JP Bushey is one of those guys who decided to chase his dream. He used to put on a suit every day to go to work, but he was always more passionate about fishing, so one day he decided to hang up his suit and become a full-time fishing guide.
When JP told me that he used to wear a suit to work every day, it was hard to believe because he definitely has the look of an outdoorsman. It’s so common to see him in his fishing clothes, hat, and sunglasses that I could never see him in a suit.
JP is one of those guys who can fish for everything, and he knows all of the latest and greatest techniques to catch fish. Even though he guides all over Ontario, Georgian Bay is one of his mainstays. I’ve fished with him a few times over the years, and on our latest two adventures with him on Georgian Bay, we decided to sample some ice fishing and follow that up later in the spring with an open water trip.
During our first outing, in March, we hit the hard water and ice fished for lake trout. We moved around to a number of drop-offs, ridges, and humps, and we caught a number of lake trout as well as a bonus lunker burbot.
JP is one of those good, intuitive anglers who makes fishing look easy. First off, he’s very versatile, so he’s always trying various areas of the water column to locate the fish. During our ice fishing outing, most of the lake trout we saw on the graph were coming up for our baits. The key to catching them was to lower your bait down to them and, as soon as you’d see them coming up towards the bait, you’d engage your reel and start retrieving your bait up. These fish would chase it up through the water column and they would either commit or not. If they didn’t commit, they’d dump back down into the depths, but if they did they’d charge up to grab your lure and it was game on.
Georgian Bay is a huge body of water with a surface area of 15,000 square km, or nearly 5,800 square miles, and it has a lot of islands. In fact, there’s over 30,000 of them scattered throughout the bay, along with countless points and narrows areas. When you’re ice fishing on Georgian Bay ,you have to take into account that current will move through some of the bottlenecks, around the islands, and along some of the mainland areas, so you really have to be careful and know where to run on the ice. That’s another reason that having a good guide like JP comes into play. He grew up fishing Georgian Bay with his dad, so he knows the safe areas to go, and he certainly knows where the fish are.
After our ice fishing outing, JP said that we should get back up with him for some spring fishing, so we went back about a month later, just after ice-out, and the lake trout fishing was incredible. Everywhere we targeted the fish using our depth finder, we caught them. Now, we could have easily gone trolling and caught them, but I wanted to vertically fish for them and watch them come up on the screen. Video game fishing can be a lot of fun! We got a number of double-digit lake trout, including some double-headers, that morning by jigging either the Sebile Vibrato, a swimbait, or a jig/grub combination. The fishing was so good that we caught all the lake trout that we needed for the show we were shooting by about 9:30 in the morning, so we decided to change things up and try for some pike. Although we didn’t get any really big pike, we did catch a number of decent ones throughout the day.
Because he’s a multi-species guide, JP has a very open mind when it comes to fishing, and he’s always learning how to improve his skills on the water. Even though he’s an accomplished angler, he’s always looking at new things to try—lures, techniques, etc.—to help him put more fish in the boat.
Whether you hire a professional guide like JP or decide to do it on your own, Georgian Bay is truly an angler’s paradise. Whether you want to catch world-class muskies, huge pike, lake trout, salmon, bass, panfish, or just about any other species that swims in Ontario, Georgian Bay has got it.
One of the other things I’ve always liked about it is that it’s just a beautiful place to fish. Between the windswept trees that grow facing the east because of the prevailing west wind, to the countless islands, to the rugged Canadian Shield shorelines, it’s one of the most scenic places I’ve been to in Ontario.
Georgian Bay has a number of lodges, resorts, and cabins scattered along both the main shore and the islands that you can choose from as your base. From one end of the bay to the other there are many choices of accommodations—and you will definitely never run out of water to fish. I’ve been fishing the waters of the bay off and on for over three decades now, and I’ve never had a bad trip. And that’s why I’m already looking forward to me next trip up there.