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The Land of Dreams

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The Land of Dreams

(Photo credit: Ashley Rae)

Why Lake Ontario is one of my favourite places to fish

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When anyone asks me about fishing on Lake Ontario, a smile instantly covers my face and I’m sure my eyes even sparkle a little bit. Fishing out on such big water has a certain magic to it. Even just standing along the shoreline and breathing in the air brings a certain feeling over me. The opportunities, the beauty, and the fish, wow! It’s easily one of my favourite places to be, as it holds such potential for truly memorable catches. Big fish bowl, big fish. right?

I grew up on the Bay of Quinte, located on the north shore of Lake Ontario. Inside the Bay is where I’ve spent the most time fishing, but over the years I’ve also been spending more and more time out on Lake O. My first experiences on the lake took place with friends in their boats, but in the past five years I’ve become a boat owner myself. Last year I upgraded my aluminum bass boat to a deep-v Alumacraft. A big part of the reason for an upgrade was to get out and explore bigger water. The deep-v is better equipped for windy conditions and provides a smoother ride if it gets bumpy.

A body of water such as this always deserves our utmost respect and our own safety in mind at all times, although this holds true for any water. Big wide-open spaces like Lake Ontario can quickly go from calm to fierce when the wind kicks up even a little. Due to its size and shape, Lake Ontario does not have the shelter that you’d find on a smaller body of water. No matter your boat, checking the wind before heading out on this water body is crucial. I check various weather sources before going out. I really like the Windfinder Pro app that I downloaded on my smartphone (for a small fee). Opening up this app and taking a look before planning a trip is always my first step. It can change day to day, too, so it’s a good idea to check it frequently.

I live in Ottawa now but have family back in the Bay of Quinte area. When I’m home and the winds are down, it’s off to Lake O I go. This summer I’ve been fortunate to hit some great low wind days and as a result got out to chase some smallmouth bass. Oh, what fun!

angler holding smallmouth bass

(Photo credit: Ashley Rae)

The fishery is certainly different from anything else I’ve fished, and there’s a bit of a learning curve to it if you’re used to smaller bodies of water. During the time I visited (early summer), smallmouth were still quite shallow and water temperatures were in the high 60s to low 70s. Unlike inland lake fishing, I haven’t had days out there with insane numbers but the quality is certainly there. My recent experiences resulted in the average smallmouth being 3-4 pounds.

The first few days of my trip, fish were hammering moving baits. Swimbaits, Chatterbaits, and jerk baits all worked well. A cold front came along and the bite slowed down so adjusting to more finesse tactics was key. Ned Rigs, drop shots, and tubes kept the bite going. 

When there’s a lot of water to cover, patience and paying attention to details is so important. It’s beautiful out there and so easy to wander to unproductive water. The slightest change in structure can be the secret to success, and can help eliminate a lot of water too. My fishing partner, Eric, and I found our fish in areas with boulders, broken-up rock, and weed clumps. We picked up the odd fish in areas that didn’t match the recipe above, but our numbers came from the mixture.

2 smallmouth bass in net

(Photo credit: Ashley Rae)

Sight fishing big smallies, it just doesn’t get better! With crystal clear waters, it’s quite amazing to look over the side of the boat and spot giant smallmouth cruising along. On a few occasions, we even had fish chase our lures right to the boat and strike without fear boat-side. At times, we were also able to plunk a drop shot right in front of their nose and they’d take it. These ultra-clear conditions also provide the ability to look ahead in the shallows and see what type of structure is around before getting right on top of it.

Lake Ontario, the land of dreams! I cannot wait to get back out there. I’m hopeful that my new personal best smallmouth awaits!

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