Episode 538: Cherry Picking Smallmouth

This Fish’n Canada episode was an exciting one!

Not that the others during this season haven’t been… but, in this one, we’re taking on and going head to head with what is often referred to as the best pound-for-pound fighting freshwater gamefish in all of Canada, heck, maybe the world, the Smallmouth Bass.

On this trip, the Smallies that we located were what we call “anything but positive” which is just a wordy way of saying they were negative.

A cold front blew through the area just days ago and Ang and Pete were AGAIN stuck with trying to figure out these bottom-huggers.

The area was weed free, with lots of flat rock bottom, and the odd boulder. 

The depth varied from about 12 feet to over 20.

Added to this, we had a very unique situation in the world of Smallmouth, and that was Smallies relating to timber, and more specifically standing timber, under the water’s surface and not visible to the naked eye.

Although quite new to us, Smallies hang in wood throughout the country

Not all of the fish were in and amongst the wood, however. On the contrary, in typical Smallmouth fashion, it seemed like they were roaming around hunting for food and then moving back into the timber for cover. This was quite interesting and not all that common in our Smallmouth fishing history.

COLD FRONTAL CONDITIONS

When confronted with post-cold-front fish, Ang and Pete are always “optimistic” if you will, in that they’ll at least try their luck with moving baits like crankbaits, jerkbaits, and even topwater baits. 

Unfortunately on this day, it was quickly evident that they’d have to dig deep and slow WAY down to connect. This means staying in contact with the bottom with either some kind of jig, or by dropshotting, both of which they’re very familiar and confident with… (transitioning into first fish in the boat)

THE SMALLMOUTH BASS

Here’s a little Smallie insight for you. Ang and Pete have fished for Smallmouth on a number of lakes, in a number of provinces, and the commonality of this species, from coast to coast, is almost surprising. 

For instance, the fish they were catching in this lake in northern Ontario, act and feed very much the same as river fish in New Brunswick, or even inland lakes on Vancouver Island.

The point we’re trying to make here is, if you plan on travelling throughout a province, across Canada, or anywhere else that Smallmouth Bass live, the basic fishing tactics that you use successfully on your home lake should work elsewhere. 

Don’t be intimidated by the geographic location. Smallies love to hunt and eat!

PRESENTATION

Pete used a Ned Rig (top) the entire shoot, while Ang started with his new “tube-like” lure made by Hookup Baits (middle) and ended off with a traditional tube jig (bottom).

As far as our tactics and lure choices for this episode, one of the presentations that Ang was experimenting with was a new style of Tube Jig that he recently discovered. It’s quite a bit longer than the normal tube, and doesn’t have the standard “tentacles”. It comes pre-rigged with the jighead inside and it’s quite heavy.

As well, Ang had a traditional pumpkin green coloured 3.5” old school tube ready, willing and able to fire out when need be.

On the other hand, Pete was using a basic Ned Rig, with a tiny 2 ¾ inch soft bait, on a dedicated Ned head.

Pete’s bait fell at a medium rate to the bottom, while Ang’s new tube looked like it was shot out of a cannon. 

Pete unhooking a beauty Ned rigged Smallie

Two different-looking baits, yet with very similar, do-nothing, no-frills profiles… both of which worked well on those cold front Smallies.

LUNCH BREAK

Just to let you know, we’re not ALL about hardcore fishing through every minute of a shooting day. We’ve gotta keep the machinery fueled. 

When staying at most full-service, all-inclusive lodges, bringing out a boxed lunch prepared by the kitchen staff is always an option. 

And unless there’s a chance at a classic Canadian shore lunch, we normally take our lunch to go. It saves so much time in a day.

Lunch Break… Sammies and Chips!

SMALLMOUTH BASS ADAPTABILITY

Ang with a beauty he caught on his tube

If you want to talk about an adaptive creature, the Smallmouth Bass surely fits nicely into the category. 

In Ontario, for instance, their numbers are as incredible in Lake Erie, the most southerly point in the province, as they are past the upper reaches of Lake Of The Woods in the northwest portion of the province. That’s about 2,000 km of highway driving.

When you add in pretty well every Fisheries Management Zone in between, you can see these fish can tolerate a wide variety of conditions.

We did a road tour in the Atikokan area of Ontario putting us smack dab in the middle of Smallmouth country. The northwest portion of Ontario is such a diverse fishing area.

The area we were fishing for this shoot is slightly north of Quetico Provincial Park (out of the park zone), a world-famous park known for its excellent portaging and fishing, with an emphasis on Smallmouth Bass. Only barbless hooks, artificial bait, and no outboard motors are permitted in the Park.

This massive park is almost 5000 square kilometres and shares its southern border with Minnesota’s Boundary Waters Canoe Area, part of the Superior National Forest.

Quetico Provincial Park includes over 2000 unofficial, unimproved wilderness campsites spread throughout more than 600 lakes. 

That, my friends, is a lot of fishable water!

CONCLUSION

Such a beastly little fish species!

As you can probably tell from this trip and many that we’ve documented previously, Ang and Pete are huge fans of the Smallmouth Bass. 

Yeah, there are a number of skeptics out there that still consider the Smallmouth as damaging and invasive… hey, everyone’s allowed their opinion. But as far as we’re concerned, regardless of how they got there, where they came from, and how they play in the sandbox, we’ve learned to love these little brown beauties. God bless the smallmouth.

CAMP QUETICO

For a detailed look at Camp Quetico, head over to Northern Ontario Travel!

Smallmouth Fishing After a Northern Ontario Cold Front | Northern Ontario Travel

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