Connecting Lake Simcoe's Community

Wil Wegman, an award winning angler and outdoor writer, has the line on Lake Simcoe fishing tips, tournaments and other fishing news.

Muskie love

Muskie love


Muskelunge are one of Ontario’s top gamefish and are at the top of the food chain wherever they reside. They are known as the "fish of a thousand casts" but highly skilled muskie anglers will dispute this notion.

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Fishing action in May and June

May is a BIG Opening Month for Lake Simcoe Anglers May 10 — the second Saturday of the month — is huge on Simcoe! Lake trout, whitefish, northern pike and walleye season all open. For those who can’t wait and want to wet a line before then, they can fish Simcoe’s yellow perch, sunfish, rock bass, brown bullhead, bowfin, black crappie and even common carp as they all have a year round open season. These fish are found in good numbers – both in the lake and her many tributary rivers.

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2013 Bass Pro Shops Lake Simcoe Open on Oct. 19

This year’s BPS Lake Simcoe Open will be Saturday, October 19th, and will again be held out of Orillia.

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Swimming with the fishes in the 4k Sun City Swim

Swimming with the fishes in the 4k Sun City Swim

 Within minutes after jumping into Lake Couchiching for his first ever long distance swim, Wil Wegman saw his first fish ... then another and another.

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Getting closer to the Big Swim

Recently I was fortunate enough to have been the focus of an article in the Bradford Topic Newspaper featuring my upcoming attempt to swim across Lake Couchiching for the annual Sun City Swim. That 1/2 page article included a nice large photo of me and a big bass, that took up plenty of space, which left out a fair bit of the information I supplied for the reporter.

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Training for the Aug. 10 Sun City Swim

