Nothing beats the experience of traveling to new destinations in pursuit of fishing adventure. When I can’t do that first hand, being able to write about it is a close second. Learning more about the species caught, methods used, and the big fish potential of new waters is one aspect of fishing that keeps anglers continually searching for their next conquest.
What’s great fun about this month’s feature is that Scott Smith is also a carp on the fly enthusiast. While he has a plethora of opportunity in Ontario to pursue trophy smallmouth, largemouth, salmon, pike, walleye, and so many more, he’s got a real soft spot in his heart for the scaled whale. We took some time to learn more about him, his guide service, Tailers and Chasers, and what their seasons and fishing opportunities look like for those interested in heading north (at least north from where I am) to try their hand at a mixed bag of big fish potential.
How did you get into guiding and why do you do it?
My father got me into fishing at around 3 or 4 years old, catching bass, walleye and muskie. It then grew from there, my fishing expanded from fishing with my father to fishing as much as possible with my friends from high school. Every winter/spring we would go to all the fishing shows to see what was new and the next big thing. I began to get excited for the upcoming season. Spring time, this also means steelhead. We traveled to the nearest tributaries to attempt to catch some steel. We had no idea what we were doing, but it was chance to get out and for the first time to fish, meet some people and connect. The obsession continued into college, meeting some more fellow fishermen. They also shared that same passion. I got introduced to fishing the tributaries of the great lakes year-round, by fisherman that knew what they were doing. I found the next best thing, for me. I travelled all over southern Ontario to catch migratory fish. I then made the switch to fly fishing and travelled to all the same places to catch migratory on the fly. I had found my niche.
I then moved to the city for work and my obsession for fishing the tributaries turned into a life style, but what to do in the summer months? Work was busy, not always time to travel to fish. So, I began researching carp, they were big, in every tributary, marsh and in the area that I lived in, so I joined a fishing club, MACO (match angling club of Ontario) & C.C.C. (Canadian Carp Club). My fishing repertoire was evolving from bait casting to spinning rod for warm water species and then float fishing, for everything, the obvious, Steelhead, Salmon and then Carp, yes Carp. Traveling to all the places, sometimes up to 3 hours away to fish these events and meeting new people to learn as much as possible to catch them in my area. As much as I loved sitting, chumming and prepping bait, it wasn’t enough to feed the obsession. So, I began the quest to catch them on the fly, with little to no information on them doing this at the time. It took some time, but I finally managed to get one, two, and well now some almost fifteen years later, they are my obsession.
A few years ago, I took a job at a lodge in Northern Ontario and it was amazing! I set the Ontario fly fishing record for a walleye and got to meet a lot of awesome people. It was an unforgettable experience. It was then, that I knew I was meant to do this. I love to share my passion, help others teach and educate people to catch fish on the fly, while adapting, developing and to keep pushing the fly fishing limits.
What’s been my favorite experience/fish story I’ve seen first-hand as a guide?
It still amazes me how many people still are surprised that 1) I’m fishing for carp and 2) that I’m doing it on a fly rod. I just keep spreading the “CARPY” word and educating others that it is possible to catch a carp on a fly rod. My favorite first-hand experience, it is hard to pick just one, but to sum it up it’s got to be someone’s first fish of any kind but especially carp, as it’s such a visual thing. It’s you against the fish, you are on their turf.
Sight fishing for carp is not for the faint of heart, but it is definitely a thrill, a challenge and a rewarding feeling to have. It’s the ultimate rush, seeing fish, getting refused, spooking fish, but when you finally get it right, “the take” and the fight, man that fight! The satisfaction! Especially on the great lakes fish and big rivers. The carp definitely makes you a better fly angler, it tests every aspect of your game and your equipment, from persistence, stealth, patience, casting and ability to hook and land big fish. Man, I love carp on the fly.
What are the fishing opportunities where you guide & best times to hire me for a given species?
The main fish that I guide for are carp in the early spring, depending on snow and such it can be around mid-April. This is some of the greatest fly fishing you will see, as they are putting feed bags on before the spawn. After the spawn (around June) is also fantastic time to get them, as the water is warming up and so is their metabolism, they are active and feeding. They can be great in the big Lake “O” (Lake Ontario). I also have the option of chasing them in large river if the lake doesn’t cooperate. We fish them till September/October. All carp on the fly days are spot and stalk in shallow water. Canadian sight fishing at its finest.
South Central Ontario is blessed with so many opportunities, so muskie and bass (smallmouth and largemouth) days are also an option. Some days we do all three in one day. (carp, bass, muskie). We also have some unique catches as well such as suckers, walleye, perch, crappie and more.
In the fall, usually around September, salmon (Chinook & Coho) on the fly, and some lake run browns mixed in. Nothing pulls quit like a 20lbs fresh run salmon in a small creek. The fall is a mixed bag with carp, salmon, muskie, walleye and then steelhead, the fall is the toughest time, to choose a species, lots of options. Steelhead, as well as muskie is great in fall (October to November). Some winters (December to February) are fishable for steelhead, depending on snow and ice. Spring (March and April) is primetime for steelhead, again. Then the seasons start over again.
To learn more about Scott’s guide service and to book a trip to catch your own beast, his link and contact information is below!
944 Colonel Sam drive
Call +1 905-922-5153