This large bay, located in the far east GTA about halfway between the Rouge River mouth and the Pickering nuclear generating station, provides year-round fishing opportunities for a wide range of species.
Shoreline parks including Bruce Hanscombe Memorial Park, Glen Ravine Park, Vistula Ravine, Douglas Park, Frenchman’s Bay east Park and the Beachfront Promenade provide generous access and ample parking. Frenchman’s Bay is also accessible by public transit (see Durham Region Transit System Map, www.durhamregiontransit.com/durham/index.aspx?ArticleID=488&lang=en-CA )
Frenchman’s Bay is considered to be part of Zone 20 in the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources fishing regulations, which means many species are open to fishing year-round thanks to 12-month open seasons, while others benefit from extended open seasons. Being sandwiched between the Rouge River and the nuclear plant, Frenchman’s Bay attracts a variety of different species that either stray from the Rouge, or are attracted by the warm-water outflow from the hydro plant. It is thus possible for an angler to catch up to a dozen different species in a single day. This is particularly true when fishing the southern portion of the bay along the Beachfront Promenade, with its close access to Lake Ontario. It is possible to hook virtually any species found in Lake Ontario when fishing here.
Frenchman’s Bay is a popular destination for anglers in search of trophy northern pike, from ice-out until the season closes at the end of March. But good fishing continues after it re-opens in early May, with smaller pike to six or seven pounds caught right through the summer. Minnowbaits, spoons, spinners and live shiner minnows are the most effective offerings. Although rare, muskie are also occasionally caught by anglers seeking spring pike. The open season for muskie does not open till the 3rd Saturday in June, and closes December 15. Because they are so rarely seen in this area, many anglers feel these fish should be released in any case.
Pike anglers also occasionally catch large walleye. The adjacent Pickering nuclear plant attracts a large number of walleye each winter with its warm-water outflow (water sucked in from the lake is used to cool the turbines – when pumped back out, it is usually about 10 degrees warmer). This warm water plume attracts walleye and a variety of others species. Some of those walleye enter Frenchman’s Bay to spawn. Although protected by a closed season through March and April, enough of the big fish are caught before the season closes, and again after it re-opens, to make things interesting for anglers looking for a wall-hanger. A few of these large walleye may exceed 10 pounds, with the average fish in the two to three pound range.
Panfish action at Frenchman’s Bay is steady through the spring and early summer. Bluegill, punkinseed, yellow perch and black crappie are the most common catches, along with white perch, white bass and brown bullheads. Small minnows or worms fished under a sensitive float take the most fish, followed by small jigs and spinners.
Frenchman’s Bay has a good population of both largemouth and smallmouth bass. Largemouth are most abundant in the shallower, weedier and warmer north end of the bay, while smallmouth are more abundant along the deeper, cooler southern shorelines. Both offer excellent fishing through the summer, and respond to a wide range of baits and lures. Good bass fishing continues into the autumn, as the cooler, nutrient-rich water attracts pike and walleye from the open waters of Lake Ontario.
Most anglers who fish Frenchman’s Bay do so from shore, thanks to plentiful access. Those who bring a small boat, or a canoe, will find additional opportunities out of reach to landlocked anglers.