Northern Ontario is home to thousands of lakes and rivers, many of which harbour incredible numbers of both smallmouth and largemouth bass for the vacationing angler. But some are especially popular for the numbers of “big bass” they produce each season—Baptiste Lake located in beautiful Bancroft, Ontario, only 16 kms from world famous Algonquin Park, is one of these popular lakes known for its big bass.
This waterway has a rich history of bass fishing dating back to the early 1960s and produced some of the heaviest largemouth bass in excess of 8+ pounds entered in the Canadian Molson Big Fish Contest. Yes, 8+ pounds of largemouth bass!
Still not impressed? Consider the fact many 5- to 6-pound smallmouth are caught each season from these same waterways that include Baptiste, Elephant and Benoir Lakes—all accessible by boat with no locking systems entering each lake on the system.
We spent a few days in early July visiting with the gracious hosts of Birch Cliff Lodge on Baptiste Lake, only 10 km to the town of Bancroft, which is home to one of the world's largest mineral and gem tourist attractions called Rockhound Jamboree. Birch Cliff Lodge is one of Ontario's most picturesque cottage resorts, and since 1931 it has been an ideal destination for family vacations and angling adventures. They offer cottages of various sizes, each freshly decorated and updated with screened porches and some with fireplaces. Retaining its 1930s character, Birch Cliff Lodge is a unique venue for weddings, conferences and retreats. Check with them for spring and fall discounts. Check out the virtual video tour to see the comfortable and tasteful cottages, and discover why so many families return to this beautiful lodge year after year.
Let’s go fishing.
The late spring conditions and cooler water temperatures made it so that the deeper weed growth was not yet up to par in terms of holding numbers of bigger bass. We decided to pound the shorelines in search of shallow water largemouth bass hiding amongst the endless shoreline cover including logs, lily pads, stumps, rock piles, manmade structure and overhanging trees, which held some of the biggest bass of this trip.
Pitching and flipping soft plastic baits with heavy fluorocarbon lines on medium heavy and heavy action casting rod set ups increased our odds of landing a few Baptiste Lake giant bass, hooked in the tangled mess of tree roots and branches that overhang, or lay just below the surface of the water.
The lake has miles and miles of un-spoiled, natural shoreline with an abundance of fallen trees—large trees close to the water’s edge are excellent hiding places for bigger bass to hang out and eat unsuspecting critters.
These same overhanging trees and large branches offer a longer shade line from the sun and, depending on which side of the lake you are fishing, they can be an extended shaded hiding spot for bass well into the afternoon.
Some of my favourite trees are located close to deeper water, but never neglect those trees standing all alone in the shallow water in the backs of a bay. Big bass have a habit of finding the best spots on a lake, regardless of the water depth or any lead-in cover or structure elements.
I fished a lot of water on this trip. I found a bunch of overhanging trees by cruising the shorelines and looking for obvious cover that could hold bass. Even if it looked like it had potential to attract bass it was worth a look—I managed to boat some good numbers of smaller bass on fallen trees and small lily pad weeds along the shorelines. I caught and released some real good largemouth bass on the more isolated shoreline sections that had trees, fallen logs and weed growth mixed along the shorelines.
We didn't have much time to fish for those big brown smallmouth that are so popular on this lake, but that's for another Ontario trip this Fall when the trees are in full color and the bass are putting on the feed bag big time.
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