Get Reel in the North – Hit the surf

Hit the surf

These are trying times for everyone. With the doom and gloom overwhelming everybody’s daily newsfeed, I think it is time to give everyone a reason to get outside, distance yourself from people and get away from what is going on right now. 

Let me introduce you to surf fishing.

I was lucky enough to spend numerous years of my life in the wonderful country of Australia. There, surf fishing is a way of life. With the massive expanse of the ocean before you, what do Aussies do? They grab their rods, bait and tackle and head down to the beach. I caught sharks, snapper, mulloway, bream—you name it, I targeted it, and all from just the shore.

When I came back to Canada, I had a problem adjusting not only to the cold but the style of fishing. Sure, I grew up here and fished every waking hour when I could, but I missed surf fishing. Something about it is very satisfying. No electronics, boat or fancy gear, it’s just the angler trying to find fish from shore with the vast expanse of water in front of you.

With ice fishing a memory, I move onto the in-between time when I still can’t get out in the boat but want to fish. Surf fishing fills this void. Not only now, but throughout the spring, summer and fall. 

When surf fishing, you learn to read the water and understand fish habits fast. It is surprising how many fish are near shore and within casting distance during the day. All it takes is a long rod, a decent reel with a large line capacity and a bit of research on where to start.

Since returning from Australia and putting into practice the art of surf fishing, I have landed almost everything you can imagine. Trophy walleye, pike, salmon, lake trout and rainbow, to name a few.

You want to look for tributaries, rivers, pinch points and shoals in the immediate area. All of these areas will attract bait and, in turn, attract feeding fish. Early in the spring you are limited with the spots and species available to fish, but trust me, they are there.

Providence Bay beach and the mouth of the Kagawong River are my go-to spots at this time of year. Rainbow and Atlantic salmon are what I am after in these spots. 

Rainbow is the easiest to target with a simple roe bag or ball of Berkley Power Bait on a running sinker or under a float rig. Atlantic salmon are a bit trickier. The Atlantics are coming in close to shore in the early spring for one reason, bait. 

Kagawong has a decent run of smelt every year. The salmon are drawn in close to shore as they chase the spawning smelt. Now is the time to ‘match the hatch,’ as they say.

Use small casting spoons like a Luhr Jensen Krocodile or an Acme Little Cleo. Blue and silver tend to work the best, however, I have had success on the red and copper versions as well.

As the spring progresses and the season opens up other fish species, you can catch everything from walleye to monster pike off the shores of Manitoulin. Casting from shore can be some of the most therapeutic fishing you will find. Put your worries aside, at least for a while, get outside to enjoy what the Island has to offer.

Tight lines,