Ontario Bass FishingLargemouth & Smallmouth Bass Fishing Techniques
Smallmouth & Largemouth Bass
Smallmouth bass are found from Ontario’s Great Lakes shoals to scenic, glacial lakes of the Canadian Shield and in thousands of rivers, creeks, and lakes in between. Largemouth are mainly in warmer waterbodies with shallow cover, whether it be weeds and wood or rocky outcrops. In lakes with varied habitat, largemouth territory overlaps with that of smallmouth, making for diverse angling action.
Smallmouth are usually in more open water, where you can use light to medium-action 6- to 7-foot spinning rods and 6- to 10-pound-test lines. Fly-rodders also find these smallmouth eager to take top-water poppers or minnow-shaped streamers when the fish are in relatively shallow water. In summer, deep underwater points, rocky shoals, submerged islands, and weed edges are the places to catch these hard-fighting, tail-walking fish. Soft-plastic twister-tail, tube, and shad jig bodies on 1/8- to 3/8-ounce heads are the most common smallmouth lures. Good jig colours are black, smoke, purple, amber, yellow, and white.
Bounce jigs along bottom, while retrieving or drifting with the wind over potential hotspots. One trick is to allow a tube jig to settle on bottom, then release 20 to 40 yards (18 to 36 m) of line. As the boat drifts, nudge the bait along, as you feel for a strike. This technique is particularly useful in clear, deep water for spooky smallmouth. Smallmouth are particularly fond of crayfish, especially soft-shells that have just moulted.
Largemouth tactics that work elsewhere are also effective in Ontario. Fishing varies from flip-and-pitch techniques around shallow, matted weeds, docks, and stumps, to exciting top-water action on jerkbaits, poppers, and floating plastic worms. Crawling spinnerbaits or retrieving shallow-running crankbaits along sub-merged weed patches also pay off. Bass of both species in deeper water can be taken with diving crankbaits, Carolina-rigged soft-plastic baits, and jigs.
Although some southern lakes or rivers are turbid, clear water is normal in Ontario. Baitcasting tackle spooled with 12- to 20-pound line is ideal around heavy cover for largemouth in stained waters. Light spinning tackle, though, is often necessary to fool largemouths in clear water on sunny days. In these conditions, thin, yet strong, braided or fused line and small plastic worms, grubs, or jigs can jump-start the action, while allowing you to handle fish around cover. Live bait is effective for both species. Leeches, minnows, and juicy nightcrawlers rigged beneath a float or with split-shot on the bottom will draw strikes.