Urban Fly Fishing in Ottawa |Rising Sun Charters

(peaceful music)

- You know, people think you have to go 10, 12 hours

away from home in order the find good fly fishing.

On this week's show, urban fly fishing

just outside your door.

I'm Bill Spicer, this is The New Fly Fisher.

(peaceful music)

- On this episode, The New Fly Fisher crew

will be fishing in and around the city of Ottawa, Ontario.

I'm off and in the city on business

and I've heard of the great fishing in the area,

and have always wanted to try it out.

Our first destination is one of the best kept secrets

in the east, the Ottawa River.

This large system is home to long nose gar,

huge muskie, pike, smallmouth bass,

and even big, brown trout.

For most of its length it defines the border

between Ontario and Quebec.

The second part of the show, Colin McKeown will be wading

one of the local streams for smallmouth bass

and largemough bass.

Our guide for this episode is professional Jamie Pistilli,

owner of Rising Sun Charters.

Jamie has fished his entire life in the area,

and has an excellent record

of fishing success with his clients.

People visiting Ottawa from all over the world

hire Jamie to help them catch trophy fish of all species.

It's a beautiful, midsummer's day as Jamie

drives us down the Ottawa River in his boat.

Jamie knows of some great shallow water flats

where large gar pike like to hunt bait fish.

(peaceful music)

The long nose gar, also known as the needle nose gar

is a fish of the gar family that's been around

for about 100 million years.

It has a slender body that is grayish to olive in color,

and fades to white on its underside.

It has an armor of scales covering its whole body.

The gar has a long, narrow snout,

and a mouth lined with unbelievably sharp teeth.

Gars can survive in water with very little oxygen,

and even out of water completely for many hours,

as long as their bodies stay moist.

When everything else is hot, and sticky, and no other fish

are really biting, gar pike like it the best.

They like it hot, stagnant water

where you think that nothing could live,

but they can breathe in air, so this is the time

to come out for gar pike.

(guitar music)


Went right after that, and I thought I'd made a mistake.

(laughs) I thought I made a mistake.

- [Jamie] Oh, nice little jump there, Bill.

- [Bill] Yeah.

(laughs) Not very big, but.

- [Jamie] Good way to start the mornin'.

- This is sight fishing at its best.

- [Jamie] Yeah, it's good to remove

the old hooks from the net.

They like to go a little crazy, and you don't want

one of these super sharp hooks in your hand.

- [Bill] That's right. I'll take that.

You gotta be cautious with these fish.

Along the side, they got all these teeth,

but they stick out in the side sometimes.

And if they turn their head, they can slash you.

(water splashing)

And away they go. (laughs)

- Good fish, Bill.

First one.

One cast, one fish.

- [Bill] Yeah. (laughs)

- Let's go find its mama.

A great thing with sight fishing,

it's a little bit different.

We're not blind casting here.

If you blind cast, you often get weeds and things like that.

We're actually looking for fish

and waiting for the perfect presentation.

- And you gotta try to figure out which way they're going,

right or left, and put the fly in front of them.

No use puttin' it behind because they can't see it.

Put it in front of them within a foot,

and they'll generally chase it.

And then the easy part is gettin' them to chase.

The hard part is gettin' the hook in 'em

because they've got such a small mouth.

But we've had some good action here so far,

so this is very exciting.

Got him.

- [Jamie] Opened his yap. That was good.

It's funny, you were casting at one fish,

another one goes by.

It's hard to--

- Yeah, and you were going the right way, too.

(laughs) This is actually kinda small,

but they're certainly fun.

- [Jamie] Great for practicing your casting.

- [Bill] Yeah. (laughs)

Well, yeah, you gotta thread the needle here.

(slow music)

Long nose gar can be found in quite weedy or rocky areas

of freshwater lakes and rivers.

Gar are very aggressive feeders.

Because they cannot open their mouth very wide,

gars primarily eat small fish, such as minnows,

sunfish, and even little catfish.

(slow music)


(water splashing)

- [Jamie] Oh, nice!

(reel ticking)

- [Bill] He's just about into my backing.

I think he just let go.

- [Jamie] We've been seeing that today.

Make long runs, and sometimes, they sure do.

- [Bill] And that one is,

unless he's running at me, he's gone.


- [Jamie] Oh!

- No, no. It's all weeds.

That's the one problem.

They get into the weeds, and you just can't control 'em.

You've seen how that one just ripped

almost into my backing before I knew it,

and just brought me into the salad,

and that's how they get off.

They wind themself into the salad,

and the hook pulls under their mouth.

Their mouth is very, very, very hard,

and it's really hard to get a good purchase on them.

(peaceful music)

- The equipment we used on this episode was for gar,

a number nine foot, nine weight rod,

with a large-arbor reel, and a smooth drag.

