Welcome to the Nation’s Capital where the number of winter trout lakes located a stone’s throw from Ottawa’s Parliament buildings is staggering. Ice anglers who pursue wily trout species around Ottawa have a virtual cornucopia of locations, and lodging, to choose from starting with Calabogie and Montebello. Pack up your trout gear and head-off to beautiful Ottawa, Ontario, where the men are men and trout are nervous!

Trout Adventure begins

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A short jaunt up the Ottawa valley are the fabled waters of the Calabogie Highlands, where the water runs thick with the spunky trout. Or, across the river to the historic town of Montebello, where you will find the most pristine selection of trout lakes on God’s green earth. The best part about these trout destinations? They are all within one hour’s drive of the Prime Minister’s residence!

Calabogie Ice-fishing/Lodging Options

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Calabogie Lodge Resort is a four-season resort situated on the shore of Calabogie Lake, near the fabled town of Calabogie. It serves as a great launching pad to fishing nearby trout waters such as; Battery lake, Belanger lake and Limestone lake. The lodge offers many great options for winter anglers to take advantage of the great trout fishing this region has to offer!

Calabogie Highlands Golf Club ice fishing

Another great choice is the Calabogie Highlands Golf Club where you can enjoy winter trout fishing from a warm portable hut, or stay outside and bask in winter’s silvery silence. An experienced guide will provide a six-hour excursion with a portable warm cabin, with bait and fishing gear provided. Or, take off on your own and enjoy fishing in the warmth of an oil-heated ice that accommodates  4 people. The package includes the hut rental for 5 to 12 hours, drilled holes and all your gear.

ATV Travel

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All-terrain vehicles (ATV) are helpful for getting into those hard to find backwoods lakes; up the Ottawa valley and across the river in Quebec. Remember that trout tend to still be crepuscular during the winter period, feeding early and late in the day, so getting a jump in the morning is important. Multiple layers of warm clothing is a must and be sure to bring along a good auger for drilling multiple holes.

Winter trout fishing in this region is not a sport for the faint of heart, even where one would expect the water around our country’s most conservative town to be dull. Although ice-fishing for trout is less popular than winter fishing for walleye, perch or northern pike, there is growing number of hardcore fishermen who do it, and have all the necessary tools and equipment to the job right!

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By the time ice forms in the National Capital Region, trout have already finished spawning and begun to feed extensively. This is when anglers gather ultra-light rods and tackle and head for the hills. By late January, the ice is usually thick enough to support an ATV, but it is always wise to check ice thickness regularly as many of these mountain lakes are spring-fed and may produce ice of uneven thickness. Bring along a ‘spud’ or ice chisel for chopping the occasional test hole.

Trout Tackle Choice

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There is a variety of tackle available on the market for catching winter trout. Small spoons like the Williams Dartee or Mooselook work well when tipped with a piece of earthworm. The Williams’s ice jig and Swedish pimple are other lures that will also do the job. Some trouters prefer  light 1/8 or 1/16 once jigs to haul in the trout. The key to catching these cold water fish is in the presentation. When jigging, you should keep your upward and downward motions very short. Never jig so high or quickly as to create slack like. Thinks subtle in your approach and you will be more productive. Often a gentle twitch will bring on a strike!

Kenauk Nature – Winter fishing

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At Montebello’s Kenauk Nature, the winter trout fishing has really taken off and anglers are taking advantage of such  fine trout lakes as Jackson Lake, Otter Lake, Bent Lake and others.

Kenauk’s fishery biologists ensure lakes receive a balanced supply of prized rainbow and brook trout for anglers to enjoy. Whether you’re a novice or an old hand, ice fishing is a unique opportunity to enjoy a fun-filled day out with family and friends here at one of Quebec’s oldest fishing lodges.

Source: Kenauk Nature

One technique which works well on these mountain lakes is one I call the one-two punch. This technique involves running active holes adjacent to inactive holes. If you are a group of four anglers, for example, try cutting 2 holes each; directly across such known structure as a drop-off point or sunken island, all drilled at varying depths.

One hole should be fished actively with slow but constant movement, while the adjacent hole set-up with a stationary tip-up which does not move at all. You would be surprised how often the inactive tip-up hole catches fish which are drawn to the movement of the active hole, but choose to grab the stationary bait instead.

Locations and structures

Locating good trout spots during the winter can be a daunting task, but don’t fret it is not impossible. Since trout species are by nature “cover-driven” even in colder months they will seek out pockets with thick brush, submerged trees and sunken logs which provide ample protection. By locating these areas from above the ice-surface, winter trout anglers will surely put more fish in the cooler.  Finding lake structure is easy in a lake you fish during the springtime, but will take some doing if you are not familiar the area. Focus on the shoreline for natural ‘holding areas’ a narrow saddle area between two points is often a great location, as well as bays with a lot of fallen trees along the shoreline.

Trout competition

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Perhaps the single greatest aspect of Capital trout fishing is the lack of competition. Since winter trout enthusiasts are in the minority, you usually have the pick of the litter when it comes to lakes. Less competition has its advantages in other ways too since less people on the ice means less commotion and vibration from above. Don’t kid yourself; even in this more lethargic time of year, trout are still sensitive to noise and movement as they are in the springtime. Some anglers have even found that fish are shy to bite for a short period after a hole has been drilled with a gas auger, while manual augers seem to have no effect.

Provincial Regulations

For those of you planning to fish the Ottawa Region for trout this winter, there are some important things you should know. Since the region’s best winter trout waters are located on both sides of the Ottawa River, you will require both an Ontario and Quebec fishing license. Do yourself a favour and consult the sport fishing regulations for both provinces, as there are rules and regulations specific to the Wildlife Management Unit (WMU) in Ontario, and the Fishing Zones in Quebec. Familiarize yourself with the catch and possession limit in each area, as well as the number of fishing lines allowed per person etc.

Final Thoughts

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Because winter is such a special time to be in the great outdoors, getting away to the nearby mountains for the day is important. Few realize that a short drive from Ottawa’s button-down government offices lurks a small group of dedicated winter trout enthusiasts. The quality trout fishing in the National Capital Region was once a well-guard secret, but thanks to word of mouth and articles like this, the word is getting out. And you do not need to fish out the window of a 1980 Plymouth Volare, like I did, to be successful. Good luck fishing the Ottawa region this winter and I hope to see you on the ice! Interested in trout fishing once the ice is gone? Read my feature on trout fishing on wilderness lakes: