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Smallmouth Bass: Lightweight Champ

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Smallmouth Bass: Lightweight Champ

• Credit: Fish'n Canada

Discover easy-access paradise as well as hard-to-get-to destinations

On the latest episode of Fish'n Canada, the guys talk about epic smallmouth bass fishing in Ontario. This is a scene you don't want to miss.



Safely discover Ontario when the time is right. For the most up-to-date information on where and when it is safe to travel please visit: covid-19.ontario.ca.

Do your part by following public health advice. It is important to wear a face mask or covering, practice physical distancing, and wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water.

The latest Fish’n Canada episode is all about the smallmouth bass. Take a look as Pete and Ang outline easy-to-access bass meccas as well as bucket-list hard to get to destinations, or read on for more info. They'll help you put together the ultimate trip for what some feel is the ultimate fish.

Pete says smallmouth is Canada’s toughest most belligerent fish in all freshwater. Ang agrees.

In Ontario, there's a diversity of smallmouth opportunities that are available for those that want to get out there. Starting from local lakes within an hour of your house, to extended road trips throughout the province and all the way up to a fly-in “Bass Only” trip of a lifetime.

This includes areas like the St. Clair River, Clear and Stony Lakes, Lake Ontario’s eastern basin, the St. Lawrence River, Lake Temagami, Hastie Lake, and Hawk Lake, all of which are phenomenal smallie waters.

They also talk about their bait suggestions that they use to help them boat these tough, freshwater fish. From surface baits, through the mid-level and on down to the bottom, it’s all covered here.

Did you ever think about species-specific time placement? We bet you haven’t. Well, our boys give a great suggestion here as to when is your best time to concentrate on smallmouth bass, during a multi-day, multi-species fishing trip.

As well we certainly didn’t leave out the fun aspect when it comes to smallmouth bass fishing as there is always a story or two…

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The infamous “Chuck the Duck” and that’s exactly what Ang did after this Smallie spit it into the net!

TRAVEL PROTOCOL

At the time of this writing, even with the lingering effects of COVID-19, there’s never been a better time to take advantage of this outstanding Ontario fishery.

Of course, as anglers, we must do our part and make sure to abide by all pandemic protocols that are in place in the various regions where smallmouth are found. After all, it is our world out there, if we don’t take care of it who will. Anglers have proven time and time again that when it comes to caring for and protecting a species at risk, nobody does it better, well, this time the species is us.

With such a vast distribution of fish, and better than ever smallmouth fishing going on throughout the province, this is the year to get your butt out there and participate in some of the most enjoyable fishing imaginable.

You probably have some excellent opportunities right near your home, however, there is world-class smallie fishing throughout the entire province.

From the southwest, right through the south and east, into central, the northeast and up to the northwest, the number of waters that harbour smallmouth bass in Ontario are incredible and the fishing’s getting better and better every year.

Here are some of the best that we recommend.

SOUTHWEST ONTARIO

The southwest portion of Ontario is the warmest area within the province. With that comes great bass fishing, Smallmouth included. Lake Erie, the Detroit River, Lake St. Clair and the St. Clair River epitomize excellent smallie fishing in the most southerly portion of the province…

There are loads of access points to this great fishery, with most hotels and motels for accommodations. Areas like Walpole Island, Mitchell's Bay, the Thames River, Belle River, and Tecumseh all sit right along with this freakishly great fishery.

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Pete Bowman holds up a monster Lake St Clair smallmouth bass that he caught while drop-shotting a finesse bait along a rock shoal.

EASTERN ONTARIO

We do not want to sound biased here (because we live here) but, the south-central and eastern portion of Ontario is quite honestly, a smallmouth factory. From the Niagara Basin, all along the north shore and to the eastern basin of Lake Ontario, and on into the St. Lawrence River offers some of the best smallmouth bass fishing on this planet, period.

From the early season, and right into the late fall period, these 600 kilometres of shoreline give you access to mind-blowing smallmouth bass fishing for both quantity and quality. Major urban centers like Niagara Falls, Toronto, Kingston, and Cornwall along with hundreds of other smaller towns and villages offer a broad range of accommodations and dining opportunities to the travelling angler.   

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Pete Bowman holds a stalky Lake Ontario smallmouth bass that he caught near the city of Kingston.

SMALLMOUTH BASS: THE PERFECT ADDITION TO A MULTI-SPECIES FISHING TRIP

So, we just talked about southwestern and eastern Ontario being two Smallmouth factories. For those who crave smallies, it’s perfect.

For those of you who are multi-species anglers, the smallmouth bass is that “perfect” addition to a full list of other species.

In this scenario, I’m referring to at least a two-day trip to either a cottage, a campground or a fishing lodge with at least two target fish species including Smallmouth Bass. In reality, is though, there could be as many as 3 or 4 species.

Let us set up what we feel is the perfect fishing day.

You start with an early morning topwater bite on some vicious Northern Pike. They’re out and about, they’re hungry, and they are ready to play. It’s an awesome time to be on the water.

But as many good things do, unfortunately, the morning bite eventually comes to an end.

Knowing that you made plans with the rest of your fishing group to be back by 11 for a feed of bacon and eggs… a late breakfast break. Your evening plans of course are to go after the low-light, sunset Walleye bite, but that’s hours away.

So, do you sit around camp and do nothing all day?

You better not!!!

The smallmouth bass is that perfect “mid-day” species to take on. Yeah, they do bite great in the morning and evening, but they’re also the best of these species to target in that “middle of the day” timeframe. It sets up to create a perfect fishing day.

