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St. Lawrence River

Species: Bass, Carp, Muskellunge, Perch, Pike, Sturgeon, Trout, Walleye/Pickerel

Season: Fall: October and November

Location: Travels through Ontario and Quebec

Length: 1,197 kilometres

Hottest spot: Windmill Point

Why we chose it:

In 2012, ranked #7 in all-time hot spots

Draining the world’s largest system of freshwater lakes, the St. Lawrence is a giant, productive river, with some seriously big bass, carp, walleye and, of course, muskies. That includes the 57-inch catch-and-release world record, let go near Gananoque, Ontario, in 2009. Widening into several lakes, and encompassing four archipelagoes, the river boasts a dizzying expanse of fishable water. Bob Izumi’s advice? “Fish every type of cover and depth, in and out of the current.”

In 2011, Best for trophy muskellunge

After the Mackenzie, the St. Lawrence is Canada’s second-biggest river, and as the saying goes, big water means big fish. Not surprisingly, then, the current catch-and-release world-record muskie was taken in 2009 on the St. Lawrence near Gananoque, Ontario. Credit for the 57-inch-long, 33-inch-around behemoth—estimated at more than 77 pounds—goes to Ottawa-based muskie maniac Dale MacNair.

But there may be an even better place to hook up with a giant St. Lawrence muskie. That’s a couple of hours downriver near Montreal, where the Ottawa flows into the St. Lawrence to create Quebec’s Lac St-Louis, a broad basin full of weedbeds and shoals—perfect ambush points for these hungry water wolves.

And there’s another feature that makes this particular stretch of the St. Lawrence a prime muskie-hunting ground for in-the-know anglers: in-flow from the Ottawa brings some badly needed turbidity to the zebra mussel-filtered, crystal-clear water of the St. Lawrence. Lower light penetration, in turn, keeps baitfish—and in particular yellow perch—closer to the surface than anywhere else on the St. Lawrence, making muskies easier to target with shallow-running plugs and spinnerbaits.

Will the next world record come from Lac St-Louis? It’s impossible to know for sure. Suffice to say, however, that Dale MacNair makes a habit of fishing this stretch of the St. Lawrence River.

Hot lure: Legend Perch Brankbait

Hot fly: Hang Time

—Mark Anderson

Learn more: Capital Muskies

In 2010, Walleye; Good numbers of fish

When to fish: All season.

Where to fish: Fish near St-Joachim of Pointe-Claire Church, the Royal St. Lawrence Yacht Club and the Lachine Pier.

Tip: Troll Rapalas along the breakwalls, or jig the drop-offs.

—Brent McNamee, co-founder and vice-president of marketing for BoaterExam.com

(Ontario) Muskie; Great big fish

When to fish: All season long.

Where to fish: Key in on bait fish near shoals in 15 to 30 feet of water.

Tip: Troll Stalkers, Ernies or Kriscos.

(Ontario/Quebec) Smallmouth bass; Increasingly good numbers of fish

When to fish: Summer promises good action, but you can nab hawgs in the fall.

Where to fish: Look for shallow shoals.

Tip: Drift with tubes or cast cranks such as Rapala DTs or Reef Runners.

(Quebec) Sauger; Plenty of fish

When to fish: Early May, and October and November are best.

Where to fish: Fish fast currents in water between 20 and 35 feet deep.

Tip: Use one- to 1½-ounce jig heads tipped with crawlers.

—Marc Thorpe, walleye and muskie guide based in Terrebonne, Quebec, tournament angler and pro staffer with Princecraft

In 2009, Walleye; Tons of big fish

When to fish: Springtime promises the best action.

Where to fish: Fish the Old Port of Montreal area.

Tip: Work a ½-ounce jig tipped with a three-inch, chartreuse Gulp! Minnow or a five-inch Leech.

—Anthony Badham, Quebec/Maritimes Territory Manager at Pure Fishing Canada

In 2008, Muskie; Good numbers of giant fish

When to fish: Mid-September to late October.

Where to fish: The main shipping channel and related structures.

Tip: Fast-troll jointed cranks, giant spinnerbaits or Whitefish in the prop wash, or bang the lures off reefs.

—Ray Carignan, host of Outdoor Passion

(Ontario) Large- and smallmouth bass; Big fish and good numbers

When to fish: Throughout bass season.

Where to fish: In almost every type of cover and depth, in and out of the current.

Tip: Pretty well any technique known in bass fishing.

—Bob Izumi, host of Bob Izumi’s Real Fishing Show

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