Training for the Aug. 10 Sun City Swim

Training for the Aug. 10 Sun City Swim

Well - Here goes my first blog that will combine my swimming and fishing exploits this summer. Johanna Powell, editor of Lake Simcoe Living (LSL) encouraged me to try the former- while a few others pushed me to try again with the latter … so we’ll try and combine them both and see what we come up with! As a recap to the LSL article in the July-August 2013 issue of Lake Simcoe Living Magazine, I am currently practicing for a 4km swim in Orillia across Lake Couchiching on Aug. 10. This Sun City Swim is an annual fundraiser for the local Orillia Memorial Hospital and their neonatal intensive care unit. I’d like to thank all those who have so generously contributed already by sponsoring my swim. That www.canada-helps.org/GivingPages/GivingPage.aspx?gpID=24800 page sure does make giving easy! As far as my training goes … I have been at this lap swimming thing since our Bradford Pool opened in May 2012. I signed up for the swim this past winter. I’m still completing at least 1.5 km each day. I swim in 10 lap sets – each lap is across the pool and back … @ 25 metres one way=50 metres per lap. So each set is 500 metres or ½ a kilometre. At 3 sets of 10 laps at 500 metres per set, I get my 1,500 metres - or 1.5 km in! I like the front crawl (FC), so that’s primarily what I do. However, at 53, I’m no spring chicken so I do take breaks from this fast paced swim. I really admire some of the younger swimmers who can seemingly go forever without even taking a break … their stamina is inspiring! My routine typically includes 4 laps FC- then 1 breast stroke (BS), followed by 4 more laps FC, then another BS (equals one set) … then a 2 minute break …. Then I resume another set of 10, followed by a break and one more set and I’m done. All in all, it takes me about 40 minutes or so to complete each day. I’ve been counting my laps for about half a year now … before that I would just swim for 35 minutes and call it a day. Not bad eh for someone who hates working with or trying to remember numbers and sucks at math huh? Maybe once or twice each week, I’ll treat myself to 5 minutes in the relaxation pool afterwards … sort of like a huge hot tub with the water substantially cooler. Since July 1st my mid week (Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday) swims have increased to include Monday and Friday mornings before work. This is thanks to the expanded summer schedule put out by the Bradford Leisure and Aquatic Centre. With fishing now typically occupying both weekend days, that morning swim on Saturday and or Sunday simply wasn’t happening, so I’m welcoming the opportunity for more time in the pool to better train for the 4km lake swim in August. Blog #2 - Quick repair for tournament boat It’s been a season full of lots of bass and lots of bass fishing for me so far. For an update, you can read an article I wrote for the www.aurorabass.com site that highlights four consecutive bass fishing excursions between the opener on June 22nd and our Lake Eugenia Club tournament on June 25th. The Canada Day long weekend after that was spent fun fishing Simcoe one day and prefishing on Gloucester Pool with my son Izaak and then on Georgian Bay with fellow Aurora Bassmaster and friend Brian Ogden. Hey ... I guess that counts for 4 more consecutive days! G Pool produced lots of bass for Izaak and me in our usual haunts - whereas G Bay was a tough slog. The last time I was on these waters was about a decade ago when water levels were beginning to really decrease - and I lost my lower unit… motoring over a spot that was always fine in the past... but hardened up somewhat with low water levels. So, I was a little gun shy. Still Brian and I eliminated a lot of unproductive water, caught a few bass here and there and managed to keep my lower unit intact. For the Bassmania tournament the following weekend with regular team tournament partner Gerry Heels - I had two more days of prefishing planned. G Pool was great and I managed to find two new spots that held real promise. Typically on this body of water I find fish spread out but these two spots held good quantities of fish, so I was pumped. I was prefishing G Bay with Gerry and we travelled up to Penetang together to launch his boat. We were about ½ way to our first spot when his alarm went off- letting us know something was wrong with his engine. Long story short … we called his mechanic in Toronto at Extreme Marine who recommended we get it in there to replace the alternator. So, we made it back to the launch with alarm a-buzzing, and I drove home while Gerry went into Toronto where the pit stop crew fixed his motor in record time. We met at the car-port, drove back up to Penetang and were back in the water by 3pm – in time to quickly hit the spot we wanted to check out before we had to be off the water by 5pm. The bass there were on fire though, and we saw lots as well in the shallow gin-clear waters of this Great Lake. Surprisingly we were quite optimistic for tournament day. Georgian Bay only has a 3-bass limit so we knew a kicker fish or anything well above the 2-3 lb average would be key to success. That morning we had our 3 fish limit within minutes and soon began the arduous task of carefully culling through our live well in order to bring in the absolute heaviest bag we could … Every ounce was critical as ties with this ridiculous and unwarranted low limit are commonplace. Throughout the day we caught all kinds of smallmouth and most came from the trusty Trigger X Fluttering Worm. Unlike during the Eugenia Tournament however, I lost very few of these stick-worms because I was using shrink wrap overtop the middle of the worm where the hook would go thru. My long shanked 2/0 Gamakatsu worm hooks may be a little unconventional for this rig, however smaller hooks tend to produce more deep hooked bass - something I try to avoid at all cost to help keep my bass alive and healthy. My hooking percentage has also been outstanding with these. Despite culling 3 pounders constantly during the tournament though – we still ended up mid way thru the pack when all was said and done. When our first new spot on G Pool the next day failed miserably, I was a little anxious that our next new area would be the same. It however did not disappoint and we caught a couple of limits there in relatively short order. It consisted of a rock pile with weed, however upon closer examination it was far more than just one rock