Well bass season in 2013 began the 3rd week in June for many anglers who fish in Eastern Ontario but the traditional 4th Saturday opener held firm for Lake Simcoe and the rest of FMZ 16. Still it was an early start thanks to five Saturdays in June. It would not be surprising then to still find smallmouth bass on nests in Southern Ontario's largest inland lake. My pre fish on opening day however didn't point out any nesting bass pattern. Why? Because, the windy conditions and rough waters reduced visibility beneath the surface so I didn't know if the 7-9 foot pattern with drop shot included catching bedding bass or if they were just cruisers. What pre fish did teach me however was that drop shot ruled and 7-9 feet was key for most bass.
The Casey Cup is held out of Orillia on opening weekend every year and attracts some of the finest anglers in Ontario. Almost all of the 84 teams who fished it headed for the trophy smallmouth waters of Lake Simcoe but last year partner Gerry Heels and I caught our 22 pounds in Couchiching … a personal best for both of us from that lake. This year however the spot that provided us those big bronzebacks was void of fish … so we headed to Simcoe early. Our first couple of spots here didn't produce so thanks to the beautifully flat calm conditions we sped down to the south end of the lake where I had found the big smallmouth the day before.
As we arrive, we see one boat in the same general area … and it's none other than friend and fellow Aurora Bassmaster Barry Graves. Barry is one of the top winning tournament anglers in the province and I shouldn't have been surprised when I saw that he was already culling! We still didn't have a fish in the boat! It was obvious that the fish I caught yesterday were bedding bass as we could now begin to see the odd one that Barry hadn't got to yet. Although I couldn't shake a fish off yesterday … today they just wouldn't stay hooked and I lost three in a row before I finally got one in the boat!
Our method didn't really involve casting to fish on beds but simulating the technique I used yesterday … slowly dragging a drop shot. I switched between an X Zone Slammer and a small 4 inch Trigger X Flutter Worm. Thanks to the continuing calm conditions, we were fortunate to make another long move; this time to the far east side of the lake. With just one bass in the well and more than half the day shot, we had to get our act together and fast! Fortunately this new spot paid off and we were able to fill our limit. Drop shotting was the way to go for all but one of our fish. That last one- a nice five pounder came from a 5 inch Trigger X Flutter Worm that I had cast out and just left to soak.
That spot was rather unique in that it had ridges of low lying stone that were no more than 10 feet wide but about 50 feet long. With the calm, clear conditions it was easy to see those subtle rocky ridges but that's where the bass were cruising so I knew sooner or later a bass would see that Flutter Worm and wouldn‘t be able to resist. We weighed in 18 pounds and change which we knew would cut the mustard in this tournament. An incredible 58 teams weighed in more than 20 pound sacks, Barry had 27 and change for 5th and Joe Muszynski and Scott Murison won it with an awesome 29.55 lbs sack!
The next day I had planned off and was back pre fishing for our small club tournament on Lake Eugenia with Herb Quan. I've know Herb for more than 25 years; he actually was one of my first students in the bass fishing courses I used to teach at Seneca College. He's won my amBASSadors Cup before as well- a bi-annual tourney I used to hold for the students and is still one of the finest non-boaters I know. Anyway, we covered a lot of water on Eugenia that day, including plenty of the lake that neither of us had ever fished before. We had seven other Aurora Bassmasters attend this little pre-fishing event, so we decided to have a little fun tourney in the afternoon … no fishing docks …. one bass per boat limit … $10 bucks per head …. Biggest bass wins the pot!
I used part of the time to check out some new shorelines - where some potentially productive docks would be for the next day … but for the most part we fished the main lake. Thanks to a stiff breeze, the conditions were ideal for spinnerbaits and my trusty ½ ounce Terminator whacked a pile of 1 ½ pounders. We enjoyed our best success on the edges of shale to sparse weed. Here a defined edge could be seen from a distance and working a spinnerbait along the edge often produced a smallmouth or largemouth bass. The only real problem was that the bass weren't of the winning caliber - so I became more and more convinced I should concentrate my efforts on docks the next day when the real tournament began. As we weighed in- my biggest bass was 1.99 lbs and that of Des Barnes was an even 2.00 lbs … foiled by buddy Des!
Back at the hotel, we enjoyed a great supper thanks to Rick Lewis who had a bunch of Pork Loin Roasts all marinated that he cooked on the club's BBQ. Combined with a great Cesar Salad and couple of cold beers and we were ready for the tournament early the next morning. Before we launched Des had a pleasant surprise for us and right near the launch he arrived early to make everyone (22 anglers) fresh Mexican Breakfast Burritos! Holy Moly what a treat that was Senor Desmond! A great way to start off another great day on the water!
My non boater for the day was Len Graves - father of Barry who both joined our club last year. It was the first time we had been paired together but we hit it off right away. At the point where we started- two other competitor boats all converged at once but after awhile I went down the shore and began to fish docks. It took about ½ an hour before my first bite … but it was a swing and a miss! My second fish picked it up and I set hard … and although it was on for a couple of seconds it too came off. Finally on my third fish, I allowed it to swim a touch longer before setting hook - and that was the ticket to land one nice plum largie in the four pound range.
I continued down the shoreline skipping my unweighted Trigger X Flutter Worm rigged wacky style on a G-Lock Gamakatsu Worm Hook. That bait was rigged on a medium heavy Rapala Shift spinning rod and reel, with 10 lb test Suffix 832 braid and an 8 lb Suffix Floro leader. The color of the Flutter Worm was green pumpkin with purple flake and I would cast it into every nook and cranny I could get it into below docks, boathouses and around boats. A bass would come here and there and by 9:30 I was fortunate enough to have my limit. I kept on plugging and it became quite clear that docks with pontoon boats and especially those big pontoons themselves … were magical. At one point Len was actually calling me out with each new pontoon boat and ready with the net before I even made my cast back to the bass' lair!
Throughout the course of the day we fished docks about 80 % of the time and I was able to cull here and there fairly regularly. I tried a couple of other colored Trigger X baits and got bit on them as well. I even picked up another very well known brand and made an attempt to skip it under a dock- but the bait just didn't have the weight of the Trigger X to skip as far back under the dock. When not dock fishing, we did the open water deal with spinnerbaits and got fish that way as well.
Perhaps the highlight of the day came near the end when I skipped my bait under a pontoon boat. Only problem was the bait skipped overtop the gas line of the outboard first so the bait was left dangling just below the water's surface on the other side. Almost in slow motion I could see a nice 3lb largie come up and grab the bait … so I dropped it just a touch then gingerly set the hook. The thrashing began but try as I might I couldn't get the bass under or over the obstacle- so I quickly moved in with my electric, reached down and grabbed the nice bass. This made up for the ones I lost first thing in the morning!
At weigh-in there weren't too many good sacks but Paul Godino had a decent one at 12.15 lbs. His big fish came in at an even 4.00. Then it was my turn and my weight of 15.56 gave me the win and I was hoping for Big Bass as well… but alas the same result as yesterday was my destiny - a 3.99 pound largie - just shy of Paul's 4 pounder … foiled yet again!
Wil with two of his five bass limit
This is what the bass wanted for breakfast,
lunch and dinner at Wil’s first club tournament of the season