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Fly Fishing for Bass in Muskoka

A homemade bass popper with the body using foam from an old flip-flop proves effective on southern Ontario’s Wood Lake. • Credit: Dam Kennaley


When a bass smashes one of my fly rod poppers, it always comes as a shock. One second I’m enjoying the sunset reflected on the calm surface of Wood Lake in Muskoka, the next I’m trying to recover from heart-pounding surprise as that calmness is shattered by a ferocious hit. Thankfully, with this particular bass, I recover quickly enough to remember to set the hook and then the battle is on. At first, it goes deep, putting a huge bend in my rod and pulling my float tube in a circle. Then after a few minutes, it tries a different tactic and shoots out of the water in a head-shaking jump that makes it nearly 5 feet in the air. But the hook holds and a few minutes later I’m admiring a nice 16-inch smallmouth, shimmering wetly in the last rays of the setting sun. As a parting shot, the bass gives me a shower as I release it back into the depths.

Stretching from the west side of Algonquin Park to Georgian Bay, Muskoka has 1,600 lakes and a long history as one of the premier cottage and vacation areas of Ontario. Wood Lake is located in the southeast corner of Muskoka just off Highway 118. A public boat ramp is available via Fox Point Road.

Earlier in the day, I’d been having good luck with a variety of sub-surface flies, including a black Woolly Bugger with a red tail and a Mickey Finn bucktail streamer, both baitfish imitations. But as the wind died, and the lake became glassy, I figured it had to be popper time. The popper was frog-coloured and homemade -- tied with a body cut from the foam of a flip-flop.

Many of Muskoka’s lakes harbour good populations of smallmouth and largemouth bass. I like exploring the smaller lakes, like Wood Lake, which are better suited to fishing with a float tube and canoe combination. The canoe gets me efficiently to the best parts of the lake, while the float tube enables me to fish those parts thoroughly and effectively.


(Photo credit: Dan Kennaley)

Bass-like structure, so the best parts of the lake frequently involve a combination of rocks, sunken logs, and lily pads. Places like that abound on Wood Lake and provide great fishing. But If you’re using a powerboat, watch out for all the rocks along the shorelines.

If you’re interested in giving the bass of Wood Lake some exercise and are wondering about accommodations, give Caribou Lodge, with its ten private cabins, a try.

For more information about exploring fly fishing for bass opportunities in Muskoka, check out discovermuskoka.ca

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