as a few unmarked scattered rocks within a couple hundred metres also held weeds and produced both largemouth and smallmouth. Alas, with over 12 pounds for five bass we had a decent average … but you guessed it; we placed mid-way down the pack again! Blog #3 - Aurora Bassmasters Tournament On Tuesday July 9th our Aurora Bassmasters had an afternoon tournament (2pm-8pm) out of Big Chute on the Severn River. These club tournaments have 8-12 boats (instead of the 80-100 that Bassmania has) and each angler fishes as an individual boater or non-boater... each retaining his own 5 fish limit (compared to Bassmania which is a team event with a 5 bass limit per team). I wasn’t able to pre-fish this event and the last and only time I was there before was 4 or 5 years ago. That was for our club Classic, which I just happened to win. I fished a section off the river, that only one other boat fished all day – and that was Des Barnes, who came 2nd. Anyway, this year’s tournament started off kind of hairy, because I discovered upon arrival that my drain plug was missing and all the spares that others had didn’t fit. Even the marina had trouble finding one; but we got one close enough after I wrapped some electrical tape around it … good to go, just in time for the 2pm blastoff. This year though, word had spread about where I caught my fish before and in front of me about 8 or 9 boats were headed to the same large section off the river to fish. Two other boats stayed in the main river and both of their boaters had pre-fished the area we were headed to a few days ago! What did they know – that we didn’t? Were there no big fish left there? The main boat house were we had culled our limit of fish from a few years ago - just happened to be where one of our club members started. In fact the entire north section where we caught fish before was pre-occupied by fellow Aurora Bassmasters this time… So non-boater and president of the club David Meadows and I headed south, picked a shoreline and just began fishing! Before I knew it I had a limit of small smallmouth and one good largemouth. I absolutely loved these shorelines with great mixes of rock/weed clumps, docks, boat houses … and in some special areas even current. When I saw that current pushing up against a wall of coontail, I would get that Trigger X Fluttering Worm in there and just know I’d get bit. I soon began culling … getting rid of my smallmouth and replacing with the larger largemouth. I even went way back into some bays to fish docks and weeds - something I often refrain from doing … but it paid off nicely. David was having a little tougher time connecting … and when a big 5 lb plus largie came up and spat the hook - my heart sank for the guy. It came from beneath a blue boat – so naturally he joked we’ve got to be on a blue boat pattern. Throughout the evening we stuck to fishing shorelines - from one great looking shore to the other … some that had already been fished by others … but my confidence level was just so high I didn’t let it bother me. I was culling 2 ¾ -3 lb fish all night and loving every second of it. At weigh-in, I saw some decent catches come in and even the odd report of amazing numbers of bass that were caught by my fellow members. I was pleasantly surprised therefore that no real sacks appeared close to what I had in the well and when it was my turn - those scales settled on over 14 lbs and I enjoyed my second win in a row. This past weekend (July 13th and 14th) I pre fished both days for upcoming tournaments. My first ever visit to 9 Mile Lake near Bala was interesting to say the least. After a two-hour drive with Brian we were astounded by the sheer volume of cars crammed into the tight quarters around the public launch at 9 Mile. There was seemingly no parking to be had anywhere. After a search for the owner of the Nine Mile Lake Marina next door, we were able to secure parking (@$15) and we were off. Our first section of the lake produced right away … bass after bass after bass was caught. All were in the 10-13 inch range though. We had heard the same story from Carlo, another Aurora Bassmaster who was here prefishing a few days ago for our club tourney on July 27th. After a morning of catching lots of largemouth … which appeared to decrease in size as we got away from the cottage-built-up-area of the lake, we ran into another Aurora Bassmaster- Lidio Godino who was also prefishing. His results were very similar to ours. It sure was a nice looking lake though, much like a river system and pretty well every shoreline had fish on it. Problem was the bass were all stunted, much like you would see in a farm pond. The best thing for this lake would actually be some harvest of those smaller bass by locals and a commitment to be sure to let bigger ones go. Along one section of the lake, Brian and I even saw a very cool little Eastern Smooth Green Snake of about 10 inches swimming along shore. It was quite bright and obviously harmless. There was the occasional campsite at the north section of the lake where very few signs of people exist. Finding bass over the 12-inch minimum for the tournament seemed like such a rare thing, that we questioned whether we should have the whole club descend upon this lake in a couple of week’s time. We reported our findings to the tournament committee and it now looks like Simcoe will replace 9 Mile on July 27. We all know how big the bass here get … as my 18 lb bag for 5 fish at this year’s Casey Cup was way down the pack as over 50 teams had more than 20 pound sacks … just incredible. Finally, on Sunday, July 14th, I prefished Lake Couchiching for a big Bassmania tournament there on July 21st. I looked closely at the distance between Fern Resort and Couchiching Beach Park – where the Sun City Swim will take us … and man oh man those 4 km look awfully long! And, when I jumped in the lake midway thru the scorching hot - windless day, I was unpleasantly surprised at how rough it was to swim against the boat traffic waves. Man, it's so different swimming in a lake compared to a pool! I checked a few areas out quickly before I found the motherload of bass. Here my Trigger X Fluttering Minnow that has been so hot all season came thru once again and accounted for about 18 lbs of largemouth for my heaviest 5 bass. I think I have something going but we’ll see if this pans out next week on tournament day when it really counts! Stay tuned! Read more from Wil Wegman in Lake Simcoe Living Magazine and at www.wilwegman.com.

