Canada Day Bassin 2012

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With only 7 hours available to celebrate with rod and reel on Canada’s 145thBirthday, we headed across the lake not sure where we would begin to fish. With a lake the size of Simcoe, there are just so many options, yet so little time to try them.   My long-time friend and fellow Aurora Bassmaster Brian Ogden and I spent the first hour looking and casting ... casting and looking for the big beautiful smallmouth that we knew cruised the shallow flats.  Finally as we neared the point Brian hooked up. “There he is ... whoa,” as the three pounder cleared the air by at least three feet.

It didn’t take long before we both got into them and smallmouth after smallmouth cooperated nicely.  Although we tried several rigs, there was no doubt the drop shot out shone all others. There were several plastic baits that produced but the Strike Zone Slammers definitely had the fish’s attention that day. After we went thru the areas several times though, without hits, I switched to a short 4 inch Trigger X Flutter Worm in the baby bass color to nab a few more.

Productive Pattern ... details, details:

The smallmouth we were catching were in 70 degree F water.  Wind was from the east, northeast. The weather prior had been quite windy so there was a bit of color to the water, but still you could easily see bottom ten feet down.   Most of our fish though were in eight feet.  Bottom substrate consisted of light colored marl, with the occasional log and dark weed patches... mostly made up of sparse coontail.   Those dark patches amongst a rather featureless bottom were key. Simcoe’s smallies don’t like a ton of weeds like their largemouth cousins, but a little of the green stuff goes a long way to give them just enough security and ambush opportunity to hold up therein.

Brian Ogden

Above, Brian Ogden with our first smallmouth bass of Canada Day 2012.

These particular smallmouth seemed not only to co-exist with the abundant yellow perch but a symbiotic relationship clearly existed.  The big perch and the bass were feeding on the round gobies ... and the larger bass also chowed down on the smaller perch. If you began catching perch, you’d get into the smallmouth nearby.  Long casts were critical most of the time to those isolated dark weed patches and it wouldn’t take long for a marauding smallmouth to venture over and inhale your plastic bait.

Although our primary target here was smallmouth, we couldn’t help but admire the nice sized yellow perch we were catching either.  Soon we began to keep some for dinner ... one here, one there and by before we knew it there were enough 10-11 inchers in my livewell for a good feed. As a quirky bonus, a big brown bullhead catfish also sucked in my dropshot ... so I tossed it in the well, just for kicks too. “I haven’t cleaned or eaten a catfish since I was a kid,” I told Brian. I’ve eaten them plenty of times though in restaurants- particularly in the southern US where they’re available all over the place.

By the time we left that area we honestly couldn’t say how many fish we landed but a conservative estimate would be at least a baker’s dozen apiece.  We had a double header and even though none of the fish topped five pounds we caught several fours. The average was in the 2-3 pound range and in the shallow water these fish loved to be airborne so we didn’t mind keep our rods high to watch their spectacular jumps ... something we obviously wouldn’t contemplate in any tournament.

On To The Largemouth:

Above ... Wil with a blotched largemouth bass he caught on Canada Day

From there we headed south to see if we could find any largemouth way down in Cooks Bay and it sure didn’t  take long before we got into them.  The only trouble was that nothing was over a pound ... largemouth after largemouth in the 7-8 inch size were hammering our Flutter worms in the five-six foot weed/rock transition are we fished. “It’s not too often we see this many small largemouth all grouped up in one spot,” said Brian and I agreed as I can’t recall experiencing that kind of action with those sized fish down in the Bay before.  Good to see though as in a couple of years that year class should be dominant and plentiful.   
Before giving up and heading home, we moved a little deeper into the nine-ten foot area, where we began to notice some nice cabbage weeds ... as if on cue the larger bass began to show themselves. Nothing huge but a couple of three’s and even a blotched bass.  I wrote about this phenomenon for an article in BASS TIMES. You can read about that on my site by clicking here.

More than one way to skin a cat:
Skinning catfish is typically done with a pair of pliers however I chose to simply slice the skin off with my trusty Rapala Filleting knife and it was no problem.  I must admit though that the amount of guts in that 14 inch cat was amazing and rather gross!  I also wasn’t too sure what to think when the flesh was so  soft when I cut thru with the knife.... not at all like the perch or even the one bluegill I kept. However when our family ate all those fish the next day, the catfish was gobbled up quickly with no complaints. Although I described the flesh as soft, my sons thought of it more as just very tender and tasty. 

So, I guess there’s a case to be made for some more catfish on the Wegman’s dinner plate and although they aren’t super popular in Simcoe, the lake sure has enough of them and they’re pretty decent eating; especially when they come from overtop hard bottoms and gin-clear water.

Well that was our Canada Day on Lake Simcoe folks ... Great Canada Day fishing on one of the most incredible fisheries found anywhere in Canada’s ... And imagine ... it’s all available for thousands to enjoy at less than an hour’s drive from Canada’s largest city. We’re so blessed to have Lake Simcoe on our doorstep ... truly one of the many reasons to celebrate living in the best country in the world!

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