Ask A Cottage Expert: The Lifelong Fisherman
Cottage Guide

Ask A Cottage Expert: The Lifelong Fisherman

In this series, we ask professionals our cottage-related questions. See more Ask A Cottage Expert in our Cottage Guide (on newsstands now or order it here)!

Jamie Pistilli Photo by Dwayne Brown
Jamie Pistilli, local fishing guide. Photo by Dwayne Brown

What makes Ottawa an angler’s paradise?
Within an hour’s drive of Ottawa, you can catch almost everything. Large- and small-mouth bass, muskie, walleye, bluegill, crappie. We have so many unique fish.

So how should people get started?
Get out there and get your hands dirty. You can get information on exactly where to go and what to catch on the internet. Just get out and fish.

What if you don’t have a boat?
I grew up fishing from shore, and there are lots of spots to fish from shore near Ottawa. Dow’s Lake is one. There’s bass and huge carp in there. You don’t need a lot of fancy equipment to get started.

How do you find spots where the fish might be biting?
Look for weedbeds, and fish alongside them. Fish hang around the edge of the beds to ambush their prey. For the same reason, I like the edges of structures like bridges
or rock pilings.

“Don’t give up on a fishing spot after a single outing. Something as subtle as a slight change in weather can make the fish bite. Or they might be biting earlier in or later in the day.”

If people are looking to land a huge fish to post on their Facebook (or dating) profile, where should they head?
The Ottawa River is a trophy body of water for muskie, but in the summer, I don’t like to target them because they stress a lot. I go after longnose gar instead. They’re hardier in the summer months, and the back bays of the Ottawa River are full of them — some over four feet long! It’s great to take a kid fishing and have them reel in a fish bigger than they are. Builds confidence.

What are the best local fish for eating?
Black crappies are great, and they’re abundant. They’re mild-tasting. If you don’t like fish, they’re a good place to start. And then there’s walleye.

What’s a hidden gem out there just waiting to be discovered?
The best secret spot is also the best known: the Rideau Canal. The most obvious places some-times end up being the spots that people don’t think to fish. You can catch six different kinds of fish in the canal in an afternoon!

Jamie Pistilli is a local fishing guide at