Lake Ontario Smallmouth Bass

Lake Ontario Smallmouth Bass: Freaks of Nature

It’s been a while since I’ve hit Lake Ontario for Smallmouth Bass. Shame on me for letting the time pass. Why? Because it’s one of the absolute best smallie waters in the entire universe.

Breaking down specific lake geography, it’s the eastern basin of Lake Ontario that tops the scales as a producer of both numbers and size of fish. I have yet to fish a water body that can outproduce Lake Ontario’s eastern basin. It may be out there somewhere, but I have no clue where it might be.

The Outdoorsman Known as Mike Burriss

This above title will make Mike Burriss cringe and laugh at the same time. Mike’s my long-time fishing buddy. Besides my dad, Mike is the guy I have been fishing (and hunting) with for the longest time. We have teamed up for years of pleasure fishing, tournament fishing, fishing/networking the same lake out of separate boats—pretty much anything not work-related, although he has also appeared on The Fish’n Canada Show in the past.

Mike’s from Napanee, the town where I spent my latter years of public school and all of my high school. It’s also a town where most of the population loves fishing and hunting. While growing up, Mike and I spent countless time on the water—mostly Napanee River and Bay of Quinte and some smaller lakes to the north—learning all about fishing.

Video captured during this day-trip to Lake Ontario with pal Mike Burriss showcases the gin-clear water of Lake Ontario and the plentiful (and BIG) Smallmouth Bass that reside there.

I’ve since moved away from Napanee, but Mike still resides there and always has a finger on the pulse of the local fishing situations. We always look forward to outings together. Tons of laughs, and often tons of fish.

Took His Daughter On A Fishing/Scouting Mission

Mike told me about a recent Smallmouth day trip that he and his daughter Jen took; they’d had a great time and had caught a ton of fish. He said, “Come on up, we’ll do great!”

Now I must tell you right now: I’ve been bitten by the “no big largies for a while” bug, which makes moving on to a strictly Smallmouth fishing day a tough choice. That said, when it’s on a fishery like Lake Ontario (between Lake “O” and the rest of the province, Ontario is one of the world’s best destinations for Smallmouth Bass), the decision comes pretty quickly. “I’ll see you tomorrow, buddy!”

Jen with a Lake Ontario Smallmouth Bass
Mike’s daughter Jen with one of many Smallmouth she caught while fishing with dad.

Corona Time

The beauty of having a buddy living in the day’s fishing destination is that I didn’t have to pull the boat all the way from the GTA to Kingston. I don’t mind trailering—Hell, Ang and I have been doing it for decades—but it’s kind of nice to go sans-trailer now and then. I can adapt to any boat, so this day was pretty much a day of no brains, just brawn—for big brownies, that is.

With all this COVID crap going on, we took separate vehicles. Not the best way for buddies to catch up with fishing stories, but it is safer. The drive from Napanee to Kingston, Ontario is nothing—especially when thoughts of catching big Smallmouth are running through your head.

(By the way, throughout our lengthy past, for two Napanee boys like us, the only “Rona’s” we’d normally encounter would have bottle caps on them!)

Once in the boat, that’s when the B.S. could, would and did start. We tried our best to fish from the front and back. It’s inevitable that we would cross paths, but we definitely fished much differently from any other time. Normally we’d both be up front, side by side, for 90% of the day.

Smallmouth Bass Galore

Since both Mike and I have been fishing the Kingston area of Lake Ontario for quite some time, we knew areas to hit. More importantly, we knew that the fish would still be shallow (two weeks after the opener; water in the low 70s).

Mike started out pretty well, cherry-picking roaming fish. But me, however, I lost or broke off the first three or more. Time to smarten up, beef up the line, and set even harder!

Once I had my gear dialed in better (No more 6lb test baby-sized line!), I started smashing fish, too.

Ned and Droppy

For most of the day, Mike stuck with a Ned Rig for his slow presentation, and the odd time fired out a big Spinnerbait. (I want to thank Mikey-boy for his fine Spinnerbaiting; he popped a couple of beauty eating-sized Northern Pike.)

Ned Rig
Mike fired out a Ned Rig pretty much all day.

Myself, I pretty much stuck to dropshotting all day with the odd shot of “big ugly”—a creature bait that I’ll throw when I’m getting sick of light line. It doesn’t work nearly as well, but who cares. For my dropshotting, I forgot our (Ang’s and my) favourite bait: Yamamoto Shad Shape Worms. But that ended up being a good thing. It made me consider other ideas. A finesse worm was my top choice, but I even resorted to cutting a beaver bait in half. And it looked pretty damned good, I might add.

finesse worms
For the most part, I stuck to finesse worms.

Continue to Page 2 for specific notes on the gear Pete used to smash these Lake Ontario Smallmouth Bass. 

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