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Shirleys Hardwater Decline

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Shirleys Hardwater Decline

Postby PikeFisherman17 » Wed Dec 13, 2017 12:29 pm

Hey guys,

Been steadily fishing shirleys bay through the ice for 7-10 years and have seen some considerable drop off in fish caught, especially over the last 3 years. The *anything but dusk* walleye are less and less common I am finding. The thing is though, I haven't seen too much of a drop off in the number of people out on the ice. Is anyone else feeling the decline? I'm also in a pop up and might shift gears and try some more bodies of water... any suggestions other than petrie?

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Re: Shirleys Hardwater Decline

Postby Lenny » Wed Dec 13, 2017 2:50 pm

I've found it better if anything. Key is not to go where the huts are, more lines in the water means less of a chance a fish in the area will bite yours. I have had some slow evenings but almost never get skunked for walleye or sauger. Most I catch are 10-16 inches. Obviously some are bigger but that's the average for me.

I have heard the pike fishing has really declined. I've caught lots in the summer but have caught hundreds of walleye and sauger in the winter and never pike. I also don't fish during the day though, I like to be set up an hour and a half before sunset.
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Re: Shirleys Hardwater Decline

Postby scarkner » Wed Dec 13, 2017 2:52 pm

Myself and another long-time fisher of Shirleys Bay actually keep a diary of number of fish caught, number of lines and amount of time fished.

It's not in your head... fish numbers show definite decline year of year for all species on Shirley's Bay.
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Re: Shirleys Hardwater Decline

Postby Gord » Wed Dec 13, 2017 4:32 pm

Lenny wrote: Key is not to go where the huts are.


BINGO! :D
I'm a goin' fishin', mama's goin' fishin' and my baby's goin fishin' too.

.......Taj Mahal.... "Fishin' Blues"

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Re: Shirleys Hardwater Decline

Postby smitty55 » Wed Dec 13, 2017 6:45 pm

Gord wrote:
Lenny wrote: Key is not to go where the huts are.


BINGO! :D


I would agree as well. Now I haven't fished there much for quite a few years but in the past I spent many hundreds of hours out there. There used to be a lot more huts out there too spread all over the bay even out as far as the point. Back then there were lots of roads plowed all over the place too which I believe made it easier for folks to get shacks out further in the bay and closer to some of the structure that is out there. Plus the launch area was much easier with more access points from the shoreline instead of just the one spot now. Now it seems many of the shacks are more placed for convenience rather than finding structure. Now I'm not saying this is the only reason why fishing for some seems to have slipped over the last few years, but it could certainly be a factor. Plus maybe more folks aren't staying after dark anymore, which is key IMO.
For example the red line on this pic used to have a good concentration of huts, that's where my buds always placed their shacks and fishing was always pretty steady. There would be like 10 ft on one side of the shack and 15 ft on the other, so they were right on the lip. Nowadays more of the shacks seem to be closer to the launch and out in the flat area to the northeast. Not everyone of course, I know Tim likes to be out closer to Beatty point and find some current.

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Re: Shirleys Hardwater Decline

Postby scarkner » Thu Dec 14, 2017 6:39 am

I've tried to get to that red zone, but not nearly enough ice the last couple years for a, but there. Probably 6 inches at best (you still see some guys drive there). Great for pop ups though!
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Re: Shirleys Hardwater Decline

Postby CCLad » Thu Dec 14, 2017 9:36 am

Hi Skarkner, to answer your question yes, without a doubt our yearly catch totals have declined steadily for the past 4 years. We just track number of walleye and sauger caught for the season. As you have found there's been a steady drop in total numbers for the hut each year.

