Many people will travel great distances to go to a fishing spot they heard about from friends or saw on a fishing show, and we tend to overlook what’s right in our own backyards. One of my favourite rivers to fish is the Grand River. I love going there and walking the river in the early mornings searching for those monster browns that lurk in her waters! But last year with the summer temps and low waters from the lack of rain the trip from London to Fergus was getting a bit tiresome and not so rewarding. So I decided to focus my efforts on a river that I saw daily but never really gave the time to…….. The Thames River.
The Thames river begins in a swampy area of Southern Ontario and flows quietly for 273 km where it dumps into Lake St. Clair. The Thames river was one of the first rivers in Ontario formed following the retreat of the last continental ice sheet 15,000 years ago. The rivers upper reaches still flow through ancient spillways and the lower flows through the flat plains of clay and sand that were laid down by glacial lakes.
I didn’t know what to expect when I began to fish this river, you always hear the stories ” its so dirty” and ” all you catch is garbage fish” but quickly to my surprise I found that this amazing river system is home to such a wide and diverse range of fish. And to target these fish on the fly was truly a treat! Countless battles won and lost that will stay with me forever. Species of fish that call the Thames river home include: Suckers, carp, walleye, small mouth bass, large mouth bass, rock bass, silver bass, river chub, white perch, crappie, musky, northern pike, long nose gar, catfish and steelhead. In the tributaries that feed the Thames you can find Rainbows and Browns. The diversity of the species is reflected in the rich cultural heritage of the Thames. Its fertile valley has been home to people for over 11,000 years.
Wars where fought here, and commercial farming in Canada had its roots here. Much of the Thames river valley still appears as it did 200 years ago, and many early buildings are still standing.
Set ups I was using on the river for fishing included Redingtons RS4 9′-6wt with WF floating line. This rod allowed me to tackle a wide range of fish, with enough back bone to handle the sight fishing for carp ( 5-12lb) and still the flexibility and sensitivity to have fun with the Bass, Pike and walleye. I also had Sage Flight 9′-7wt with a intermediate sinking line for tossing streamers in those deeper holes and getting down where I needed to be at times. The flies that I had most success with is B’s Thames killer minnow(Brown, Olive, Blue) Crayfish patterns and Poppers. All flies and step by step instructions can be found at www.ontheflyco.com. So this summer when you want something to do, save your gas money and explore a river or stream that’s close to your home . You will be quite surprised at what you may find.