Episode 547 – Last Minute Smallmouth

On this Fish’n Canada episode, we got to take you on what we call a last-minute Fish’n Canada shoot. It’s one of those spur-of-the-moment, hey let’s dooooo…… THIS!!!

And the “THIS” here was targeting Smallmouth Bass on the St. Lawrence River, a place that is near and dear to both Ang and Pete. Quite honestly, the St Lawrence may well be the best Smallmouth Bass river in the world!

Now before we get to the fishing we need to tell you that the reason this shoot became a last-minute idea was that we were already in the area… sort of… and there’s NO WAY that Ang and Pete are gonna’ turn down an opportunity at targeting this gorgeous Smallmouth oasis. Honestly, if you were towing your rig full of gear, past a world-class fishery, could you resist the temptation??? 

We didn’t think so!

Lake St Francis is a man-made body of water in the heart of the St Lawrence River.

The area on the river we targeted was none other than Lake St. Francis. It is bordered by southeastern Ontario, southwestern Quebec, and northern New York State. Some of our fondest memories come from here, including our now famous, less than 1 hour, double-haul of 50-pound plus Muskies. 

A feat we’ll likely never duplicate!

What a pair of bruisers; we guess at over a hundred pounds of Muskie!

As far as Smallmouth fishing here, we’ve done bass tournaments as well as television shoots in the past. 

Here’s a link to an old Smallmouth Show that Ang shot late one November not too long ago. We definitely have some history here. 

With that said, because we were fishing a totally new area to us, and we had only one unscheduled day to try and get a Smallie show done, we figured it MIGHT be a good idea to confer with our buddy and local fishing pro, Ryan Flaro. And after some good intel, it was time to hit the water…

THE FISHING

Poppin’ tanks on Franny!

Our first stop was a mid-river, or in this case, a mid-lake “rise” in the bottom. We should note here that even though this portion of the river is classed as a lake, it still has a constant, strong current. 

A rise or drop in the bottom contour is a perfect place for Smallies to set up on, and wait for food to flow their way. We see it as their ambush or hunting areas.

And once we found that contour, then positioned our boat for that perfect first drift, and proceeded to set hooks into an instant doubleheader, we knew right then and there, this was gonna be a great day!

Dropshotting has become our most effective method of hooking into these current related Smallies. We’ve tried tubes, craws, and all kinds of crazy stuff, but day in and day out, the dropshot really is the deal here.

Our main set-ups for this shoot were either straight 8-pound test Yo Zuri Fluorocarbon line to the hook and weight, or a 10-pound test Yo-Zuri Super Braid to an 8-pound test Y-Z fluorocarbon leader. 

We typically use #4 or #6 dropshot hooks and a ⅜ to ½ ounce, cylindrical dropshot weight here. 

This setup works well for us in these kinds of strong currents.

Our components for Dropshotting. Sometimes it is straight Fluorocarbon, other times it’s Braid mainline to a Fluoro leader… both work well

OUR METHOD OF FISHING

We were fishing two different drift fishing methods on this shoot, all while trying to stay on or at least close to a big school of Smallies. 

The first method is to bring our boat directly up-current of the fish, and then drift with our boat, dragging baits through the school with near vertical presentations.

Walleye sit pretty close to the Smallies on Franny AND every now and then, they’ll hit your dropshotted plastic too

This works great until the fish get onto it and become wary!

IF” the fish get spooked, then we position ourselves 20-30 feet away from the school, hit anchor mode on our trolling motor to hold us in position, and then cast out and drift our baits past the fish, much like trout fishing in a creek or river. 

Both methods are extremely efficient.

Companies like Berkley, Yamamoto, and X Zone all make quality Dropshotting plastics

LAKE ST. FRANCIS AKA “FRANNY”

Lake St Francis is essentially a lake formed by damming two sections of the St Lawrence River. The eastern end has a dam at Cornwall Ontario. The western end has a dam at Salaberry-de-Valleyfield, Quebec. 

It is called both a lake and a reservoir since it’s a man-made or man-altered body of water.

The main gamefish species are Smallmouth and Largemouth Bass, Muskie, Walleye, Yellow Perch, some Pike (although the number of Pike catches aren’t what they used to be), and the odd Salmon.

As well there are Common and Mirror Carp, Lake Sturgeon, American Eel, American Shad, Sea Lamprey, and a host of other panfish and baitfish.

GETTIN THERE

To get to this episode’s Largemouth Bass portion, we first took hwy 401 east to the town of Cornwall Ontario. 

We then took exit 789 and headed south on Brookdale Ave.

We next headed east on Water St. W and finally turned south to the boat ramp at Lamoureux Park.

This is an extremely well-maintained boat launch with lots of parking and best of all, it’s free.

TV EXTRAS

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