Gar will go for long runs and will test your drag.

They're not leader-shy one little bit.

It doesn't matter. They don't care.

If it's put in front of them,

they're gonna turn and snap at it.

I used five feet of 30 pound fluorocarbon as my main leader,

and then I used about 16 inches of wire bite tippet.

The flies for gar work really quite simple.

I was quite impressed.

A good, old, red and white bunny leech,

you put that anywhere near the gar, and they'd snap at it.

They really liked it.

Very simple, red and white.

Just like a daredevil lure that's probably

the best pike lure ever made.

Same with a fly, red and white.

And the other color, basic black.

Just a black bunny leech.

This one has a bit of a stinger hook that actually helps

hook the fish, but black, just jet black.

I had a number of fish slash at that.

You put it anywhere near them, they seem to like it.

(peaceful music)

- Hey, bill. Get ready.

There's a fish comin' right towards us, right over there.

There you go.


- [Bill] Got him.

- [Jamie] Good cast, Bill.

(water splashing)

Oh, nice.

- Got him.

Numerous casts, and there's so much junk in the water.

I kept hooking up on the junk, and missing him.

Finally, when I got a clear cast at him,

he turned on a bang right away and hit it.

- [Jamie] There we go.

- [Bill] It's not overly huge,

but definitely it's prehistoric.

There's definitely scales you can feel.

Awesome fish, and they fight hard.

- We're gonna get this guy back in.

- Get him back in.

(energetic music)

- So, what we're doing is we got a classic gar fly here.

A lot of people use rope for them,

but I really don't like that idea.

It gets stuck in their teeth.

That's the old way of doin' it.

Since they have really hard mouths,

I like to use a little stinger hook,

and make sure that the main hook on there

is really, really sharp.

I use a chainsaw file to make sure it's razor, razor sharp,

and gets right in the corner of their mouth,

and sometimes the stinger hook will wrap around their jaw

and stay connected until you get it in the net.

- [Bill] Got him.

- [Jamie] Got him! Nice!

- [Bill] Oh, he let go.

- [Jamie] Oh!

(peaceful music)

Just turned on it.

- [Bill] He's on it.

- [Jamie] Yeah.

- [Bill] Oh, he's going that much faster.

Oh, somethin' else grabbed it.

It's not him.


Was a little bass.

- [Jamie] The bass jumped over the gar. (laughs)

Oh, boy.

- [Bill] Yeah, they're after it.

Look at him!

- [Jamie] Does he have it?

- Look at, they're after it.

Got him.

Got him.

Oh, and he let go! No!

When gar fishing, you're spotting fish,

so you're not blind casting a lot.

But you can at a drop of a hat you're gonna make a cast,

so you gotta be ready.

I've got 20, 30 feet out below me,

I hold onto my fly, and when I'm ready

I can pick it up and cast real quickly

and then try to put it ahead of the fish.

So, stand ready.

It's almost like saltwater fishing where you stand ready.

You got enough line out there to cast

a little bit of distance, but be ready.

Just tryin' to pick a spot to put it.

- [Jamie] Nice, nice, nice cast, Bill, right in that hole!

- Oh!

Just the way it's working.

They are extremely hard to set the hook into the jaw.

The jaw is like stone.

I got lots of hooks.

It's not too hard to get 'em to strike at it,

but because their nose is so narrow,

it's very difficult to sink the hook in.

I thought I got him.

He turned around and ate that thing.

We got lots of hooks, but for some reason,

I can't seem to hook 'em up today.

- [Jamie] Got him.

When you're outside fishin' for gar

you never know what's gonna swim by and--

- Little slow-mo here.

He was definitely after it.

- Yeah (laughs), we saw him cruisin' around here,

and lots of signs of life out on the flats today.

We could see why.

Nice, little bass.

- [Bill] Unexpected when fishing for gar.

(peaceful music)

(slow music)

- Most people probably book two or three months ahead,

but then sometimes, I do get cancellations

and I do some open days, as well.

So, always willing to try to fit people in

and get them out on the water.

Oh, we're truly blessed here in Ottawa.

We got two major rivers.

We got the Rideau, we got the Ottawa,

and within an hour drive

there's lots of different lakes, rivers and streams

home to a wide variety of different species,

so don't have to travel far to get quality fish.

(slow music)

- [Bill] The gar decided to sit in shallow,

weed-choke water that was too shallow

for the electric motor, so Jamie went the extra mile

and got into the water and pulled the boat into position.

Got him that time.

- [Jamie] Net.

(water splashing)

- Yes, sir.

Yes, sir.

Oh, boy.


Yes, sir.

Now we're gettin' closer.

We're getting closer.

