EARLY SPRING SMALLMOUTH BASS Smallmouth bass can be a great choice to fish early season. In Northwestern Ontario when the ice comes off the lakes and rivers in that region, you are still able to catch these great game fish. In fact there is no closure on the season in Zone 5 though there is a size restriction at certain times of the year if you want to keep fish. I can remember fishing early season pike with Mike Asher on Shoal Lake Ontario, when we got into a nice school of smallmouth off a point in about 10 feet of water. This tends to be the exception, not the rule as early season bass tend to be in a bit deeper water at really early ice out. Last spring when fishing with Darrin Bohonis at Sioux Narrows, the water temperature was still real cool. In this case the bass were holding to sunken islands and points in about twenty feet of water. When the bass are this deep, dead sticking a Berkley four inch power minnow on a 3/8 ounce jig was the ticket. Darrin said the key was let the jig go to the bottom, reel up half a turn and hold the bait steady. Sure enough, he had the first five bass doing exactly that.
Darrin with real early season smallmouth!
The rest of the day pretty much evened out on the fish catching once I got the presentation right. On Shoal Lake a south wind had been piling in some warmer water off the shoreline point and the bass had moved a bit shallower because of it. We caught them on power minnows but they were fished a bit differently. We used them on long shank weighted swim bait hooks, letting them swim and glide.
Pike baits, just down size a bit for smallmouth
This is a great technique in cold water and on inactive fish. I love using this type of presentation when fishing for spring pike with a fly rod and small streamer. You just let the fly glide slowly through the water, with a short twitch every once in a while. Usually the change in speed suddenly triggers a strike. This is better once the water temperature get over ten Celsius.
Spring time walleye caught on the fly!
I have caught plenty of shallow spring time walleye on this type of presentation with a fly rod. This happened on a recent spring trip to Big Sand Lake Lodge. The ice was still on the main lake, so we fished a smaller lake behind the main lodge. We found the walleye in a mud bottom bay eating insect larvae. A real small brown fly imitating the hatch was perfect.
GOOD ELECTRONICS WILL HELP!
Checking out the structure
While fishing with Darrin, we had nothing but the best in electronics, no less than four top of the line Humminbird units with all the latest technology. On the back two units, one had the Navionics chip for Lake of the Woods, the other the Lake Master chip with all the hydrographic contours outline in brilliant colours. What blew me away on the Lake Master program was the ability to highlight a depth range that we wanted to fish. Darrin had plugged in the 18-22 foot range this particular day, and every time this depth showed on the contour map it was a bright green. Now when he pulled up to a spot he would call up the side scanning feature on his left unit. He would then slowly troll with the big motor just off the edge of structure, checking to see how many fish he could mark on the side scanner. When he saw distinct stubby white dots that indicated bass, he would see how many fish he marked and if there was enough he would throw out a mark buoy. At least that hasn’t changed!
Getting ready to throw a marker
It was amazing how accurate this scanning really was. We caught bass on everyone of those key fishing holding structures. On the first area we caught more than two dozen smallmouth and has the day progressed it continued to be fun battling early spring smallmouth.