Top 5 Canadian Bass Lakes

by Pete Bowman

To run parallel to Angelo’s recent and very technical bass piece, I thought I’d tackle the question of where to find bass by providing a list of some of my favourite bass lakes to fish throughout Canada. I do realize that his article focused primarily on Largemouth Bass, but I had to include some Smallmouth waters as well. These aren’t my only favourites, they are merely some of the favourites that I highly recommend.

When I can catch a mixed bag of Canadian Smallmouth and Largemouth during the early fall, my Bass fishing season seems so complete

I’ve also included an extra in the mix as an honourable mention. It’s a lake that I’ve fished for only a day—but it was a great day!

Starting west and moving east:

BRITISH COLUMBIA

B.C. has amazing bass lakes throughout much of the province. There are both Largemouth and Smallmouth. To be honest, of the entire country, British Columbia has the absolute best climate to grow BIG BASS.

Vancouver Island alone has over 20 bass lakes to boast about. And although it may be the best concentration of waterbodies for bass, my B.C. pick isn’t from there. The Canadian desert area of the Okanagan Valley is my area of choice, and Osoyoos Lake is the beast that harbours the beasts (both Largemouth and Smallmouth).

Osoyoos is approximately 18 kilometres (11 miles) long, has 46 kilometres (29 miles) of shoreline, and 5,729 acres of water. It is situated mostly in B.C., but a portion sits in Washington State.

Since this area is designated as a desert, the water temperatures in the heat of the summer can reach 26-33 Celsius. Great for Largemouth, not so much for Smallmouth. But remember, that’s surface temps. Smallmouth Bass are as instinctive a creature as anything alive. They will find deeper, cooler water. To add to the sweltering surface temps, Osoyoos has zero shade protection along its shorelines. It truly is a unique-looking body of water.

Ang with British Columbia Bass
Angelo with a great British Columbia bass, back in 2007.

Nothing Short of Fantastic

We had the honour of fishing here back in 2007 and it was nothing short of fantastic. Ang did a piece on the oxbows at the north end of the lake (unique on its own), and then another in the main part of the lake. On that main lake portion, the Smallmouth back then were giants. I cannot imagine what they’re like today!

Ang and his little homemade bass boat (a 14’ Princecraft Fisherman) puttered along with a little electric Motorguide and proceeded to beat up big smallie after big smallie.

The icing on the cake during this trip was when Ang walked to the bank of the lake back at the boat launch, saw what he thought was a giant Largemouth, cast out and brought in one of his biggest Canadian bass ever! It had those bugged-out eyes and we all swore it was a six-pounder!

Angelo Viola with a British Columbia bass.
Ang proudly displays his “bank-beast” that he caught while sneaking along the shoreline of Osoyoos Lake. Check out those buggy eyes!

SASKATCHEWAN

As we have now said many times: Yes, there are bass in Saskatchewan. In the southern portion of the province, just outside of the town of Estevan, is a man-made body of water that is picture-perfect for bass habitat. It’s called Boundary Dam Reservoir. The reason I feel it’s perfect is the constant, warm water temperatures.

The reservoir was created to aid in cooling the generators that run the local power plant. The water is pumped in from the reservoir through the pump house. It’s then piped through a cooling system in, over and around the hard-working and extremely hot generators and ultimately discharged (at a much warmer temperature than when it was sucked in) back where it came from. It’s an age-old cooling system that still works today. It also keeps a body of water warmer than normal for the area. This warm discharged water creates a phenomenal year-round environment for Largemouth Bass.

Flatland Largies

Boundary Dam Reservoir has an excellent population of Largemouth. I visited the area back in 2012 with my special guest Keith Beasley from Canada In The Rough. Here, we shot two fish-filled, fantastic Largemouth Bass episodes. One at the north end, the other at the south. Both were quite different in surroundings and, as well, in the techniques used to catch the fish.

Keith Beasley and Pete Bowman with a Saskatchewan Bass.
Canada In The Rough’s Keith Beasley smashed this beauty on the jig while I was smashing a sandwich into my yap. Ya snooze, ya lose, Bowman. Well done, Beasley!

The north end is weedy and quite typical of Largemouth water. We found that Jig & Pigs were the #1 answer to our “What do you think these flatland largies will hit?” question.

As for the deeper south end, dropshotting five-inch soft stick baits was the deal.

Boundary Dam Reservoir is a great place for Saskatchewanians to get out and try their hands at catching this unique, acrobatic and extremely popular gamefish species.

ONTARIO

Although Ontario boasts several world-class bass lakes, I’m going to choose one that’s somewhat centrally located and one that certainly can’t be argued as to its output of big fish. With Erie being on the west side of the province, Lake Ontario’s eastern basin obviously being to the east, Lake of the Woods being well to the north, I think that Lake Simcoe should fit the bill for this piece.

Simcoe is a massive body of water. It has an area of 744 km², an average depth of 15 metres (49 feett) and a maximum depth of 41 metres (135 feet). That equals LARGE! Although it may not look all that big on a map, as soon as you tuck the bow of your boat out of the protected boat launch and into the main lake, you’ll soon notice that you can’t even see the other side!

Phenomenal Simcoe Smallies

Speaking of large, there are Largemouth Bass in Simcoe—and some great ones for sure. But honestly, they pale in comparison to the Smallmouth. Simcoe smallies are a phenomenon. Check out any bass tournament weigh-in on Simcoe. If someone comes in with 22 pounds of smallies, they would be lucky to break the top twenty on some days. That’s over a four-pound average for five fish!

In the late fall, they’re even bigger!

I will warn you, however. Lake Simcoe gets angry in a hurry. I’ve seen a perfectly calm morning turn into an ocean-like afternoon that had me barking curse words on every third wave! Be careful out there and pick your days with wind in mind.

Pete Bowman with a Lake Simcoe Bass
I remember this Simcoe giant well. The damned digital scales said 5.99! I’m serious, not .0 or .00 or .000… but point-nine-nine. Are you frigging kidding me? BTW, I’ll take these any day.

That said, on the right day and in the right area, 10-20 Smallmouth from 3-5 pounds is as realistic as it gets. If your personal best is a 5.75 and you’re looking to better it, Simcoe is the spot!

If you want to witness a great day of smallie fishing on Simcoe with that 5.99 (pictured above) which, by the way, I caught on a suspending jerkbait, go here.

CONTINUE TO PAGE 2 FOR MORE EXCEPTIONAL CANADIAN BASS LAKES.

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