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​Smallmouth Paradise

Al Lindner with a beautifully-marked smallmouth bass! • Credit: Mike Hehner
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​Smallmouth Paradise

Tricks for fishing bass in the Canadian Shield

Smallmouths thrive in beautiful places and Sunset Country has to be one of the most spectacular places on earth to catch a fish—you develop an instant emotional bond with the wilderness here.

Since I was a kid, spending my summers in northern Wisconsin, I've been in love with the personality of smallmouth bass. It's the fish that fueled my passion for fishing, and even after 60 years of chasing them, they are still my favorite fish. 

Bass Love to Cooperate!

Smallmouths pack more of a punch per pound than just about anything swimming in freshwater. Brown bass are also extremely curious and love to cooperate throughout the open water season. From ice out to ice up (regardless of the weather), it seems there is always a lure they are willing to strike. 

I also love smallies because of where they live. I've fished smallmouth in almost every state in the United States and across Canada. Smallmouths absolutely thrive in beautiful places and Sunset Country has to be one of the most spectacular places on earth to catch a fish—you develop an instant emotional bond with the wilderness here. It brings out the explorer and optimist in me and gives most anglers the sensation that big things are going to happen on any cast or the next spot, and they often do. I love it.

Al Lindner in the Canadian wilderness! Photo: Mike Hehner

how I target smallmouth on the shield

Usually, I'll plan my first trip in June. Bass can be doing any number of things at this time, but generally speaking: they're shallow. If the water is still in the 50s when you arrive, the pre-spawn bite can blow your mind. My favorite way—and probably the most effective method—to catch them is with a suspending jerkbait. The X-Rap 10 is hands down my favorite choice, in bright colors like Hot Head, Hot Pink, or Clown. 

As the water gets into the low 60-degree range, they begin bedding and spawning. I don't particularly like targeting smallmouth on beds, but not all fish are simultaneously spawning, so you can target fish staging in deeper water. During this period, vertical presentations come into play, especially tubes.  

As summer takes hold, topwater fishing is hands-down the best way to catch smallmouth. Early and late in the day can be peak times for topwater fishing in general, but in Sunset Country, smallmouths can often bite on top at high noon on a bluebird day. Besides topwater, I'll have a grub, hair jig, and 4-inch swimbait rigged on the deck. 

Al fishing one of his favourite spots in Sunset Country! Photo: Mike Hehner

Later in the summer, fish will favor deeper water, especially humps and points with round rock or broken rock in the 12-25 foot range. If there are suspended baitfish in the system, topwater baits are still a top option; however, one of our favorite techniques is a 1/4- to 3/8-ounce jig with a 4-inch plastic minnow. 

My brother, Ron, coined this technique moping. We'll hang the bait vertically—and not move it—a few feet above the fish. 

In many cases, if you're fishing in 15 feet or less, you might only hold the bait 5 feet under the surface, and the smallies will smash it. The key to this technique is not to jig the bait. In fact, first-timers to this technique often have more success putting their rod in a rod holder to resist the temptation to jig the bait. This presentation will continue to work throughout the season.  

Sunset Country has more smallmouth fisheries than you can fish in a lifetime.

I honestly believe there are more smallmouth in Sunset Country than anywhere else in the world! It truly is where fishing dreams come true! 

Al Lindner explains the best baits to use while bass fishing in Northwest Ontario:

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