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The Short Fisherman

Tips For Big Northern Bass

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I live in Canada and want to try to target some bigger northern bass this year(5lbs+). Does anyone know any tips for catching them like what setups or baits to use? Thanks

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You talking green ones or brown ones? 

It depends a lot on where your fishing as well. Great lakes smallies, a lot of big fish are caught on small, goby imitating baits as that’s the number 1 food right now for them. 

I fish Georgian Bay as well as many smaller inland lakes, and from my experience around where I live, most of my bigger largemouth have come on good sized baits and usually from the shallowest, thickest cover I can find. Might be thick weeds, docks, or big laydowns, but that’s where I’m finding the best ones. Same for smallies, some of my largest ones have come from knee deep water, even in the hottest part of summer. 

I think up here where the season is so short and water temps aren't crazy high, they tend to “make hay while the sun shines” so to speak. 

Of course it depends on what they’re eating, if they’re gorging on smelts or herring over 60’ of water you may not find many in the back bays, but for the big ones, that’s often the first place I check out. 

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31 minutes ago, Way north bass guy said:

 

I fish Georgian Bay as well as many smaller inland lakes, and from my experience around where I live, most of my bigger largemouth have come on good sized baits and usually from the shallowest, thickest cover I can find.  

 

1

What kind of baits do you usually use for the big largies?

 

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7 minutes ago, Outdoor Adventures said:

What kind of baits do you usually use for the big largies?

 

I love to throw magnum rage bugs on a 5/0 or 6/0 flipping hook. Pegged with a 3/8 ounce weight. Or a jig anywhere from 3/8 to 3/4 with a 5" pit boss trailer. Weight is determined by the rate of fall I want to achieve or the cover I'm trying to penetrate. Another good bait that we do well on is a soinnerbait during the pre spawn. 1/2 ounce with 5" swimbait trailer. Bandit ledge 250 around standing timber in root beer color is a good one as well. 

These were all magnum rage bug fish. Black with red flake. The big one is over 7lbs

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Big baits=big fish

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I'm guessing you are fishing from bank . You want to target any cover you find using lures that will go through it with a minimum of hang-ups . All lures  have the capability of catching big fish . A fallen tree for example . A buzzbait and spinnerbait are long time favorites for coming through them without snagging . Heck , they can even be climbed right over the trunks . A Texas rig or jig  can be fished through the nastiest parts . Describe   the water the best you can and the cover in it and the folks here can get very specific on what lures to use .

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My best tip for catching big fish in northern states (and I assume it works in Canada too eh?) is to fish a lot during the pre spawn.

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2 hours ago, scaleface said:

Describe   the water the best you can and the cover in it and the folks here can get very specific on what lures to use .

In ponds there are some thick mats and also some weedy cover in some areas. There are also some lily pads but very few of them. On a lake I have access to a boat sometimes so I can go to more spots like drop offs rocky areas and weeds

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I recommend reading the book Lunker Lore.

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I go slow! There's less big bass up here then down south. These bigger fish don't have much competition so they aren't aggressive. They don't need to be. They can sit on bottom and wait for an easy meal. But down south or in Cali, The big bass have to compete with each other.  Increase your lure size and go slow. I love swimbaits and jigs here in Massachusetts. I catch 5lbs fish often, many over 6 and a few over 7. PB 7.8 on a 9 inch swimbait.  I'm hunting an 8lb plus fish. I have no doubt that I will get an 8 plus.  

 I also love fishing at night! 

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Location is the most important thing. Find bodies of water that are known to have big bass. No lure in the world will catch what's not there.

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I fish northern strain bass and almost all my top 10 bass came from the late summer/fall. (A few pre-spawn). Mostly on days where the fishing overall was tough but then one big fish bites. 

 

Also, most of my larger bass have come late morning or during the day, also when the fishing is usually slower for me. 

2 hours ago, Mr. Aquarium said:

I go slow! There's less big bass up here then down south. These bigger fish don't have much competition so they aren't aggressive. They don't need to be. They can sit on bottom and wait for an easy meal. But down south or in Cali, The big bass have to compete with each other.  Increase your lure size and go slow. I love swimbaits and jigs here in Massachusetts. I catch 5lbs fish often, many over 6 and a few over 7. PB 7.8 on a 9 inch swimbait.  I'm hunting an 8lb plus fish. I have no doubt that I will get an 8 plus.  

 I also love fishing at night! 

What kind of swimbaits do you fish? Do you mainly fish top hook swimbaits along the bottom like huddlestons?

 

How do you fish weedy/soft-bottom waters that have too much vegetation to fish on the bottom?

