimeter – 21.5 miles (35 km) ; Maximum Depth – 23 ft (7 m) Mean Depth – 6 ft (1.8 m). Fish Species Present – Maskinonge, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, yellow pickerel, rock bass, yellow perch, white sucker, golden shiner.. Catches of largemouth and smallmouth bass, yellow pickerel and maskinonge are excellent. Almost due west of Maynooth, turn at the big corner in Maynooth and follow for about 20 km (16 miles).
Kaminiskeg Lake –Surface Area 7,200 acres (2,914 ha); Perimeter 29.0 miles (46.7 km); Maximum Depth 133 ft (40.5 m); Mean Depth 30.8 ft (9. 4 m). Fish Species Present: Yellow pickerel, lake trout, smallmouth bass, northern pike, lake whitefish, lake herring, yellow perch, white sucker, brown bullhead, rock bass, pumpkinseed, bluenose minnow, blacknose shiner, fallfish, and golden shiner. The lake is angled successfully for yellow pickerel during the open season in both winter and summer with some fish as large as ten pounds being taken. The northern pike and smallmouth bass are taken in the summer months in the weedy bays. Public access is available at the town dock in Barry’s Bay or in the village of Combermere (7 km or 4.5 miles from Blue Moon Retreat).
Papineau Lake – Surface Area 2085 Acres/834 ha; Perimeter 13.5 miles/21.7 km; Maximum Depth 200 ft/60.9 m. Fish Species Present: Lake trout, northern pike, largemouth bass. To the west of us – come out of the Blue Moon driveway, turn right (towards Maynooth) and between Purdy and Maple Leaf, take Papineau Lake Road. Papineau Lake also has an excellent public sand beach – ideal for the younger ones.
Winter Ice Fishing
First of all some words on safety from www.fishinontario.com/icefish.shtml “…Anyone who decides to go out onto a frozen body of water must make a personal decision to do so, realizing that there is a degree of risk associated with this choice. Ice seldom freezes at a uniform rate. What constitutes a safe depth of ice is difficult to apply in all cases. While three-inches of ice on a farm pond may pose little danger, that same three inches on a moving stream or lake with springs, stumps and currents could be very dangerous. Please never go onto the ice alone, and always let someone know where you’re going, and when you should be back.”
Ice fishing is possible on Purdy Lake; but, we do not supply fish huts or any of the other equipment.