Shake Up Your Fishing This Summer With Ontario's Bass!
Ontario has one of the most diverse fisheries in the world when it comes to the number of species we have available to fish for. Unfortunately many anglers find themselves constantly targeting the same fish day in, day out and not taking advantage of other fish that are at our doorsteps. During the summer months every game fish's season is open and with so many species to target anglers end up spreading out more, leaving you with more water to explore yourself.
While trout are great fun in cooler weather they are quite sensitive to water quality and temperature. When water temperatures exceed 68 degrees Fahrenheit trout of all species have a difficult time recovering after being stressed (ie: being caught), and as a result mortality rates skyrocket.
Because of the sensitive nature our trout fisheries we highly recommend giving those fish a break and shifting focus to fish that handle warm water better, such as bass, pike, musky, carp and panfish.
Bass on the Fly?! You Bet!
Both small and largemouth bass are extremely wide spread throughout Ontario, making them accessible to most anglers. Bass are plentiful, hard fighting and acrobatic fish that can be caught using many techniques, they're fun to fish for and a perfect target for both beginner anglers and grizzled veterans alike.
You Probably Already Have the Gear You Need!
Bass make for a great target species to transition to from trout fishing in large part because you don't generally need special gear to get into it. Your standard 5-8 weight rod will get the job done. What will help you get the most out of that rod is a heavily weighted line that will allow you to cast larger, less aerodynamic flies.
For flies many standard trout, salmon and saltwater flies will work very well, you probably already have a few! Salmon bombers, large bonefish shrimp patterns, trout streamers and nymphs will all produce bass consistently.
The one piece of gear we would recommend changing in preparation for this style of fishing would be your leader setup. Because of the size of flies we're fishing for bass, a heavier, stouter leader than your standard trout setup works well in turning them over, your standard salmon or saltwater leader will get the job done as well. For tippet size anything from an 8-16lb size works well.
Although you don't need specialized gear for bass there are much better performing rods, lines, and flies for the job. If you decide that you ever want to get serious about bass we have the gear that will help you fish more effectively.
Fresh Ways to Catch Bass
Bass are predatory fish and in some cases can even be the apex predator in a water body, this means they are susceptible to being caught using streamers, poppers and other active fishing methods. Although bass are great fun for beginner anglers because of their cooperative nature, the most successful bass anglers employ a range of techniques and are almost always more productive because of it.
While some fly anglers may be intimidated by large flies we should remember that bass are not timid animals and we shouldn't always treat them as if they are. While fishing clear or cold water may dictate that you go slow and small, during summer months a fish's metabolism speeds up greatly and your approach can be much more aggressive. Hot summer days mark the time to bust out the big 4-6" flies, choose patterns that make noise, push water, and get noticed, you'll be surprised what takes a shot at them.
What about finicky fish though? As extremely aggressive as bass are some days, other days they just aren't. Some fisheries are known for having very selective fish, and after a cold front any water body can be a tough one to fish. At this time slowing down, fishing water very thoroughly, and showing fish different flies and a variety of presentations is your best bet to get fish in the net. Try medium sized leech patterns, streamers that have a jigging action, and slow moving crayfish patterns. Many times with these tough conditions you'll have fish follow your flies in only to turn away at the last moment, to convert these follows to caught fish you can set up a tandem rig. Keep the fly you were getting follows with on attached to your leader, then attach a length of tippet off the bend of that hook and tie on a small streamer or nymph, fish will be drawn to the larger fly and then often commit to the smaller pattern.
In most river environments the crayfish is king, especially if you have a rocky bottom. Stripping flies will work and in slower moving rivers many lake tactics will certainly take fish. Another method we've used with great success is throwing on a large indicator and drifting crayfish or large swimming nymphs, bouncing these smaller food sources off bottom is a sure fire way to pick up river bass.