Smallmouth Bass Fishing Tips:
Smallmouth Bass can seem like the easiest fish to catch one day and impossible to catch the next. Sometimes they are in the shallows right on top of the shoals or in the rocks. Sometimes they take off into deeper water. The bass are almost always feeding and where they are and how they are feeding is dictated by where the food is. Leaches, Crayfish and minnows make up the majority of the Smallmouth Bass' diet. They hunt for Leaches along the shore where there is weed cover. They hunt for Crayfish where it's rocky. They follow the minnows whether they are in shallow water or deep water.
Smaller bass in the 1/2 pound to 2-pound range usually travel in hunting packs. You could hit a rocky point and catch bass after bass one day and go back the next day and there is nothing there. That's because the hunting packs are always on the move. Generally they travel along the shore but sometimes they can decide to cross the open lake to a group of islands and in this scenario they are very hard to find while they are in this type of location transition. It's your best bet to stick to the rocky points, shoals and islands where there is a sudden drop-off. The reason why drop-offs are so attractive to the bass is because they are sensitive to atmospheric pressure and if a low pressure system comes in they can quickly move deeper to compensate for the change and pressure without having to experience any discomfort and not travel far from their feeding area. Drop-offs also attract minnows.
Smallmouth Bass are also attracted to points where the wind has been blowing into shore for a couple of days. Warm surface water washing up on a rocky shoreline washes in surface bugs, which attracts minnows. If the waves are really big the oscillation of the waves is uncomfortable for the bass so they may sit off into deeper water where they are not getting bounced around. When you hit a rocky point, island or shoal try working the shallows first and then let the boat drift into deeper water. Try starting in deeper water and then drift over the shallows and then back into deeper water. The bass may be on the side of the shoal with the most wave action or they may be resting in the quiet water on the calm side of the shoal.
When you run into a hunting pack of Smallmouth Bass most likely you will catch lots of bass but they will all be 2 pounds or smaller. The really big bass travel in mating pairs and they are very territorial. They are also big because they are smart. If you come to a place that looks perfect for Smallmouth and don't catch anything, try to stay quiet and try different baits. The bigger bass spook easily and if you disturb them they might not feed for 10 or 15 minutes. Any bait you throw while they are spooked becomes unappetizing to them. It's best to quietly wait and then throw different baits to catch their interest. If you catch a big bass it is almost certain that another bass of the same size is in the area.
Baits & Lures:
Bass at times will hit just about anything. The most popular deep-water lures are tube jigs in green, blue, black or worm color. For shallow water small spinnerbaits, spinners with a rubber minnow, a regular jig tipped with worm, leach or a minnow or a jig with a small crayfish also work great. Other effective lures are small crankbaits and retrieving lures like Cotton Cordell Walleye Diver or Cotton Cordell Big "O" for deeper water, floating Rapala and Thundersticks for shallow water. In early summer they will go after bright colors like red or Fire-Tiger. As you move into August and September they tend to go for darker natural colors like silver and black or silver and blue. Smallmouth Bass when really feeding will hit surface lures like Jitterbugs or a Cotton Cordell Crazy Shad.
The very best bait is live bait. If the bass are in a picky mood and won't hit lures you have to try live bait. It is illegal to transport Crayfish in Ontario but you can used them for bait if you catch them in lake where you are fishing. The reason is the MNR is trying to stop the spread of the Rusty Crayfish, which has devastated some lakes down in the south. Bait stores are not allowed to sell Crayfish anymore in Ontario so you have to lift up some rocks and catch them yourself. Minnows, leaches and worms are still allowed with no restrictions. With a medium size bass hook, put a minnow or a nice fat worm on a hook with no weight and let lots of line out and try drifting over a shoal and drag the minnow or worm off the tops of rocks. If you are in a situation where there is no wind at all and you can see there are no bass on top of the shoal. Cast your minnow or worm off into the deeper water and just let it sink slowly. If your minnow or worm land on the bottom, let it sit there for a minute and then try a long slow jig to gently lift it off the bottom and then let it sink again. Some of the biggest Smallmouth Bass caught in Ontario are caught on a worm or a minnow and it remains the most popular method for catching Smallmouth Bass.
After the Smallmouth Bass spawn in the spring they tend to take off into deeper water during the day and don't come really shallow until late summer or fall. They will also go deep if a low pressure system comes in. In Wabigoon Lake and Dinorwic Lake you don't have to worry about Smallmouth going deep because they are shallow lakes. In lakes that have really deep areas the bass can go 40-feet deep or more. The most popular way to fish deep for Smallmouth is with tube jigs. Black, green and worm color are popular. You can tip them with a tiny piece of worm for flavor. The worm has to be small or it may affect the swirling motion of the tube jig. Just drop the jig down to the bottom and do long slow jigs. Most times the bass hits the jig while it's sinking. Deep water tube jigging is easier with a long rod so you can do long slow jigging motions.