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Pelagic bass - any suggestions welcome


The Baron

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I’ve been trying to figure out a medium sized lake in central Ontario.  It’s a solid largemouth fishery if you work the docks and shoreline, but finding more than the odd decent smallmouth is proving to be a challenge.  I strongly suspect the really good smallmouth are suspended and feeding on Cisco.  The main basin is quite deep (100ft+) with several islands/bays/points and steep shore contours.
 

Q is… are there any general rules I can apply when searching for these fish with only very basic electronics?  I had some luck this weekend along the windward shore, and seemed to be in areas that dropped fairly steeply from shore to 25-30ft of water.  Should I be focussing on the windward shore?  Lake points?  Islands?  If anyone was bored and wanted to look at the lake contour map, I’d take all the expert suggestions I can get. 
 

https://fishing-app.gpsnauticalcharts.com/i-boating-fishing-web-app/fishing-marine-charts-navigation.html?title=Weslemkoon+Lake+boating+app#12/45.0300/-77.4250

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  • Super User

Maybe they are suspended?  I've run into suspended roaming schools of smallmouth before on a big lake and they are a tough nut to crack.  After I marked them over and over on my electronics (normal 2-D and side imagining) without catching any, I finally tied on a jerk bait.  By god I actually caught a few with it too.

I initially didn't think they were smallmouth either.  I thought they may had been a school of big perch or ciscoes but obviously when I caught a couple brown bass I confirmed what they were.

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Lot’s of folks on the site who are more knowledgeable about smallmouth than I but I would probably look at the humps in 10-25ft of water, preferably with some weeds, rock, gravel, etc.  I would also probably look at rocky or sandy points as well.  They are still going to relate to something the majority of the time, so I doubt they are spending all their time suspended.  IME with largemouth, suspended fish are difficult to catch anyway.

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  • Super User

Qwick look reveals Westlemkoon is a natural lake with lots of small islands connected by underwater saddles. Saddles are funnel zones for predators like bass to target pelagic baitfish like Cisco and perch. Black bass, LMB and SMB aren’t pelagic fish but will feed on baitfish off shore.

1st things first is determine if there is a thermocline, depth is going to be critical.

The prevailing wind direction is west to east? 

Bevis island makes a good discussion area because it’s located on the east side assuming it’s the windy side.

Bevis island has a saddle to underwater hump at 10’. This is the structure element I am focused on.

South of Anderson island a large island has a saddle connecting to a underwater hump and small island.

very similar structure is just south another saddle and smaller island.

These structures are prime bass locations for both LMB and SMB. If any musky or pike live in this lake they could also be located around saddles.

Tom

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@WRB Awesomen information!  Yes, prevailing wind is west, most often SW I’ve found.  We were fishing lake trout there in June and with the sensitivity at max. my old Garmin 535 showed the thermocline was at about 80ft - (edit: which, the more I research this the less sense that makes.  A more knowledgeable buddy says he’d guess it would be about 35-40ft.)

 

I didn’t check any water deep enough to see it on this last trip.  The lake has lmb, smb, lake trout and panfish (perch, bluegill and rock bass).  No pike, muskey or walleye.

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1 minute ago, TnRiver46 said:

I’ve seen your fish pictures, you don’t need any advice from me haha

Count my photos... that's all my big fish, so I'm open to any thoughts.  lol

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Does a thermocline develop up there? That could eliminate a lot of deep water. I can catch smallies 50-70 feet deep in winter but I don’t think there’s much oxygen down there in summer 

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  • Super User

The island cluster in the middle of the lake caught my attention. Gull Island, Honeymoon Island, Round & IIIahoe areas. Poke around the windward sides first. Throw out that whopper plopper & pull it behind your boat covering water out to 20'-25' deep. When your looking for smallmouth trolling might be your best option until you find them.  

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  • Super User

One thing I like on lakes with herring type baitfish that are always roaming is to pick a windy day and fish the down wind side of a major point or saddle.  The wind blows the plankton that way and creates a bit of a current in that general direction.  The points and saddles make eddies and faster current areas respectively.  So that collects the food and collects the baitfish.  The predators wait on the back side just like fishing the back side of rocks in a river.  Spot lock is your friend if you have it, but if not you're still tucking behind the points to fish them so you get a bit of a wind break.  

 

On a southwest wind, I'd be looking at these areas.  There is a nice long wind tunnel to push food around and areas for it to collect.  

 

 

image.png.26b3df76008930383055838760613d64.png

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Here is one example from a day last year. Where I fished it and how I fished it. You can see the heavy chop on the water out front.  The wind was 15-20 most of that day and the night before so things were set up well there. It is a ledge from the boathouse to my boat out from shore and pretty flat at 6-8’. Then it drops down to 12 pretty quick and then gradual down to 20. Fish were on the 6’ drop edge so a dt6 was about right. 

6BABC7B6-D870-48A0-A8FB-B299671C3FFA.jpeg

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