Aux Outardes River Pike
Located in Quebec's boreal forest 200 km north of Baie Comeau Quebec, flows a slow wide river called the Aux Outardes.
The Aux Outardes River is a long river of more than 480 km or 300 miles from its source on the Otish Mountain to the outlet at the Saint Laurence River near the city of Baie Comeau. This river systems holds lots of good trophy fish opportunities from lake trout, brook trout, lake whitefish and of course World class trophy pike fishing on the fly.
We will be discussing the upper Outardes 4 reservoir for this report, located 60 miles West of the MANICOUAGAN 5 RESERVOIR (MANIC 5) The Aux OUTARDES River has approximately 60 miles of fishable pike water, the Outardes 4 reservoir below is about 120 miles long and 10 miles wide With about 120 islands, many secluded bays and beautiful shorelines, there is no end of great new fishing spots. The cold clear water offers fantastic trophy pike fishing.
This tremendous body of water offers lots of diversity of various underwater habitat ranging form rocky points, steep rock drop of to sandy beaches and countless calm bays. Water depth on the river system is from 4 to 25 feet and for the reservoir 35 to 250 feet. With all of its various structures and large population of whitefish and other baitfish will produce trophy pike not easily matched elsewhere in Quebec.
I have been fishing this river system for the last 15 years from early Mai to late October and have put a huge amount of time to unlock some of its best kept secrets. Who would have known that this fishery would have produced so many large pike of 40 + inches and this in a river system not a lake?
The gear needed for this fishery is quite basic compared to other fishery here in Quebec.
Anything from 7 to 9 weights is recommended, remember to bring the fly rod that best match the flies you will be using, smaller flies a 7 weight will do but you will be handicapped if you want to try to cast long streamers or various poppers and even large rabbit strip flies. That why I recommend a sturdy 9 to 10 foot 8 to 10 weight fly rod for the best choice to handle pike of all sizes and be able to cast all type of pike flies.
My personal choice is a long Gatti FR 3PA 11 foot 8 weights and for a shorter rod the powerful FR 3PA 9 foot 9 weight
A good balanced fly reel that matches the rod with a good drag system and lots of backing is very important these pikes a fast runners and very strong fish. Many times these brutes will bring you deep into my backing we are not talking lake pike here but a stronger river dwelling pike with allot more power.
My personal choice are Gatti #3 ANTI REVERSE large arbor fly reel, STH Turbine Disc LA.
There are many type of fly line makers all are good for the job, the type that I prefer are rocket tapered lines in floating, intermediate sink tip lines. For deeper holding pike type 1 to 4 will do the job quite well.
My personal choice are intermediate line for wet flies and WF floating lines for surface action flies
Leaders & Tippets
Pike have lots of razor sharp teeth's and when targeting huge trophy pike I always suggest using some kind of steel wire of around 6 to 12 inch. The length of the leader should be around 8 to 10 feet on the floating lines for surface flies and around 7 to 9 on sinking flies or line.
My personal choice are surfflon or tyger leader of 10 to 15 pounds
Everyone knows that pike will hit almost any fly that you cast at them, but some are better than others depending of course of where you fish for them. My fly boxes are always filled with lots of large streamers, bunny strip flies, various diver patterns, clousers and deceivers. Hook size are from 1/0 to 8/0
My personal choice are large streamers like the red eye smelt series 4/0 to 8/0
Spring fishing usually start late May to mid June for river fishing and mid May to late to mid June for lake or reservoir fishing. We will concentrate here on the river aspects of this pike fishery which is a little different dans lake tactics.
This season usually starts 2 to 3 weeks after ice out (May 1 here will be used as the ice out date) If this dates varies in your location as a rule of thumb add or subtract the difference in dates to get a approximate idea of prime time and pike activities.
The river has allot more variable to look at when targeting large pike. We have to look at structures, flow, available food and cover.
The best place to start in the searching is to locate area where the sun will warm up water temperatures, these will be found near shallow shoreline with large rocks sticking out of the water, grass line or even flooded river bank. Fish need to warm up to better metabolize. Also various bait fish will be present o get away from current and also feed because those area where the water is warmer more aquatic insect activities will occur which help to attract baitfish or other foraging fish that the pike will prey of. Also the spring is also known for the large sucker runs that head up the tributaries of all rivers to spawn and pike does eat lots of suckers. So outlet of small tributaries it a sure shot at a trophy.
During the sucker run large streamers should be used in the 4 to 8 inch range flies, water clarity should determine what colors to use. Purple and black flies for very murky water to bright colors with lots of flash in clear waters. Also oversize bunny flies in the vary popular chartreuse to hot pink colors are some great choice for large trophies.
Sight fishing in the spring can also be quite popular with the flowing water being tea stained but often pretty clear that targeted fish are very visible and easy to find. A good pair of polarize sunglasses helps allot and should be part of every fisherman bag of tricks.
Mid June to late July for the river and early June to mid July for the reservoir
The Aux Outardes river being a slow moving water, it warms up a little slower than the surrounding reservoir bays so the trophy fish will stay longer and giving us great summer pike fishing. Most pike would move to deeper pools throughout the river system also cold springs and outlet of small cold tributaries should not be overlooked. An intermediate or slow sink line will help us in locating fish that are usually in the 6 to 15 foot range. Large floating flies like poppers, mice and frog patterns are also very good and pike this time of the season will explode out of nowhere and pound the surface fly many times for this you will need your WF floating fly line.
Late July to Late October
Fall fishing especially late fall fishing if well known for very aggressive trophy pike on the prowl for forage fish. These large pike need all the calories they can get for the long Quebec winter months. This time of years the pike are hunting and can be found anywhere around structure or where you can find forage fish. Natural drop-offs should be fished carefully when a drop off as access to a weed bed or a large shallow surface and near there a deep section is available these should offer you lots of great fishing.
CATCH & RELEASE
I believe that C&R should be use and all mature pike over 28 inch and especially all trophy pike. In a time when angling pressure is increasing and exceeds the supply of fish, catch-and-release fishing is an important means of conserving fish resources. In order for catch-and-release fishing to be an effective management tool, the fish must survive after release. Angling ethics play an important role in the survival of released fish.
Remember the 'fair chase' principle; minimize the time that you play the fish once it is on the hook. Playing a fish to exhaustion may cause it to die later. Use side pressure this will help in bringing in the fish a lot faster. Also an appropriate rod weight for the species targeting. I have seen many anglers fishing with rods to small for the species targeted.