By Dan Miguel, National Pro Staff
If you ask any top angler in North American where to go to catch the biggest smallmouth bass of your life, they will tell you Lake Simcoe. It’s known around the world for being one of (if not the single) the greatest smallmouth bass waters ever. It’s becoming common that anglers are catching upwards of 25lbs of smallmouth bass for their biggest 5 fish in tournaments – an average of over 5lbs per fish! Dial it even further and the locals that know this lake best will tell you the waters of Beaverton in Brock Township are where some of the biggest fish spend most of their time swimming around.
Over the past 10 years many anglers have caught 35+lbs of smallmouth bass on five-fish limits while out on Lake Simcoe, a feat that is unlikely to be matched anywhere else. Look up Fall Simcoe Smallmouth on YouTube and you will find many videos of anglers catching 6+lbs of smallmouth bass like it’s normal.
Lake Simcoe can provide the fishing day of your dreams and the waters of the Township of Brock are where most of the biggest smallmouth bass in the lake are caught.
Location: Beaverton, Ontario (Township of Brock)
Lake Simcoe is one of the largest lakes in North America and is about 44km long. The area of the lake around Beaverton has fantastic fishing, great boat ramps, lots of local attractions and restaurants when your day is over. The best place to launch your boat is at Beaverton Harbour and Harbour Park – a great boat ramp with lots of parking. The cost for launching and parking for the day is very reasonable.
Safety Note: Lake Simcoe covers an area of 744 square kilometers and is more than 40km from end to end. Storms or strong winds can appear quickly and are extremely dangerous for small craft such as fishing boats. If you are unfamiliar with navigating big lakes or are fishing from a small boat, please exercise extreme caution and only head out on a calm day.
So now that you know where to find the biggest smallmouth bass in Canada, here’s how to catch them…
Strategy, Techniques, and Gear
Smallmouth bass are notorious for being easy to catch one minute, and near impossible the next. Lake Simcoe holds some of the biggest smallmouth bass on the planet, and they didn’t get to be that size without being really smart!
Where to Start
Before venturing out, it’s important to look at a lake map (ideally with depth markings, but Google Earth will do in a pinch) and decide where you are going to start for the day. Beaverton is a great central location that is close to many shoals and one of the largest islands on the lake – Thorah Island. Many tournaments have been won by anglers fishing around this Island. It’s a magnet for baitfish and crawfish that these giant bass feed on. Don’t forget to check out any of the shoals in the area as well, which also gather numbers of bass and other species. Depending on the day you will find fish as shallow as 2 feet of water close to shore all the way out to 40+ feet of water. Keep an open mind and be willing to move around from shallow to deep until you find the fish.
Tackle, Baits and Techniques:
Must Have #1 – Reaction Baits
Smallmouth Bass are voracious predators, but the big ones are also quite intelligent. Some of these fish are upwards of 15-20 years old and they have seen a lot of angling pressure – they won’t always be easy to catch, but they are very curious and can’t resist a fast moving, flashy bait such as a jerkbait or spinnerbait. Here’s a video on baits to use on Lake Simcoe.
On slow days you may not get a ton of bites on reaction baits like a Jerkbait (ex. Rapala Shadow Rap), Spinnerbait (ex. Terminator Pro Series), or Spybait (ex. Storm Arashi Spinbait), but I guarantee if you are around fish you will get them following your reaction baits to the boat. This is the simplest and most effective way to locate fish – make sure you have a variety of reaction baits available for searching. Some days you won’t have to try anything past a reaction bait because they will just flat out eat them! I find reaction baits work best in 5 – 20 feet of water and also where I spend the most of my time fishing on most days.
Must Have #2 – Finesse Baits
Once you’ve located the fish and decided what area you will be focusing on you will be faced with one of two scenarios: either actively feeding fish that are devouring your reaction baits (in that case, keep doing what you are doing!) or less active fish that are following your baits to the boat but won’t bite.
In the latter case your solution is finesse fishing. This means using a drop shot, casting and dragging a finesse bait along the bottom or if conditions permit sight fishing. Sight fishing means you’re looking at the fish or you know where they are and you’re casting to likely fishing holding areas with finesse techniques using light line, small baits, and subtle movement. It’s not always possible, but luckily Lake Simcoe is almost always clear enough to see bottom in 1-15 feet of water. We’ve found the most success with a finesse craw style bait called the Snack Craw on a small ball-head jig. Both the craw and the jighead are created by an Ontario-based company called Great Lakes Finesse and are available to purchase at Orderbaits.com.
If you are new to finesse fishing, there are three things to remember:
- Use much lighter line than you are used to (4lb to 6lb test) and loosen the tension on your reels drag
- Use much smaller baits than average, sometimes it takes baits as small as 2” to trigger bites
- You’re no longer trying to trigger a predatory instinct with movement and flash, now you are trying to fool the fish into believing your bait is real food. Slow, subtle movement is key.
Must Have #3 – Patience
As we’ve covered above, fishing for the biggest smallmouth bass in the world can be challenging but you can also have some of the best fishing of your life. It’s not uncommon to spend half a day or more trying to locate the fish, but when you do the fishing can be lights-out incredible. Don’t give up after a couple hours if it’s a tough day – the big school might be right around the next point.
Putting it Together
With the right equipment, strategy, and attitude you’re ready for an incredible day of fishing on Lake Simcoe. As the Township of Brock slogan suggests, don’t forget to “Breath It In” while you’re here on one of the most incredible lakes in the world. This is a world class trophy fishery, big fish of any species are hard to catch, and it might take a few trips to get it figured out! Once you do, you can claim you caught your personal best smallmouth bass in the Smallmouth Bass Capital of Canada!