Episode 524: Slow and Steady Smallmouth

This Fish’n Canada episode had Pete Bowman on the road with part-time co-host, Steve Niedzwiecki, in the Algoma region of Ontario searching for one of their collaborative favourite species of fish – Smallmouth Bass.

The shoot location was on Lac aux Sables, which is situated north of the town of Massey.

The boy’s trip started out on day one by splitting up tasks. Pete hit one of the gorgeous Algoma back-lakes for a Brook Trout episode (single person shoot in a small boat) while Steve took the FNC1 Princecraft to Lac aux Sables, scouting the area for Smallmouth Bass.

After Pete finished up his Brookie shoot, he and Steve then got together and headed out onto the big lake, with the Fish’n Canada camera team, with Smallies on the brain.

Lac aux Sables

As stated above, Lac aux Sables is almost directly north of Massey. In fact, the lake sits even higher north than both Sault Ste Marie and Sudbury. Getting to the lake, however, takes a long drive on a couple of well-maintained gravel roads. There are a few launches close to the south end. Although there is a launch very close to Ritchie Falls Resort, that launch puts you in the river, well away from the main lake. By taking a short drive along some of the back roads, there’s a better launch location for fishing the lake.

The good and the ugly… the MNRF working to aid anglers and the rednecks just out to play.

Scouting

Smallmouth fishing near Massey, Ontario in the Algoma Region
With Steve at the helm and Pete up front, scanning between the clean Ontario water and his fishfinder, the boys were on their way to a great day of Smallie fishing.

When we hit unfamiliar water like this location at Lac aux Sables, we like to look at maps, water clarity, all of our fishfinder screens etc. in order to put us in the best possible position to make contact with our quarry. We also have deep discussions with owners, operators, and guides in the area. For this shoot, the guys confided in both Matthew and James from the lodge for the latest on what was happening in the fishing.

As in the above picture, when any of our team has to travel through shallowish water, one guy normally jumps to the front deck and keeps an eye out for not only hazards but for fish as well. That big boulder could be a Smallie hotspot. As well, many times we’ve seen fish like Smallmouth swimming around or scurrying away from our moving boat, “giving up” their secret hiding spots.

Always keep an eye out for any indications that could lead to fish in the boat!

Shoot Conditions

The conditions for this day were excellent. It started out sunny but as the day moved on, cloud cover and a light wind moved in. Let us say now though, direct all-day sunlight is not necessarily a bad thing for Smallmouth. In fact, it can be amazing as it brings fish up shallow to feed. That’s right, the opposite of what many believe.

On this aux Sables trip, once Steve and Pete dialled in a pattern, they caught fish all day long.

The Fishing

Steve and Pete started in their typically preferred fishing pattern; begin with fast, aggressive style baits and only move to the slower stuff if and when necessary.

Some of Pete, Ang, and Steve’s typical search baits for Smallmouth. In the right conditions, a Yo-Zuri Jerkbait and Crankbait as well as a double willowleaf Spinnerbait are a perfect choice.

Well, you might have guessed it, after about an hour of casting crankbaits, spinnerbaits, jerkbaits etc. etc. etc., they swallowed their run and gun style and slowed things down with plastics.

Just to note, there’s nothing wrong with the above situation and, in fact, it can and usually does turn into a super-fun day. Fish are funny creatures and their daily habits can be strange to humans. Who knows what drives them, it’s simply up to us to try and figure things out.

On this day, Pete and Steve eventually turned to plastics like Ned Rigs, Texas rigged craws, and Tube Jigs. These again, are staples in the Smallmouth world.

Results Of The Day

Pete Bowman admires a great Lac aux Sables Smallmouth Bass that he caught on a mid-lake hump using forward-viewing sonar.

All in all, Pete and Steve had an outstanding day considering it was new water to them. With help from Ritchie Falls Resort and their long-time guide, James, the guys had a solid game plan as far as locating the fish was concerned.

