Shortly after ice out, one of the first species to show up first are also one of the lakes’ most elusive – the black crappie. Although plentiful in Simcoe, these structure oriented fish are very difficult to locate in this massive body of water because there is not a lot of ideal physical structure for them to snuggle up next to. This is not the case when, shortly after ice out they move to near shore sections around piers, marinas, and up connecting rivers. During the spring season the delicious crappie are sought after by anglers who know that if they time it right they can haul some beautiful 10-14 inch ‘slabs’ from the structure found in marinas and other nearshore areas. Several marinas in Georgina, Brock, and Simcoe counties around the lake have crappie moving in … but you may need to ask permission first before you venture in. Adjoining rivers like the Holland, Pefferlaw and the Maskinonge) also see some crappie move up every spring..
Bass season starts the fourth Saturday in June and is the last species to become fair game on Lake Simcoe. Simcoe is known as one of Canada’s top smallmouth bass fisheries a fact not lost upon the many bass tournaments that have a stopover on the lake. The tournament season kicks off in Orillia with the Casey Cup – run by the Canadian Sportfishing League on the 4th Sunday of every June. The exciting weigh-in ceremonies are open to the public and visitors should come around 3:00- pm when the pro anglers weigh-in their big Lake Simcoe bass.
Many of Simcoe’s summertime recreational anglers will also target bass – especially the mighty smallmouth. “Bronzebacks”, as they are often called, frequent rocky shorelines, points, drop-offs and hang around any one of Simcoe’s productive islands. Crayfish-colored crankbaits, topwaters, spinnerbaits, jerk baits and jigs are all proven lures for catching Simcoe’s big smallies. Soft plastics like tubes, grubs, and senko’s along with drop shot baits like slammers have become major producers for the tournament pros. This lake has become a true world-class trophy smallmouth destination thanks in no small part to the majority of anglers who voluntarily live release those extraordinary 4-7 pound bass. These large fish then continue to reproduce and also offer other anglers the incredible thrill of catching the smallmouth of a lifetime.
Simcoe’s sometimes forgotten largemouth bass also offer exceptional angling. These bass can be found in weedier areas, pencil reeds, near docks, stumps and other structures in the lake. Panfish such as perch, crappie, sunfish, rock bass and bullhead offer lots of fun for the young anglers however are not targeted as much during the months of July and August then they are at other times of the year. Pike continue to cruise weedlines throughout the warmwater months and can be taken with flashy spinnerbaits, crankbaits and jigs.
The great thing about summertime fishing on Lake Simcoe is that you never know for sure what you’re going to catch – which is just fine for the many families that visit and fish the lake occasionally or for those fortunate enough to have homes or cottages along its banks.
A great place to access the lake in York Region during the summer for both smallmouth and yellow perch is the same place the pros use – Sibbald Point Provincial. Here families from across the Region and beyond come not only to fish but to boat, picnic, camp, swim or just sunbathe on the clean sandy beach.
Interestingly enough, the season that may offer the best bass and pike fishing of the year, is also the time when you will find the least amount of anglers on the lake. Big pike are often taken cruising deepwater weedlines by ardent pike anglers who realize this is the finest time of year for Simcoe’s toothy critters. Perch fishermen too come from all over the northern US States to visit places like Jackson’s Point, Virginia, Keswick and Pefferlaw to catch schooling perch out on the main lake.
And as far as smallmouth are concerned … well there just isn’t a better time then late fall to catch the fish of a lifetime in what many anglers think is the finest trophy smallmouth bass fishery on the planet! Tournament anglers know this all too well but thousands of recreational anglers have also heard about the record sized smallmouth Simcoe has to offer … thanks in no small part to the media attention given events as the one below.
Once the open water turns hard, Lake Simcoe comes alive with more anglers than she has seen all year long. That’s right – more people fish the lake each winter then during all the other three seasons combined. With several ice hut operators around southern Ontario’s largest inland lake it makes it easy for families and others without a lot of ice fishing experience to try this great winter sport. For active, hard core ice anglers, the quality and quantity of fish available, brings them back year after year. MNR continues to stock ~50,000 lake trout and ~140,000 whitefish into the lake each year which, combined with increased natural reproduction effectively keeps this cold water fish community prime for the thousands of anglers who target these fish. The good news is that there appears to not only be an increasing number of natural or wild lakers and whities present, but also cisco (lake herring are beginning to make a comeback. At time of writing there were two prominent year classes present in the lake … likely not yet enough to open a season … but at least a possibility in the not too distant future should increased natural reproduction continue.
Yellow perch are still the most sought after species during the hard water season on Simcoe though and its no wonder – the lake is full of them. Whether you are one of the thousands of visiting ice anglers from Michigan or New York, or a local Simcoe resident, there are many lakeside communities close to some remarkable perch fishing.
But for all Lake Simcoe anglers … remember, the future of fishing is in your hands. Please practice selective harvest and catch and release to ensure the great fishing opportunities remain for future generations.