Fall Brawling Smallmouth
Were do I begin?This late fall fishing for smallmouth bass on smaller inland cottage country lakes has been nothing short of "extremely incredible".Over the last 2 weeks, I have visited some of favorite smallmouth lakes in Ontario's near north cottage country in search of a big bass bite and have yet to be disappointed by the results, and what makes it even more exciting is capturing all the action and excitement on film with my cameraman in tow.On three seperate trips to three different lakes and regions, the big brown bass has greeted me with open arms within the first ten to fifteen minutes of wetting a line.With three different presentations and baits to boot!On yesterdays filming road trip, I headed out a little earlier due to the longer drive to a north eastern destination in the Highlands which harbours a high smelt and herring population, which in turn can produce some of the biggest bass of the season putting on the bite big time due to the oncoming winter period.
Decided to chase down some shallower fish near shoals, rock piles and slight dropping island points and ledges with some pea gravel and mixed weed combinations and throw Strike King's new Rage Grub with the thicker tail that has some incredible action either on the fall or by swimming the bait.I decided to cover water quickly and use the grub swim technique first to hopefully locate some aggressive fish on the shallow edges first thing in the morning.Not ten casts in, fish number one ate my rage grub while I slowly swam it back to the boat with a steady, but slow retrieve with subtle lifts and pauses of the rod tip, while letting the grub fall on a semi slack line to entice any following fish...it worked!!I fished the edge of that gravel shoal until it dropped off to some smaller millfoil and cabbage weed and slightly deeper water. Didn't get bit in the deeper stuff, so I boated back up to the shallowest part of the bar and started my pass once again casting the rage grub ahead of the boat approx. 25-30 feet so I could work the slight edges and isolated rocks on the bar far better than if I was making long bomb casts to the obiss.We'll it got alot better when I started seeing small schools of smallmouth bass cruising the rock and gravel bar chasing minnows and acting alot like pirahnas on a feeding spree. I don't think they even cared I was there, all they cared about was eating and getting as many minnows in their yap as possible.All I had to do was toss my rage grub ahead of the boat and ahead of the fish so they would swim into my bait and bamm, fish on almost every time I found a school of fish.With the water temps in the high forty's, these big fat smallies didn't do any tail walking, but tried in vain to pull me to the deeper water the instant they felt the barb of the hook. Thanks to my smooth drag systems on my spinning reels, or else it would have been lights out.
My tackle choices included a St.Croix Legend Xtreme six-foot, three inch medium action rod with an Ardent Fishouflage reel loaded up with premium ten pound fluorocarbon line tied to a muchroom head jighead and threaded on a Strike King Rage Grub in green pumpkin tones.Had to constantly check my line for abrasions due to the rock and gravel these fish wouold pull me thru, and re-tie my bait after EVERY single fish was landed, I didn't want to take any chances with losing a potential record fish if it was hooked.
I fished several locations with pea gravel, rock mixed with sand, sand tapering to weeds and very obvious shoals and rock piles with not another angler or boat in sight the entire morning. Incredible when you think of just how many anglers fish these lakes in the heat of summer, but once the cold weather hits, they disappear to only appear again when the temps rise above eighty, to bad really, because the BEST smallmouth fishing of the season for me on these lakes is between September first and November end.The one thing that I did notice on this trip was the bigger smallmouth related to the pea gravel and sand edges alot more than the solid, high visible rock piles and shoals which held alot of the smaller two to three pound class smallmouth. When I could locate any small gravel areas on the rock piles in the distant with the aid of polaroid sunglasses, I would make longer casts to these smaller spots and more times than not, I would hook up with a bigger bass and see more bass swimming with the one I had hooked, trying to take the bait out of the fish mouth.It is an incredible sight to be fighting a high five or six pound class smallmouth and see some bigger ones trying to take the bait out of their mouths in ultra clear water....simply awesome!
Three road trips, to three different regions with three different techniques, football head jig and baby rage craw, hairjigs in the weeds and swimming rage grubs in ultra clear water....it doesn't get any better than this!Hopefully the warmer trends stick around a little longer so I can continue to enjoy this truly "extreme" smallmouth bass action until the lakes freeze up for the winter.