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Smallmouth Bass Fishing
Smallmouth Bass Fishing Tips & Techniques

Smallmouth bass fishing is a major activity at our Ontario fishing lodge in Ontario Canada. This section of our website will explain the smallmouth bass fishing in the spring, summer and fall; the lures and the colors and techniques that work best; the tackle you should bring; and a tip from a fishing pro, Joey Monteleone.


If you have not had the opportunity to go smallmouth bass fishing in Canada, you need to make a smallmouth bass fishing trip to our Ontario fishing lodge. A two pound smallmouth bass thinks he is ten pounds and fights like he weighs ten pounds. Pound for pound, most anglers would agree a smallmouth bass is the hardest fighting freshwater fish you can have on the end of your line. It takes some skill and luck to land a 6, 7, or 8 pound smallmouth bass. Northern pike have the nickname, "Water Wolf", and I think smallmouth bass should have the nickname, "Water Wolverine", to associate a small animal with a vicious fight.


Smallmouth bass fishing at our Ontario fishing lodge produces what most anglers call footballs. A plentiful source of minnows, leeches, crayfish and smelt account for the bulging girths that transform our smallmouth bass into football shaped bass. We have guests from the South, that say they have caught 24" smallmouth bass at home that did not weigh as much as a 19" smallmouth bass at our Ontario fishing lodge. We consider smallmouth bass 17" and longer trophy size and 19" and longer Master Angler size at our Ontario fishing lodge. A 17" bass will weigh about 3 pounds and a 19" bass will weigh about 5 pounds. We ask our guests to inform us of their trophy fish and add the catch to our Master Angler and Trophy Fish list. The guest receives patches (as shown below) for their smallmouth bass fishing accomplishments and the list of trophy smallmouth bass is attached to our annual newsletter. The smallmouth bass fishing and trophy fishing for other species has been so good at our Ontario fishing lodge, that most guests see their names on the trophy fish list. A plaque is presented to the angler catching the largest smallmouth bass each year by our Ontario fishing lodge. The largest smallmouth bass in 2010 was a 23" bass caught by Warren Phillips of Maryland, a fly-fisherman.





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Upon your arrival, your host, Richard, will spend time reviewing a map of Sandybeach Lake to show you where to go smallmouth bass fishing. Richard will mark the "hot spots", explain which lures and colors are currently the most productive. Even in Canada, you can not fish just anywhere. You need to be smallmouth bass fishing in the right spots, because 80% to 90% of any lake does not support the fish population.


The ice comes off Sandybeach Lake around May 7th and we start fishing at our Ontario fishing lodge the third Saturday in May. The smallmouth bass normally spawn the last week of May through June 10th at our Ontario fishing lodge. Our Ontario fishing lodge is located in the extreme northern range for Canadian smallmouth bass fishing, and the smallmouth bass will spawn on a two or three year cycle. Anglers will not find all of the adult smallmouth bass in shallow spawning areas in the spring, because they do not all spawn every year this far north.

Probably 80% of Sandybeach Lake's shoreline is rocky and good smallmouth bass habitat. The warm southern winds will warm the water on the north end of Sandybeach Lake in the spring. Shorelines facing south will warm-up first and will hold the smallmouth bass spawning beds. The smallmouth bass will stage in 15 to 20 feet of water out from these areas until the water warms enough to spawn. The smallmouth bass will move into the spawning area for two to three weeks to spawn.

In the spring on Sandybeach Lake, our anglers will catch smallmouth bass and have them spit up smelt. The cold water all the way to the surface in the spring allows these temperature-sensitive bait fish to inhabit the shallow water; therefore, smelt becomes the food of choice for the bass. The angler can catch smallmouth bass in the spring by swimming a lure near the bottom and close to the spawning beds or suspend soft plastic where smelt are suspended. Our anglers need to remember that our smallmouth bass are primarily feeding on smelt suspended in open water adjacent to their shallow water rock structure. The most effective fishing technique is jigging a smelt imitation plastic bait like a fluke or a Berkley PowerBait Realistix 3" Smelt or Black Shad with a 1/4 oz jig about 6 feet down over 15 to 20 feet of water. You want to slowly drift over the smallmouth bass to imitate the behavior of smelt. Fishing too deep or swimming your bait too fast tends to be less productive presentations for smallmouth bass feeding on smelt. The key to this spring fishing is using the fish finder on your boat to locate the smallmouth bass out from the points and rocky shorelines. Many times after a thunderstorm, numbers of dead or dying smelt will be found floating on the surface. As these smelt drift to shorelines, smallmouth will feed on them. A surface popper with a silver or white bottom will look like the smelt and provide our anglers top water action.

