Understand the Two Bass
Smallmouth or largemouth, most anglers are just happy catching a bass. But it is helpful to have some understanding of the two bass and how they are different and similar. Smallmouth bass are particularly well suited to the rocky shoals and cool water found in many lakes in Ontario. Smallmouth bass tend to be found in open-water environments, while largemouth bass generally can be found around shallow cover. In Ontario, largemouth bass do better in warm-water lakes with abundant cover like vegetation, rocks and wood. Many lakes hold both species of bass.
Locating Largemouth Bass
Through most of the year, largemouth bass are denizens of shallow cover in Ontario lakes. But once the water temperature begins to drop and the leaves on the trees change to their brilliant fall colors, largemouths vacate the shallows and head for the deeper water in which they will spend the winter months. Focus your fall fishing efforts in five to 15 feet of water and keep in mind that, even away from the shallows, largemouth bass are fish of cover. As a result, good fall areas to check are those that have a combination of rocks and vegetation; the greener the vegetation, the better.
Locating Smallmouth Bass
Smallmouth bass, like largemouths, also tend to move deeper once the fall sets in. The same areas that hold smallmouth bass during the summer, like rock points, shoals and saddles, also will hold smallmouths in the fall, but the fish generally will be nearer or in deeper water. So if a point has one side that drops into deep water quicker than another side, for example, the smallmouths in the fall will set up on that side. Like elsewhere, crayfish are a staple of the smallmouth bass diet throughout the year in Ontario, and the fall is no exception.
It is a good idea to begin fishing for largemouths in the fall in Ontario with a search-type bait like a crankbait or spinnerbait. While the fish likely will be schooled up, it can be difficult to locate schools if you are fishing with a bait that moves slowly. But it is unlikely that a fast-moving bait will be the top fish producer. Instead, use these baits only to locate the areas in which largemouth bass are holding. Then, switch to a plastic worm or jig and pig and work the bait slowly along the bottom in the precise areas in which the bass are holding. Move the bait slowly and saturate the cover with it. Eventually you will draw a bite.
The first step in catching smallmouth bass, just like largemouths, is finding them. Begin the search around rocks in 20 to 35 feet of water. It is best to use baits like spinnerbaits, deep-diving crankbaits and lipless crankbaits to locate a school of bass. Once you locate a school of smallmouth bass, mark the location and fish it thoroughly, as you often will be able to catch multiple smallmouths in the same spot. If the bass quit hitting on one lure, tie on another and continue until the bass quit biting. But make note of the depth, as the other bass in the lake likely will be holding at the same depth. Search for rocky structure at those depths and you should be able to connect with hungry smallmouths again.