Ontario is loaded with lakes teeming with smallmouth bass, a species that solely appears to be rising in quantity, offering most anglers with unimaginable alternatives to catch these hard-fighting sport fish.

An aggressive species with an enormous urge for food, smallmouths might be caught in all kinds of the way and vary of habitats. Smallmouth bass thrive within the lakes that dot the Canadian Defend, the large space of historic, uncovered rocks that encircles Hudson Bay. Here’s a information to catching smallmouth in these watersheds.

The traditional defend lake

There is no such thing as a single factor that marks a traditional Canadian Defend lake. They’re all just a bit bit totally different in refined and not-so-subtle methods. One factor they virtually all have in frequent is an efficient share of rock and rubble shorelines, interspersed with sheer rock walks, rock factors, islands and reefs. The higher defend lakes ― no less than from a smallmouth bass fishing perspective ― have a shallow bay, with sand and reeds and good areas for nesting. The extra habitat selection there’s in a defend lake, the higher bass fishing might be. Water readability additionally performs a job as smallmouth are primarily sight feeders. Most defend lakes are clear or semi-clear, though they are often as darkish as espresso. Smallmouth fishing is more difficult in darkish water, though it additionally appears a few of the very largest bass come from these kinds of lakes.

The place to begin fishing

Let’s break down a few of the areas you’ll find smallmouth in defend lakes.

Factors and rocky shorelines

One of many issues I’ve all the time loved about bass fishing in a traditional defend lake is that construction is commonly seen. I’ve but to see a essential lake level on a defend lake that doesn’t maintain bass. Smallmouth have some hard-wired want to hold round factors, possible as a result of they’re nice ambush spots.

Rock and boulder shorelines are additionally bass magnets, particularly when a little bit wind is blowing into them. Giant, scattered boulders offshore are even higher, particularly when utterly submerged. Fish use massive boulders as residence base and a few the biggest bass I’ve ever caught have come from them.

Islands and saddles

Islands are additionally bass magnets, notably once they’re smaller and have numerous rock and rubble. Two or three islands shut collectively might be particularly good as there’s typically a “saddle” related to them. A saddle is any rock, sand or boulder that’s underwater however connects one island to a different. Smallmouth bass love these areas, and the extra complicated the saddle, the higher. There are a number of island saddles on the Shebandowan Lake system situated north of my residence in Thunder Bay. Shebandowan has each kind of construction conceivable, however its clusters of small islands are my favorite stops. A few of the saddles have cabbage weed on them, a few of them are plain sand or rubble. All have bass. I’ve seen related situations within the Kawarthas and different lakes within the south and in northeastern Ontario. Discover saddles completely, fishing shallow and deeper water.

Humps and rockpiles

Whereas bass might be discovered on seen construction, they can even maintain on stuff effectively under the floor. Sunken humps and rockpiles are fish magnets, and smallmouth are massive followers. Having electronics with GPS can assist you discover sunken humps and mark them. Humps which are 5 to 10 toes from floor appear to carry essentially the most bass, particularly in the event that they slide into deep water. Bass typically maintain on the highest of the hump and can typically droop. Rock piles are typically nearer to the floor, however the very best ones are usually offshore. Bass like rock piles too, however will hold off the perimeters, typically close to any bigger boulders or rocks that present shade and canopy.

Shallow bays and weeds

For 20 years, a lot of my summers and early falls have been taken up fishing bass tournaments, totally on massive defend lakes. At first I fished rocks and traditional construction. As a consequence of competitors from different anglers, my companions and I started searching for out smallmouths in shallower water and weeds. It was trickier to fish these items. Any sudden change within the climate appeared to kill the chunk. It was eye opening, nonetheless, to see what number of massive bass have been in thick cabbage, reeds, and lily pads. Generally they cruised the sand flats, feeding on bugs and bait fish and seeming very uncovered. Different instances the bass have been tucked deep within the weeds and needed to be teased out. Usually, the fish have been very shallow. Many have been bigger and fatter than the fish on traditional rock construction.

Man-made stuff

Smallmouths have a behavior of establishing store on lots of the issues we people construct on the water. Only a few individuals in cottage nation haven’t caught a bass off a dock and almost all have seen bass cruising round or hiding underneath them. Wooden is hospitable to nymphs, leeches, snails, amphibians and all the opposite stuff bass eat.

