This episode of the Fish’n Canada Show may be one of the most unique episodes that we have ever filmed—certainly in Saskatchewan. This fish-filled province is notorious for giving up trophy Walleye, Lake Trout and Northern Pike, but there lives a fish species in this province that only inhabits one body of water… and it’s one of North America’s most popular game fish.
Hopefully we’ve got you thinking a little bit. Here’s a bit of help: Pete’s going to be fishing a man-made reservoir with ridiculously warm water temperatures; the water clarity is anywhere from six inches to a couple of feet in the best of conditions, and there’s more water skiers and tubers here than you can shake a flippin’ stick at. Got it?
That’s right: Pete’s after Largemouth Bass. In Saskatchewan.
A BASS FACTORY
Joining him on this unique trip is Keith Beasley from Canada In The Rough. Keith is known for being a remarkable big game hunter but, as with a lot of the hunting community, he also has a passion for fishing—especially when it comes to Largemouth.
The destination water for this show is Boundary Dam Reservoir just outside the town of Estevan. As mentioned earlier, it’s a man-made lake that doesn’t resemble the typical Largemouth water dotted with lily pads, reeds, or rock walls. It actually resembles the reservoirs of the United States and even Mexico, which truly are big Bass waters. The most unique feature of this reservoir, however, is that it rarely freezes over. It was built as a water reserve for the local Hydro plant which uses the water to cool the generators. Water gets pumped into the power house, cools down the hot generators, then the warmed-up water gets pumped back into the reservoir at a much more Largemouth Bass friendly temperature.
Warmer water equals longer growing seasons for Largemouth. A perfect ingredient for a Bass factory.
When Pete and Keith first got to Boundary Reservoir their high hopes for fishing something that resembled a typical natural lake dropped. Pete notes in the show that his little brain was already racing around. The water’s dirty, there’s giant steep mud banks everywhere. “I’m gonna get my butt handed to me… on my favourite fish species!”
“We had a couple of hours to kill on our arrival day, so why not go fishing?” said Pete.
Things started out rough, to say the least. There was lots of searching with very little fish contact. And the fish they did contact were very little. But the beauty of Bass fishing is there’s always a pattern or an area that can pay big rewards.
A TOPWATER START
With an early start the next morning—the boys first full day of fishing—they decided to move to the south end of the reservoir and look for cleaner and more “Bassy” looking water. A beautiful row of cottages midway down the waterway caught both anglers’ attention. Upon closer inspection, the much cleaner water there was loaded with beautiful eel-grass. This built their confidence significantly.
Pete threw a Pop-R right next to the first dock and bam, a beautiful three-and-a-half pounder!
This row of docks and cottages was the start of something great!
As the sun came up the topwater bite slowed down, so Pete and Keith headed to the bottom end of the lake. Upon arrival their jaws dropped; it was jigs and weed clumps. “If this works, it’s game on,” says Pete.
SASKATCHEWAN BASS LAKE
The province of Saskatchewan is not known as a Largemouth destination. That’s because it was thought that the species couldn’t survive the local environment here since 17 attempts at stocking failed in the 1950s. Boundary Dam Reservior defied the odds, though. With the Shand Power Station constantly pumping out warm water, this reservoir has become a phenomenal Bass factory with fish up to eight pounds being recorded.
PIKE ON YOUR BACK
As the day progressed, something funny was happening. Pete was catching the odd Largemouth, but kept hitting Pike after Pike—and that’s a monkey on a Bass angler’s back that you really want to dump off quick.
Meanwhile, Keith was only catching Bass!
Pete had enough, so he tried to figure out what was happening. All of a sudden, after closely scrutinizing Keith, he came to a conclusion. Pete was working his jig quite aggressively after the initial drop, shaking it and swimming it while, as he says in the episode, “Turkey boy over there is tryin’ to fake me out… talking up a storm but not moving the jig very much.” Immediately, Pete’s Pike annihilation came to an end and it was strictly Largemouth from that point forward. The hunter that just schooled the angler may just get a schooling himself!
The rest of the day was simply outstanding. Jig and Pigs on three- to five-pound Largemouth!
Pete says, “This may be the best example of a ‘rags to riches’ experience I’ve ever had on a Fish’n Canada shoot. I go to Saskatchewan with high hopes, which get annihilated upon my arrival. But in typical ‘trying to figure Bass out’ fashion, it turned into probably my best Largemouth trip of the year! This is definitely a bucket list Bass destination!”
A TIP FROM PETE
“I can only comment on fishing Boundary Reservoir in mid-summer with water temps near eighty degrees since this was my first trip here. This is definitely a fantastic water body to throw soft plastics and jigs to weed edges in the heat of the day.
“Our most productive baits were 1/2 ounce black jigs with a black plastic craw-like trailer. The water was not only warm but quite stained in places, with lots of green scum on top. The dark silhouette or shadow-like look of a black jig, believe it or not, is very visible in this off-coloured water. I know it sounds bizarre; you would think that chartreuse or white would be the ultimate but for some reason, black always works.
“Also, we fished mostly eight to twelve feet of water which adds to the bad visibility due to lack of light penetration. As for rattles, the jury is still out on that one for me because I was using a rattle jig and although I was catching Bass, I think that may have been one of the reasons I was catching lots of Pike as well. Trust me, when you’re throwing a jig for Largemouth, Pike are not a welcome sight.
“This might have been just a timing thing but it certainly could have been part of the problem.
“Since the water is so off-coloured, go with either 20+ pound fluorocarbon line or 50+ pound braid. Fish seeing the line isn’t an issue here. A seven-foot medium-heavy to heavy action rod is perfect.
“The weed lines we fished there were classic, just like you would find on any good Largemouth lake in North America. Look for the typical nooks, crannies, points, anything that is different, but don’t neglect the straight, perfectly vertical edges. I think these fish cruise the weed lines here quite a bit.
“As a final note, the average size of Largemouth Bass here is awesome, with lots of fish in the four-pound range. I’ve heard of eight-pound fish from the lake and have no doubt in my mind that it’s true. In fact, since this is considered one of Canada’s warmest water bodies (on an annual basis) Boundary Reservoir could be, in my opinion, in the running for the next Canadian record Largemouth.”