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Angelo Viola holds up a gorgeous smallmouth bass that he caught while fishing on a multi-species lake. They’re such a fantastic mid-day fish.

After a phenomenal outing of busting bass from top to bottom, it’s time to head back to camp for a steak dinner and then grab the walleye sticks, because things are about to get even crazier!

LAKE TEMAGAMI, CROSS LAKE, AND AREA

Smallmouth bass are a great exploratory fish species. Often, we’ll choose an area on our GPS and simply head out fishing.

A classic example was on a trip to the mighty Lake Temagami. We decided to explore the furthest reachable area on the lake… and it paid off handsomely!

On a past trip, we hit Lake Temagami as well as a small adjoining lake at the bottom end called Cross Lake. This was a fantastic smallmouth shoot in that we got to experience some big water as well as some more protected water.

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The Temagami area is rich in fishing history with classic buildings as well as the people that reside there. It is rich in fish populations as well!

NORTHWEST ONTARIO

One of the best kept smallmouth bass fishing secrets may be Sunset Country in Ontario’s Northwest. Here the perception is that pike and walleye are kings, but the reality is smallie numbers are almost comparable to both those species. They are that good!

Of course, places like Lake Of The Woods and Rainy Lake will win the most popularity contests in the smallmouth category however waters like Lac Seul, Eagle Lake, the Rainy River etc. all have phenomenal smallmouth fishing.

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Angelo Viola is into a boat side battle with a Lake Of The Woods smallmouth bass. Remember, there is an open season on these fish year-round (check the local fishing regulations for details).

CONCLUSION

So, with all these fantastic smallmouth bass locations which we just reviewed being so conveniently located, why would anyone want to travel for a 5-10-20-hour drive, to find that “smallie heaven” when they can get great Smallmouth fishing right near home?

Well, that’s simple. If you are a true Smallmouth addict, the opportunity to fish in a new body of water that you’re unfamiliar with and promises to deliver your personal best Smallie is just irresistible.

As you can tell, we have the utmost respect for the Smallmouth Bass. They are one of those species that we find hard to throw negative comments at.

Yes, there are anglers who have yet to embrace smallies. Hopefully, with time, they’ll see the light.

If you are a smallmouth bass fan and you’re planning an extended fishing trip, then consider making these great fighters your priority into that once in lifetime Bass mecca.

Or maybe drive to a multi-species destination and make Smallies that mid-day game-changer, sandwiched between morning Pike mayhem and that low light Walleye pandemonium!

Finally, if you really want to spruce it, how about an exotic fly-in bass fishing. Travelling to no-man’s land in pursuit of that trophy of a lifetime and spending a few days on a secluded backwoods lake without another soul for hundreds of miles and know that it’s just chock full of monster smallies!

No matter which route you take, we’re pretty sure you’ll be happy with the results! Simply because we feel the province of Ontario has the best smallmouth bass fishing in the world.

And finally, during these trying times, remember, be smart, be vigilant, be safe & have fun.

This Fish’n Canada hotspot is a shallow flat area on the Marten River system that holds roaming, feeding Smallmouth during the summer and early fall months. The waypoint on your screen will get you there.

Ang and Pete love throwing fast baits like Spinnerbaits in spots like these. If the weeds aren’t too thick, try a topwater bait or a Jerkbait as well. Move around in anywhere from three to six feet of water and keep casting—eventually, a Smallie should smash your bait.

Here’s the waypoint.

To get to our next fishing spot we first drove north on Highway 400. We then turned right onto Highway 11. Our final turn was a left on 64, then on to Marten River Lodge.

This hotspot is a rockweed transition that Bass of both species will use throughout the season. Here is the waypoint.

Now the key to fishing a spot like this is to experiment with bait choices. A Senko might work one day and then a topwater might be killing the next. Always change things up.

To get to our Clear Lake accommodations, we drove east on Highway 401. We next turned north on Highway 115 and continued east on Highway 7. Finally, we turned north on Highway 28 and east on South Beach Road to our outstanding accommodations at Clearview Cottage Resort & Marina on the south end of Clear Lake. Clearview is a family-owned business that cares about customer satisfaction, and it really shows! With both Clear Lake and Stoney Lake close by, there are miles of great water to fish here.

Montreal River Smallmouth Bass Fishing

This hotspot is where Nik latched onto his giant Smallmouth Bass.

Here’s the waypoint.

On these larger river systems, I like to fish them much the same as I would a lake. By breaking a river down into sections, I can then dissect each spot and come up with what I deem as the highest potential fishing area.

For Nik’s fish, we have lots of weed cover, some nice rock transitions and deeper water close by. Absolutely perfect!

As in lake fishing, a variety of baits will work, including top-waters, jerk baits, spinnerbaits, shallow crankbaits, and an array of soft plastics rigged weedless.

For over a hundred waypoints from across the country, check out our hotspots section.

To get to today’s great fishing, we first drove north on Hwy 12. We next travelled north on Hwy 11 until we reached New Liskeard. We then took Hwy 65 North West until we reached Golden Eagle Camp.

Nestled along a gorgeous tributary of the renowned Montreal River, Golden Eagle is a great place to bring either “the boys or family” on an adventurous, yet easy-to-access fishing trip. There’s not only Smallmouth Bass, like Nik and I were after today, but great Walleye & Northern Pike populations as well. Golden Eagle Camp offers a classic, Northern Ontario fishing experience!

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