Last 2 seasons I haven't kept any walleye or sauger and have been releasing them all. I do like to venture further out to the north - north west but as you said, the ice last year wasn't good. This year seems to be starting off great weather wise...
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Re: Shirleys Hardwater Decline

Postby PikeFisherman17 » Thu Dec 14, 2017 4:15 pm

The fish just deeper? Like I said earlier we used to have good success mid day. And shirleys was great for being out on a Saturday and enjoying with everyone but the 10am-2pm fishing has gone dead for me over the last 3 years. I don't think I've actually pulled anything other than a here or there perch over that time. The pike and walleye numbers we lower in those times but atleast were there a bit. Also, haven't heard of any 10lbs+ eyes in a couple years, those gone too?
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Re: Shirleys Hardwater Decline

Postby CCLad » Thu Dec 14, 2017 5:37 pm

I have never had success at shirley's 10am - 2pm (or at least nothing worth mentioning.) Day bite has always been typically slow (for us anyways.. going back 20 plus yrs :) It has been at least 8-10 years ago, but I was lucky enough to land a Walleye that was at or close to the 10lbs mark. Those are far and few between at Shirley's. I would hazard a guess the big girls probably hang out over the main channel and shoals that are out in the middle of Lac Duchene ( Its a pretty long stretch of water between the fitzroy dam and britannia rapids) That said, I've said this a thousand times....... There are strong currents, shoals and dangerous ice out there. I highly recommend you understand exactly what you are doing and where you are going if you even consider the idea of venturing far out...

The past 3 years our biggest walleye has been between 3-5lbs and maybe 1 at that size per season.
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Re: Shirleys Hardwater Decline

Postby RJ » Tue Dec 19, 2017 9:01 pm

Was talking about this with a couple guys recently. We can't figure out why guys still go there at all. Other than the proximity to the city the fishing is fair at best.

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Re: Shirleys Hardwater Decline

Postby scarkner » Tue Dec 19, 2017 9:06 pm

RJ wrote:Was talking about this with a couple guys recently. We can't figure out why guys still go there at all. Other than the proximity to the city the fishing is fair at best.

RJ


Community.

I got to know a bunch of the guys out there and my son insists that we fish at Shirleys. I think that's part of the reason you also see the huts closer together now too.
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Re: Shirleys Hardwater Decline

Postby RJ » Wed Dec 20, 2017 5:48 am

Misery loves company I guess :lol:

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Re: Shirleys Hardwater Decline

Postby Lenny » Thu Dec 21, 2017 2:50 pm

I came here to defend my beloved Shirley's Bay. I know where you're coming from. I still can't figure out why people fish Crappie Bay. I agree with Ryan Ward on 613 ice fishing, they should change the name to "Crappy Bay" because the fishing there sucks unless you like 5 inch sunfish.

The fishing there isn't great in mid february, but this time of year you're pretty much guaranteed fish every evening. It's surrounded by greenspace (not a condo in view like Petrie), the river in that stretch is upstream of the City's sewage infrastructure. I've seen two species of owls, otters and bald eagles there. The sunsets there are memorable.

I do wish there were more bigger fish there. But it's 15 minutes from home and consistently produces fish for me.

I have a shack there, if anyone is looking to come out this winter shoot me a pm.
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Re: Shirleys Hardwater Decline

Postby CCLad » Fri Dec 22, 2017 9:27 am

Lenny wrote:I came here to defend my beloved Shirley's Bay. I know where you're coming from. I still can't figure out why people fish Crappie Bay. I agree with Ryan Ward on 613 ice fishing, they should change the name to "Crappy Bay" because the fishing there sucks unless you like 5 inch sunfish.

The fishing there isn't great in mid february, but this time of year you're pretty much guaranteed fish every evening. It's surrounded by greenspace (not a condo in view like Petrie), the river in that stretch is upstream of the City's sewage infrastructure. I've seen two species of owls, otters and bald eagles there. The sunsets there are memorable.

I do wish there were more bigger fish there. But it's 15 minutes from home and consistently produces fish for me.

I have a shack there, if anyone is looking to come out this winter shoot me a pm.




Agree'd Lenny & Well put! AND - Because I mentioned our numbers have been decreasing.... Don't get that wrong - We get our's :)
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Re: Shirleys Hardwater Decline

Postby smitty55 » Fri Dec 22, 2017 1:58 pm

RJ wrote:Was talking about this with a couple guys recently. We can't figure out why guys still go there at all. Other than the proximity to the city the fishing is fair at best.

