Killarney Provincial Park Bass Opener 2014

June 21, 2014 marked the date for the first ever early bass season around Sudbury ON  (FMZ 10)  a full seven days before the traditional 4th Saturday in June opener.  Typically thought of as smallmouth bass country much more so than largemouth, I was pleasantly surprised when a friend of mine told me about a lake up in Killarney with some outstanding largemouth opportunities. So, early Friday morning, my son Izaak and I headed north for the four hour drive. Upon arrival we loaded all of our food, camping and fishing gear into his canoe … and paddled off to our destination lake for the weekend.

After crossing the first long picturesque lake we enjoyed a rather short portage to the next and began to look for a suitable campsite. We settled on one close to what we thought would be a good fishing area, one that was up high and fairly open to catch prevailing winds and keep the bugs at bay, as well providing an outstanding view of the lake of course.

Killarney Park

Our campsite was pretty close to perfection

After we set up camp and had a late lunch, we took a paddle around the lake to scout for fishing spots for the next day.  We were amazed at the amount of stumps, woody debris, small pads and even more weedgrowth than most northern lakes have.  There would be no shortage of places to try come bass opener in the morning.  To say we were pumped would be an understatement.

Stump fields like this reeked of largemouth heaven and our canoe allowed for a stealthy, quite approach within ... yet we found out early that they produced very few fish for us

The one-two punch for the first part of our trip: A Rapala X Rap that was used to search for active bass-largemouth or smallmouth, and a Trigger X Worm for high percentage areas where we had to slow down. All bass we caught were post spawn and still in shallow water; nothing over 8 feet!

That first night we enjoyed a Rib Dinner slow roasted over the open fire, along with baked potatoes and green beans.  After that we rigged rods and listened to an amazing ball game on the radio as the Blue Jays came back from a horrific 8-0 deficit to overtake the Reds and end up winning the game!

That afternoon, we paddled to the far end of the lake and fished up there for a while with only moderate success.  Lots of beaver houses - which are normally bass magnets produced occasionally, but those gorgeously tempting stumps appeared void of the big bucket mouths we were craving. Later in the afternoon, we pulled onto a nice smooth rock outcropping to enjoy a swim and cool off from the sun’s heat.

After dinner - we were back out for the evening bite and determined to stick with our favorite topwaters near the same general area where we started the day.  This would be the summer solstice so it was light enough to see until close to 10pm. The evening did not disappoint as bass after bass cooperated just like we hoped they would. A couple bass even smashed Izaak’s Rapala X Pop a metre beside the canoe which really made for an interesting battle. Several hammered my Skitter Pop and cleared the water with 3 foot leaps. It was a magical evening in the canoe with my son catching and of course releasing, plenty of bass in the northern wilderness.

For a northern lake, there was a healthy mixture of aquatic plants that largemouth loved. Shallow water weed growth (cabbage and coontail) was fairly abundant along shores and in back bays and this is where our largemouth came from.

The next morning we were up bright and early for another topwater bite - and although a couple came on my Skitter Pop the sun was also up bright and early so we had to switch tactics. We reminisced about our Lake Chautauqua trip at the beginning of June and how on our last day down there we began to get a pile of bass on swimbaits. “Let’s see if we can duplicate that up here too,” Izaak suggested. Instead of Storm Wildeye sunfish though, we began throwing Storm’s Wildeye Live Shiners- which seemed to better duplicate the forage here.  Much to our delight both largemouth and smallmouth couldn’t resist these baitfish imitators.

The Wildeye swim bait caught the occasional pike as well as the intended bass. The small pike on left was obviously chomped on by a much larger one as the scar indicates

Dragonflies are excellent mosquito control. A single dragonfly can eat 30 to hundreds of mosquitoes per day. Some adult dragonflies live for only a few weeks while others live up to a year. Nearly all of the dragonfly’s head is eye, so they have incredible vision that encompasses almost every angle except right behind them. They are always a welcome fishing guest with Wil

Every year, during May and June, a yellow scum can be seen covering the surface of sheltered areas of lakes throughout Killarney. This is a natural phenomenon that occurs in most of Northern Ontario where a healthy forest ecosystem is prevalent.

Izaak took the stern for the entire trip and kept us on the straight and narrow

Despite a healthy population of bass, even remote northern lakes like the one we were on can be susceptible to overharvest. Larger fish can live to be over 15 years so are especially valuable - so much better to eat a couple smaller 10-12 inchers instead.

 

Killarney Highlights

  • Bass that pulled the canoe around
  • Watching bass jump right in front of our canoe- such a cool vantage point to battle these scrappy fighters
  • Mega pollen - from the surrounding trees that covered still sections of the lake  
  • Watching a deer appear from the bush in front of us while we were fishing
  • No cottages or dwellings on the lake
  • Not seeing anyone on ‘our section’ of the lake on the last day
  • Being the bow man in the canoe. After years of assuming the stern position and guiding the canoe ... I was more than happy to hand those reigns off to a much stronger and better paddler than I am or ever was
  • Dragon flies galore- that would eat their weight in mosquitoes each day and continually seek your approval by landing on you just to say hi
  • Listening to the ball games at night around the campfire. From an urban Lake Chautauqua in New York to a remote wilderness one in Killarney, the Fan 590 signal in Toronto comes in loud and clear ... Although we did have to attach a coat hanger to the antenna of our little Sony radio and hang it from a tree!
  • Pigging out on roasted wieners over the campfire at night ... and discovering that dipping them in liquid gold ... ie plain yellow mustard is just a sheer delight!
  • Seeing first hand that fisheries are alive and well in this beautiful park just south of Sudbury.   The last time I camped here was in high school, circa 1975 or 6 - in the height of the acid rain days. Back then so many of these lakes were sterile, crystal clear wastelands - void of life. With greater pollution control and restoration efforts, many of these same lakes are now healthy, vibrant fisheries once again
  • Of course- tops was another memorable fishing trip with my son Izaak and combining it with a mode of travel he actually prefers over his dad’s fancy bass boat

Photos by Izaak and Wil Wegman