Smallmouth Bass (Micropterus dolomieu)

If you're seeking to surpass your personal best in smallmouth bass fishing, look no further than the illustrious Lake Simcoe. Undoubtedly, Lake Simcoe stands as one of the premier inland lakes for trophy smallmouth bass in North America. The lake's reputation is primarily attributed to the size of the smallmouth rather than the sheer quantity.

Lake Simcoe's thriving population of round goby, baitfish, and crayfish provides an abundant food source for these bass. Annually, anglers manage to reel in impressive specimens weighing between 6 to 8 pounds. What sets this fishery apart is the conscientious approach of many anglers who voluntarily practice live release for larger bass. By doing so, these impressive fish continue to spawn, affording other anglers the opportunity to catch the fish of a lifetime. Lake Simcoe offers an abundance of potential smallmouth habitats, including expansive islands, shoals, docks, and an array of sandy and rocky shorelines spanning the entire lake. Popular fishing spots encompass the main islands such as Fox, Snake, Thorah, Georgina, and Strawberry Island, as well as the adjacent rocky shoal areas. In addition to the prominent rocky shoals, smallmouth bass can be found in proximity to clean sand bottoms or areas with a combination of rocks, sand, and weed. Bass are also attracted to bottom transitions from soft to hard substrate.

Dave Chong - Fish Hard Dream Big, with an incredible Smallmouth Bass taken from Lake Simcoe. This fish was over 8lbs and was caught using a Lucky Craft Pointer 100DD in Skeets Magic color. This fish was live released. 

Following the opening season, Lake Simcoe is renowned for its excellent shallow water sight fishing. Anglers often utilize dropshots, jerkbaits, and spybaits in depths ranging from 2 to 15 feet, targeting sandy, rocky, and gravel areas where hungry smallmouths are known to frequent. Sight fishing is most productive on calm and sunny days, particularly during the early season. Exploring rock piles, shoreline sand and rock flats, as well as rocky protrusions, can yield favorable results.

As the season progresses into summer, smallmouth bass tend to migrate from their shallow spawning areas to different sections of the lake. Despite their tendency to move to deeper waters, smallmouth can still be found prowling shallow regions in search of easy prey.

During the summer, deeper structure fishing can prove fruitful, although it may require considerable time spent idling, graphing, and surveying the lake to locate active fish schools. Look for deeper transitions, boulders, or any unconventional structures to identify groups of fish. Effective smallmouth baits for the summer include drop shot baits (mimicking gobies or minnows), jerkbaits, spybaits, tube jigs, Ned rigs, spinnerbaits, worms, and hair jigs.

As the water temperature cools down in the fall, smallmouth bass intensify their feeding activity in preparation for the forthcoming winter. Despite being warm water species, smallmouth bass continue to feed well into October and November, just before freeze-up. During this time, their diet primarily consists of minnows as they transition from a diverse range of forage consumed during the summer. With falling water temperatures, smallmouths migrate to deeper areas for overwintering. It is not uncommon to catch feeding smallmouths in depths ranging from 20 to 50 feet on Lake Simcoe. Minnow presentations, such as deep diving jerkbaits, swimbaits, drop shots, and jigging spoons, are widely favored by most anglers seeking productive options during this season

Biology: The spawning biology of smallmouth bass begins in the spring, typically when water temperatures reach around 55 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit (13 to 18 degrees Celsius). The spawning process is a crucial and fascinating aspect of their biology. As the temperatures rise, typically in May or early June in many regions, smallmouth bass migrate from their wintering areas to shallow waters near the shoreline. They prefer to spawn over hard substrate like rocky or gravelly bottoms, often in water depths ranging from 2 to 10 feet. Males arrive at the chosen spawning sites first and establish nests, known as "beds," by clearing away debris and creating small depressions in the substrate. Once the nests are ready, females join the males, and courtship ensues. The male smallmouth bass fans the nest to remove silt and debris, enticing the female to deposit her adhesive eggs within the nest. The male fertilizes the eggs, and she departs, leaving the male to guard and protect the nest. After hatching, the fry remain under the male's protection until they are large enough to venture out on their own. This spawning behavior ensures the continuation of the smallmouth bass population and is a crucial element in their life cycle. 

Ontario Angling Record: In 2022, a 10.15-pound, 23.75-inch smallmouth bass caught in Lake Erie by an Ohio angler. 

Lake Simcoe Size Range: Smallmouth bass typically range from a few pounds up to and over 5lbs in weight. Fish in the 6 to 8lb class are caught every year. 

Recommended Equipment: A medium to medium-heavy action spinning rod paired with a matching spinning reel. A medium-action rod offers the versatility needed for various smallmouth bass fishing techniques, striking a balance between sensitivity and power. A rod length of 6 to 7 feet is a popular choice, providing the right blend of control and casting distance. Spinning reels in the 2500 to 3000 size range are commonly used, offering the necessary line capacity without adding excess weight. When it comes to line, 6 to 12-pound test monofilament or fluorocarbon line is suitable for most smallmouth bass fishing situations. This combination of a medium-action spinning rod and reel ensures you have the versatility and control required to enjoy a successful smallmouth bass fishing experience in various conditions and using different techniques. 

Recommended Baits: Effective smallmouth baits for the summer include drop shot baits (mimicking gobies or minnows), jerkbaits, spybaits, tube jigs, Ned rigs, spinnerbaits, worms, and hair jigs.

Live Bait: Minnows, nightcrawlers, crayfish, leeches, frogs

Depth Range: In the spring, as water temperatures begin to rise, smallmouth bass can be found in shallower waters, typically between 5 to 15 feet deep. During this time, they move closer to the shoreline and near rocky structures, preparing for the spawning season. As spring transitions into summer, smallmouth bass often transition to slightly deeper waters, ranging from 10 to 20 feet, as they seek cooler and more stable temperatures. In the heat of summer, you'll often find them in depths ranging from 15 to 30 feet, particularly in lakes and reservoirs, where they may suspend near underwater structures or along drop-offs. As the water cools in the fall, smallmouth bass return to shallower waters, typically between 10 to 20 feet, and become more active as they feed in preparation for the upcoming winter months. Winter finds them in deeper, colder waters, and ice anglers often target them in depths ranging from 20 to 40 feet. Understanding these seasonal depth preferences is key to successful smallmouth bass fishing throughout the year.