I know that bass fishing can vary a lot from north to south, so to set the context most of our bass fishing is done near the cottage which roughly counts as being in the Kawartha's area in Ontario. We also do a number of canoe trips in areas like Algonquin Provincial Park, Lake Temagami and the French River. Depending on the time time of year and the area, both Large Mouth Bass and Small Mouth Bass are a favourite fish to be after. Now we haven't pulled in a world record (yet) but we do catch the occasional fish that counts as tropy size based on the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters Angler Awards.
Plastics & Tubes
By far my biggest bass and most consistent success for larger bass has been with tubes. I usually rig them with a slip sinker and a simple hook with a big enough mouth to give a good hook up on the fish. Occasionally I'll use a weedless hook like in the bottom tube. I know there are bigger bass in Ontario, but my largest has been a 4lb Large Mouth Bass on a tube.
There are lots of other plastic baits besides tubes. Peter caught himself a trophy sized Small Mouth Bass in Lake Temagami using a Black Leech Berkely Gulp.
I find that Rapalas are just a good all purpose searching lure. When fishing a new lake, especially if you don't have a fishfinder along, having a lure that runs at a consistent depth and that floats up when you stop paddling tends to avoid a lot of frustration. Add in the fact that most fish seem to be willing to hit them and I'll always have a few in my tackle box. My favourite pattern is the Perch, partly because I actually caught 2 Small Mouth Bass at the same time on a 3" Perch Countdown Rapala on a trip in Algonquin. On that same trip Scott caught a 3 1/2 lb, trophy sized Small Mouth using the Brown Trout pattern at the bottom. Up on Lake Temagami the go to colour was definitely blue, so much so that Peter now insists on keeping a couple of extra blue Rapala style lures in his tackle box.
Top Water Baits
As a group, top water baits target fish that are feeding on the surface. In Ontario, I find that usually means a hot summer night, usually when it's been boiling hot for a week or so. If the temperatures have been pushing 30° C during the day, then the Large Mouth Bass in particular are likely to hit a topwater lure.
Zara Spooks tend to be the biggest plug style lures around. When fishing a Zara Spook, all the motion of the lure comes from the retrieve. After a cast, let it sit for a few seconds then give a quick jerk. Reel in the slack and then give another jerk. If you do it right, the lure will zig zag it's way back to you while making a big splash that can look like a floundering frog to hungry Bass.
The Wounded Spooks on the bottom use propellers to make a bigger splash. When we were in Frontenac Provincial Park a few years ago I caught a 3 1/2 lb Large Mouth Bass using a Wounded Spook. That was by far the biggest Large Mouth Bass I had caught up to that point.
Jitter Bugs have been around a long time. The 2 on the left are official "Jitter Bugs". The one on the far left is actually a hand me down from my Great Grandfather. Most of the paint is gone off that lure, but since top water lures work more by noise than colour it isn't a big deal. The 2 on the right were bought in Sydney, Australia but they work exactly the same way as the Canadian Jitter Bugs. All of these lures provide their own motion by skittering across the water on the their lips while you retrieve them, creating a nice wiggle and a burbling noise that the fish love.
Like other top water Bass lures, Poppers are designed to create a noise and attract a hungry fish to the disturbance in the water. The top 2 are Hula Poppers and could use some new plastic skirts on them. The middle one with the frog pattern is a Rapala Skitter Pop. The 2nd from the bottom doesn't have a name on it but it does have a rattle in it for a little more fish attracting noise. The bottom one is another old hand me down from my Great Grandfather.
We've had good luck fishing these on hot summer evenings, although I can't claim a trophy size fish with them yet.
Spinner baits are a popular type of lure to use for both Large Mouth Bass and Small Mouth Bass but I have to admit that I haven't had a lot of success using them for Bass. I have found that Spinner Baits work well for Northern Pike. Spinner Baits do work fairly well when fishing in weeds because the hook is turned inwards into the wire triangle. Depending on the blade size and shape, you can also choose a spinner bait to run at different depths. Generally the long narrow blades let the lure run deeper than the short and wider blades. It's also easy to mix and match the jig heads and the skirts to come up with fresh colour combinations that might get the attention of an otherwise uninterested fish.
Top Water Spinner Baits
If you make the blades on a Spinner Bait big enough then they can literally walk across the water. I've seen these used well fishing over lilly pads, which can be a popular hang out for Bass. The best fish that I've seen caught on one of these was a 3lb Large Mouth Bass that Scott caught late one evening as the temperature was dropping and we were taking that "one more last cast" before heading in. That night, Scott used this lure with a real slow retrieve so that he kept it just below the surface. The fishing had been slow and the Large Mouth that Scott pulled in was by far the nicest fish of the day.
©Loon Island Outdoors 2013