Best day fishing so far this year for the kids

Thursday was the first rainy and cloudy day in Southern Ontario for a long while. After a conversation the day before with Tim Ellis at the Accelerator Centre I had fishing on my mind. After I cleared out my tasks for the day I packed up Thing 1 and Thing 2 in the truck and headed down to Long Point for a late afternoon search for the little fish and some fun. We had a good day.


After starting off a bit slow, as soon as the rain started to fall there appeared a ton of little perch in the harbour. There may have been bigger ones with them but we didn’t find them… but the kids did care. When every cast grabs you a fish of any size it is a good day.

Harbour fishing for fun

What I do is because my kids are all under 6 I have two main goals when it comes to fishing: 1) catch lots of anything 2) make sure they have fun. We are lucky to have lots of options for that around Waterloo. From kettle lakes to old farmer ponds to the Grand River, it is easy to find a spot to drop a worm in the water and pick up a bass or something.

But I like Arbor hot dogs and fries as well as hitting the beach when the fish aren’t biting so we head down highway 24 to Lake Erie. Between Long Point and Port Dover there are a series of little harbours that we drop some worms in the water to see what we get. Sometimes it is nothing but most of the time there are a ton of little fish that make the kids happy but I have a found there is a bit of a trick to it even for the aggressive little fish.

This is obvious to those that fish all the time so this is for those that want to take their kids fishing and don’t know how to start:

  • This is an obvious one, heavy traffic in the harbour kills the fishing. Don’t waste your time if there is heavy boat traffic but look for a spot just off to the side.
  • Change up the depth of the worm with the bobber. I have found that just 6 inches down works some times but dropping the worm to the bottom is required for other days. If something doesn’t hit in 5 mins, start changing the depth.
  • Change the size of the worm. Smaller/larger worm chunks makes a differences depending on the mood of the little fish.
  • Time of day doesn’t matter in harbours unless you want the bigger fish that might sneak in at night for a snack. You will have to be there at sun rise to get them but they are there.
  • Use ultralight gear if you have a choice but don’t waste your money on plastic kids fishing reels because they break… smaller fish + smaller rods = a lot more fun.

What I like about harbours with kids is that even when the fish aren’t biting the kids get to see boats, we are close to marina washrooms, and I don’t have to worry so much about Ticks or other insect bites. Sure there are still bugs that bite but not like if you are stomping around a river bank or pond with a ton of vegetation around.

A summer that brought fishing back in my life

Over this summer I spent more time fishing then I did in the last 10 years combined. It use to be something I did all the time, pretty much every weekend (or day in August for Salmon). When I moved to southern Ontario I pretty much stopped fishing though. After getting out on a charter boat at the end of the summer last year I decided I need to fish so my kids learn how to fish and how much fun it is outside… even in the south.

It all paid off this past Friday when I took both the kids down to a spot in the Niagara area that we have been trying out every so often. The kids didn’t have daycare so I figured it was a good excuse to head out early and see what we can catch. It worked out great.

Catching fish

Besides small largemouth bass we picked up a nice sized perch.

Perch just caught

That perch found its way home, into the frying pan, and on to the plate of the kids.

Perch at home Perch being cooked
Perch about to be eaten

All in one day! I think this is a great experience for the kids. My son had the choice to throw it back or eat it and going by the plastic knife to the side he was more than interested in getting it on his plate. He did it all btw and I can still filet small perch easily and without waste 😉

It was a lot of work over the summer to find a place where we could find fish that weren’t Rock Bass and that we could eat. With the Grand River and all the creeks and streams in the area you can’t get access to them thanks to all the private property — that restricts you to a few spots that get a lot of pressure. Not to mention falling for all the stories you get at the fishing stores or on forums.

What we learned:

  • Lake Erie is an amazing fishery but it isn’t kids friendly unless you have a boat
  • The Grand River is a kid friendly river with unlimited small fish to keep kids entertained
  • What should be great fishing spots around Hamilton and Niagara, are and no one really fishes them in great numbers.
  • A worm and a hook is all you need.
  • A canoe will get you to some great small mouth Bass fishing inside of the Waterloo Region.

What’s next, not sure. I think I am about ready to start going for the bigger badder fish without the kids as the weather gets colder and wetter. Next year I definitely want a boat too. Thinking of starting blog only about fishing around here too as I learning to fish again and I am really annoyed with the fishing stores. Fishing is not an ‘open’ sport. People don’t share what they do or how they do it… I would like to do it differently.