 

Good luck breaking 8!

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3 hours ago, Outdoor Adventures said:

In ponds there are some thick mats and also some weedy cover in some areas. There are also some lily pads but very few of them. On a lake I have access to a boat sometimes so I can go to more spots like drop offs rocky areas and weeds

Spinnerbaits and buzzbaits can be fished around the matts and weeds. Frogs and weightlless worms can be fished on top .   Senko's , dinger's ... have enough mass to be cast weightless . Lots of lures can be fished in the rocks and drop offs . Should be   a good spot for crankbaits , Texas rigs and jigs .

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33 minutes ago, FCPhil said:

I fish northern strain bass and almost all my top 10 bass came from the late summer/fall. (A few pre-spawn). Mostly on days where the fishing overall was tough but then one big fish bites. 

 

Also, most of my larger bass have come late morning or during the day, also when the fishing is usually slower for me. 

What kind of swimbaits do you fish? Do you mainly fish top hook swimbaits along the bottom like huddlestons?

 

How do you fish weedy/soft-bottom waters that have too much vegetation to fish on the bottom?

 

Good luck breaking 8!

Hudds, real preys, savage gear. I fish a variety of places, from deep and sandy to shallow weedy filled ponds. If the place is deep clear and clean bottom, I fish soft baits more. But for weedy ponds, I fish the soft baits in the early spring when the weeds aren't up. when the weeds are up I fish a lot topwater near structure 

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 Nearly all the bass I caught were northern. However, the biggest bass I ever caught was southern, in Disney World, but the same rule for that fish held true. All of the biggest bass I ever caught, all bit within 1-2 hours after the people who hit the water at the crack of dawn leave because “it’s too hot out.” In fact, at Disney world after missing a few fish that broke my finesse rig line on the bite, during the last 30-40 minutes of the guided fishing trip, the guide said something like, “please just use my rods, these fish are big, and it’s already too hot out now, it’s a shame that you just missed those, and we’ll be lucky if there are any more bites now.” I seriously assumed that those bites were really alligators. 15 minutes later I had a giant bass. As was the case with all of the biggest bass I ever caught it was the only one of the day.

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when I go to northern wisconsin, my best bait is a jig with a rage craw trailer. followed by a buzzbait. Ironically, my 2 biggest northern wisconsin bass both came on a drop shot with a 3.5 inch shade shape worm. 

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I grew up in the Thousand Islands region of northern NY (real close to Canada) and have caught hundreds of 4+ lb largies in the waters up there, the biggest just shy of 8.  A big jig and a hollow body frog accounted for probably 80% of them.

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Fish for muskie and you will probably catch big bass as bycatch.

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10 hours ago, reason said:

My best tip for catching big fish in northern states (and I assume it works in Canada too eh?) is to fish a lot during the pre spawn.

Not so much, most places in central and southern Ontario at least the season is closed until June, most all bass are pretty much done spawning by then. 

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2 hours ago, Way north bass guy said:

Not so much, most places in central and southern Ontario at least the season is closed until June, most all bass are pretty much done spawning by then. 

 

I was just going to indicate that in many locations up north the season does not even legally begin when fish are in a pre-spawn begin.  Here in Minnesota, which is just south of Ontario, we cannot legally target a bass until the middle of May.

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5 minutes ago, gimruis said:

Here in Minnesota, which is just south of Ontario, we cannot legally target a bass until the middle of May.

And can't keep them for grilling until Memorial Weekend.

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If you're fishing a lake that harbors muskie and pike, target those areas with thick vegetation. Even a 5lb. bass will stay in areas where those fish have a difficult time moving around.  Ponds are a different animal, as bass are likely at the top of the food chain.  Target those areas where one type of weed ends and another begins or grows with it, the inside and outside weed edges, and anything that is different in a seemingly endless section of weeds.

With heavy vegetation, you're limited to a few presentations you can present into the weeds,  especially when the fish won't commit to a topwater. A heavily salted, unweighted soft plastic and be retrieved over the weed tops and allowed to drop into pockets. A BPS magnum Flipping Tube, rigged weedless is a great choice along with some other big, heavily salted tubes. Add some weight for the sparse areas and you won't need to carry around a bunch of tackle.

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I have had good luck with creature baits such as zoom brush hogs and reaction innovations kinky beaver here in the bigger lakes if Ontario. Smallmouth in the 4-5lb range pretty consistently. Finnese can work well too at times. Don't sell short a drop shot or ned rig during those hot summer days. 

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19 hours ago, soflabasser said:

Fish for muskie and you will probably catch big bass as bycatch.

      And vice-versa.     jj

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