Spring fishing on Lake Simcoe starts with the Orillia Perch Festival. Panfish are the focus in the early part of the season. The perch move into the shallow water to spawn just after ice out. Focus on the 6-12 foot range to find these spawning perch. You will catch a lot of smaller male fish, which are often the best eating fish, but there will be some big females mixed in. and on the right day you can sight the schools and have your pick. Look for shallow, protected coves with a good mix of sand and weeds and you should find good schools of perch. Live minnows are far and away the most popular bait for spring perch and for good reason; they feed on them. I try to avoid live bait at all costs, and my best perch success has come by dropshotting small baits like micro tubes, power craws and Strike Zone Pan Slammers.
Orillia – “The Narrows” – Beaverton – Lagoon City – Lefroy
Strike Zone Pan Slammers – Live Minnows – Live Worms – Micro Tubes
Crappie fishing is fairly limited on Simcoe, although a good run can be found in the numerous shallow coves and canals off of Cooks Bay. The crappies will move in just after ice out to shallow water to spawn. They can be caught from shore or by boat by casting to cover that they use to hide in; boat docks, pilings, brush piles, bulrushes, laydown trees can all hold good numbers of spring crappie.
Holland River – Bradford – Keswick -Gilford
Strike Zone Pan Slammer – Micro Tubes – Fin-S Minnow – Live minnows – Live Maggots
Pike opens on Simcoe on the 2nd Saturday in May. At this time of year, the pike are often still patrolling the shallow waters of Cooks Bay. Look for good clusters of green weeds in 6-10 feet of water. Casting is often more efficient at this time of year than trolling. Big crankbaits and spinnerbaits are the go-to for most anglers out there. Pike on Simcoe average 4-6 pounds, but 10 pounders are common and 20 pounders are possible. If you are seeing fish follow but not commit to biting, make repeated casts and try to “Figure-8” them. When the water is cold, a suspending jerkbait can be magic in making pike eat!
Cooks Bay – Holland River – Keswick – Roches Point – Couchiching
Big Spinnerbaits – Strike Zone Swammer – Mepps #5 – – Husky Jerk – Live Sucker or Large Shiner
Whitefish and Lake Trout
Whitefish and Lake Trout share the same “re-open” date as pike on Simcoe, which does a lot to spread anglers out on such a busy weekend. Whities are often found very concentrated, which means so are the anglers. Lakers can be found in the mix as well. Watch your electronics for schools of fish in 60-90 feet of water then drop your anchor and start jigging. Start by jigging aggressively as schooling fish have a more competitive mentality; though if the fishing is slow, slow your presentation as well.
Willow Beach – Jacksons Point – Fox Island –
Williams Ice Jig – Vertical Jig – Bottom Feeding Jig – Live Minnows