The rolling farmland that surrounds Beachburg, Ontario, conceals a hidden gem that is a world-class destination for whitewater rafters and kayakers, but is virtually unknown to anglers. The remote, forested wilderness surrounding the Ottawa River is home to bald eagles, river otter, white-tail deer and bear. In the river, pike, musky, walleye, largemouth and smallmouth bass hide behind every rock, hold in deepwater pools and shoot through the rapids.
Just downstream of the first rapid the river splits into two channels giving paddlers the option of a high-adrenaline, action-packed Class IV whitewater adventure down the Main Channel, or a gentler, Class III option down the Middle Channel that is ideally suited for the adventurous kayak angler.
Ottawa River: Adventure Fishing for the Whole Family
The Ottawa River’s Middle Channel is a six-mile stretch of river that is interrupted by nine named rapids. There are two Class IV rapids (easily portaged in a kayak) that prevent motorboats from accessing the middle sections of river, creating an un-fished playground that is overrun with large, naive fish. Be sure to wear a helmet and a PFD and stow your gear before dropping into the larger rapids.
Once you make it through the roller-coaster ride over and around huge waves in the rapid, it’s time to break out the rods and get serious. Casting across the eddyline with spinnerbait is almost guaranteed to yield a smally on every cast. Once your arm is worn out from fighting a seemingly never-ending supply of smallmouth fun, switch to a topwater frog and hit the perimeter of the lake-like sections between the rapids in search of bigger prey. The grassy beds along the bank are loaded with pike and an occasional muskie. Before you know it, you will be at the next rapid for some more high-adrenaline fun.
What’s Biting in the Ottawa
Ottawa River Seasons
In late spring the river rages with icy water from spring melt, creating monstrous rapids that are definitely sporty (and on the verge of insane) for a fishing kayak. In mid-summer and early fall the water level drops leaving rapids that are more manageable and fun and you might even catch a glimpse of the northern lights.
All Rigged Up for…
- Topwater frogs
- Artificial worms
- Topwater frogs
- Deeper running Rapalas
- Cut bait on a Carolina rig
Ottawa River Kayak
Not all fishing kayaks are designed for river running. Look for a kayak that is durable and stable with smooth edges, a turned up bow, and a wide, smooth, flat hull for going over rocks. Wear a helmet through the rapids and bring a rugged cart for the launch and takeout.
Launch: Grants Settlement Road to McCoy Chute Trail. Be sure to purchase a map of the rapids before you launch. Shoot the smaller rapids but portage around the larger water—particularly Garvin’s Chute (a class IV+ rapid with serious consequences for a failed run). Fish the long flatwater stretches for bass and musky. Hit the eddies below the rapids for smallmouth bass. Camp on any of the beautiful sandy beaches. Take out at River Run Campground.
Find more information on the Middle Channel of the Ottawa River at americanwhitewater.org
Ottawa Outfitters and Guides
Wilderness Tours – Guided Fishing Tours
503 Rafting Road
Foresters Falls, ON
Trailhead Paddle Shack
1960 Scott Street
510 St. Lawrence St.
Food and Drink
Whitewater Brewing Company
22 Fletcher Rd.
Whitewater Brew Pub is a local’s favorite for dinner and a pint after a great day on the river. The Bus Eater Burger (named after one of the largest rapids on the river) is a perfect way to end the day. Wash it down with a Class V IPA.
This article was first published in Kayak Anger Fall 2016. Subscribe to Kayak Anger and get the magazine delivered to your front door. Download the Kayak Angler Magazine+ app to seamlessly glide between the digital archives, the latest articles and videos.
Let aurora borealis light your night fishing excursion on the Ottawa River. | Feature photo: Peter Holcombe