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Targeting 'Jungle Pigs'

Targeting 'Jungle Pigs'

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At times when fishing this thick cover, by the time you reel in a fish it’s hard to tell underneath all the weeds if still in there!

Largemouth Bass Fishing in Ontario



We all have our own idea of what paradise looks like. Some picture sandy beaches and palm trees, but that’s not me. My paradise is summertime in Ontario in the thick of the heat when the lakes and rivers boast their fullest, thickest, greenest vegetation. Lily pads, reeds, slop, weed beds, and big green floating mats: the types of places monsters roam. It’s hard to imagine anything could live in there! These are the types of waters that hold just what I’m hunting for. They’re hungry, reactive, and potentially aggressive. In case you’re starting to worry, I’m talking about the jungle pig also known as the largemouth bass!

This time of year certainly gets me fired up. There are so many ways to entice these green fish out from the comfort of their cover. Although I enjoy using a wide variety of presentations for largemouth, I do have a few favourites that I am frequently rotating when fishing here in Ontario.

Hands down, top water presentations are number one for me. I love the excitement and commotion of a strike on the surface! When the conditions are right (anywhere from a light wind to dead calm), largies can be down right explosive on top water and it never gets old! I enjoy using hollow body frogs, mice, or soft plastic frogs and working them right over top of the heavy cover. You’d be surprised at what a bass will bust through for a meal. These types of presentations can be weedless allowing them to be retrieved over top of thick weeds or lily pads without getting hung up. You’ll just have to keep in mind that these fish are experts at burying themselves in these weeds, so heavier gear and braided line will make it much easier to pull them out quickly and avoid getting too wrapped up.

Frog legs, anyone? This largie couldn’t resist a soft plastic frog swimming over its head!

Next up would have to be punch rigs or flipping jigs. These are a couple of heavier weedless presentations that consist of a weight, skirt, hook, (sometimes a weed guard) and a soft plastic creature bait to beef up the profile. They can be bought pre-made or you can rig them up yourself. These rigs work great for getting right down through the thick stuff and similar to the top water presentations, need a heavier outfit to pull the fish out quickly. It seems that fish will bite a jig even on the slow days after a front rolls through or if they’re just being finicky. It usually requires a killer hook-set to ensure the fish stays pinned and pulling them out is just part of the fun!

I love tossing a punch rig when I find really thick mats or cover that’s hard to get through. I’ll throw it upward so it plops right down where they’re hiding.

I’ve talked about fishing on top of the weeds and dropping jigs down through, but I also love fishing the edges with soft plastics (like senkos), swim baits, or chatterbaits. Since bass will ambush their prey, the edges and weed lines are always worth focusing on as they can be just as productive!

On a recent trip out on the water, my fishing partner (Eric) and I were working our way down a shoreline at the mouth of a bay when a boat pulled in and cut us off from our path. I had just landed a nice bass and this boat pulled in right away. We were kind of disappointed initially but decided to go across to the other side of the mouth of this fairly large bay and work our way in from there. It turned out to be a good move as we were catching fish after fish from this side working our chatterbaits over a weedy flat that we may have otherwise not spent any time on. I’m thankful that we ended up in this new spot as it turned out to produce our largest bass of the day!

A couple largemouth caught from the other side of the bay.

What’s great about targeting largemouth is that they’re always relating to cover of some sort and even on the windiest of days, there’s somewhere you can tuck in and find some shelter that is home to the largies. Sometimes even the smallest little patch of weeds/grass or lily pads will surprise you with it’s inhabitants!

 

Here’s an image from a day on the Ottawa River with Eric Riley (left) and Michael Larochelle targeting largemouth in the lily pads and arrowheads. There were so many nooks and crannies we were able to tuck away into and find fish! Largemouth love to eat and hide up in the jungle of vegetation hence, 'jungle pigs'!

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