One other well-used bass hangout is a waterline consumption, particularly if a number of concrete blocks or boulders are holding it in place.

The third within the holy trinity of synthetic bass attractors is the diving raft. On a scorching sunny, summer season day, smallmouth gravitate to the light-blocking rafts that populate many lakes in cottage nation. And, as a disclaimer, I don’t suggest fishing close to any of these items when individuals are round. Be respectful of others and good karma will come your means.

Traditional defend lake lures

Jigs, tubes, comfortable plastic worms

The traditional presentation for smallmouth bass is a jig with plastic. There are a lot of choices, and the Ned rig (see web page 32 of the June 2022 concern) is an efficient one. Nonetheless, any variety of jigs and plastics will catch smallmouth. Jig heads ought to be naturally colored black or brown, and never too heavy. Plastics of three to 4 inches are good. You may catch fish with all the things from grubs to paddletails to goby copies. Tubes are a well-liked the place bass are feeding on crawfish. Use a white or pearl tube for bass which are keyed in on smelt or shiners. Plastic shads, minnows, and lizards additionally work wonders.

Smaller plastic worms might be fished off a Ned rig head and even on a straight worm hook with a break up shot. The worm can be threaded on the hook or wacky rigged. Black, brown, pumpkinseed, blue, and purple are go-to comfortable plastic colors, with burnt orange and reddish brown a good selection the place crawfish are frequent.

Senko-style stick baits

These stick baits appears to be like like big worms, or outsized French fries. They’re usually impregnated with salt and are comparatively heavy in comparison with different worms. They are often fished weightless, wacky or Texas rigged. I’ve discovered when solid weightless and allowed to drop alongside sharp breaks, rockpiles or over humps, they’re arduous for bass to withstand.

Jerkbaits, crankbaits

Jerkbaits (lengthy, skinny crankbaits) are a stable alternative. Widespread examples embrace the Rapala X Rap and the Fortunate Craft Pointer. Many jerkbaits have impartial buoyancy and hold within the water column. The jerkbait is solid out, then retrieved with sharp downward snaps of the rod tip. You may modify the velocity of the retrieve relying on how the fish are reacting. A fast retrieve will typically set off strikes however slowing down and lengthening the pause, also can work.

Fats-bodied crankbaits are additionally stable. Forged these to a rocky shoreline or the tip of factors and make a gradual retrieve again. Use colors that match native crawfish, tadpoles or sculpin.

Shad-shaped crankbaits are an alternative choice and might be solid or trolled. The Berkley Flicker Shad is a primary instance. These lures run with a tighter wiggle than the fats bodied cranks and have a tendency to dive deeper. They’re good for working over rock piles, casting to downed timber and even working over open water the place bass might be seen tearing into baitfish.

Spinnerbaits and spinners

A one-ounce white spinnerbait with a trailing stinger hook was a cash bait in my event days. Spinnerbaits draw fish in a good distance and are unlikely to snag on weeds.

Inline spinners such because the silver #4 Mepps Aglia with a dressed treble can even suck bass in. Clear water is particularly good for getting bass to take spinners.

Topwater and floating lures

I’m leaving the very best to final, as fishing smallmouth on the floor is nearly essentially the most enjoyable you’ll be able to have when fishing. There are a lot of topwater lures that can catch bronzeback, put the Insurgent Pop R, Rapala Skitter Prop, and Heddon Chug and Spook are simply three in style choices.

A popping topwater throws some water when given ahead movement. Let the bait sit for a number of seconds between pops and permit the bass to search out it. Smallmouth will typically explode on a lure that has stopped shifting.

A prop lure works higher on a straight retrieve, because the bass can observe the whirring blade.

You’ll lose extra bass fishing topwater, as they appear to leap extra typically, and the hooks usually are not all the time in as firmly as they might be. But the thrill of seeing an enormous smallmouth smoke a lure on prime makes a little bit collateral harm OK.

Smallmouth bass are an amazing sport fish, that please everybody from the first-time angler to the seasoned veteran. The gorgeous factor for the Ontario angler is there could also be no higher place on earth to search out these fish.

Initially revealed within the June 2022 concern of Ontario OUT of DOORS

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