(slow music)


That was a quality fish we were looking for.

Now, as you can see, Jamie's in the water.

A little unconventional, but the water's so shallow

where they are, we couldn't risk the trolling motor.

So, he went the extra mile and says,

I'll get out and pull the boat around.

We found a bunch of them all congregated,

and I think we've actually found the mother load of fish.

So, let's hope it's keeps happening.

- They keep getting bigger, Bill?

- (laughs) Bigger.

Let's go for the 50!

(energetic music)

Yes, sir.


Oh, this is another good one.

Oh, boy. Exciting, I'm tellin' you.

Jamie, you weren't kidding when you said

this is exciting fishing.

Yes, sir! Yes, sir!

- That's our fish! Yeah! (laughing)

- I have gone to a 30 pound fluorocarbon leader.

You gotta have it be that heavy

just for exactly what we're fishing in.

You probably could've, if he was out in the open,

I probably coulda got away with a 10 or a 12 pound,

but we got weeds, and you don't want 'em to pull

a fly right out of its mouth, or break it off.

Look at the teeth.

Now, that's what you gotta be careful of,

and they also go out to the side.

(slow music)


- What a hoot.

- This is probably some of the best fun

I've had fishing in my life.

You're sight fishing, it's exciting.

You don't know if they're gonna eat well enough,

but they keep comin' at it.

It's oh, so exciting.

I love it.

Next up, Colin McKeown and Jamie

walk and wade for largemouth and smallmouth bass.

(slow music)

- One of the great aspects of fishing in the Ottawa area

is the wide variety of locations you can explore.

Today, professional guide Jamie Pistilli

has taken me to a medium-sized river

to fly fish for smallmouth bass.

It's a cool, but sunny late-September day,

perfect for a walk and wade afternoon.

So, it does look perfect.

I think what's important is that everyone understands,

Jamie, you brought me out this morning.

It's a nice late-September day.

Startin' to get colors in the leaves here,

but this is, when you get some of the biggest bass

of the season, isn't it?

- It's a great time of year to fish.

Less crowds on the water, and the fish

are really putting on the feed bag before winter.

Everybody likes to have their big, long casts,

but I think it's important to start out slow,

and try not to put your line and your fly over fish.

So, kinda work your way out.

Go five, 10 feet, and then keep going further and further.

Sometimes, the fish are closer than you think

and you really don't want to spook the fish

that might be right in front of you.

(energetic music)

- Generally, the wading is easy in this area,

but it does get deep in places

and the rocks can be slippery.

We highly recommend the use of a wading staff.

That third leg can make a big difference.

So, I'm just watching the end of my fly line,

not using an indicator.

I'm just waiting for that fly line to stop moving,

or just twitch slightly.

Let me know I got a fish.

There we go.

(energetic music)

So, the difference, went to using a five weight rod,

which is perfect.

So, they're not coming to the top.

Jamie got a largemouth.

(water splashing)

Now, this guy got it right in the corner of the jaw,

and even though it's barbless, there he goes,

he got it in fairly deep.

Here, oh, he's already ready to go.

Look at that. Poof, gone.

And all I'm using is a black woolly bugger

with an orange head, but the key was to go real slow.

I was retrieving it too quick before,

and lettin' it dead drift,

the eye of the little twitch, and that's made a difference.

There are countless flies you can use for bass,

but we narrowed it down to these four flies

that have been consistent for us over the years.

The clouser minnow.

Bunny leeches.

Bead head woolly buggers.

And for top water fun, poppers in various colors.

(energetic music)

Okay. There we go.

And I gotta tell ya, having the ability

in the morning we can walk and wade,

and this afternoon, Jamie can take me out

and we go cast for muskie.

There's so much fishing around here,

and as a guide in an urban area

surrounded by great fishing, oh, he's off.

Surrounded by rural fishing, it's fantastic.

It's the best of everything.

(peaceful music)

So, I'm just gonna walk down a bit here.

Again, I was dead drifting,

and as it got to the end, I let it swing.

Ooh, yeah.

I let it swing and lift it up, and he took it on the lift.

What a great way to spend the mornin'.

Oh yeah, this is a fat one.

The river smallmouth compared to lake ones are so different.

The lake ones, they get bigger than these fish,

but I find these fish pound for pound are much stronger.

You put me on the right spot there, Jamie, so thank you.

It's a beautiful fish.

Look at that.

- [Bill] We highly recommend you give Jamie Pistilli a call

if you're in the Ottawa area.

For more information on this show and others in our series,

visit us online at

Also, check out our YouTube channel and our Facebook page.

From all of us here at The New Fly Fisher,

thanks for joining us.

Tight lines, and we'll see you next time.

Hi! I'm Tom Rosenbauer.

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