RJ


I know I'm repeating myself but, IMO that's because, like anywhere really, it's all about location and structure when it comes to success, but specially out in a large relatively flat bay like Shirley's it's even more critical. It's easy to plop a shack anywhere and hope to find wandering fish during the day. For Walleye it has always been critical to fish the evening run there. We could sit at my preferred area all day long and catch Perch and Pike, but come 4:30 it's a whole different show.Time to refresh minnows on tip ups and break out the jigs for a while with those old minnows. Also time to be quiet and attentive.
What I'm getting at is that by the time it's getting dark many folks are gone home for dinner, worst thing they could do, and maybe they weren't in a good spot in the first place so they figure fishing isn't very good at Shirley's. The thing that hasn't changed is that Shirley's is the biggest spawning ground in the Ottawa for a great distance and Innes point is the biggest piece of rocky structure anywhere on the river for a long ways. So unless the fishing on all of the Ottawa river has declined over the years I see no reason why Shirleys in particular would have gotten so poor. Rob, I would be interested in knowing what those guys you were talking to are basing their comments on. How often did they fish there? Do they know where to fish on the bay? Do they stay till after dark? Do they use live bait? And last but certainly not least how close to bottom do they fish? If they're not within 6" of bottom it can make a big difference in number of hits. Also sensitivity and balance of tip ups is paramount. The Perch hit way harder than the Walleye, often the only thing to tell if there is a Pickerel biting is the line moving across the hole. At best my tip up might get to the flat, very seldom will it actually point down. So if the answer to some of those questions is no, then I could see how some folks might figure the fishing is lousy.

Again, I'm certainly not disputing what the OP, Steve and Tim have experienced. Then again Lenny finds it better, so who knows exactly what's going on? Tim has 20+ years out there, with more recent experience than I. I go back about 30, but not much in the last 10. There are just so many variables. I have an early ice location that I was shown way back. We would even line up with a shoreline feature and find that specific lip where it dropped from 5 to 7 ft. For whatever reason it worked and better size fish too, my largest there was just over 25". But that spot was only good for a week or two at most, once the ice got close to 8" then it faded. Go figure. Then it was out further to deeper water. Then once the bay ice hit 12"+ it was time to drive out a mile and a half to find some rock and current. Basic Walleye 101 anywhere, right? Again there were landmarks on the Ontario and QC side to line up with lol.The two shacks were always at the same spots too. At first we'd park out of the current in the bay and then walk out. It was always 6-7" less ice than the bay. Once the ice there hit a good 9" of black ice we would drive all the way. Some years it was certainly 4x4 only, some years there was a road plowed out for a couple of shacks by the guys with the black Bronco (Gord I think) and we had to shovel out a parking spot to turn around in, the snow was that deep. Some years there were some good pressure ridges to deal with. The odd year after a thaw and refreeze you could take a car anywhere. I remember at least once, maybe twice it was sled only to go that far, even to pull shacks off got tough some years with those late snow dumps. I'm sure Tim remembers those years too.

As for the community aspect out on Shirley's, I don't think it can be underestimated. For some folks it was more important than the actual fishing. One year I counted over 80 shacks out there. Lot's of family fun times were had, skating rinks were made near clusters of shacks, kids and dogs were everywhere having fun, and yea some folks got well lubed up, but there were never any hassles that I recall.

In closing, I'm with Lenny on this one. Assuming I can get to my spots, I still have confidence in the Walleye fishing at Shirley's. In fact, between the Miss, Taylor/Clayton and the Ottawa, Shirley's would still be my first choice for sure. It was always a rare evening indeed where Walleye didn't hit the ice, specially in January. In February the first run was lighter and seemed to have more dinks and Sauger, so staying later helped, even after the Ling started to bite, which was usually when we would start to pack up.

So good luck to everyone out there this year. Hopefully this snow doesn't wreck conditions too much, folks can get their shacks out, and the ramp doesn't get too bad. Speaking of which, Tim did you ever hear any more from the NCC on moving a few of those boulders?

Merry Christmas to all. Cheers
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