As they slowly but surely executed various techniques from spot to spot, they eventually figured out not only where the best Hotspots were, but also how those cold-water Smallmouth were behaving in regards to feeding.

Here is Steve Niedzwiecki with a giant Algoma country Smallie he caught on a tube jig during this trip (biggest fish of the shoot!!!).

To sum up the fishing for the day, Pete and Steve both agree it was one of their favourite outings of the year.

“To figure out Smallies on an unfamiliar lake,” says Steve “is such a satisfying experience. Rarely do we hit the water and start out by instantly landing lunker after lunker. It usually takes some work.”

Well, their hard work paid off.

“This shoot/trip is one of those put-it-in-the-vault days,” continues Pete “in where these Smallmouth WOULD NOT TOUCH any of our fast presentations. One just needs to scratch their heads (like we did) and figure things out!”

The end of a great day on a northern Ontario lake at the launch, & ready to head back to the lodge… does it get any better than this???

Things To Do Near Massey 

If you want to learn more about Massey and all the stops we made while filming this episode, check out our article over at the Northern Portal.

Ritchie Falls Resort: Owned & Operated by Sagamok Anishnawbek

“This resort was the epitome of a diamond in the rough,” says Pete Bowman “we drove for what seemed like an eternity on dirt roads to get there and had our fingers crossed that it would be worth it”.

Well worth it indeed. Pete, Steve, and the crew were amazed at the well-maintained, modern facilities. The cabins were perfect, the main lodge was gorgeous, and the food was plentiful and delicious!

Here are some quotes as to Ritchie Falls Resort from their Facebook page:

“A great outfit from the great Canadian Outdoors and some of the best people and staff.  Fantastic experience.”

– Jack Coad, February 3, 2017

“I’ve been to a lot of outfitters and never EVER have I been to a place that goes above and beyond for their friends. Honestly you get treated like you’ve known them for years and they make sure everyone has an amazing time! For that I say thank you Kyla and to Matt as well. I’ll be back as often as I can!”

– Andrew Taylor, October 23, 2016

“Had a blast on the trails with my son.  Great staff, great trails, great cooking and a real Canadian wilderness experience.  The bass were biting like crazy!”

– Steve Hayward, September 30, 2013

Here is a podcast on Blue Fish Radio featuring Ritchie Falls Resort:

Episode Gettin’ There (Sponsored By Destination Ontario)

To get to today’s awesome Smallmouth Bass fishing, Pete & Steve first drove north on Hwy 400 to Hwy 69. Then turned West on Hwy 17 to the town of Massey. From there, they drove north on gravel roads 553 and 810, before ending up at the gorgeous Ritchie Falls Resort.

After enduring the long drive through some rugged yet gorgeous northern bush-country on a gravel road, the luxury and opulence of this lodge is a real surprise. It truly is an Ontario fishing oasis.

Episode Hotspot (Sponsored by Garmin)

N 46 48.173, W 82 20.025

Today’s Hotspot is on Lac aux Sables in northern Ontario.

The waypoint above will get you there.

This lake has minimal pressure on it so the Smallmouth Bass are both plentiful and ready to fight.

Although Pete and Steve had their work cut out for them in finding active fish, they eventually came up with a solid late-summer pattern.

Shallow rock cover and structure were the tickets. From long, extending shallow points to big boulders piercing the surface, it was all about that hard bottom. They spotted most of their bigger fish with Garmin’s forward viewing LiveScope technology. 

The oddest part of this trip was, they could only get these aux Sables Smallies to bite slow-moving plastics. 

But that’s fishing for you!

For more Hotspots like this one, check out Fish’n Canada.com  

Baits: Plastics on Carolina Rig, Jig Head or Dropshot

Presentation: Casting and Working Back Slowly

Depth: 3-10 Feet

Conclusion

The Fish’n Canada Show has been travelling to Algoma for years and we don’t plan on stopping anytime soon. This episode is just one of many examples of how good the fishing in this part of the country can be!

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TV EXTRAS

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