Award-winning outdoor writer, Wil Wegman, offers an introduction to fishing the waters of Lake Couchiching and Lake Simcoe in this five part anglers series for Orillia & Lake Country.
As 100 bass boats blasted out of Orillia’s first class waterfront harbor that morning, my tournament partner and I were all set to head out of Lake Couchiching like most of our competitors, through the historic Atherley Narrows and into Lake Simcoe … where much larger smallmouth bass are usually caught. Instead, as the Narrows approached, I had this overwhelming instinct to stop in “Couch” first and fish some topwater lures near a series of rocks that I had done really well at for more than a couple of decades. “We may just be fishing memories bud, but I’m willing to give it a try,” my partner responded.
The conditions for topwater baits were ideal … calm, heavy overcast and of course it was prime time for that quick early morning bite. Long story short …we began casting Storm Chug Bugs and Rapala Skitter Pops in and amongst those rocks and sparse weed growth and for the next few hours thought we had died and gone to heaven! We lost count of how many smallmouth we caught in the three pound range but knew the five fish limit in our livewell was pushing 25 pounds. It wasn’t until noon or so that we reluctantly headed into Simcoe to check our typical hotspots for even bigger smallmouth up around Simcoe County’s north end. Unfortunately, this time they just didn’t produce any bigger bass than we had in the well. Regardless, we were happy with our top ten finish and had a magical day with fond memories that last a lifetime.
Lake Couchiching is not known just for its incredible smallmouth bass fishery! Largemouth have also become more and more abundant and the yellow perch population is so prolific that anglers of all skill levels flock here not just in the spring but during all four seasons! Perhaps not as well known, is that the BIG northern pike in Lake Couchiching are anything but few and far between and provide a surprising yet thoroughly enjoyable addition to catching bass or perch during your time on the water here.
Of course Orillia and Lake Country provide far more premier fishing opportunities than just the waters of Lake Couchiching. It includes the Trent Severn Waterway to the north, which leads into Sparrow Lake; a waterbody where I have enjoyed tremendous large and smallmouth bass fishing plus walleye, pike, black crappie and even the occasional muskie. Although there are not many good ol fishing resorts left on Sparrow, accommodations with anglers in mind are still available including the Bayview Wildwood Resort out of Port Stanton. In short, Sparrow Lake offers such a diversity of fish habitat and is surrounded by such gorgeous Canadian Shield scenery that a nice long boat tour from the south to north end near Big Chute will be well worthwhile … especially if you stop and fish along the way! Of course you could even continue on and then over the historic locks at Big Chute into Gloucester Pool – another one of my favorite fishing destinations.
Orillia & Lake Country also includes two other smaller lakes that I love fishing – Bass Lake and Lake St. John. At Bass Lake I often bring the family and we camp at the Provincial Park and enjoy catching and releasing largemouth and lately even many more big smallmouth bass. In fact, this whole region is so blessed with many other spectacular waterways nearby for anglers to visit in Simcoe County. These include parts of southern Georgian Bay but with 740 sq km of Lake Simcoe to the south topping the list. This multi species fishery may be recognized as the ice fishing capital of Canada yet the other three seasons can provide outstanding action for visiting and local anglers alike.
We hope you enjoyed this introduction to fishing in Orillia & Lakes Country and hope you will join us for this ongoing series to maximize your stay and fishing success regardless of when you come for a visit.
Wil Wegman is an award winning outdoor writer from Simcoe County who has been published in most Canadian and several US outdoor and fishing magazines and appeared as a guest on several popular fishing TV shows. Wil was inducted into the Canadian Angler Hall of Fame in 2017 and has won the National Recreational Fisheries Award, The OFAH Rick Morgan Professional Conservation Award and the Bill Bond Memorial Award. He can be reached through his Focus on Fishing site at www.wilwegman.com
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