Early Season Muskies Of The Upper French River

Musky Hunter|June/July 2020

Early Season Muskies Of The Upper French River
The French River is a large watershed over 110 kilometers long with a 19,100-kilometer basin that flows from Lake Nipissing west to Georgian Bay in central Ontario.
Matt O’Brien

The author with a 53-inch French River monster.

The river is generally broken down into three main sections, the Upper, Middle and Lower French. I have fished from one end to the other and eventually settled on the Upper French as my main focus.

Lake Nipissing, the third largest lake within Ontario, takes a long time to warm up which creates a unique circumstance for early season fishing. Daily, weekly, monthly and yearly weather trends present an intricate puzzle.

Opening Day is the third Saturday in June on the Upper French, and water temperatures can range from the mid 50s in the main basins to the low 70s in the back bays. Therefore, muskies may still be spawning in colder sections of the river and completely finished in other areas. Spring weather dictates fish location. The biggest factor is when the ice comes off. If it melts early, weeds begin to grow, but it’s vice versa if the ice melts late. The Upper French River has many bays and inlets between the lake and first set of dams.

Bays outside the main current warm up much faster as they don’t receive constant flow. Muskies can be found anywhere on the river but I focus my time on this warm backwater in early season. Some bays are very large and need to be broken down as if they are individual lakes, while others are small and can be fished quickly.



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June/July 2020