Your typical bass lures used in the South will work for Ontario smallmouth bass fishing at our Ontario fishing lodge. You want crankbaits that will dive down to the spawning beds, like the Bandit 200 series that dive 4 to 8 feet and Rattlin Rapala 3/8 oz #5 with a variable dive depth. In-line spinner baits like a Mepps Thunder Bug size 2 or Blue Fox Vibrax Flash size 1 & 2 are good choices for smallmouth bass fishing. Soft plastic from tubes, grubs to flukes rigged with jig heads or plain hooks can be effective baits for smallmouth bass fishing. Some anglers like 3/8 to 1/2 oz football jigs and finesse jigs for smallmouth bass fishing pre-spawn through the spawn. The color of lures that work best in the spring for smallmouth bass fishing are white, chartreuse, yellow, and natural bait colors.



The summer time-frame for smallmouth bass fishing is July 1 through August 15 at our Ontario fishing lodge. Normally, the may-flies will hatch on Sandybeach Lake between July 1st and the 4th. The first thing we hear from most anglers is that they do not want to try smallmouth bass fishing during the may-fly hatch. What a big mistake to avoid the hatch! It is rare that we have a may-fly hatch so large that the smallmouth bass fishing is adversely affected. We have had guests experience smallmouth bass fishing you would only dream about during the hatch; "A bass on every cast except five casts for the entire day" and "over 100 trophy size bass caught today". Results as just described are not typical, but the angler with the right lure and technique takes advantage of the hatch. The may-fly hatch ends the post spawn and starts the most active period for smallmouth bass fishing, the summer period.

The fly-fisherman with a panfish popper can take advantage of the hatch. The angler casting a Manns Baby Minus 1 in bone color in less than two feet of water on the rocky shorelines can have great smallmouth bass fishing. The top water angler can have a blast casting Rapala Skitter Pops size 7 in silver/black, or a Rebel Pop-R size 2" or 2 1/2" Tennessee shad color, or a Strike King Spit N King size 3/8 oz in bad-to-the-bone color. The best period of our season for top water action is the first two weeks of July. The smallmouth bass are looking up for may-flies and will strike lures higher in the water column during the first two weeks of July.

The crayfish molt will start mid July and will hold smallmouth bass in 6 feet of water or less until mid-August on Sandybeach Lake. When smallmouth bass are feeding on crayfish, they are looking down. Our anglers need to use lures that run deep near the bottom in the view of the bass. The smallmouth bass are generally not looking up during the crayfish molt; therefore, lures high in the water column are often not seen and less productive. The anglers using soft plastic, like a fluke or worm, on a lead-headed jig or worm hook are normally the the most successful fishermen during the molt. With the clear lake, many anglers will sight fish for smallmouth bass during the summer. Smallmouth bass fishing will be best where there is water movement. The bay where Sandybeach River is located is the only place we have a current on the lake. Smallmouth bass fishing will primarily take place on rocky shores receiving wave action. The waves will roll crayfish out from under rocks, and the smallmouth bass try to get the crayfish before they move back under the rocks. Anglers with the right lure and technique can catch 50 to 70 smallmouth bass fishing at our Ontario fishing lodge. Almost every one of our guests say they have never been smallmouth bass fishing and caught bass as big as the smallmouth bass at our Ontario fishing lodge. I truly believe Sandybeach Lake will produce a Canadian Record Smallmouth Bass in the near future.


Lake Summer & Fall

We do not recommend booking an Ontario bass fishing trip after mid-August at our Ontario fishing lodge. Other lakes may have good smallmouth bass fishing at this time of year, but Sandybeach Lake has too many big aggressive northern pike. Big northern pike feeding-up for the winter start chasing smallmouth bass into deep water during the last two weeks of August.



Joey Monteleone is nationally known as a guide and bass fishing instructor via TV shows, magazine, radio and seminars all across North America. You have seen his articles in BASSMASTER, IN-FISHERMAN, and BASSIN' magazine and others. Joey has made numerous TV appearances as well as serving currently as "guide" on the award winning show TENNESSEE'S WILD SIDE. For over 15 years, Joey has been outdoor editor of INSIDE THE OUTDOORS on legendary radio station 650 WSM. Comments from Joey:

Where the Record Swims

Quietly going on in a remote part of the province of Ontario, Canada is a quest to produce a new record smallmouth bass. By application of some science and a healthy dose of common sense, Richard and Kaylene Foley owners of the Pine Cliff Lodge are optimistic that the record either will or currently swims in the waters of Sandybeach Lake. Complete and comfortable, reasonably priced accommodations are available at the lake.

The criteria to increase the odds of a new Canadian record are clean water, intelligent fishing pressure, abundant food supplies and a catch and release policy. All these criteria are met in the Dryden Ontario lake. The presence of smelt as prey for the bass coupled with leeches and most important, crawfish guarantees a legitimate shot at producing a record. Bass of any species will eat the most available forage; given a choice they will eat crawfish. Crawfish are candy for bass. For every five pounds of crawfish a bass consumes it gains a pound. That's high energy food. It's no accident that when crawfish molt, (this generally happens in late July thru early August) the bass in this lake begin to load up. They feed ravenously in preparation for the winter.