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In the water with the fish!

In the water with the fish!

I'm gonna swim across one of my favourite bass lakes on Aug 10 and I am looking to raise money for Soldiers Bay Hospital in Orillia at the same time. All proceeds from the swimming event will go to their Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

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Ice Hut operators in the Lake Simcoe area

Fish Hut Operators on Lake Simcoe

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Lake Simcoe and Area Fishing/Outdoor Clubs

“I’m not really a joiner ... you know, going to monthly meetings and just talking about fishing ... not sure if that’s for me”.  I have heard this many times from anglers over the years and admittedly this was actually how I felt as well before joining a fishing club in 1995. Since then I have become a strong proponent of the whole fishing club scene.  I have come to learn that these clubs don’t just offer their members some great fishing opportunities and an educational component to help make them better anglers,  but that they are also responsible for an incredible number of fine conservation projects, youth initiatives and community events.  The list of fishing related clubs below was created to simplify your search if you are interested in joining a club. Not all are strictly focussed on fishing, and although every effort was made to include all those within the watershed, we may have inadvertently missed a couple.  If this is the case, please supply details and we will be happy to include in this list.

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2011 Law Enforcement Fishing Classic

2011 Law Enforcement Fishing Classic

On June 5, 2011, I fished my first "open water" tournament of the season. It was the 2011 Law Enforcement Fishing Classic (LEFC) on Lake Simcoe and was hosted by the Toronto Association. Ninety two participants came to fish this Northern Pike tournament and support the Nolan Russell trust fund.

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Top tips to increase your chances to catch a fish while fishing from shore

1. Seek out steeper sloping shorelines. Fish like close access to deep water.

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Canadian Bass Tournament Record set at 2010 Lake Simcoe Open

Take the Lake Simcoe Ice Fishing Pledge!

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Fishing the Weeds

Despite the love affair anglers have with weeds because most know how important they are to fish, they can still pose a major challenge. Hooks can easily get caught in weeds and globs of weeds at the end of your line won’t catch anything. Similarly, deep weed growth can be difficult to see, and not knowing where weed lines exist will minimize success.

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National Fishing Week

Hello Fishing Friends,

Are you ready to get bit this week?

Did you know more people over the age of 15 in Canada fish that play hockey and golf combined?

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2010 Law Enforcement Fishing Classic

 

By Wil Wegman

pike tournament june 6 2010 2
June 9, 2010 — On June 6, 2010, I fished my first ‘open water’ tournament of the season. It was the 2010 Law Enforcement Fishing Classic (LEFC) on Lake Simcoe and was hosted by the Toronto Police Amateur Athletic Association and the Toronto Police Association. More than 120 participants came to fish this Northern Pike tournament and support the two charities that benefit from the proceeds of the LEFC. Participants were made up of anglers from across the province who are law enforcement officials — Toronto Police Service, OPP, York Regional Police, Peel Regional Police, Halton Regional Police and Durham Regional Police — as well some of the top-name anglers and sponsors in Ontario.


A Great Double Charity Tournament

Once again the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters (OFAH) Children`s Tackle Share Program and the Tema Conter Memorial Trust (TCMT )will receive a significant donation on behalf of the participants of the LEFC. The TCMT provides assistance for emergency services personnel who have faced traumatic events resulting in serious physical, psychological and emotional effects. The TCMT was founded to give our heroes the attention they deserve. The OFAH Tackle Share program is designed to lend fishing rods, reels and basic tackle to children and novice anglers who do not have their own fishing equipment and are eager to experience the excitement of fishing.  The OFAH Tackle Share program has arrived to more than 100 communities across Ontario, giving aspiring anglers an opportunity to go fishing. Participating Ontario Provincial Parks, public libraries, conservation authorities, youth camps and Big Brothers and Big Sisters organizations host OFAH Tackle Share loaner sites. Through these locations, children and new anglers can sign out a rod and reel and an assortment of tackle, the same way they would borrow library materials.

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Lake Simcoe Whitefish action

 

By Wil Wegman
May 25, 2010 — Every year, the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) stocks 140,000 whitefish into Lake Simcoe. Recently anglers have also been catching "wild" whitefish — that have reproduced naturally and are not stocked from the hatchery.

whitefish may 23 2010 016 - shirtFor the most part the primary whitefish fishery occurs during the winter months when more people fish the lake then the other three seasons combined. However, for a short window each spring an incredible opportunity has emerged on which hundreds, possibly thousands of anglers are capitalizing.

Picture a scene on a calm Lake Simcoe, a few kilometres offshore from communities such as Jackson’s Point and Willow Beach — where not just a few, but literally hundreds, of boats are floating around. In each boat, there is an angler or two, maybe more — often entire families — all with simple fishing rods that have a spoon tied on to mimic an injured baitfish. These anglers of varying skill levels are aware that pods of whitefish are roaming around below them in depths ranging from 60 to 90 feet and one of the best methods to catch them is by just jigging that shiny spoon up and down, up and down, until “thunk”— that upward motion becomes a whole lot heavier.


Whitefish on Lake Simcoe average three to six pounds and the open water spring fishery runs from the second Saturday in May until the water warms up sometime around mid to late June. Typically, by the time bass season opens on the fourth Saturday of the month (the last fish in the lake to become fair game), whitefish have dispersed and spread out into different areas of the lake. It then becomes much more difficult to pinpoint their location and, therefore, target them specifically.

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