Lake Simcoe is located only 50 kilometers from down town Toronto yet is one of the best fisheries in the country. Hailed as one of the world’s foremost trophy smallmouth bass lakes, it also has a healthy population of largemouth that would rival any northern lake. Although bass might add to the lakes international popularity, most visitors come to the lake for other species such as Perch, Lake Trout, and Whitefish. Lake Simcoe is one of the most heavily fished lakes in the province but the majority of anglers come between December and March to fish through the ice. First safe ice in the bays comes in late December on average with main lake ice normally safe to travel on foot by mid January. Perch season is open all year and might be the single most sought after catch. Simcoe is famous for her Jumbo Perch and any sign of ice brings visitors from all parts of the province and south of the board to test early ice in hopes of catching a meal of these tasty pan fish. The most popular early ice perch bays are Cooks Bay in the south, Georgina Island on the south east shore, and Kempenfelt near the town docks in Barrie, where they fish off shore until freeze up and slowly move out as the ice becomes safe. Ironically enough, despite being the most intensively fished inland lake in the province, it is during the winter that the vast majority of fishing pressure occurs. More people fish here when they can walk on hardwater than at any other time. So, for visitors coming to fish the lake throughout the open water seasons of spring, summer and fall, they may find themselves wondering where are all the anglers went. Let’s just say that their loss is your gain and if you want to maximize your Time on the Water during your visit, then read on and we’ll try and help teach you a little about our big lake.
Yellow perch are without a doubt the lakes’ most popular fish. And it’s no wonder – they taste delicious and are found just about everywhere.
There are many excellent areas for spring perch, from Cook’s Bay in the south all the way up to Atherly Narrows in the north. Simcoe’s shores out from the villages of Virginia, Willow Beach, Keswick, Pefferlaw and Port Bolster, Innisfil, Gilford and even Barrie are tough to beat. Of course the annual Orillia Perch Festival includes both Simcoe and Cooch and is prime time for some great jumbo’s at the start of the open water season.
Finding one or two perch usually means you have found a school so don’t become discouraged if you don’t get bit right away. When perch are shallow using a small search spoon such as a small Jig-Whopper is a great way to locate that school. One trick
I have found that is also very productive is to actually long line troll for perch with a mid-sized sinking Rapala. After I connect with one fish, I will throw a marker buoy to the spot where the perch hit and proceed to cast to that area with jigs. The trend among some real perch experts has been to forgo the use of live minnows and opt for some of the new soft, lifelike, Trigger X minnow artificial’s, available at tackle shops around the lake.
Every year northern pike season opens on the 2nd Saturday in May on Simcoe and most of the shallow, weedy areas in of the lake will hold these popular toothy critters. Effective techniques include trolling crank or jerk baits, casting spinnerbaits, or tossing jigs near the aquatic plants that pike call home. Perhaps none are as exciting though as twitching jerk baits like the Rapala X Rap or Husky Jerk, Live Target Smelt, or some of the new soft swim baits across weedy flats. When a big Simcoe northern rushes up and viciously attacks that helpless minnow-imitating bait it is enough to give even the most seasoned veteran the a sever case of the shakes.
Many Simcoe anglers complain of fewer pike than ‘the good old days’ thinking that the population is nothing like it used to be.Fortunately however the pike are still there in healthy numbers. Perhaps the 25 pound plus giants are harder to find but there are still all kinds of 5-10 pound northern’s and enough in the 15 pound range to keep things real interesting. Unfortunately for some anglers who have not adapted their fishing techniques to the increase in water clarity (caused by the filtering effects of zebra mussels) their fishing success has dropped considerably. One critical element to success for many has been to stash away the traditional steel leaders needed to prevent pike from biting through the line and replacing them with something more invisible yet still strong. My choice has been to use a leader made from a couple of feet of 30 lb Fluorocarbon line. For jigs and spinnerbaits I tie directly, and for cranks, and jerk baits I use a snap.
Especially productive colour patterns for Simcoe include the Clown for rough or cloudy days and perch or natural gold colour for sunny calm days. Pike fishing during the spring on Simcoe is very weather dependant. Pick a period if you can when weather patterns just prior to your day out have been stable. A warming trend is great … a cold front sucks!
Decisions in May – Pike & Walleye or Lakers & Whitefish
The 2nd Saturday of May has always been a HUGE day for anglers who love to fish Lake Simcoe but sometimes they have a difficult choice trying to figure out what to fish for. Not only does northern pike and walleye season open up, but so too does whitefish and lake trout season. These two cold water species are usually found in deeper sections of the lake which is void of the aquatic plant growth that pike and walleye crave. Long lining flashy spoons or thin crankbaits like the original floating Rapala next to shoals or deepwater points works great for early spring lakers.
Jigging spoons like the Williams Whitefish spoon or HT’s ¼ oz rocker minnows vertically below the boat in 60-75 feet of water for Simcoe’s humongous whitefish, has become an increasingly effective form of angling. Lately the new Lil Foxee Jigging Minnow worked with a seductive twitching motion right near bottom has been especially effective for the bottom oriented whitefish. Those at the south end of the lake are especially fortunate in that they have two of the very best open water whitefish areas found anywhere on the lake … Out from the hamlets of Willow Beach and Jackson’s Point.