The current Canadian record for smallmouth is nine pound and thirteen ounce; an eight pound three ounce giant came out of Sandybeach recently. Trophy size smallmouth above the five pound mark are common. In order to break the record the fish has to have the capability of attaining the length and the girth to shatter the record, these fish do. The fact that world class Northern Pike also are there, proves the point that the water quality and correct food sources are available. Managing the resources is not a new concept. Hunters and fisherman have become adept at understanding eco-system and population control to provide top quality outdoor experiences for themselves and future generations. Pine Cliff Lodge offers both.

A peek into the tackle box of a trophy smallmouth bass fisherman would look something like this: Traditional baits, like top water poppers, Strike King Spit-N-King in color #583 Blue Gizzard Shad, or #502 Bad to the Bone are excellent choices. Smallmouth will rocket out of deep water to take a bait from the surface. An oversized buzzbait will also draw vicious hits from the brown bass. Surface lures should be fished in spots that offer bass transition from shallow to deep. Shallow and deep are relative terms. In the case of smallmouth think of five to eight feet as shallow water. The number one rule for vacationing anglers is to not try to force largemouth techniques on a smallmouth bass. Largemouths relate to structure, smallmouths relate to deep water, secondary structure and bottom contours.

A favorite lure of mine is a Strike King Premier Plus 3/8 ounce spinnerbait. I alter it by replacing the back blade with chartreuse blade, leaving a silver Colorado blade in front. Cast this lure out and use a slow steady retrieve. For spinners, target holding areas that transition from five feet to depths of twelve to fifteen feet. If there is any type of cover for the fish to use as an ambush point, throw the bait past the cover and use a brief hesitation in your retrieve. Bass see this as an injured creature and their predatory instinct kicks in.

If soft plastics are your thing, a pearl colored grub fished on a ¼ ounce leadhead is deadly regardless of where you fish. A lighter weight bait may require the use of spinning tackle and 8 pound test line. Make sure your drag system is set correctly, big smallmouth have a big pull. A jig fished along the bottom with slow hopping retrieve is best to simulate the movement of the coveted crawfish. Match the color of the crawfish and the natural swimming motion and you're sure to boat several bass. Try to fish natural hide outs of the crawfish. Ledges, drop offs, and any rock piles or boulder rock are perfect places. I prefer baitcasting equipment to handle the bigger baits. I also prefer the retrieve and heavier drags found on the bait cast reels. When fishing for smallmouth I use the lightest line I can get away with, which maybe ten or twelve pound test line. Keep in mind a proper drag set is critical when using light line. You may also want to tangle with the huge Northern Pike that swims the same waters. Anything big, loud or shiny is like to draw the attention and hit of a huge Northern

The Foleys can manage the lake, the questions is; can you manage to boat the next record smallmouth? Hope to see you up at Pine Cliff Lodge.

I'll be Tennessean Ya'

Joey Monteleone

For more information contact the Foleys at fishing@pineclifflodge.com


I would recommend 4 to 8 pound line for smallmouth bass fishing at our Ontario fishing lodge. I do not recommend steel leaders, but the 15 lb .014 knottable stainless steel leader material made by TyGer is a great product. Even though TyGer is stainless steel, it is thin and flexible like your fishing line and can be tied in a knot as easily as your line. TyGer is such a great flexible product that it is commonly used by fly fishermen as a leader. This flexibility also allows your lure to move naturally through the water without the stiffness of a steel leader. If you are not using TyGer, get ready to lose lures to northern pike cruising in smallmouth bass waters! You will need a rod and reel that can cast a lure from 1/6 oz to 1/2 oz in weight. We recommend Grandt Rods for a great custom fishing rod made in the U.S.A. and with an Unconditional Lifetime Warranty. Mention Pine Cliff Lodge, and receive a 20% discount from Grandt Rods on all online pricing.

Visit Grandt Rods.com

All American Pro Series (mid modulus rod)

  • 007 - 6'6" Medium Spinning
  • C07 - 6'6" Medium Bait Casting
  • XLH70 Series (high modulus rod)

  • XS160ML - 6'0" Medium Lite Spinning
  • XC160ML - 6'0" Medium Lite Bait Casting

  • XS166M - 6'6" Medium Spinning
  • XC166M - 6'6" Medium Bait Casting

  • Mepps Thunder Bug – size #1 & #2 any color
  • Mepps Long Aglia Dressed – size #0 & #1 any color
  • Rattlin Rapala – size 5 any color
  • Mann's Baby Minus 1 and Minus 4 - bone, gray ghost
  • Bill Dance Bomber Square A - baby thread fin shad
  • Bandit 200 and 100 – Tennessee shad, blue gill, salad bar
  • Rapala Skitter Pop – size 7 – silver/black
  • Rebel Pop–R – size 2" or 2 ½" – Tennessee shad
  • Blue Fox Vibrax Flash – size 1 and 2 – any color
  • Soft Plastic Tubes – 3" – any color
  • Soft Plastic Grubs – 2" and 3" – any color
  • Soft Plastic Flukes – 3" and 4" – any color

    Our Ontario fishing lodge carries $8,000 in tackle inventory to support your smallmouth bass fishing trip.

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    SEASON: Open all year
    LIMIT: Catch and Release Only