Almost every outdoorsman has a “Lake X.” It’s that special place a good friend brought you to under a promise of strict confidentiality, or maybe you discovered it yourself after looking at maps and aerial photos, then checking it out on a hunch.
While some Lake Xs have public accesses, and they are known for let’s say walleyes, but almost no one knows they contain massive crappies, most of the Lake Xs that consume anglers’ daydreams are private and/or difficult to reach.
Such is the case for Quebec’s Lac Boulard – my latest Lake X – but one I think I can share because access is controlled by outfitter Rob Argue of Eastern Canadian Outfitters (ECO).
“I really want you to spend a morning casting for bass on Josh Lake, or Lac Boulard as it says on the wall map in your cabin,” Rob said. I had just spent 3 hours experiencing fantastic smallmouth fishing on Lac Mer Bleue, a 2.5-mile-long lake that’s is home for Rob’s anglers and bear hunters who stay with him at ECO.
Rob continued: “It’s just west of Lac Mer Bleue, but the only way to get to it is with a side-by-side on a trail through the bush. I keep a boat there for guests, and we can haul in a trolling motor and battery. Josh is small, but it’s loaded with smallmouth and largemouth. It has big pike, too.”
As someone who loves to pursue bass, I couldn’t say “I’m in!” fast enough. So, the very next morning, my buddy Matt Addington and I loaded ourselves and our gear into Rob’s UTV for the 15-minute backcountry ride to this remote honey-hole.
Seeing Lake Josh for the first time, I immediately noticed that the water was more tea colored than the gin-clear Lac Mer Bleue. But visibility was still decent – I could see bottom in 4-5 feet with little trouble.
“I’ll be back in 3 hours,” Rob said. “That should give you time to cast the perimeter of the entire lake. You won’t need luck to catch fish here, but good luck!”
With that, Rob fired up his side-by-side and left Matt and me in the middle of bass heaven.
As I was choosing which color 3-inch curlytail grub to put on my 1/8-ounce jighead, and also rigging my baitcaster with a spinnerbait, I heard splashing off the front of the boat. “That didn’t take long!” Matt yelled. Seconds later, he lifted a fat 14-inch smallmouth from the water, and to make a long story short, it was the first bass of at least 80 smallmouth and largemouth that we caught in 3 hours. We had more doubles than I can count on both hands.
While lure choice didn’t matter significantly, Matt outfished me with his 1/8-ounce CTS Curl Tail Spinnerbait from VMC. He simply casted the small spinner to likely fish-holding cover (fallen trees, underwater boulders, etc.) along the shoreline, and bass crushed it. I started off jigging in the traditional manner with my jig-and-curytail combo, but quickly realized I’d catch more, and snag fewer underwater trees and rocks, by simply swimming the jig back to the boat.
As for Lake X’s big northern pike, they eluded us. Matt had one 7-8 pounder follow his spinner on a shallow weedy flat, but that was it. I suspect the big pike were deeper, but we were having so much fun with bass that neither of us gave serious consideration to trying to find and catch pike.
Needless to say, the 3 hours flew by as Matt and I caught and released bass on Josh Lake. And when we heard the familiar sound of Rob’s UTV approaching from the distance, we reluctantly headed for shore. You see, I was visiting ECO with hopes of shooting a black bear, and I needed to eat lunch and prepare for the afternoon/evening hunt.
“Rob, is it okay if we come back here tomorrow morning?” I asked.
“Sure,” he said. “Let’s just leave the boat upright and trolling motor attached. I’ll charge up the battery tonight so it’ll be ready for tomorrow.”
And with that, Matt and I left Josh Lake behind. And even though I’ve been bass fishing for more than 4 decades, on world-class waters from Florida to Minnesota, I have never –EVER – experienced a bass bite like the one found on Rob Argue’s Lake X – Lac Boulard.
Author’s note: Rob Argue doesn’t offer guided fishing as a rule on Lac Boulard (Josh Lake), but trust me . . . if you can operate a transom-mount trolling motor and cast a spinning rod, you can hammer bass there.
Our second morning on Lake X was ever better than the first. Having identified the best smallmouth-holding structure on the small lake, Matt and I maximized our time on those key spots. One in particular was a underwater boulder point connected to shore, the other a rocky point sticking out from an island. We simply casted over these areas repeatedly during our second visit, and the results were incredible – lots of smallies, and some big ones. Our largest fish measured 19 inches and weighed about 4 pounds. On lightweight spinning tackle, the smallies provided an outstanding battle.
P.S. If Quebec isn’t near the top of your list for outdoor destinations, it should be. Click here to learn about the fantastic fishing and hunting opportunities available in Quebec. I can’t wait to return. I’m sure Lac Boulard is just one of thousands of small Lake Xs across the province!
P.P.S. As the title to this article teased, I promised you a video. Check out the GoPro video taken by Matt Addington as I casted near where he was sitting on a boulder outcropping. Matt taped a camera extension pole to a canoe paddle and then followed my topwater lure. Watch the fish strike the lure and almost get tangled in the camera during the fight – pretty cool!
Images by Matt Addington